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SoulMonster

1993-04-DD - Interview with Duff

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1993-04-DD - Interview with Duff

Post by Soulmonster on Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:13 pm

Axl Was A Girl

That’s just one of the crazy rumours that have surrounded the World’s Most Dangerous Rock n Roll Band since they started their mammoth ‘use Your Illusion’ world tour. Duff McKagan is doing his best to put that ol’ gossip Murray Englehart straight. Meantime, be-hatted guitar god Slash is talking turkey with Finlay McDonald.

Duff McKagan is the keeper of the Punk keys in Guns N’ Roses much the same way Rachel Bolan is for Skid Row. His stage persona, a combination of Sid Vicious and classic Ramones bassman Dee Dee, is the direct result of being around a couple of chords and a clenched fist of adrenaline since he was 17.

So, if he had heard someone play a song lie ‘November Rain’ back then, would he have beaten them up?

He roars with laughter.

“No, man, I was a Prince fan an’ shit when I was 17. I listened to everything. I gotta remember that question! If somebody ever asks me, ‘What’s one of the funniest questions you’ve ever been asked?, that’s got to be one of them! The way you asked it was hilarious. ‘Would you have beaten them up?,” he repeats again. “That’s a good one!”

Diamond Duff, GN’R’s secret weapon, puts everything back into perspective, and deflates a myth or ten in the process. This is the guy who after joining Rose Tattoo on stage in Melbourne, reportedly wanted Tatts’ slidesman Pete Well’s guitar pick, just to show his friends that he wasn’t bullshitting and really did get to see the band. But he also has his measure of venom. When I mentioned the band’s recent experiences in South America, his anger is immediate.

Fuck that shit!” he spits. “Never again! We did Rock in Rio before, but that was okay because media and bands from around the world were there. This time, it was just us. And fuck man…In Columbia, they were threatening to kidnap Doug, our manager, shit like that, we were getting bombarded with shit. It was like, ‘Fuck this, we’re outta here’.

“The kids were great. The places we played were huge, and all sold out. I think the smallest place we played, was like, 85,000 people. So it wasn’t the kids. It was the government. Which is scary. None of the embassies, none of the American embassies, are very strong down there, so if you really wanted to get out it would be iffy at best.”

It is about five in the afternoon in Japan, and the jet-lagged Duff has to appear on MTV in a matter of minutes. Unconcerned, he sits in his robe, drinking wine. He isn’t late, but is going to be, and couldn’t care less.

“Fuck ‘em! He says - an attitude that can be traced back to his early days in a much less calculated Seattle scene, a scene in which the world may soon get a glimpse of.

“My old band, Ten Minute Warning, did record some stuff that has been put out. I’ve just been talking to Bruce (Pavitt) from SubPop, about putting the stuff out again, once and for all. Just today, I was talking with my friend Jeff who’s still in a band in Seattle; he’s seen it all happening. He’s been there through the Seattle explosion crap. You know Seattle really had a great scene way back, thought I was too young to see most of it. I got into it in ’79, and I was kind of too late. There were so many heavy fucking bands back then, and now this whole Seattle thing had happened……I hate to say this but I feel maybe a little cheated. A lot of the bands are just copying shit that happened in Seattle 10, 12 years ago. They’re just copying that whole thing and taking credit for it, and that really pisses me off. I mean Guns N’ Roses copy all kinds of shit from the past, but we cop to it ya know?”

Speaking of acknowledgements, the collection of Punk covers that the Gunners recorded some time back is finally on the release horizon.

“The record was really mostly my idea. We did ‘New Rose’ by the Damned, and ‘Down On The Farm’ by the UK Subs…if you were my age growing up with the Punk and Hardcore scene and shit, it’s all come full circle. After signing to a major label, all of a sudden I’m in this band that has the Number One record and a Number one single, and God knows how many fucking records we’ve sold. - ridiculous, stupid amounts - and all of a sudden we can go back and do Punk covers on a major recording budget! It’s almost hilarious! It’s kind of taking the piss out of them.

“It’s gonna come out while we’re not touring. I imagine next Autumn. We’re going to take some time off, which we really need, because we’ve been touring for so fucking long.”

Somehow, in amongst his comments, Duff has also found the time to put a band together and record a solo album.

“Oh, man, it’s cool! I’m not going to release it until we’re just about one touring. I’ve got a fucking awesome band together: our drummer Matt (Sorum)’s playing drums, Gilby (Clarke)’s playing lead guitar, I’m playing rhythm guitar…. We’re going to play five nights a week, very scaled down, only two tour buses, playing theaters - kinda like it should be, ya know? Just getting up there and playing.

“People ask me what the album’s like, and I say, ‘Well, it’s songs that I’d written or ideas that I’ve had rolling around in my head since I was 15’. It’s got a Hardcore Punk song on it, but it’s really mainly power songs, heavy, Rock-Pop. I don’t know. I hate categories. You just have to hear it.”

According to Duff, he was the first person that Izzy Stradlin contacted after he left the band. So, did he try and reconcile the situation?

“I’ve never had a problem with Izzy. Izzy and I are very amicable and always have been. He had his reasons, and they were very valid. I’m not one to go, Fuck you, man!’.

“I could tell he was just miserable. I knew it wasn’t his bag, and it was killing him. He was all clean and sober, and no way I would’ve wanted to have any part in making him stay in the band, and driving him back to whatever he was doing. So, between him and me there was never a problem.”

Few bands have been the subject of such myth and rumour as GN’R have in recent years. Myth is healthy, vital even, for great rock ‘n’ roll, but rumour is destructive, and Duff has heard countless whispers.

“There’s so many bad ones. The worst one, which I guess I’ve heard a million times, is that one of us has got AIDS. The funniest rumour? I did hear that Axl was a girl and that’s why his voice is so high!"

“You hear all kinds. I don’t even digest all this shit any more. We read this article about how Axl likes to kill small dogs or something - that was a good one that was in The Sun. ‘Poodle-Killer Rock Star Let Into Country’!”

But there must be a point where the lies become truths in the minds of many people?

“Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s basically a known fact,” he says with considerable sarcasm, “that I’m dying of AIDS, I drink 15 bottles of vodka a day, and that I like young Vietnamese boys... or something like that!” He cackles. “Of course, what I’m saying’s a little overboard, but people really get freaked out. I’ll be on a plane or something, and I’ll start talking to a woman - it’s usually women that get freaked out.

“By the end of the plane trip, they’re really surprised at how intelligent you are, an’ well-spoken - that you can even speak! And that you put a napkin over your lap when you eat, that you say ‘excuse me’, and that you get up when they need to get up...”

So how does Duff rate the recently released ‘Use Your Illusion’ videos, as compared against the footage they did of their performance at Rock In Rio, featured in the ‘Hard ‘N’ Heavy’ video series?

“I think it’s all a load of shit!” he splutters. “I hate watching us play - it’s real self-indulgent. I look like a complete goof up there!

“All the video stuff like that. It’s great for kids to be able to go out and buy that stuff, but if I were to comment on which one I thought was better, I’d feel like a shitbag, a self-indulgent asshole - because when it comes down to it, it’s a load of crap. There’s so many more important things going on in this world...
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Soulmonster
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