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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. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2018.09.17 - Let There Be Talk - Interview with Duff

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2018.09.17 - Let There Be Talk - Interview with Duff  Empty 2018.09.17 - Let There Be Talk - Interview with Duff

Post by Blackstar Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:22 pm


Dean Delray: What up everybody? Welcome to another episode of Let There Be Talk. Today is Monday, September 17th. How is everybody? You guys all, y'all doing good? You guys out there doing it? You're live, you got a smile on your face? What is happening? Great guest today, oh my God. Let's see, obviously, if you've listened to this podcast for the last six years, you would know Guns N' Roses is one of my favorite bands of all time. And about four years ago, I got to interview my man, Duff McKagan. I can't believe it's been four years already. I swear, I was looking it up and I go, yeah, I think that was like a couple years ago. And I started digging through the catalog and it was four years ago. What the fuck, man? I still think that that's wrong. I don't know. I mean, it was, uh, what was it? Let me look it up here. This is just insane. October 6, 2014. That's just insane. How, I mean, I say it over and over time flies, man. It really does. But anyway, I was lucky enough to interview him four years ago. And, we dug way deep into the Appetite record and the early history of Guns and Roses and all that stuff. And then he was busy recording a new record for The Walking Papers. I was at the studio doing the episode and after about an hour and a half or so he had to get back to work and there were so many more questions I had and he said, we'll do a part two. And of course, about a year later, Guns N' Roses gets back together, a reunion tour, Slash Duff and Axl. And I was like, gosh, shit, probably not going to happen now. And then about two weeks ago, I'm at JFK in New York City and I run into Duff and a giant smile on my face whenever I see that man, because I just, I love him. He's just an amazing human. And he said, "Hey man, come by the house. Let's do that part two," and I was just fucking, ah, I was so happy man. And sure enough, Monday I went over to his house and we did this interview. And I think it could be one of my all time favorite. Duff just, what a great, great person. Him and his wife, his family, his band, his music. I love it all! Anyway, that's about to happen here and I hope you guys enjoy it. Don't forget to share this episode with all the Guns N' Roses fanatics out there in the world. There are millions of them, believe me.


DD: Here we are. Another episode of Let There Be Talk. It is the return of Duff McKagan. You know what? I looked it up when I had you on last. I listened-

Duff: Was I doing the Walking Papers record?

DD: You were doing the Walking Papers record. It was October 6th, 2014. Can you believe almost four years coming up here in a month? Can you believe how fast it's been?

Duff: 2014 was four years ago.

DD: Yeah. Right?

Duff: Dean and I just ate almonds.

DD: I know, we're like choking here. It's like the choker podcast.

Duff: That's good podcastry, right? Just coughing into the mic.

DD: The best stuff to eat before a podcast, almonds. Can you believe it though? Four years ago.

Duff: Time is starting to cruise.

DD: Well, to me, what I was thinking because of, you know, in my brain I thought it was about two months before the GN'R got back together. That's what it felt like to me, but it might've been maybe a year before or something, what do you think?

Duff: More than a year. Because we kind of announced, what was that? January 1st of 2016?

DD: '16, right. But there had to be some brewing of it. It was funny because when I remember the last things I said on the podcast, like it'll happen, you know, I truly felt like it was gonna happen, but was it a long, since you know the time frame now, was it a long time after that, like a year, or did you kind of hear some brewings and you were just kind of keeping it in your brain?

Duff: That's an interesting question. I think, you know, as far as things brewing, it's just a matter of some guys with a past kind of figuring some stuff out and take them one step at a time. And just like anything, like sobriety or anything, you know, your life like, I guess I have enough years behind me now to go... life is more mysterious to me because you genuinely don't know what's going to happen next. I'm 54, at my age, or at 45, people say, "Well, this is what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna do this. And then at 60, I'm gonna do that." You really have no idea what's gonna happen. And I think the Guns thing was sort of in that category. And it was pretty righteous just the way it came together. It was all good, positive feelings and, you know, I mean, good, positive solution based life stuff melts perfectly in with the way I like to roll. And that's how this thing came together.

DD: I mean, you were kind of always in there anyway. You've done some gigs with Axl and stuff over the years. But did you ever really think, "Yeah, it's going to happen once, like-"

Duff: I don't think I thought like that, no. It wasn't about, you know, you're a sober guy. I'm a sober guy. I had to do a lot of work, like healing the wreckage of, not just me drinking and the damage I'd done to myself, but in my life. And it takes you a couple of years to take a real accountability for your stuff, you can't just do it in one week. You know?

DD: Yeah, with a couple phone calls, "Hey, I was kind of an asshole."

Duff: It doesn't really work that way, because it's not that you've affected yourself, you've affected others. The way you think about it is, and you've thought about it through all your drinking and all your stuff, maybe that's not the way exactly it went down. And it wasn't until I wrote my book, the first book, It's So Easy, that I was alone in rooms writing this thing, on planes writing this thing. And I would write a full like 2,000 word passage.

DD: Wow. Yeah. Cause it would come to you-

Duff: Well, I would write in those kinds of spurts because I was writing columns at the time too. I'd write a 2,000 word, you know, passage and I'd realize you just lied. The only person you're lying to is yourself and your computer, you know?

DD: Yeah.

Duff: So lame.

DD: You're leaving shit out, you mean like personal stuff?

Duff: This is the way I wanna believe it went down and I would have to erase and press delete on the whole thing. And those are the moments I really started to, it was like 2007, 2008, 2009, I really started to rethink my part in my life and with that came a lot of aha moments. And I ran into Axl in London in 2010. Just our rooms were right next to each other.

DD: Yeah, that was the craziest story.

Duff: And so, you know, and that's the point in my life, I'm like, you know, things happen as they're supposed to happen. And there's energy and there's things. And that was supposed to happen. I went down to the gig with him that night and got up on stage and played. And it was really cool. We went to dinner the next night. And, you know, Slash and I have always been cool. And I think Axl and I have always been cool. It's just, you know, things happen in life and there was separation. Things happen for a reason there too. And that's coming back together now, it seems to be perfect time for us as dudes, I think for rock and roll in general. My kids are grown.

DD: Yeah. You got adults now.

Duff: Yeah, I do. And my wife and I having a great time, you know, it's a really nice way to kind of empty nest, all of that stuff. I'm probably sounding way too grown up for anybody who's-

DD: No, no, it's great though.

Duff: -who's listening like, you know-

DD: Yeah, like, "Where's the old Duff, king of beers, McKagan?"

Duff: I did this thing. I was with actually with Richard from the band. And I went down and played some gigs with those guys in South America in 2000... I don't know when it was. '12, '13, '14, whatever it was. I forget.

DD: I remember that though.

Duff: Yeah. And we were up in, it was amazing. We're up in that... the highest city up there.

DD: Oh yeah.

Duff: La Paz.

DD: Yeah.

Duff: Bolivia.

DD: Yeah.

Duff: I mean, you land at 13,000 feet and they have oxygen in the airport because people just pass out.

DD: Yeah. Yeah. That's crazy.

Duff: You can't just land at 13...

DD: Yeah. So it's like the Veo[?] Pass. As you're riding up that on your motorcycle, you start to get all like faded and tired. It's cold. You're like, "What? It's summertime." It's like 40 degrees up here. 38 degrees. You know?

Duff: Right. But we did. The hotel was kind of down at 10 and a half thousand feet. So we came down and it was an easier thing, but it took us a couple days to... there was oxygen in the room.

DD: Yeah, you're get acclimated.

Duff: So we did yoga out in this yard. It was like 80 degrees out in this kind of a yard they had at the hotel. And somebody took a picture of me and Richard and some people in the band doing yoga. Right now, I was like leading the thing. And yeah, somebody commented, "You can't do Guns N' Roses and do yoga!" I didn't know those rules.

DD: You can't be in Guns N' Roses right now and do drugs. You wouldn't be here. You'd be dead.

Duff: Wouldn't be here.

DD: You'd be dead.

Duff: Yeah.

DD: The wreckage of the past. I mean, if you look at, you know, the people that kept going they blow out like a bald tire. You know?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: I mean, some people, you know, blew out early on, you know? And some people don't. It's amazing to think about the people that aren't here anymore, but that's how it goes. It's a radical world, and then it's all sudden, at some point I think in your life, you go, "Oh, I kinda wanna be here."

Duff: Well, and that moment was when I met my wife. And when we had each child, like this is way bigger than selfish you. This is about them. My life is about them. Really. That's the first and foremost thing. And you know, I eat good.

DD: Yeah. You look amazing.

Duff: I take vitamins. Well, thanks. I mean, that's a nice byproduct.

DD: Yeah. And that's an inspiration to like me and other people because you're like, "Oh, fuck, Duff's 54, he looks great." There's no excuse. I gotta get my, you know, my body's falling apart. I got diabetes. What's next, a heart attack?

Duff: You pulled it together.

DD: I pulled it together, you know? But I think it's when you love to do something or you love people more than what you're doing. Like, you know, you love your family and stuff. I love doing standup and I was like, "Well, what do I love more than standup? Nothing, okay." So now I've got to fix everything so I can keep doing it. You know what I mean? It's just like crazy stuff.

Duff: Well, you got a career, you got a good career. I've seen your career just like, to me it's like, "Whoa, he's big time now."

DD: No money, but still, it doesn't matter. You know what I mean? It doesn't matter. I think nothing matters when you're really doing something you love. You know what I mean? As I watch you, even over the years of doing other bands, it's not-

Duff: Rock and roll to me has never been about the money.

DD: Never.

Duff: You don't... I didn't move to LA, I didn't start in punk rock bands, for the money. I didn't move to LA because to get rich and famous, I just wanted to find the band that made a difference. When you're a teenager, you want to make a difference. And I still do. And it was never about the money. And it never has been. So playing when you make money is great. Certainly helps. I've done plenty to it. You know, first year and a half of Velvet Revolver, we were in a hole going out and doing all that stuff and-

DD: Tour buses, hotels, record budgets, videos, all that. You're already behind the eight ball.

Duff: Yeah, yeah. You're in the hole. But we loved what we were doing. And Guns, man, we didn't make money.

DD: No, not at all.

Duff: Yeah. For the first, we started in '85... I think somewhere in '88, you know, the record had sold by that point. It had been a hit and it had been selling and selling and selling. But we were, you know, McBob, our techs, our roadies were making. I borrowed money from McBob to get a sandwich.

DD: Yeah. Yeah. Your own tech. He's on a salary. You're like, "Dude, can I get some money? I suppose we get a check." Yeah. He works for you. And you're borrowing money from him. Isn't that crazy, man?

Duff: But then, you know, we started making money and and I didn't know what money was. You don't... never in a position where you... because you don't do it for the money. And money starts rolling in. And I remember being pretty confused about that drinking and doing coke and drugs and stuff and, "What is money about?" You know, I kind of had like punk rock hate toward money. It was like all kinds of different funny attitudes toward money and not really understanding it. When I got sober, one of the first things when I woke up out of this, I was in an emergency room and a lot of things were going through my head, first three days in that ICU, a lot of things. You can imagine. Pancreas have just burst. My mom's crying. She has Parkinson's, you know, she's in a chair. I'm the youngest of eight kids. It's, you know, you're just like, I should be the one taking care of her. The shame, it's just all kinds of things. But I thought about, "Ah, what if anybody's ripping me off?" Cause I don't know anything about my money. You know, there's a lot of like accountants and managers and all kinds of.

