APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

1993-09-DD - Interview with Duff

Go down

1993-09-DD - Interview with Duff

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:49 am

Last of the Mohicans?

Is Duff McKagan the last of the punks? Is he the first of the new romantics? What the hell does he do to find out? Well, he locks himself up, unleashes his memories, and pours ‘em all into his first solo album. Then he tells Neil Jeffries about the making of ‘Believe In Me’, spills the beans on the next Guns N’ Roses album, and reveals that he’s just an old fashioned lover at heart.

Duff McKagan is mad. Why else would he want to go back on the road, supporting the Scorpions for three months, just three months after completing the 28 month long biggest Rock N’ Roll tour the world has ever seen with Guns N’ Roses? But there is another explanation. Duff McKagan is a man happy in his work. Plus he’s got a solo album, ‘Believe In Me’ out on September 27 so why the hell not.

Occasionally it will remind you of Guns N’ Roses, two of the 13 titles feature the F-word, another is called ‘Punk Rock Song’. That much you might have predicted. But the rest is surprising.

For a start, although there’s some guests on it, Duff played nearly everything himself bass, vocals, drums and guitar! There’s ballads, Rap, a smattering of Funk, a little bit of Jazz - plus some gooshy sentimental and romantic stuff. Duff is not the world’s greatest singer, but no worry it’s got good songs and bucketfuls of attitude. Although I did think it might be a little, well, you know PUNKIER.

“That’s what everybody says. So I’ve thought about this and just yesterday I was talking to the guys in my band. They’re all my friends, my buddies from my old punker days, and they were joking and going, ‘Yeah, Duff, you’re supposed to have returned to your Punk roots!” and laughing, ‘cos like, what is ‘Punk roots’? Am I supposed to regress myself to something I’ve already done. Am I supposed to not take what I’ve learned and not take everything from my life and harness it into something that comes out naturally through my hand on two strings - and do what people expect? Whatever that is!”

The image of you on stage is Punkier, though: the chain around your neck like Sid Vicious. Then when you get to sing, you sing The Misfits’ ‘Attitude’. I thought you’d record that, for a start.

“I love that, don’t get me wrong. I love where I came from that…I guess I could now say Punk ‘era’, “he pauses then adopts a quavering tone, “…’cos ahm gittin ooooolld , man!” He’s actually 29, but cracks up before continuing.

“I love that, and I love what I’ve learned from that, but I’m not going to go back. This album is what came out, and I’m not going to question it.”

The album pretty much came about by accident. Tracks were recorded all over the world whenever the fancy took him. He paid for the sessions, probably amounting to about two weeks’ worth, then Geffen reimbursed him when he had enough for an album. It started back in 1990 when he found himself in a studio with nothing to do early on in the sessions for GN’R’s ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums. He got the engineer, Jim Mitchel, to produce backing tracks for ‘The Majority’, a song he’d demoed at his home.

“You heard about that?”

Er, it’s in your press release.

“Oh, right.”

Sorry, have I shot your story down?

“Yeah - shit!” he deadpans. “Nah! What happened, it was just a day off. Matt Sorum and I had 30 days to do the basic tracks straight, but there was one day off ‘cos Matt was kinda beat. ‘Cos he’s just learned all the songs.” (Sorum had only recently replaced Steven Adler) “We’d be going, ‘Matt we’re gonna be doing thins song’ and he’s go, Fuck no! I haven’t learned that one!!. So he had a day off, but I was like, ‘Wait a minute, here’s an A&M studio full of gear, so I went down and gave it a wing, just for the hell of it!”

So you really did all your parts, for both Illusion’ albums, 30 tracks, in just 30 days?

“Yeah!”

It must have been a nightmare, waiting for the rest of it to be finished. I mean, we were all going mad. What were you doing?

“No comment!” he laughs. “People would keep saying to me, ‘When’s your fucking record coming out?’. I’d be going, ‘Well, I’ve been done for a year’, but under my breath saying Fuck Off!” It makes him laugh now, but it clearly didn’t at the time.

On a more serious note, tell me something else I read in the press release - and it’s a good quote this one, so I hope they didn’t make it up: ‘The record reflects a period of intense loneliness, pain and yearning’. He takes a deep breath and explains.

