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2002.02.DD - Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles - Duff McKagan: Loaded And Sober

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2002.02.DD - Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles - Duff McKagan: Loaded And Sober Empty 2002.02.DD - Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles - Duff McKagan: Loaded And Sober

Post by Blackstar on Sat May 09, 2020 8:05 pm

Loaded And Sober

Special Report By Aaron Small

Duff McKagan, former bassist for Guns N' Roses is ready once again to step onto stages the world over, this time with his new band Loaded. Consisting of Duff on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Geoff Reading (ex-New American Shame) on drums, and two former members of Alien Crime Syndicate, Mike Squires on lead guitar and Jeff Rouse on bass.

Loaded's debut album, Dark Days, produced by Martin Feveyear, was recorded in about a month, as Duff recalls. "It took six weeks from beginning to end. Not a hell of a long time. It's been out in Japan on EMI since August 2001. People in the States kept asking about the record and it was like, fuck, I don't know when it's coming out." So Duff and the boys printed up copies on their own label, Pimp Records, and sold them at shows and over the Internet via Recently inking a deal with Artist Direct, Dark Days will be released in North America this June, causing the website sale to be withdrawn.

The first song on the album, 'Seattlehead' was initially released in 1996 as the b-side to the Neurotic Outsiders' single 'Jerk'. Duff played in the Neurotic Outsiders with Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), John Taylor (Duran Duran) and Matt Sorum (GN'R). "That was a killer fucking band. But nobody knows the song 'Seattlehead'. It was just a b-side and I love that song. No one ever really got to hear it. It's very rare that you know about it."

Explaining the title of the album, Duff had the following to say. "There was a presence on the song 'Dark Days' in the studio that really let itself be known. I sang the final line and everyone in the studio said, 'that's the fucking title of the record.' The album is a little dark. Some of the subject matter is dark and a lot of the songs are in minor keys. None of the songs are real happy like let's drink a six pack."

In fact, drinking is something Duff hasn't done for seven years now. "I had acute pancreatitis, which is not fun. It was pretty scary. That's what changed everything. That's what drew the line in the sand. When you get out of the hospital, if you drink, you're going to die! That very day, you'll die! That's pretty black and white." So is it easy to maintain sobriety? "Easy is not the word but hard is not the word either. It's just my way of life now. I don't have a choice so it's not easy or hard, that's just the way it is. For me to say, oh, sometimes I really crave a drink, would be copping out."

Besides shedding the bottle, and cigarettes as well, Duff has enrolled in school. "I'm going to Seattle University, majoring in business and finance. I've still got eight quarters 'til I graduate. This quarter, because I went to Japan and we've got some shows, I'm doing my course on-line. They only let you do that for one quarter though. So I've got to figure out what I'm going to do. I might go spring quarter, and then not go summer quarter and tour North America and Europe in the summer. I really, really love school but I really, really love touring so I'll figure it out. You can always go to school, the way I figure it. I'm two years in and it's amazing. It's really killer." Rather ironic that a kid who didn't graduate high school because he started playing in bands, finished his freshman college year with a 4.0 average.

"You always want what you don't have," explains Duff. "I wouldn't have been able to go to college back then anyway because our family was too big. Every kid couldn't go to college. Financially it was not possible. My dad was a fireman and my parents got divorced when I was a little kid. It was no big deal. It just wasn't an option. I've always read, even when I was really fucked up, trying to expand my knowledge. Guns N' Roses, financially, did a lot. Throughout the course of all that, it's either learn about it or get ripped off. In the course of learning about it, I actually started to like that side of things. A lot of people think that's really boring but to me it 's kind of like a crossword puzzle, I like it."

Do the other students harass Duff because of his past in Guns N' Roses? "Not during class. They're real cool. It's a close knit little school. People are totally conscious of me being there but they're also totally conscious of it being their school and school is really hard. Everybody's in it together; the professors just throw it at you and you have to keep up. Nobody's got time for that shit. We have a school email system, and at night I'll check my email and some chick will say, 'hey can I get an autograph? It' s my boyfriend's birthday.' That's cool."

Returning to the topic of music, Duff's first solo album, Believe In Me was released in 1993 on Geffen. He recorded a second solo album that currently sits collecting dust in a warehouse. Duff relays the not so happy story of why he opted to form a new band rather than continue to release music as a solo artist.

"Well there was the record that was going to come out on Geffen that didn't, that was going to be Duff McKagan. After that thing with Geffen going under and then Interscope not releasing the record, it took quite awhile for me to get my wind back. That was fucked up. It was so corporate and so bullshit. It had nothing to do with music. So I just wanted to start fresh with something new. It doesn't matter; what's in a fucking name? I'd go out as Duff McKagan. But I wanted to start a band. I wanted to be with guys who felt a part of it. I know people will figure out that I'm in Loaded and those people will come to the gigs. But I hope new people will come to the gigs too."

Will we ever get to hear that shelved album? "I don't know," admits Duff. "I own the songs, they own the tapes." In order to release it now, Duff would have to re-record everything. "It's such a shame. I put so much work into that. The first single had already gone to radio, and Geffen was behind it. They had a whole marketing plan. I was going up to Geffen every day for a couple of weeks doing press, all the photos, the artwork, everything. I go up there one day and everybody's crying and kicking the walls and shit. I'm like, what the fuck's going on? Everybody lost their jobs; Geffen had been bought. So for me to get those tapes back, I would have to get a lawyer and go through all that bullshit. I don't know what I'm going to do."

Putting the unpleasant past behind him, Duff focuses on Loaded. "We're getting ready to tour Europe with Fu Manchu. I don't expect this to sell a million records. It would be nice for people to be able to get it, that's all."

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