DD: A lot of people, a lot of hands in the pie, you know? And also, that was a big whirlwind when that thing hit. It had to be like just shit coming from all over the place. Checks that you don't even know. I mean, you can't even like comprehend where the money's supposed to come from.

Duff: Because there's no class, there's no how-to-

DD: There's no class, and we're talking about global money now when you have multiple hit singles and a huge record, concert tours, merchandise, mechanics, mechanicals, royalties, commercial, any kind of things. You're like, "Where is all the money and who's getting it? Who's grabbing it for us?" That's an interesting thing, you know?

Duff: So there was all of that thought and that kind of spurred me to get into business school. I mean, it totally spurred me to get into business school and start to understand just money in general. And that helped me, like we all need to make money. Anybody who's listening here has got a job and hopefully they're making money, they're supporting somebody or they're paying a mortgage or they got rent, they got to pay for fucking gas, you gotta get insurance, you gotta... all these things. If you got kids, you gotta, there's school and there's clothes and there's doctors and there's et cetera, et cetera. So I understand it and it doesn't freak me out anymore. I know what my responsibility is. I'm really super pleased and thankful that my passion, which is still playing fucking rock and roll and playing in Guns N' Roses is a real passion for me right now. It's like, this is the real thing. It's all been the real thing. You know-

DD: Absolutely.

Duff: But right now this is the real thing and it feels great, and my passion, also, pays my rent. You know?

DD: Big time this year.

Duff: You know, as a comic, right? Your passion. And then when it pays your rent, when it pays for your stuff, you're like, "This is the best of both worlds."

DD: I've been to people's houses, and like say your house here, or any big, big star, and it's amazing when I was in a guy's house and it was an amazing house, and he goes, "Can you believe jokes paid for this?" And when you put that in perspective, you know, it's like, you look at that shitty rehearsal studio that you were rehearsing at, or the coffee shop you're writing these bits at, and these open mics you're doing, and these pay to play gigs you're doing, and you know, and you look at the Troubadours for years, and the Whiskys and all this, and the fucking van, and that trip to, the first tour that doesn't happen because the truck breaks or whatever, all that. And then stuff starts to happen. You're like, "Wow, man! I can't believe all that paid for this." You know, it's an amazing ride. But it is, you know, like I said, you did Loaded and Walking Papers and even... What was the one with Steve Jones?

Duff: Neurotic Outsiders.

DD: Yeah, all that stuff. None of that made money.

Duff: Yeah.

DD: And all you guys wear smiles on the face playing gigs at like the Viper Room or something. It's really the first thing is being able to play. I think that's why one of the reasons I don't play music anymore was unless you, it gets so hard for people as they get older because they got families and stuff and if there's no money involved, it's hard to get a guy out because he's got responsibilities and stuff, you know? But like me, I've always tried to stay single with no credit cards or anything so I could just keep doing the thing until, you know what I mean? Until I could be responsible for other people, you know? If I brought anybody into the world or whatever. It's funny that we're talking about money because I think that the first real big thing when GN'R gets back together is who's gonna be in the band. It was such a, the mystique on it, I gotta give you credit, it's one of the last great mystiques. Like mysteries of rock and roll. No one knew who was going to be in, we knew that this was going to happen. Who's in? Is Izzy in? Who's in? You know, and then, boom! Here's the Troubadour and you see kind of who's in. And then reports start coming out, of course it's going to be this like, "Oh, Izzy wanted this," or whatever. It gets down to money. Is that stuff real or is it a lot of fabricated stuff? Because you guys never really comment on it, which is-

Duff: I'm not sure what exactly what you're talking about. The thing is I don't really go on social media or on the computer and look at stuff. And when I'm busy doing my thing, nose to the grindstone, that's what I'm doing. So we were rehearsing and doing stuff. I know there was probably a lot of rumors flying around. My wife would tell me stuff. I'm like, "Oh, that's... no, that's absolutely not anything close to what's happening." You know, I don't really want to talk about the machinations of how that came together. I'd rather it remain one of the last great mysteries, as you say. It was a lot of hard work. A lot of, just a lot of hard work. And there was a real positive vibe about the whole thing and an inclusive vibe. And what can I even say about that? You know, things were tried and things were ascended to or not ascended to and you just gotta let it go. That's it and keep your nose on the grindstone and that was it. But it was all very positive. Everything's put out there very positive and that's that. But we're here to talk about Illusions.

DD: Yeah, we are going to talk about it. [laughs] I understand. I had to ask the question because if I don't, people are like, "I can't believe you didn't ask that question. You of all people," you know what I mean? Because there is this amazing thing of, you know, there was some gorilla shots, some TMZ shots of Axl and Slash, I guess at a lunch or whatever, you're like, "Whoa, man, those are-"

Duff: [?]

DD: I think so. Yeah, I think so.

Duff: I'm not even aware of that.

DD: And it's kind of starts whipping up like, "Oh, there's like a meetings and the band could be getting back together," and all of a sudden, boom, Troubadour, you know, and then a tour booked. But it had to be, something of this magnitude, had to be built in like a year. Are you guys in meetings? Like, "Okay, we're gonna do this." Are you like in a meeting, the three of you? Like, "Wow-"

Duff: I'll let that remain one of the last great mysteries.

DD: [laughs] All right.

Duff: Yeah.

DD: Man, I tell you one of the funniest things is when it does happen, is when you're at Coachella and I'm in the front row and you're playing and you rolled up and I'm in the very - I'm not in the front row, I'm in front of the front row.

Duff: I saw you.

DD: Yeah, like two feet away and you looked down, it was so funny and you go, "Dean?" That was the funny, because the person next to me goes, "Hey, he said your name." That was wild to see. It was... A couple more things and then we'll get into the Illusion. Set list is a big thing with me. I was pretty happy to see some a lot of the Illusion record on there, especially Coma and Estranged.

Duff: Coma's a song that we I think only played one time during the Illusions tour.

DD: Wow.

Duff: Yeah, it was brought up to my attention, "You know, you guys only played that once in Chicago in '92," or whatever it was.

DD: Wow.

Duff: And you know, I was drinking a bunch, especially in the early 90s. So I didn't remember just playing it once, but I'll tell you what, Axl, one, picking that song, that is a hell of a song. I mean, I sing lead vocals in Loaded and I've gone out and toured and ripped my voice apart and tried to take care of my voice and try to be pro and warm up and warm down and drink enough fluid and all that stuff. And I'm a strong guy, you know, but your vocal chords are just a little thing.

DD: Of course. And it's human pieces.

Duff: It's human pieces.

DD: You know? You can't just go buy new strings. Like, you got new strings, you break your strings, you buy new strings. Vocal chords, they get shot and they're gone.

Duff: Yeah. And his technique, I mean, the way he is, he's always been the most badass singer I've ever-

DD: Serious.

Duff: First time I ever saw him. Like, "Who the fuck is this guy?" You know, he's just gnarlier than the most punk rock guy. It's all real, gnarlier than the most metal guy. And it's all real. It's not a put on. It's like, when I first met him in what? '84, '85, whatever. Like, "Holy, he's more intense than Henry Rollins."

DD: Wow.

Duff: You know?

DD: Yeah.

Duff: And it was all real. I really dug that. And so flash forward to now. He's taken that realness of what he's always been but he's added shit ton of technique. And he's a master. The guy is a master vocalist. You know, I would look at him sometimes, "That was an impossible phrase without a breath."

DD: Oh, the stuff in You Could Be Mine, in the middle, is always a head spinner to me. You know?

Duff: Yeah, anybody who listens to this, try to sing that at home.

DD: I'm a singer.

Duff: Right.

DD: And first of all, the lyrics, how fast it's spinning out, it's like [mimicking Axl]. You know, you're just like, I'm just babbling it right now to be able to do the words at that highness and that speed is just like, and at his age now, you know.

Duff: Yeah, I don't think he looks at any of the age stuff. I think he's just mastering his technique. Like, I look at him I was like, "Where's he gonna take a breath?" And in Coma, "Where you can take a breath?" But he's figured it all out and it's really great playing with him again. And Slash, you know, having Slash over on that side of the stage and Axe. It's like super powerful. There's moments, you know, and really appreciative of how many people come out to the shows.

DD: Ooh, man, it's massive.

Duff: And you think of them, you know, like everybody - when you assume you're the most interesting person in the room - you're not. You know, and there's people at those gigs, I try to look at particular people, like I wonder what their story is? How they got to this gig? People out here got interesting stories. It's really an honor to play and they come and they show up for that three and a half hours that we're playing. And they don't leave, you know, and it's pretty cool. You want to talk about the making of Illusions?

DD: Well, yeah, but I was talking about a little bit about the setlist.

Duff: Oh, setlist, yeah.

DD: Because I wanted to talk about, you know, it was interesting to see how much Illusion stuff was in there, which was great, because right away it let me know that it wasn't going to be some cash cow, you know, just cash in thing of like, I mean, these were deep tracks. Yesterdays, all that, you know, I was like, "Wow." When you guys are first putting it together, does he put together the set list or does the band put together the set list? Cause it's...

Duff: Well, you gotta go, you know, it's something I've learned, you know, back in the day, I was like, "I want it this way," you know? And it's not that this day and age, you gotta do what the singer's comfortable, like the first five songs. And I know this from being a singer. It gotta almost be... You've done your warmups, but you gotta warm up, especially this long set we're playing. You gotta warm into it. It's So Easy is a great warmup vocalist song. Brownstone, you know, you get-

DD: Yeah, the lower register stuff.

Duff: Before you start taking off into Rocket Queen.

DD: Yeah, Rocket Queen.

Duff: Fucking Coma and You Could Be Mine. I mean, that's a stretch right in there. They're back to back to back to back.

DD: Yeah, I read somewhere where he said Rocket Queen was definitely the hardest song for him to sing now because, you know, that last stuff is so high. [singing] You know, that shit is like, "What?" It's like, have a drink on me for Brian Johnson. No way did he think he was gonna be singing that in 2017, 16 or whatever, you know? I mean, those vocals on Rocket Queen at the end are crazy. There was a time for a while where his voice was a little south. And also with Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, who I saw a couple months ago, and he blew my fucking mind, Joe Elliott. And it got me to start thinking, there's gotta be some kind of special dudes out there right now that are traveling around that I haven't heard about that are getting these guys' voice back in shape. Or maybe the node surgeries are getting so good that your voice is like back to really strong young days, cuz, man, Steven Tyler, Joe Elliott, Axl Rose, all those guys right now are sounding better than when I was seeing them in the early 2000s.

Duff: Yeah, I didn't see it in the early 2000s. But yeah, I mean, I don't know, he just works hard.

DD: Yeah.

Duff: He just works his ass off. He gets in the gym, I mean, his vocal warmups are hour and a half.

DD: Whoa, hour and a half?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: Whoa!

Duff: Yeah. It's incredible. Like sometimes his room is near mine and I hear him start. It's like 6pm.

DD: Whoa!

Duff: And I'm just back from sound check or whatever, you know, if I happen to be back in the hotel. And he's... 7.30, finally ends, you know. And after the shows, he might have, you know, bite to eat, hang out, whatever. And then it's into the shower, hour and a half, he's at the venue.

DD: Wow!

Duff: Until whenever.

DD: Yeah. An hour and a half warm ups and then warm downs. I know a lot of singers are doing that now. Warm downs. That's crazy stuff.

Duff: He's just working hard. That's all I can see, there's no special guy out there, you know, surgeries or anything.