“Well, there was all this time off. Even before ‘Illusions’, actually, we got done touring for ‘Appetite…’ and ‘Lies’, a two and a half year tour, and I get back to LA, I buy a big house, I was single and alone. I buy this furniture and move in, then all of a sudden the door shuts behind me and I was like, “Well, Duff, here you are, you got your house and your furniture - What the fuck are you gonna do now?!

“So I started going to clubs. It was the first time since I’d moved to LA that I’d had either, one, the time, or two, the money to actually go out to places. I’d meet a girl or friends. It was like a lesson in reality. It was like a slap in the face. “I finally figured out people weren’t hangin’ around me or being nice to me because I was just me, it was in this band. Or maybe I had a couple of bucks in my wallet.

“It’s really weird, ’cos I’m from Seattle and when someone there says, “How are ya doin, they mean it. If you say, ‘Well I’m really not doin’ good’, they’ll sit down and say, ’Let’s talk about it.’. But in LA, people say, ‘How’re ya doin?, you go, “Oh fuck, I got cancer, ‘and they’re , ‘Oh that’s great! Anyhow, I’ll see ya!

“I’m not naïve, I’m very street smart and shit, but it took me a while to realize that. I’d think, no, There’s no way this person could have done that to me, so after two or three months of this, I returned to my big house, shut the door, locked it, and stayed there for I don’t know how long - but I went up to my little loft to my eight-track studio and just wrote 50 tunes.

“It was just a period of thinking that I’m not going to become a typical LA person. I’m not going to allow myself to become like that. It was just a matter of realizing that my life was a little bit different. So instead of going out and killing people…” (when Duff was growing up in Seattle, he knew the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy)…I was lucky enough to be able to write tunes.”

I’d wondered about the timing thing, because so many of the songs are about being alone, yet you married Linda last year?

“Yeah, they were written before then. Linda and I had been friends for a couple of years before we realized, ‘What are we doin’? We’re right for each other!. We’d just been buddies, ya know. But, yeah, things are different now! The song ‘Could It Be You’ is one of my favorites ‘cos I think of her when I do that song, because it was about turning a corner and seeing the girl and thinking, could it be you?, ‘Cos so many of the girls in LA turn out to be psycho chicks or something.”

See! He’s too romantic to be a punk. ‘Could It Be You’ is a really neat song, actually.

“That string part, I actually came up with in a dream. I know it sounds clichéd, but it actually does happen ‘cos it happened to me. I’ve heard people say, ‘It came to me in a dream’ and I’ve always thought ‘eh bullshit! But no, I had this dream when we were out on the road. So I woke up at four in the morning and luckily it was when the horn players were out with us - ‘cos I don’t know how to write music, on staff paper - and they’re all schooled musicians all schooled, learned, musicians so I called one of the girls, Lisa Maxwell, and said, ‘You gotta get to my room right away!’. So she came right down, and the melody was still in my mind, and we came up with a 22 piece chart for it - pretty amazing!

“So I got back and there was I was in the studio with 22 people from the LA Philharmonic and a concert master. I’m not totally new to this stuff, ‘cos I used to play in orchestras as a kid and also my brother Matt is a music teacher. He teaches orchestras. So I knew how many bass fiddles I wanted, how many cellos, how many violas. But to hear these people in there with my fuckin’ scratchy voice going through their headphones….” he laughs. “But I felt real confident and they respected that I would say, ‘Hey, you cellos, you’ve got to attack that part more!’ Although, actually I felt like kind of a dick!”

One of the other songs ‘Man In The Meadow’, reminded me of Mother Love Bone. And something about the vocal reminds me of Andrew Wood (the band’s singer who died in 1990 after a heroin overdose).

“Oh really. Andy was a real good friend of mine. We grew up together.”

You say this song is about another friend that you have lost, Todd…

“He was the original bass player for Jetboy. The first time we came to London, in June ’87 to play the Marquee, Todd was with us. Jetboy kicked him out because he hung out with us. That was their excuse, which was kinda weird. But he hung out with us and we were bro’s. I don’t wanna get too deep into how he died or whatever. I’ve lost close friends since then, and it was just a rude awakening to me. But I don’t want to get into it.”

I’ll have to read between the lines then. But I gather you’ve quit drinking? Have you cleaned up?