DD: Yeah. It's pretty amazing. You know, Joe Elliott sounds incredible right now. And I mean-

Duff: -good for him. He's a good guy.

DD: He is a good guy and a great band. One last thing on this tour, was it a conscious decision of like, "We're gonna send a message right away that Axl comes out on time all the time now?" Because it's completely on time.

Duff: There was no discussion about it. He'll be up on deck sometime. You know, after Coachella, he'll be up there 15, 20 minutes early. "He's on deck, man," "All right, let's go." I'm still warming up on base back in my little room. But it's been really, like I said, all positive. All cool.

DD: Yeah. You can tell. I can tell by the vibe on the stage. What was the thought behind Melissa in the band?

Duff: Well, she brings actually a lot to the table in that there was a guy that Axl had before that play-

DD: -I remember that guy.

Duff: Right. Especially on Chinese stuff. There's a lot of-

DD: Yeah, it's just all that kind of kind of industrial stuff, noises and stuff like that. Underbelly stuff.

Duff: Right. So, you know, we sing live backup vocals, obviously. There's nothing taped. There's nothing, anything. And so you got to have... On the Illusions tour, we brought up backup singers. [?] Teddy too, and then myself and Izzy. So a lot of backup vocals. There's tons. Vocals.

DD: It was like a Stones tour back then, like a, you know, like a '72 Stones.

Duff: Yeah. So how do you achieve that? Which is basically myself, Diz and somebody else.

DD: Richard sing or he doesn't?

Duff: No.

DD: Right.

Duff: So there's just three of us and she brings like this whole backup vocal, amazing thing that really helps that portion of the set. There's a lot of backup vocals. I sing more in that three and a half hour set than I would in me singing lead vocals in an hour long Loaded set.

DD: Wow. Yeah. Yeah, that is true. It's because it's 32 songs or whatever in the set. Yeah. And all of them have backgrounds.

Duff: Yeah. You know, pretty much all of them do.

DD: They sing lead on a couple.

Duff: Yeah, that's kind of a break. You know, some of these backup vocals are, you know, a lot of falsettos, really hard stuff to sing. You gotta be perfectly in pitch. You have to sing differently to sing backup.

DD: Are you going in-ears? You're going in-ears, yeah?

Duff: We have in ears. So sometimes when I sing falsetto, I got to pull one out. You know, November Rain, I have to pull an in-ear out to sing in tune, for me. Everybody's head is different, their ear is different.

DD: Totally.

Duff: But she brings a lot to the band. She's a cool young spirit. And any piano parts that Teddy played against Dizzy's, or any keyboard parts, she plays. Illusion stuff and all that. So that's it. She's a Seahawks fan.

DD: [laughs] Football talk. Alright, let's get into the Illusion records, because that's where we left off the last time I had you. It was funny, after I went to the T-Mobile gig, you did Coachella, and then it was T-Mobile in Vegas. And I remember I did a full episode on the Illusion records. I think they're some of the greatest records ever to come out from a Hollywood rock and roll band ever. I think they're totally underrated, and to me they're a lot like the Metallica and Justice For All record, meaning they were completely different than what the band had ever done. Even though you only had one record out, it was such a massive, crazy turn and all the songs were sagas and it's a double record coming out, you know? All of that stuff. When you guys come home from the long years of Appetite and you start to work on the Illusion records. Of course, some of the songs are older, you know? But when you guys start putting it together, are you looking at like, you know, "We need to write," like, I mean, what was the train of thought on that? Like, let's, cause it was definitely-

Duff: The band's never been short of like new material. You know?

[Duff talking to someone in the background]

DD: This is how much my life's changed. I went from doing it out at the last interview on the street to now I'm at your house, your wife's making us omelets. That's awesome.

Susan Holmes-McKagan: Time to eat boys. Growing boys need to eat.

DD: Alright, we're going to pause this for a minute.

Duff: We're pausing?

DD: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

DD: Alright, so we just had some scrambled eggs, which is pretty nice.

Duff: We did have some scrambled eggs.

DD: Scrambled eggs at Duff's house. That's so great. My life is so bizarre sometimes, you know?

Duff: My wife, man, she makes sure I get fed.

DD: That's great, man. I mean, God.

Duff: She's a great host when somebody comes over.

DD: It's funny, because I just noticed you got a Blackberry, and you said, I never left. I love you for that. I remember the first Blackberry I got was on a Stones tour, and like, I believe it was like maybe '04 or something, the blue one. And I remember T-Mobile was in Europe. They were big. We were on a European tour. And they said, we're going to give all these to you guys. And just let us know how you like them. And you can email each other. And I remember that was there. It was the pinning[?] or Blackberry Messenger.

Duff: I still have it.

DD: Yeah. So man, you'd be in an arena and be like, *Blink*, "Where are you? I'm behind stage left. *Blink* "OK, I'll meet you over there." It was incredible, it changed the fucking game dude. You know, addicted to that, a little wheel would wear out on the side because you'd be clicking in so much.

Duff: You know, I've never got super like phony or I've kind of purposely kept myself... I don't need the phone, all the time. I can let stuff... I never listen to my voicemail. People that know me know to just text me. So it's probably full, my voicemail. But the reason I kept it is because I was writing all those columns for Seattle Weekly and ESPN and all that. And I'd write a column.

DD: On it?

Duff: Oftentimes. I wrote probably half of my book on a Blackberry.

DD: Really?

Duff: Yeah. And you can just cruise on the keypad. And my wife and daughters were trying to get me to go to iPhone, I'm like, "I just can't write on this."

DD: I can't either.

Duff: It takes my head out of the game. Like when you write, you have to flow, you know, you have to flow and flow. And I just, I had already been used to the keyboard on the Blackberry.

DD: And they keep making them, man, like that's the newest one, I'm looking at it, it looks good. Do they send them to you, like, knowing that you're like a celebrity that uses it still?

Duff: Well, yeah, I've got to hook up. I did an ad for them.

DD: Oh yeah, cool.

Duff: Like just for like an internet ad and talking about how I wrote a lot of columns on my BlackBerry and, and just the things I told you. They came to Seattle and we did this whole kind of Seattle thing. And the KEY1, this thing they just came out with, now they come out with a KEY2, Axl just sent me this like link for the KEY2, which is even more-

DD: I saw that.

Duff: KEY2?

DD: Yep, I just saw it.

Duff: But I mean, I've got enough stuff on this. You know, I don't use, I do business on my BlackBerry, you know, emails and stuff. Other than that...

DD: Yeah, you're not an Instagrammer and-

Duff: Not much.

DD: Your wife does it for you, like she's like, "Hey, ran into Dean Del Rey." [laughs]

Duff: Yeah, yeah. That was mine. It was actually my because, to people listening, so we ran into Dean at JFK Airport. My wife and I just gone through security. We just - more importantly - we just dropped our youngest daughter off at school. We're leaving-

DD: For college.

Duff: Yeah, for college. And we were kind of going through the airport like, "Well, this is it. We're really leaving her in New York." And we're going through security. We're like, "What? We're going to leave..." and Dean Del Rey is right behind us in security. And you really cheered us up. Yeah. Well you were, you came over the perfect time and it was like-

DD: I tell you what-

Duff: We were going down a sinkhole, right that very moment. Like, oh-

DD: It's so weird how life is and I talked about it on my podcast right after that happened. I woke up that morning and I was getting ready to fly to a gig with Burr somewhere. I was meeting him somewhere and I go through my rock and roll t-shirt collection. And I go, "Oh, here's the Illusion 2 shirt," original one, you know, from back when I went to the shows. And I go, "I haven't worn this in a long time. I'ma bust it out." And I put it on for a minute and I go, "Ah man." I'm always leery of wearing it because it's original and I don't like deodorant to mess it up or I'm all paranoid, you know? And I put it on and I go, "Man, maybe I shouldn't wear it. It's gonna be one of those run and gun trips." And then I go, "Ah, I'm gonna wear it." And so I go through TSA, tying my shoe, and as I look up, I make eye contact perfectly with you tying your shoe and I see you look at the shirt and then you see me, you go, "Dean?" And I was like, "Wow, this is so weird." An hour ago I was contemplating, do I wear this shirt or not? And now everybody saw the photo and they're like, "Was that planned, that shirt?" It's like, "Oh yeah, I was planning that." Like, "In case I run into Duff today, I better be wearing the Illusion shirt."

Duff: But I was - and people who are listening - I've known Dean for a really long time. So it was... and he's funny, and it was the perfect timing because we were going down this little morose rabbit hole right at that moment like, "Are we making the right choice? Leaving our 18 year old in New York City." And of course, we're making the right choice cuz she loves the school and all that. But as parents, you know, that's your baby. [?]

DD: It's funny because I felt the same way. Like, it's always so great to see a friend at an airport. But not only that, but somebody like, "Oh, it's Duff. This is great." I love when it's really bizarre like that. You know? And so it made me feel great and I shot the photo to burrow[?] like, "Look who I just ran into and look what I'm wearing." And he's like, "That's awesome." [?]It's so funny, man.

Duff: Yeah.

DD: So we're talking about the Illusion records and the songwriting stuff. And of course, there's all kinds of things that come into play during that. A new drummer comes in, Matt. And I did want to ask you about that besides the songwriting stuff, but when you guys were looking for drummers, I don't really remember this, because it was so long ago, but did you actually audition drummers?

Duff: We did, we were at Mates.

DD: Oh yeah?

Duff: And we went through, there was a guy, Adam Maples.

DD: Oh, Adam Maples?

Duff: You know Adam?

DD: Yeah.

Duff: Really good. There was a bunch of guys.

DD: Any other famous guys?

Duff: Martin Chambers from the Pretenders.

DD: Oh wow, really?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: Whoa.

Duff: -one day, just his style and the way we played. You know, it just doesn't match up. He's an amazing drummer. Sometimes it's gotta gel. And Adam was getting there. And we were coming up against the time that our first day in A&M[?] was coming up and Slash and I went to a Cult show. I think it was their last show on a tour. And we saw Matt. "Holy shit," you know. So I think we talked to Ian after the show and they were like, "We're done touring so if you need him to do the record, you know, it's fine with us." You're not going to cross any... You don't want to cross your friend's band and take their drummer, you know.

DD: Especially since you guys had toured, opened for them on that Electric Tour, which is one of the most iconic tours now, Appetite and the Electric. I saw it at the Warfield. It was pretty much one of the most mind boggling shows. But yeah, I get it, you don't want to be like, "Yeah, we stole your drummer."

Duff: No, you know, you don't want to do that ever.

DD: Did you have him audition though?

Duff: I think he just came down, we played with him and, you know, he picked up stuff really quick. He hit the drums really hard. His meter was great and...

DD: Different feel though. So were you like, "Oh, this is a total different feel"? Like, like let's say, you know, if you get-

Duff: But there were a bunch of new songs. So a lot of them we hadn't played with Steven at all. So it was kind of an open playbook. And to be honest, we were really under the gun and we had - whatever it was - 28, 29 songs to do. And we did one song per day. Matt would get the cassette tape, you know, "Here's the song."

DD: Yeah. Cause you had demoed them?

Duff: You know, demo is a really wide, broad-

DD: Right. But I mean, had Adler played on that stuff cause he did play on Civil War. Right?

Duff: Yeah. Yep. Civil War came out before Illusion.

DD: Right. Cause I remember Farm Aid is his last gig and you guys played Civil War and-

Duff: Yeah, he played on the recording, and-

DD: But were you demoing all these tracks like out on the road or what was going on?

Duff: No, we went to Chicago. We demoed some... like demo, we had a microphone, Adam Day would, you know, a DAD or whatever, or cassette, we recorded on cassette.

DD: Wow.

Duff: Our special demos with nothing fancy.

DD: Wow. And why Chicago? To get out of LA at the time?

Duff: Yeah. Just to get to a place where we could concentrate. Of course we ran into the place we rehearsed that like the guys who ran the place. I won't say who was, you know, there was a coke dealer and so we get like this big bus tub of booze.

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2018.09.17 - Let There Be Talk - Interview with Duff  Empty Re: 2018.09.17 - Let There Be Talk - Interview with Duff

Post by Blackstar Fri Jan 26, 2024 2:22 pm

DD: Like the machine, the machine of like, "Hey man, they're gonna be down there so just load up everything."

Duff: Yeah, we had an apartment condo thing over in this other part of town and we just - right below where we played was this club, where we rehearsed, was this club. So that was our post rehearsal place to go. And a lot of zany antics in Chicago. Like jumping through the McDonald's drive-through window and scaring the crap out of a bunch of people.

DD: Were people flipping out? Because by then, you're pretty big stars. Where they're like, "Whoa! GNR's in Chicago"?

Duff: We were not well-behaved in Chicago.

DD: How long were you there?

Duff: Like three months.

DD: Well, three months.

Duff: Yeah.

DD: Working on demo and stuff, Rreally?

Duff: Basically, yeah.

DD: Wow. Now, when you're writing the tunes, that's really what I want to get into is like how elaborate they are. So you're in Chicago and you guys are working on this stuff, you guys are like, "Well, this is totally different than Appetite." You know, I mean, if you're looking at stuff like, you know, Estranged and Coma and-

Duff: You got to realize Appetite was made-

DD: Yeah, years before-

Duff: -so many years before that.

DD: Yeah, totally.

Duff: And we had progressed as a band since then. And the only thing that we put out was the kind of the acoustic record, which shows like just a different side. That's really how we wrote songs on acoustic guitar, like Nightrain, everything.

DD: Really?

Duff: If it doesn't sound good on acoustics.

DD: Kind of like Stones' style, where they're sitting around that, like, you know, Exile, where they go out to France and they're just winging these acoustics and coming up with stuff. Because, you know, to me, the records do have a kind of an Exile feel where there are these totally different tunes from what you were doing. Bbut a lot of them, like I said, were these sagas, these big, big pieces, you know. And at what point do you guys go, "Oh, we're definitely putting out a double album"?

Duff: I think the original intent was just, "Let's just go in and record. See what we got." And it just every day. I mean, we tracked a song every day for 29 days. And then it's like, "We don't want to throw any of this out," or, "What are we going to, wait with some of these songs?" And I think Axl came up with the idea of putting out two separate records.

DD: Springsteen was doing it at the time, A&L, with Lucky Town and the other one. And was the label like, "Oh, absolutely not"? Or were they like, "Yeah"?

Duff: I think, yeah, they fought it some, you know. There's probably a whole story in that. But you know, going in and recording those songs at A&M was a super special time. It was, we were ready, everybody was top again. Matt was exhausted from learning songs. By the end of the thing, like we were playing... recording Breakdown, like songs that have like nine different parts, and Matt was losing his mind. Matt by this point had become one of us.

DD: Yeah, in the party world-wise?

Duff: He's going hard.

DD: Yeah, he's going hard.

Duff: We're like, "You don't have to go hard all at once. Go easy, buddy." But he was going real hard with us. Keeping up.

DD: Wow.

Duff: Yeah.

DD: Immediately into the game.

Duff: Keeping up. It's just like, "Oh, you gotta respect. I mean, keeping up." There was people that would come into our circle and last a day and they were out.

DD: Run me through some of that because I used to party pretty hard too, but would it just be days on benders in the studio? Like not leave it all and just be up and, and-

Duff: Not during the Illusions. You know, there was a line in the sand we wouldn't cross. And that was, you would never get too fucked up to perform. That was the line. We had honor in our band, you know, honor in our music. So it was always after. Definitely always after. [?] keep ourselves from being tight in the studio. You know, some cocktails, but no cocaine or nothing like that.

DD: No coke in the studio?

Duff: No, you can't play.

DD: Yeah. Yeah. You do get tweaking in there. You're like, "Back it up, man. I think you slow down there and they start getting all like boogie nights." [singing something]

Duff: So there was none of that. I mean, we're actually underneath all of what you see on the outside. We worked hard. We rehearsed every day, sometimes two days, you know? And that was our thing, this was our whole thing. And we didn't let any of the drugs or the alcohol stop us from doing that. So there was, like I said, a line in the sand. It's okay to go crazy after we've gotten the shit done. And so that was always at night and always started across the street at the Crazy Girls.

DD: Oh yeah. Yeah. H&M there, or I mean, A&M, which is Henson now. So you'd go to Crazy Girls and then what started?

Duff: I don't know where [?] you know, like, Crazy Girls was a bar across the street, strippers and stuff, but that wasn't, you know-

DD: Yeah, it was more like a bar. It was like a rock and roll bar. David Lee Roth would hang there.

Duff: Yeah, there's a pool table and stuff and just kind of chill. And then I don't know, go up to my house or go to Slash's house and go any direction, neither of our houses, some, you know, random person's house. But, yeah, we got done with that 30 days in there.

DD: Who was doing most of the songwriting? Was it Izzy?

Duff: It's hard to say who does most of the songwriting, because when of the songs is done - especially on Illusions - everybody's had their hand on it. Pretty Tied Up was a song he had a cassette of.

DD: God, I love that song.

Duff: And it was just this thing, and Slash and I, and Steve, I think, got that cassette. And we just kind of flipped it upside down. You know?

DD: Yeah. The lyrics on it are crazy. You know, "I know this bitch down on Melrose," you know, "she ain't satisfied with... " When you just hear that, it reminds me of 80s and just like, it was so dark in Hollywood and some of these lyrics are great, like The Garden, you know, all that shit, man. And Yesterdays is just a knockout to me. And what's the other one Izzy sings on? 14 Years, man. Oh God, these tunes. I mean, Appetite is an absolute masterpiece. And even as I dig into the super box set now and listen to the demos and everything. But what I really think made the band interesting and I really believe the band would have been gone if they had tried to do another Appetite and just did a rock record. You know what I mean? Because it would have just been like what all of these bands were doing back then. No.

Duff:  We knew Axl had been working on November Rain. You can hear it on Sound City demos, right?

DD: He played that for me in Laurel Canyon at Howard Teman's house. There's a piano there and he goes, "You guys want to hear a new song?" And we go, "Yeah." And this is in the 80s. And he whipped that out. And I remember going like, "Oh, this guy is a totally different level than us." We're like these rock and rollers, you know, like, "Let's drink and play A, D and C." And he just played November Rain for us. And we were like, "What the fuck? Did you write that?" He goes, "Yeah."

Duff: Yeah. You know, he worked on it. He perfected it and, and it was a process. It was a song he needed to get out and worked on for ever since the band, I think, pretty much started. And we had Don't Cry. There were songs we knew that we're gonna push off to a second record.

DD: Right. And you had recorded them for Appetite, right? Like the demos, like Shadow Of Your Love, November Rain, those are on those Appetite demos.

Duff: They're on the demos from Sound City.

DD: Right, from Sound City.

Duff: Yeah, so that was another thing. We just recorded kind of everything we knew including covers. Jumpin' Jack Flash and Heartbreak Hotel and stuff.

DD: That first EP, is that fake? It's just recorded in that stuff and you added crowd?

Duff: We didn't have a crowd. We thought everybody was in on the joke. You know? Because the funny thing is when we recorded that, we were playing, you know, Wednesday nights opening at the Troubadour for somebody. You know, we had a crowd, but it was probably about 20 people. So, yeah, we got the... So then we put it "Live, question mark, exclamation, Like A Suicide". We thought everybody was in on the joke and then... But people actually thought we were massive. "How could we be massive? We don't even... People, put it together!" But yeah, we used like Texas Jam audience and lit our own firecrackers off in the studio.

DD: Real shit? Oh, I love that. Texas Jam and then your own firecrackers. Oh, that's the best story ever.

Duff: We thought it was just funny. And we did think everyone would be in on the joke.

DD: Yeah. I started, you know, I think that everybody does this, but now I did it with the Illusions. Everybody back in the day, which was great about the record, was your illusion. So all of us would do, "This is my illusion," if it was a one record, you pick the songs off the two and you make your own Illusion record. And now I've been doing that with the Appetite with the demos, you know, so I go, "Okay, I take out two and I put in Reckless Life and Shadow Of Your Love," you know. And then I did that on Twitter and people lost their minds. Of course it's my favorite record, you know. People are like, "How dare you remove two songs from a masterpiece?" It's so funny. Like people were going crazy, you know. Or meanwhile we could do Illusions and no one says anything, you know. Like, "Oh yeah, well my Illusion record would be this," you know. But the, you know-

Duff: It was a special time making that record and everything leading up to it. We had grown into this huge band. Again, there was no guidebook for that. I was living in Studio City, going to the Ralphs there all the time, no big deal. And suddenly we were on the cover of the Rolling Stone.

DD: Great shot.

Duff: Right, and people started reacting to me differently. And I didn't know what that was about. I didn't know how. And then, you know, for six months of that, you're like, "Well, people do really finally realized I'm super funny, super engaging and good looking." And then it hits you that, "No, it's not really about that." It's about you're sort of famous and people wanna be around that. And then suddenly I had a bunch of friends and all of this stuff. And I had to, once I realized there was a couple things that happened to me that made me realize like, "Oh shit, okay, no." You're still just you. This is a whole thing that you don't have experience with. You're in a fishbowl. Everybody's looking at you.

DD: Some wake up calls. What were they?

Duff: Oh, just personal things. And one thing was my brother, my oldest brother came down to LA and I... By the time we started making some money. And I bought a pretty modest house in Studio City. A little two bedroom house.

DD: Where was it? In the Hills though?

Duff: No, it was on Laurel Terrace.

DD: Oh wow. Right there. All right.

Duff: Modest house, especially for then. And I bought a Corvette, bought my first brand new car. Corvette then was like 25,000 bucks.

DD: Right. How much was the house back then? That's interesting to think about, right?

Duff: It was at the height of actually of an up market, right? In '88, early '89. So it was like, it was 400 grand. Yeah, I put like 80 grand down, you know, that thing, I had a mortgage.

DD: So you got a house and a Corvette and your brother comes out.

Duff: My brother comes down and he's - my family's blue collars as fuck, and I'm blue collar to the bone. My parents grew up in the depression, you know? Yeah, my dad was in World War II. No fucking around. And here all of a sudden I got a house, I'm 22-23, got a Corvette. My brother comes down to visit me, he's like, "Uh-huh," not impressed with any of it. "So you're just gonna spend all your money on a," "It's not a fucking Lamborghini, you know what I'm saying? It's a Corvette, American made, you know?" "You're just gonna spend all your money on fucking cars and the house, is that what you're gonna do?" I'm like, "Whoa," like burst my bubble. I'm like, "John, it's not an expensive car. Like I could have got this or a Jeep Cherokee, you know, same price." "Uh-huh, yeah." And he's still like that with me. But he gave me a like, "Okay, right. Am I getting out of hand here?" My family kept me pretty tied to the ground through a lot of that. And through a lot of the drinking... I avoided them for a few years. You know what that's like, I'm sure. Anybody who's gone full tilt, you avoid anybody that cares for you.