“I’ll have a beer here and there, but when I go out on the road I’m not gonna drink at all. I did the most stupidest thing. Just before GN’R did the last three and a half month leg, I woke up one day, looked at myself in the mirror and went: ‘Oh shit’!

“I can drink a lot. It’s not something I’m not proud of, but I can. So I’m going through detox on the plane as we fly to Israel. It was hell.”

On some of the pictures it looked like you’d put a bit of weight on.

“No. Somebody else said that, but that’s one thing - I’ve never put any weight on. It was just a bad shot, the one in Robert John’s book?”

No I haven’t seen that one.

“The last picture. It’s a real shitty picture - thanks Robert - looking up from right in front of the stage. I just take shitty photos!”

It’s weird, on the face of it, I would have thought a tour as long as the GN’R have just finished would have been enough to drive anyone over the edge, but actually the band all seemed to slow down on the excesses and find other ways to occupy themselves - at least according to the sneak preview I’ve had of the tour diary.

“You’ve seen that? I wish I had.”

Yeah, I can for instance, tell you what you were doing on 16 June 1992.

“What was I doing?”

You were having a row with a fan at Gateshead until Axl Rose stepped in and advised him, ‘I wouldn’t mess with Duff he hasn’t had a drink in two weeks! Duff laughs long and hard.

“I do remember that!”

What was that row about?

“It was just some asshole that kept throwing stuff at me. I get that a lot ‘cos like you were saying, people picture me as the Punk of the band so they figure it’s cool to throw shit at me or spit at me or whatever! But no, no, I don’t like it! But this guy kept throwing shit and I was about to jump in. it’s such a wimpy thing to do ‘cos I’m a tall guy and an easy target.”

That’s what comes of wearing a chain around your neck! How long have you had it by the way?

“Actually, this is the second one I’ve had because I had on before that I wore for nine year. Then Guns did the third anniversary RIP (US rock magazine) party - that’s got to be three years ago now - and I jumped into the crowd, did a little stagedive. The place was fuckin’ packed but I jumped and all of a sudden the Red Sea just parted, man! 12 feet straight down - BOOM! Thanks for catching me, you guys! I didn’t think there was any room for them to move. Then everyone started jumping on top of me and somebody grabbed the old chain and fuckin’ ripped it off my neck - it wouldn’t go over my head - to add insult to injury while I’m laying there bleeding on the floor. So I got a new one. It’s just a dog’s collar. I wear it all the time, it doesn’t come off.”

Not even in bed?

“Nope!”

That little known fact isn’t in the diary, but I can also reveal that on 10 June 1993 you went to an Oslo dentist to have a tooth removed! Do you remember that?

“Yeah, I still have it! It’s a big ugly fuckin’ big-ass three fuckin’ rooted tooth! It doesn’t look human, man, It’s like this THING but it came out of my mouth and now I have this huge gap. They coulda saved it, but I didn’t have the time to undergo six weeks of root canal shit and it hurt so bad I just said, ‘Please, please get it out!!! And it was so big and ugly I had to keep it!”

Duff McKagan might be mad, but at least he’s happy.

The Duff Band
The Line Up
Duff McKagan (Vocals/Bass)
Joie Mastrokalos (Guitar)
Teddy Andreadis (Keyboards)
Aaron Brooks (Drums)

Joie, who played on two tracks - ‘Swamp Song’ and ‘Fuck You’ - on the album, is on loan from Circle of Soul. So is Aaron Brooks, another of Duff’s buddies. Ted was part of Guns N’ Roses’ expanded 12 piece line-up playing keyboards and harmonica. He plays on ‘Man In The Meadow’ and “Fucked Up Beyond Belief’.

The Name:
The Band is called Duff for obvious reasons, I suppose - but why are you called Duff, when you were christened Michael?

“My parents gave me the nickname when I was one or two.”

Why didn’t they just call you Mike?

“I hate the name Mike! I love Michael, but I grew up in an Irish family, in an Irish neighbourhood, and ‘Duff” is a pretty common nickname. Like Duff’s tavern, Duffy O’Toole. Also, there were so many kids - six next door and we had eight - that on this block it was ridiculous. The McKagans, the Harveys, the O’Neills, all these Irish catholic families with tons of kids. So if someone yelled out, ‘Michael’ you’d see about five people come running.”