DD: Yeah, you don't wanna look them in the eyes. Cause they know and you can't lie to them.

Duff: And I was on world tour, so it was easy to avoid. But after that realization, like, "Oh, shit, right." People know who we are. Like, we got back from that Appetite tour, and we'd look in like the BAM magazine thing. Bands were dressing like us. This is before the internet, before you knew, like, came back and LA bands had whatever, leather jackets on and scarves.

DD: Cowboy boots with the jeans inside, torn up snake boots, you know? Leather jacket, some spurs, some bandanas. It was 100%, it changed everything, you know what I mean?

Duff: So that was a trip too, to see that. And without real judgment, I hadn't heard the bands or anything, but we realized we kind of affected some culture. We thought it was kind of funny. Because our look was really kind of a mix like Johnny Thunders and just stuff we grew up with. It wasn't contrived. It was how we dressed.

DD: That's funny that you say that because we get into the look, you know, of course, it does have this full look and it's like street cowboy. It's but it's almost like like it also was junkie. You know what I mean?

Duff: It's a mixture of all that stuff.

DD: Yeah, it's a mixture of all that stuff.

Duff: But that's the time we came up. I mean, heroin hit Seattle like nobody's business in 1981. So there was an aesthetic. There was a Generation X record where those guys, you know, they got cowboy boots on outside of there... And I was like 14. There was LAMF, Johnny Thunder Heartbreakers record where they just like the coolest picture of a band ever. So as you're 14, 15, 16, you're emulating things you are influenced by. And that's all that was, you know, by the time we're 20, we're hardened veterans of the thing. And this is our look. We have no money. So our stuff's getting ripped up and torn up. We don't care. We're living the dream. We got our band, you know, we finally got our band. And that's what it was all about. Not the aesthetic, you know, the aesthetic was what it was. Clothes that we had on and that we toured all of Appetite on. Slash and I got our bags stolen. We got on the tour bus in Savannah, Georgia. Put our like bags under the bunk, left the thing open like rookies.

DD: The bunk? I mean the bus?

Duff: Where you put the luggage in.

DD: Oh, the bays?

Duff: The bay. Left it open, got on the bus. Somebody stole our bags. So we just had literally the clothes we had on. You can't go to a mall in Savannah, Georgia and get new shit, right? What are you gonna get? Acid washed jeans.

DD: You're so right, right? Back then you don't get clothes at that mall, you know?

Duff: No, we went to London in '87. The subway there at Kensington High Street had this guy who sold stress jeans for 10 pounds.

DD: At the subway?

Duff: At the subway-

DD: -station there?

Duff: At the station. 10 pounds. Stretch jeans. "Okay, get two pair of those, that's gonna let..." I still have a pair of those.

DD: You do?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: It's just like before the Paradise City shoot or something.

Duff: Yeah, well, this is way before that. We went in July of '87. I think the Paradise, that would have been down, Donington of '88. So it would have been a year later.

DD: You still have those jeans.

Duff: They're good jeans. It's hard to get a good pair of stress jeans, you know? So it was that kind of vibe. And I don't think we really paid that much attention to the aesthetic. We, everybody, had their thing. But flash forward to Illusions, we've been, my point was we've been through like all this stuff, realizing the band's huge, taking that all in, like our thing worked, you know, this thing that we believed in. And it was only us that believed in those songs and Appetite, originally, of course, because you write the songs and you go out and play gigs and you come back and work on the song more. And then, you know, labels started getting interested in our band and then, you know, the rumor was that that band won't live long enough to record these songs and etc etc. And we knew we just had the songs that we liked and that spoke to us. It's got to speak to you first. So to have your belief system like go crazy worldwide was a trip, you know. I don't think we went into Illusion thinking, "We got to..." There was no thought like, "We got to one up Appetite."

DD: There's zero thought on direction or anything?

Duff: We just had these songs and we just remained being us.

DD: It's crazy because when you're writing the tunes, I mean, it's just miles apart as far as depth and maturity, you know, when you get an end to it, you're like, did you ever think like, you know, cuz I know bands that do this a lot, they're like, "I don't know if that's really Guns, you know." You know, that kind of, are you like second guessing any of it? Because man, it's a blanket.

Duff: Everything flew.

DD: Yeah. That's awesome.

Duff: Like if one guy in the band believes in the things like, "Okay, we'd put everything into it. All right." And that's what makes up a good band. You know, getting behind your other bandmates and, and get behind something they're into, even if it doesn't work. But yeah, we would mature, like playing at 15, if you heard the bands I was in - I'm sure Slash, I can speak across the board - to 20. There's a huge maturity in there. Now from 20 to 25 or 26, whenever we made Illusions, huge maturity and we toured the world and we'd written all these songs and sound checks and blah, blah, blah.

DD: And maybe you're listening to other stuff now?

Duff: Sure. You're listening to Lenny Kravitz, Faith No More. All kinds of stuff. We're listening to Macy Gray demos in Chicago. Super blues killer-

DD: God, that was a record. So, yeah, there is stuff coming out like that. Fiona Apple's rolling around, I think, and around in that area. Of course, I also think that, you know, like Blind Melon had a way big, weird depth to it. Do you know that wasn't... you couldn't really grip that, you know, like, you know, "Wow, what is this? A rock band or what?" you know? So there was a there was an opening for all kinds of music at that time.

Duff: Yeah, and we wanted to do that. I mean, I thought we thought we'd probably done that with the Appetite. We did our kind of music, it wasn't like any other kind of music. At the time, we were going to do our kind of music and we're going to roll with that because we believe in it. Same thing with Appetite. We're going to go do our kind of music and we're going to roll with that because we believe in it. That was it. Period.

DD: Now, one real wild thing as I listen to the Sound City Demos, and this has to do with Mike Clink, as I'm listening to those demos a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't heard them in years. I had had bootlegs for years of, you know, parts of it, but to really listen to it all in a row. I said that it was a rare time where it was the band beat the demos. You know, whenever you talk to the band, they go, "You should have heard the demos of that." You guys murdered those demos because the demos were pretty good, but-

Duff: They were two-track. They were just two tracks-

DD: Yes, two-track, but they didn't have any muscle. Like it felt like they were kind of like loose and jangly. There was no conviction compared to the Mike Clink recordings.

Duff: Yeah, Mike Clink. I mean, we could have... like the Sound City were just demos. We had 48 hours. We thought that meant 48 hours straight. We brought in Manny Charlton from Nazareth to test produce us. And he lasted... poor guy flew in from Scotland, we picked him up at LAX in some piece of shit car and went straight to Sound City. We got 48 hours.

DD: Oh, he's just upside down.

Duff: He's upside down. He lasts, I don't know how long, maybe six or seven hours. And then he was just out and we just kept recording. Through the night into the next day. And so yeah, we were just probably looking at more arrangements.

DD: Just getting the shit down.

Duff: Yeah, just getting it down. It's two track. Yeah. It's two track, half inch tape. So of course half inch tape, two inch tape's gonna sound. And then we got him with Clink. And he was this super calm guy and he was like, "Okay," we'd be fucking around, you know, getting ready to track something he would say simply, "All right, guys, dig in." And just you hear him say that, especially for Steven and I was like, "Okay, this is the real." And on Appetite those are first, second, maybe third takes, rarely third takes. But we were ready to record the songs.

DD: I just read he recorded... He was the drum engineer on the And Justice For All for all record, which I never knew.

Duff: Clink was?

DD: Yeah. I never knew that. Isn't that wild? Cause I had never heard of them until he worked with you guys but he was an engineer on the drums only. So maybe he was a studio guy and they, you know-

Duff: Cut tape and did all that stuff.

DD: Yeah. Did that. But he was, it said... I was looking at the credits for And Justice Box Set coming out and said, "Drum engineer, Mike Clink." I was like, "Wow."

Duff: I did not know that.

DD: My point on that is how did Mike Clink realize the vision also of how grand you also, Illusions were? How did you guys explain to him like, "Hey, we're looking to make like an Elton John record."

Duff: He'd heard all the material and stuff. He was good, definitely good musical... He believed in our thought process. I should probably just say that. He really did believe in the thought process. He believed in the band and that we were willing to try new stuff that could be looked on so many different ways. We didn't care, we did not care, he didn't care. He was really good at miking stuff up. That's his specialty and it sounds so simple but miking amps up and drums and having that exact sound that he wants come to the tape. It was he explained to that that to us, that's how simple it was. "I just want to get the sound, it's in the room, from the amps and the drums, onto the tape. I don't want to fuck with it. You know you guys have good tones everything sounds good. Let's get that tone." And that was his thing. And he would, when it was time to track, you know, he'd come in all with his headphones, he'd get on his microphones, "All right guys, dig in." Boom. And a lot of those, you know, all that Illusion stuff, those are not-

DD: Those are tracked live, right?

Duff: Those big opuses, yeah, that's live. If we'd fuck up in the middle, we'd stop.

DD: Really? Because I saw Matt Sorum's Instagram a couple days ago. He happened to be at A&M and he gave a tour of exactly where it was going down. He was like, "Okay, here's where the amps were. They were in this room. Axl's piano was over here, and then this is the drums, and we played in here, and this is where we all played." And then he walked upstairs to the lounge area, and he was like, "This is where some shenanigans would go down," or whatever, and then he went into the control room and stuff. And I sat there and thought about you guys in there at that time and the condition of your minds and how big the band was, it had to be like a lot of pressure of like, God damn, we gotta get this. Like, was there some pressure?

Duff: There was a couple of times, like, you know, you can't let your head get into the music. And there's definitely a... it's easier said than done. But there was a couple of times I think when we were recording early on in those Illusion sessions. So Civil War recorded with Steven. I was like, because we'd sold so many records on Appetite, I'm like, "A million people are gonna hear this one bass pluck. And the next one after that." So you're getting into your head and you have to not allow that to happen at all. So I think what we achieved with Illusions was just being really free and I'm not really for thinking that much stuff and trying to get, you know, we got full takes of the songs. That was important. We're a rock band. If you can't record the whole fucking song, you shouldn't be recording it. So some of those things are opuses, you know?

DD: Well, I mean, to think about the arrangement of, you know, like Estranged or Coma. Coma is like, I know the song inside and out. And I'm like, "Oh shit, yeah, that's right, it goes to this part here." You know, it's like, I mean, that's got, you gotta get your brain wrapped around that.

Duff: Well, that's just muscle memory. So we played that song so many times. By the time the studio came, it was like, "Okay."

DD: You mean you had played a bunch demo in it?

Duff: Yeah, Chicago. You say "demo"-

DD: I mean. Well, yeah, but I mean, yeah.

Duff: That's just us rehearsing.

DD: Right, rehearsing, I gotcha.

Duff: Making tapes, Adam making a tape of, a tape or two as the song progresses. You know, "Here's the last progression of that song." And Coma we had down... I think, Izzy came in, he was starting to sort of fold out of the thing because he I think he had gotten sober. So he came in and heard Coma. He's like, "I don't get it." He made this big chart.

DD: Really?

Duff: Yeah. Well, that's just it changes so many times.

DD: Yeah. And Izzy is kind of an old school kind of songwriter of just, "Verse-chorus, verse-chorus, we're out," right?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: And to come into something like that, was he starting to go like, "I don't know what this band is anymore?"

Duff: Oh, no, no, there was none of that.

Duff: No, I got it. Yeah. Again, he was back in, you know, we were band back to each other's material, you know, no problem. But that was a big piece of material. Slash and I always sat in a room and played stuff over and over and over again, with Steven or after that with Matt. Over and over and over again. Even now we rehearse super hard. Because you want it to be muscle memory. You don't want to record something-

DD: You don't want to be thinking about it.

Duff: No, not being sure of the song.

DD: There's not going to be any feel.

Duff: So we were in with Matt at Mates for a minute, you know.

DD: And Izzy wasn't around?

Duff: Izzy came in and out. And to be honest with you, I don't really remember, [?] But the first thing you think about when you go into the studio, of course, is the bass and drums. So that's got to be on.

DD: And then you can just do anything from there.

Duff: But you want Slash, you want guitar players playing with you so you get the feel. But so Slash and I and Matt played and like November Rain, that's live piano. You know, and the strings, all that stuff is live.

DD: Live track through there, huh?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: That's amazing. And then just dub leads and vocals and you're on?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: Holy smokes. That's insane. That is one thing about that record is how giant and big and you know, it has feel. It doesn't feel like something of like later on, you probably would have Pro Tools did all up and just move shit around, you know? But man, it has air, you know, which is weird for a giant, giant track of, say, of like Estranged to have this breath of air, like you could feel like, "Oh, this feels great."

Duff: Yeah, and it's great. That song is one of my favorite to play live.

DD: Oh, I think it's the masterpiece of the record.

Duff: Oh, cool.

DD: You know, Estranged, I think is like by far one of the most incre.. the lyrics, everything to me is like, like I said, a lot like in Justice, I was like, "Oh, well, I don't even know how you would even go about writing this song," you know. At the time of me being a kid in '90, '91, '92 playing music, I'm just kind of like, "What?" You know, I'm just over here learning how to play Back In Black, you know, and like, that stuff is so insane. I mean, I could wrap my head around Yesterdays or 14 Years all day long. That's just kind of jangly rock, you know? But this other stuff, you get into it and it's like, "Wow!" you know?

Duff: Yeah, there was big moments in there, like the learning curve. Axl brought in Estranged on piano. I wasn't quick enough to read what he was doing on the keyboard to translate that to bass, or Slash to guitar. So we just learned it the hard way. You know, one time he stopped, he came down to Mates, we're playing, he's like, "Are you even playing...?" He looked at me, he's like, "Are you even playing the right notes?" I'm like, "I'm just trying to figure this thing out," man, because it's a big epic. But once I understood the song and when Slash understood that song, Estranged, particularly... And Slash did some stuff on guitar that was uncharted territory for him. With making the dolphin sounds.

DD: Yeah. All the roll on stuff.

Duff: That's just roll on.

DD: Yes, of course. He doesn't use volume swell stuff.

Duff: Yeah. It's a Marshall and his Les Paul or whatever he's using, and a pick.

DD: Yeah, it's great though.

Duff: Yeah. But getting that breath and space with the bass and drums too, you know, really important. The pick up, the pulling it back down and pushing. Really important. We worked really hard. You know, I can't really explain how hard that band works and works now, cause it's all about just being the best you can be. Even back then when everybody else thought we were just just drinking and doing drugs.

DD: That's what I thought. And then when that comes out-

Duff: We were doing that, but that was at night. That's when we were done. And, there was two different sides of that band for sure.

DD: I think the first song I hear off it, I remember almost specifically perfect vision, I was coming over the Golden Gate Bridge, coming into the San Francisco, I remember the guy going, "This is some brand new Guns N' Roses," and he played Civil War. I don't know what was that out before the records for something?

Duff: Wasn't it for a movie? Days of Thunder or something?

DD: Right. Because I remember it being out before so that's why Adler plays on it. But it comes on and I remember immediately going, "Oh, this band's going to be way beyond what they just did." You know what I mean? That was a map right there, or a sign right there, of like, because that song was way different. And it was just so you know, the front part with the movie, "What we got here," you know, and the big grandeurs opening with the whistling, you know, and it was just like, "Whoa, this is going to be great." So by the time the records drop, I really loosened my mind. And the whole thing of the Tower Records line up late at night to get it. And the insanity when you guys turn the record in, the records in, and you're fighting the label to put out two, are they like, "Hey, what is this?" Are they on board at all? Like Zutaut still around, right?

Duff: Yeah, no, they were really trying to get it down to one record.

DD: Did you try to make it one record?

Duff: No. Our feet were pretty well planted at that point. And we went on tour. You know, Axl was still doing vocals while we were on that Illusions tour. The records weren't out.

DD: Is that right?

Duff: Yeah, we were playing songs from Illusions and the records weren't out.

DD: Well, I remember the kickoff, you did a secret show at the Warfield in San Fran.

Duff: We did one in San Fran, we did one in LA. One in New York.

DD: I remember it, man. It was just like, "All right, if you're in San Francisco right now, there's some tickets just went on sale for Guns N' Roses at the Warfield." It was like, "What!?" It was like this crazy, like out of the studio show, like you guys getting out of the studio or something. Cars were crashing and shit. Like fucking people just locked them up on the street there that the Warfield's on and ran and got tickets. My buddy ran down from work. I was at work somewhere else, he goes, "I got us two." I still got the stub. It's a giant ticket like Willy Wonka.

Duff: Yeah, I remember that.

DD: Yeah. And I remember you guys played tunes from it. And Axl had a new haircut. And you guys were, it was like, "What the?" I think it was one of the greatest gigs I've ever seen. And I was like, "Wow, this is a different band." So you guys are on the Illusion Tour and it's not even done yet. I don't even remember that. Really?

Duff: I don't know how many months, but it was a couple of months.

DD: Wow. And you're out playing the songs, and are people just staring at you? Like, "What is this?"

Duff: I mean, there was probably some of that, but we didn't sense it. We just were doing our thing, you know? So it was kind of like when we were first a new band, you go out and play your songs at clubs. Nobody doesn't have a record of them. So it was just that, a little larger. And we were playing songs well and all of that. So then when the records came out, then it made more sense for everybody else, but it made sense to us from the beginning.

DD: How did you sequence this record? Because this was a big thing. You and I talked about on the last episode of sequencing how it's an art. You've got what is it? 24 songs or something.

Duff: I remember I think everybody kind of turned in there.

DD: How do you pick one and two? Like, "This is one." Because you know, like if you look at Tattoo You, let's say, of Stones, it's only a single record, but side one is all up tempo, side two is balance. So you know what the theme is there. With you guys, you could easily do a theme of like, "Here's the rockers," and then, "Here's the way out there tunes and the," you know.

Duff: Yeah, I don't think we wanted to separate any of that, you know, and dictate how a person should listen to the records. I remember making like, "Here's what I think is..." I think we all turned in, like, "Here's what I think it should be." And I think it was just a kind of a mix of all of that in the end. It's got to be democratic with something like that. And it ended up great, you know? I remember the records coming out, Slash and I did that Tower Records thing, we went out and went up, there was a two way glass office. So we got to go up back behind and watch people come in at midnight. And then I remember going, "Wait, what's on I and what's on II?" But because by that point I had kind of forgotten. And you'd have to, I wouldn't be able to tell you right now what's on I or II.

DD: Oh yeah, yeah, me either, cause they'd become a blur now, you know? I know that II is my record.

Duff: Okay.

DD: Definitely. Everybody has a thing, II is my record. It had So Fine. I thought So Fine was incredible, man. I always loved that tune. It had Estranged, I think it has Yesterdays. That's a good thing. Hold on. I want to look just real quick. I got it right here. It'll be a funny test, you know, but it is a saga, right? It's like, here we go. So, Illusion I: Right Next Door to Hell, Dust N' Bones, Live and Let Die, Don't Cry, Perfect Crime, You Ain't the First, Bad Obsession, Back Off Bitch, Double Talkin' Jive - which is incredible.

Duff: Yeah, we play that.

DD: Yeah.

Duff: With a head and arm in the garbage can.

DD: Yeah. November Rain, The Garden, Garden of Eden, Don't Damn Me, Bad Apples, Dead Horse, Coma. That's I, and then II. Here's, this is me II-

Duff: So that was I?

DD: That was I. II to me is the one. It's Civil War - which is just a masterpiece - 14 Years. Is that West Arkeen also that? 14 Years? Or Yesterdays?

Duff: Yesterdays.

DD: Yesterdays.

Duff: Yeah. And The Garden. That was an old, that was like from '85.

DD: Wow. Yesterdays, Knockin' on Heaven's door, Get In the Ring, Shotgun Blues, Breakdown, Pretty Tied Up, Shotgun Blues-

Duff: I love Shotgun Blues, that was one of my favorite songs. Where Axl's playing guitar.

DD: Oh yeah?

Duff: Yeah. I love that song.

DD: He played guitar on that? On the record, but not live, right? Cause-

Duff: No, just on the record. And his guitar playing style. I just love cause it was so dirty. So simple and dirty and then you need that kind of thing once in a while, especially in such an epic big record. And he's like, "I got this thing." And that's how he learned to play a guitar, I think, was writing Shotgun Blues.

DD: Wow. I never see him with a guitar in his hand. You never saw a photo of him with an acoustic like, "Hey, when I'm around the house, I write a little songs," you know. It's interesting because you always see Jagger, you know, he's got to let you know, you know, like here comes mischief. [?] Shotgun Blues, Breakdown - which is great - Pretty Tied Up - my favorite besides Estranged - So Fine, Locomotive, that's a great one. God, that's a smasher. You Could Be Mine, which was the smasher for the movie. And Don't Cry again, and then My World. And, you know.

Duff: I think My World's great, too.

DD: My World's great. When it comes out and you're watching, you're looking down on, are you just minds blown like, "Look at these people are buying," and they're buying both of them at the time. That's a CD. That's to what $24 or something? Remember that?

Duff: Yeah, I wasn't observing like the buying patterns, but just the excitement of people. We went to dinner or something and then we came back behind and just to watch this because it was exciting for us too. We didn't get to do that on Appetite. There was no midnight release. There was nothing of that crap. Like, "Wow, there's a midnight release." Like, some of my favorite bands have done this.

DD: Yeah, I think MTV was out there, right? I think so. They were covering it and there's people sleeping and they were running out. I remember, you know, Kurt Loder, you know, people coming out, "I got him!" And there was two and there was you got to see the cover. You know, there's no internet. You didn't see the cover before that. You're like, "Whoa, it's another painting, it's not Robert Williams this time. What is this? It's a guy thinking, what?" You know, there are two colors, all of that, man, it's the organicness of that. It's just killer. You know, you sell like... what? I think, what do you guys sell? Like three million or something like each right away?

Duff: You know, the numbers of what that band sold is kind of astounding, you know? You're not living in a real world when you're hearing those numbers that first week. You're just, "Okay, well, let's go back to rehearsal. Let's get ready for the tour." You know? That was the beginning of my kind of real dive into the darkness. So like Matt, you said he gave a tour of the studio and, "Here's where the piano was. And here's where that's..." I wouldn't be able to do that.

DD: Really?

Duff: No.

DD: Wow. Now, when you're starting to get high, it's funny because dudes are dying. You know, West is gone like and Todd dies.

Duff: Todd died early.

DD: Yeah. And dudes are dying. It still was no fear, right? It's kind of a thing like, "Dudes are dying, but we keep going." It's almost like a war, you know?

Duff: My buddy Jim died first, and I was living on Gardner, and he was about to come down from Seattle to LA, and I got a call from his mom. She was crying, and... Big Jim was a guy, like super close pal with all of us. We had a Seattle contingent, all these guys, Donner and Yogi and all these guys, Big Jim. And so Jim passed, OD'ed, and then Todd, he and I were super, super close. And him passing, his mom calling me in the middle of the night in LA, four in the morning, woke me up. She goes, "Tell me Todd's next to you in bed," you know, "he's in your apartment." Like, "What?" you know, "no." "Please tell him he's there. They say he's dead." You know, I got up. I'm like... So that hit me. There was guys dying around us. Yeah, but it wasn't a wake-up call as it maybe should have been. For me, I think the more that happened, the more I isolated myself and got more into it just to just to damp down the pain of that stuff and dampen down the pain of your own addiction. When you realize you're fully addicted it's not the best feeling. This wasn't what you got in a rock and roll for, this wasn't part of your dream. Being a junkie is not a part of your dream. Being an alcoholic is not a part of your dream.

DD: Were you cocaine or heroin also?

Duff: I did whatever there was. Mainly drinking. So if I was too high on cocaine, [?]. You know?

DD: Oh yeah, I gotcha.

Duff: Yeah, it was not a... I'd done psychedelics in my teenage years, stuff, so I was past that. It was all just hard drugs. Pills. A lot of alcohol. You know, that was my poison. Really was the combination of stuff. And, I think for me, you know, there's a lot of not knowing how to deal with stuff, so this will work for now. And then realizing, I think me at like 27, I thought, "Well, I've got two years left," and being okay with that.

DD: Yeah, it's coming to an end.

Duff: It's coming to an end. And my thing did come to an end, but my pancreas burst and the rest is kind of history. I got clean and sober.

DD: It's crazy when you see photos of you from the Illusion tour.

Duff: Yeah, it's not pretty.

DD: There's no neck, really. It's just the-

Duff: There's no life in my eyes.

DD: The bloat of you was unbelievable.

Duff: Liver stopped working. It wasn't weight. I wasn't eating any food.

DD: Wow, no food, huh?

Duff: No, no food, no water.

DD: Yeah. No food, no water?

Duff: No water. I didn't touch water from the age of 20 to 30.

DD: No water, just booze only?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: Holy shit. And then, like, what, soda or something?

Duff: Vodka, straight, touch of cranberry.

DD: Wow. And then just no water?

Duff: No. So like my liver stopped, like stuff stopped working and then that's when the bloat comes on and then my feet and hands were cracking. Hair was falling out. I saw pictures when I was writing my book, that's when I started like, well, you gotta, you know, put pictures in the middle. Especially of, you know, like my wife and the good stuff, but you gotta put the bad stuff in. And I found one picture of me and I've got my hand up, it's in the book, and there's no life in my eyes. Just like a totally different person than I really was inside. You know, and that I would become, and that I was before. But that picture shook me, you know. Ten years into being sober, I saw that picture of me, like, "Oh shit," you know. Or 15 years into being sober, like, "Wow. That's why people were so worried about me, yeah, I see it now," you know. And there was plenty of people that were trying to get me to stop and all kinds of stuff. But you know, you avoid them, then you drink and you use on that too, you know?

DD: Were you guys, were you big enough at the time where you just had dealers rolling with you at all times? Like how were you guys scoring? Of course there's no street drugs anymore. You just have guys that are flying in or they traveling with you?

Duff: No, no traveling. No, we didn't do any of that. You know, you can always pick up whatever you need in the country you're going to. Through various ways.

DD: Of course, I get that, but you know, after a while, like, you ever watch Cock Sucker Blues? The Stones? That guy shows up, the dealer, "Where's the goddamn money?" That white guy in the bayou? That's one of the weirdest scenes I've ever seen. They're all shooting up and he wants the money? Oh my God. It gets pretty dark out there.

Duff: Yeah, it gets pretty dark out there. There was some, you know, I went to some pretty dodgy places to get drugs.

DD: Oh yeah? You would go out and get-

Duff: Yeah.

DD: Wow. Just a rich rock star could easily get, my buddies were junkies and they got rockin'-

Duff: Not when you needed it right then and there, man. We would go to the dodgy, you know... In Philly, I went to a place and back some guy's fuckin' beat up shitty car and he got out of the car with the keys. And it was like the kids on the street with the baseball bats and all that shit, people hanging on the stoops and just looking at a white boy. I was in the back of a car. I was like, "Oh, maybe I won't make the Spectrum tonight."

DD: Whoa, this is the Illusion era?

Duff: Yeah.

DD: And you go solo?

Duff: There's so many stories of this kind of stuff.

DD: These are great stories because they're really, really wild to think about.

Duff: So we landed in Philly. I needed to get what I needed to get. And there was... You can scope out the dodgy. The places you need to go to. So there was like a pizza place down the street from the... pizza place bar. "There it is." Down the street from the hotel. I just got out of my car and went in there. Coming in from the airport. There was sure enough, there's a guy. "Yeah, we can go. We can make it happen."

DD: Did the guy know it was you like, "Holy shit, this is Duff McKagan"?

Duff: Maybe, but that wasn't important to me at the moment. We got in his car. We went down to the hood. And you know, there's a lot of those kinds of-

DD: Runs.

Duff: Runs.

DD: Yeah. Promoters taking you places.

Duff: Promoters were great for that, for sure. I remember going to a strip club in Alabama, like out in the rural, not in the city. But that's where this guy was. And I got out there. And there was a chick, like full term pregnant chick dancing on the stage. Just gnarly. I'm like, "Oh, fuck." But this is what, you know, it's what it gotta be to get what I need. Yeah, out just like super rural, super gnarly, sketchy.

DD: That's radical to think, right? Like a giant rock star at the time is out on solo drug runs. You know, not sending McBob or anybody.

Duff: No, McBob wouldn't go do that for me. No way. No, nobody would go out and get it for you because you are such a mess. You got to do it on your own.

DD: Wow. That's when it gets dark. It's interesting that you wouldn't travel with a buddy, then at the time-

Duff: I had a buddy come out here and there.

DD: Yeah, people party buddies like, "Hey, you go get it, here's the money, I'll be here in the room, hurry up," you know? Yeah, especially once you're that deep, you don't even care if you got arrested then, you know? Cause that's a time where if you got arrested, man, it'd be everywhere, like, and then you couldn't travel.

Duff: No, you did everything you could do not to get arrested. Keep a low profile. In and out, try to make it real quick. You know? Yeah. Yeah, the cops never... I never had a problem there. I did not want to get arrested, so I did everything I could do.

DD: When you guys are out, is it really, it's when the wheels fall off, of course, of the Illusion tour, because Izzy decides to get sober. Are you looking at him like, "Oh, this guy's an outsider now"?

Duff: No, I was happy for him. He was really, really bad.

DD: He was bad? Worse than you. He was worse than you?

Duff: Yeah. Yeah, because I wasn't really that bad through Appetite and all that stuff at all. My shit really happened in Illusion. Something personally happened that just took me down a different road and I started really up in my whole jam. And then once you're up your jam, it's hard to bring it back down. So you just kind of stay.

DD: There was one thing that knocked you into that?

Duff: There was one, yeah.

DD: What was it?

Duff: No, I won't tell you. Kind of wrote up around it in my book.

DD: Gotcha. I've said it once and you know, I'm good with that. I got it out of my system. Did it without blaming somebody else really, because I'm the one who took the bow by the horns and went down that road. I'm sure plenty of other avenues I could have gone. Anyhow, yeah, Izzy got sober during the making of Illusions.

DD: [?] he got a classic rehab or just-

Duff: He got arrested. He pissed in the galley of a plane.

DD: Oh, that's right. I remember that.

Duff: He got arrested in Phoenix and they threw him in there and he was jonesing and threw him in jail. It was jonesing and that was his turning point. It's like, "I don't know" the guys he saw in jail and jonesing in jail and all that stuff. And he, yeah, he turned it around. I don't know if he went to classic rehab. I don't remember, is all, but he did. He got himself clean. He got a motorcycle. Started riding with clean guys like the whole thing and... I understood it and that he couldn't really hang with us. When he toured with us then he stayed in different hotels, tour bus, and I respected it. We all respected it, nobody wanted him to go back to using it again. Because he was pretty bad, you know. And when he decided to leave that was... there was no... He probably could have picked a better time [laughs], but you know, he picked the time. And that was it. And we had to deal with it. And we, you know, luckily we found Gilby in that short little period of time. A guy who was willing to learn all this stuff, kind of played same similar style, and could go on the road. Not everybody can do that. Just fit into that position and be cool with it.

DD: And at the time, the biggest band in the world, hands down.

Duff: Gilby just kind of did the work that was in front of him and learned all the songs and didn't, you know... he held his place down on the stage. He was great. [?] to Izzy, there was no ill feelings, not to this day, you know. Respect the guy a ton.

DD: You ever see him? I think I was talking to somebody. Oh, I think it was-

Duff: Wasn't he down there at the [?] No, he wasn't there when we were doing the Walking Papers.

DD: No. But Kushner told me a great story where you guys were out on tour in Velvet Revolver in like Italy and a knock on the tour bus and it was just him on a bicycle.

Duff: Yeah.

DD: He was riding a bike through like Europe. And he goes, "Hey, I'll hang out with you guys." He just left the bike there locked up and got on the bus with you guys.

Duff: Yeah.

DD: That was the first time you'd seen him in years?

Duff: Not maybe me personally, cause we'd played with him at the beginning of Velvet Revolver.

DD: Oh, that's right. Just to see what that was going to be like.

Duff: So he came out and played like, I don't know, six shows with us, kind of stayed with us for a while. That was fun. It's cool. But Izzy does that, he'll pop in and pop out and he really kind of does his own thing and I respect it all.

DD: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. He's definitely the most mysterious man besides Axl. You know what I mean? You're like, you got to think about a guy who was in the biggest band ever and you just don't see, you know, during the negotiations or the band coming together, he was around for a minute. But that was the first time he was kind of around. I didn't even know he had an Instagram. All of a sudden he's playing acoustic. He's like, "Hey, here I am." You're like, "Oh shit, there he is," you know? Last I heard from him, he lived in Indiana and had like a go-kart track. You know, you always hear great stories. "He's got like a go-kart track and he just chills!"

Duff: Yeah, I hear those stories too.

DD: I love rock and roll, man. I recently read that Slash said that he hated the whole Velvet Revolver time now that he looks at it.

Duff: Yeah?

DD: I don't know. It could be fake news. I don't know. You know, just reading. He's doing a lot of press right now because he's about to launch a record. But you feel like that or was it good times or was it just kind of-

Duff: It was... Like the first record and doing all that stuff was good times. It turned. It turned, for sure. And it became pretty difficult. A lot of things outside of our control, really. And luckily I didn't go down the dark road again on that second record, but there was a lot of that going down.

DD: Oh wow. Band-wise, actually?

Duff: Just kind of, yeah, everywhere. So it got tough. But I don't look back at the whole thing as an awful experience. It was great. Like that first record, we went out and kicked some serious ass. Great songs and it was good for all of us at the time.

DD: Yeah, man. I mean, you had some hits and a second life almost, you know. You guys gonna do a record? I know everybody asks you that. You know what I mean?

Duff: They do, don't they?

DD: They do. They do. It's like, it's funny. It's an interesting world of like you do a record for yourself, but what is a record these days? You know, as far as the industry and the landscape, you know, it's so weird, right? I mean, you guys are in - are you even on a record deal? There's no record deal, right? So you could potentially just do a record and sell it yourselves. How great would that be?

Duff: Listen to you. You got it all figured out.

DD: [laughs] Well, I mean, the amount of money you could make because you owned it all, you know. Do you guys own Appetite now and stuff? Pretty soon?

Duff: [?] a couple of years.

DD: Oh yeah, 35 years or something. But I mean, you know, it's such a weird game to do a record. You know, do you just do some songs or what, you know - I love you smile right now. You're not going to answer that at all.

Duff: Well, things feel good in the band, that's all I can say.

DD: That's great.

Duff: Things are super positive.

DD: I never press anything, it's like, I love just talking to you about it, cause these are questions, of course I have, you know? Slash said that Axl had a zillion songs.

Duff: He does.

DD: Yeah. And you know what was, I did wanna bring this up, Slither went into the set list. How did that come about?

Duff: Axl wanted to play it.

DD: He just one day said, "Hey, I like Slither"?

Duff: "I'd like to try Slither."

DD: Were you guys like, "What?"

Duff: Yeah. So, yeah, we've added and subtracted a few songs throughout the time. You know the Glen Campbell song - which I love playing - you know, but he passed and Axl said, "Can you guys learn that song?" So it was backstage before a gig one night in North Carolina. So such a strange guitar-wise song. And we played it, I think, man, maybe that night or the next night. And it just kind of remained in our setlist. It's a nice spot for him to breathe and it's a cool showcase of his mid range voice, I think.

DD: Yeah.

Duff: It's great. Black Hole Son, we started for obvious reasons.

DD: Of course.

Duff: What else? What else have we added? Cover of what? We've always been a band that's done covers.

DD: Yeah, of course. Yeah, of course. There's a lot of covers in there. You know, was there any plan ever to go do the Appetite for the celebration with the box set top to bottom? I mean, you guys play pretty much the whole record now. I've seen you like five times on this run. And every time I go, I don't get My Michelle I'm like, "God damn it!" That's my favorite song on the record. It's funny.

Duff: We played it a bunch.

DD: Oh, yeah. You just weave it in and out. But was there a plan to do that? It's funny because remember when the box was coming out and the posters around they're like, "Oh! Here comes original line up now," you know, cuz there's just no word, you know, "It's not original lineup, dude, it's just the box is coming out," you know. Did you think of ever playing the record top to bottom? I thought for sure you were gonna do that at the Troubadour, I was just gonna come out, this is where it started top to bottom, boom!

Duff: You know, with this band something like that can always happen.

DD: Right. Illusions top to bottom would be rad, like next tour, because you got to start thinking about different stuff now on another... You guys have been out, what now? Two years? You got to start thinking some set list and some new ideas to get some around three and four in there of ticket buyers. So now you get into some themes.

Duff: There's some good ideas going out there.

DD: Yeah. [laughs] We know what AC/DC's is gonna do, man. They're gonna do that 40 year anniversary of Back in Black. There's no way, they got those guys back. They're in Vancouver right now recording, and that could be the biggest tour of all time. If you went out and did 40 year anniversary of Back in Black with the dudes, man. You go out and do the Illusion tour.

Duff: Man, you know a lot about what's going on out there.

DD: That's because I love rock and roll, dude. Alright, I'm gonna get out of your hair, dude.

Duff: I'm just in the gym every day and doing my nerdy stuff, be dad, and go play Loaded shows and stuff.

DD: Are you gonna do some more Loaded shows?

Duff: Oh, we played the other night.

DD: I know, Seattle.

Duff: It was fucking awesome.

DD: How great is that? Where'd you play?

Duff: We played Slim's Last Chance on the outside. And it sold out in like five minutes. It was for this great cause, this thing. I have two daughters and it's for this foundation. They built a house for these young, young girls who are in sex trafficking. So it's funding their 800 number in this house and this foundation. And so all the guys in Loaded are kind of, you know, real men dudes. And we were sent to do the show for sure. And it was great for us to get back together. And we rehearsed for six days and everybody came in already knowing the shit. Super fun. But I don't know if I'll do more shows. I think there's plenty to do for me right now.

DD: What are you gonna do? Because Slash is gonna do Miles Kennedy tour like real quick and stuff. What are you gonna do?

Duff: There's other things for me to do. You're curious, aren't you?

DD: Hell yeah, dude, I'm talking to you, man. [laughs] I love whenever I ask a question that you don't want to answer, you just kind of ball up. Yeah, you're like, you got a smile on your face, like, next question. Which is awesome. It's awesome. Let me make sure I asked you everything here, because I just-

Duff: You asked me a lot.

DD: I did. You know what I mean? You know, you got to understand. You guys are like, to me, it's like-

Duff: For those of you listening, Dean, this was only supposed to be about the making of Illusions I and II.

DD: Any plans for the Ritz concert to put out on DVD ever or whatever?

Duff: Nothing planned.

DD: Yeah. Cause that thing's such a masterpiece. I pretty much asked all the stuff I wanted to ask, you know.

Duff: Are you going to make this three hour conversation into like, now do you edit this whole thing?

DD: Nah, dude, this is great. We had scrambled eggs. I met your pug dog. And I got to do it at your house. I can't thank you enough for real because-

Duff: I'm gonna show you the rest of the house.

DD: Yeah, and you know, I am a lunatic on Guns N' Roses. But it's because it's so monumental in my life what the band was and still is. And those Illusion records, I chant those out everywhere I go, people are like, "Yeah, Appetite!" I go, "Yeah man, I'm Appetite-ed out." I actually got Appetite-ed out about two years ago and I was like, "It's these records over here, man are the... The reason all those other bands are long gone and this band's in an arena still right now, is yeah, yeah, Sweet Child O' Mine and Paradise City and all that, but it was because they made these two records. Without those two records, they're out there, and no disrespect to any of the other bands, but they're tumbleweeds and they're on those, you know, super five, ten band festivals," you know what I mean? Without those. Because it took it to another, you know-

Duff: Yeah, maybe you're right.

DD: I believe it, I believe it. And thank God you're still alive. And I believe we ran into each other at the airport for a reason. I think that, like, my life's like that, you know? Like I run into things and it's like, they're keys to doors that, that get open. You're like, "Oh, I found the key at JFK to part two." Well, thanks man. And you're going to come to a [?] I can't wait.

Duff: 29th?

DD: 28th, Friday night. Do you want to come down and jam with us during today? We've got all the gear and we'll play any songs you want.

Duff: You guys just jammed during the day?

DD: Yeah, we're going to have a full set of SIR gear there. Burr on drums and come play and have dinner with us. Bring your wife. Bring your daughter. She can sing. Tell us what song. And we'll have her sing a song.

Duff: I Want To Be Your Dog.

DD: OK, we'll learn that one. And we'll all play during the day in the Forum. You played the Forum, right? GN'R, how many times?

Duff: The new Forum. We played there two or three nights. I forget.

DD: Oh, on the last run, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Duff: The new Forum.

DD: Did you ever play back in the day?

Duff: Yeah, we played a couple, three times on Illusions.

DD: Yeah. So you want to do that? Come jam with us.

Duff: I'll come jam with you.

DD: It'd be great. We'll eat, have fun and play rock and roll.

Duff: Perfect.

DD: And some Zeppelin, whatever you want to play.

Duff: Perfect.

DD: All right, guys. Thanks for tuning into an episode of Let There Be Talk. Are you guys going out before we head... Going back out? GN'R, in May, right?

Duff: In November.

DD: Oh, November. Oh, where are you going?

Duff: We're going to Jakarta, Manila, Hong Kong, Taipei, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur.

DD: I wanna go out for a week with you guys.

Duff: Johannesburg.

DD: Just a week, right? A week run, like on the Illusion when I was out with you guys for two weeks. I wanna go out on that just to see that. There's some job I can do for you, right?

Duff: Probably, something out there.

DD: I can open up for you guys.

Duff: Well, you wouldn't have to go out and score drugs for us.

DD: No. All right, guys. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Let There Be Talk. There it is. It happened. Part two. Duff McKagan. Thank you, guys. I love you.

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Post by Soulmonster Sun Feb 25, 2024 10:52 am

Excerpts from Alternative Nation:

Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan was asked by Dean Delray in a new interview about Izzy Stradlin’s exclusion from the reunion. Alternative Nation transcribed quotes.

Dean mentioned the mystique who was going to be in the band.

Dean mentioned the rumors at the time, “Is Izzy in? Then boom, there is the Troubadour, and you see who is in. Then reports coming out of course, Izzy wanted this or whatever. It gets down to money, is that stuff real? Or is it a lot of fabricated stuff?”

Duff said, “I’m not sure what exactly you’re talking about. The thing is, I don’t really go on social media, or on the computer. When I’m busy doing my thing, nose to the grindstone, that’s what I’m doing. So we were rehearsing and doing stuff, I know there were a lot of rumors probably flying around, my wife would tell me stuff. I’m like no, that’s absolutely not anything close to what is happening. You know, I don’t really want to talk about machinations of how that came together. I’d rather it remain one of the last remaining mysteries. A lot of hard work, just a lot of hard work, and it was a real positive vibe about the whole thing.”

“Things were tried, and ascended to and not amended to, and you’ve just got to let it go, that’s it, and keep your nose to the grindstone. That was it, but it was all very positive.”
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Post by Soulmonster Tue Mar 12, 2024 6:56 pm

Finished with this.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Mar 13, 2024 2:19 pm

What personal stuff is Duff talking about here? The failed marriages? The anxiety attacks?

[...] I wasn't really that bad through Appetite and all that stuff at all. My shit really happened in Illusion. Something personally happened that just took me down a different road and I started really up in my whole jam. And then once you're up your jam, it's hard to bring it back down. So you just kind of stay. [...] I won't tell you [what it was]. Kind of wrote up around it in my book. I've said it once and you know, I'm good with that. I got it out of my system. Did it without blaming somebody else really, because I'm the one who took the bow by the horns and went down that road. I'm sure plenty of other avenues I could have gone.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Mar 13, 2024 2:22 pm

Soulmonster wrote:What personal stuff is Duff talking about here? The failed marriages? The anxiety attacks?

[...] I wasn't really that bad through Appetite and all that stuff at all. My shit really happened in Illusion. Something personally happened that just took me down a different road and I started really up in my whole jam. And then once you're up your jam, it's hard to bring it back down. So you just kind of stay. [...] I won't tell you [what it was]. Kind of wrote up around it in my book. I've said it once and you know, I'm good with that. I got it out of my system. Did it without blaming somebody else really, because I'm the one who took the bow by the horns and went down that road. I'm sure plenty of other avenues I could have gone.
Based on his autobiography, it was the failure of his first marriage with Mandy Brix.

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Post by Soulmonster Wed Mar 13, 2024 2:34 pm

Blackstar wrote:
Soulmonster wrote:What personal stuff is Duff talking about here? The failed marriages? The anxiety attacks?

[...] I wasn't really that bad through Appetite and all that stuff at all. My shit really happened in Illusion. Something personally happened that just took me down a different road and I started really up in my whole jam. And then once you're up your jam, it's hard to bring it back down. So you just kind of stay. [...] I won't tell you [what it was]. Kind of wrote up around it in my book. I've said it once and you know, I'm good with that. I got it out of my system. Did it without blaming somebody else really, because I'm the one who took the bow by the horns and went down that road. I'm sure plenty of other avenues I could have gone.

Based on his autobiography, it was the failure of his first marriage with Mandy Brix.

Thanks, I was about to pick up the book to figure it out but remembered you already have all of this in your brain, ready to be accessed at short notice.
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