And the ‘Rose’ nickname?

“That was to differentiate myself from all the other Duff McKagans running around!”

Duff’s Gang!
Duff McKagan’s Believe In Me album is a true solo album in that Duff wrote all the songs intended to sing and play all the instruments. But it didn’t work out quite that way as friends dropped by to listen in and ended up helping out. Duff is the star but the guest list is pretty impressive and includes:

Slash, Gilby Clarke, Matt Sorum and Dizzy Reed (Guns N’ Roses)

Slash plays on two tracks ‘Believe In Me’ and ‘Just Not There’. Gilby adds guitar on ’10 Years’. Matt plays on just one number - the Jazz Rock styled ‘Fucked Up Beyond Belief’. Dizzy Reed appears in the credits for three tunes: ‘Could It Be You’, ‘Trouble’ and ‘Fuck You’.

Lenny Kravitz
Lenny sings the lead vocal on ‘The Majority’. An old friend of Duff’s he volunteered to sing after Duff told him he’d finally recorded the demo that he’d played to him so many times before.

Sebastian Bach, Dave ‘Snake’ Sabo and Rob Affuso (Skid Row)

Duff: ‘Skid Row were out opening for us for four months and that’s why some of the Skid guys are on the record. They came down the studio with me after we played at Wembley in ’92 because they were bored or something.”
The track ‘Trouble’ features Sebastian Bach on lead vocals, with Snake on guitar. Snake also played on ‘Lonely Tonight’. Rob is on ‘Fuck You’.

Jeff Beck

The legendary Brit string bender played on ‘Fucked Up Beyond Belief’ - no relation to the 1974 Wishbone Ash song of the similar title - recorded in London after the Wembley show in June 1993. he’s also on ‘Swamp Song’.

Duff: “We were in Paris doing that pay per view satellite broadcast thing, and he was supposed to play. We were going to do ‘Locomotive’ with him. He already had tinnitus in one ear but he got to soundcheck with us and, the poor guy, he had it in his other ear too, so he couldn’t do the gig. Anyway, he was staying in the hotel room right across from mine and I was playing a cassette of the rough mixes for ‘Fucked Up Beyond Belief’ and a couple of other songs on my ghetto blaster and my door was a little bit open. Suddenly I hear this knock, and Jeff puts his head around my door. I explained to him what I was doing and he goes, ‘But what’s that song. Can I play on this?’. And I’m like, aaah, I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”

Doc (Haus Mob)

Doc is the rapper on ‘Fuck You’.

Duff: “Haus Mob haven’t broken yet but they’re real big in LA. Doc is a really huge big, menacing looking dude. Did you ever see the Tone Loc video for ‘Funky Cold Medina’ - either that of ‘Wild Thing’ - where they had the big bald black bartender guy? Well, that’s Doc. Real mean looking fucker, but he’s just a sweetheart and we’re good buddies.”

GN’R Are More Punk Than Duff!

Duff confirms that there will be a new Guns N’ Roses album, the much vaunted ‘Punk covers’ EP - now bolstered with three new tracks. But it’s not all punk…

Duff: It is comin’ out, just before Christmas! We did ‘Hair Of The Dog’ by Nazareth. It really turned out brilliant, ‘cos Dan McCafferty, their singer, is one of Axl’s idols. Then we did ‘Beautiful King’ by T-Rex off ‘The Slider’, and we did a New York Dolls song too - which wasn’t considered Punk Rock.”

What’s the record going to be called?

“I can’t tell you now ‘cos it wouldn’t make any sense. We’ve made an oath to each other that we won’t tell anyone the title until the time is right. But it’s really cool, it’s really fun. Just us lettin’ loose.

“It’s the original EP stuff, plus three more we did when we got back from Europe.”

Which makes for 13 tunes and the not - so - shocking news is that Gilby Clarke had redone Izzy Stradlin’s guitar parts recorded on the original ten covers at the time of the ‘Illusion’ Albums.

More news when the GN’R oath permits it.
avatar
Soulmonster
Tour plane captain

Admin & Founder
Posts : 7856
Plectra : 51533
Reputation : 667
Join date : 2010-07-05

Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum