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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.


2008.03.03 - eGigs - Velvet Revolver's Duff McKagan

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2008.03.03 - eGigs - Velvet Revolver's Duff McKagan  Empty 2008.03.03 - eGigs - Velvet Revolver's Duff McKagan

Post by Blackstar Thu May 13, 2021 8:56 am

Velvet Revolver's Duff McKagan

talks heroes, tours, bass guitars, gigs and his love of Prince!

Article by: Scott Williams
Photos by: Danielle Millea

Previously of Guns 'n' Roses, Duff McKagan, bass player with Velvet Revolver has been one of the most successful bass players ever, eGigs spoke to him before he headed to the UK for the Velvet Revolver tour, which begins at the middle of this month.

Hi, Duff describe where you are right now!

I'm in LA, and today it's like 80 degrees.

What made you decide to take up bass playing?

That's a good question. in my teens I started playing everything because I was the last to be a kid at home, everyone was older than I was. All my older brothers and sisters were older than I was, all of them played or sang. So there was guitars hanging around, there was a bass and drums, so I kind of everything. In my early punk rock bands, in my teens, I played guitar one band, I played drums in another, and I played bass in another. When I decided to make the move to L.A. when I was nineteen, I could have really come down and played any of those three instruments. But my drum kit was a piece of shit, and at that point in 1984 guitar players down in L.A. were doing Eddie Van Halen, Ingwe Malmsteen shit and I wasn't, I was more Steve Jones, Johnny Thunder style. So, I thought I would get my foot in the door playing bass, at least meet some people you know. I had a good bass, so I sold everything else and used that money to finance my trip, it wasn't that much money about $300. The first band that we formed when I moved here, the first people I met, were Slash, Steven and Izzy and we formed Guns 'n' Roses. So, that's how I really started to become a bass player.

So did you train in music or was it just from having music around you all the time in your musical family?

Well music was just in the air, I'm self taught.

So who were your bass heroes?

Well I still garner a good appreciation for good players now. As a matter of fact two months ago I got completely re-inspired bass wise and I started taking lessons from really heavy and legitimate jazz fusion guys and I've been listening to a lot of bass players. People like John Paul Johns is probably a hero and (James) Jamerson, is probably the ultimate bass player, you know all the Motown stuff, that's where it all, that's where modern rock bass playing came from, Jamie Jameson.

2008.03.03 - eGigs - Velvet Revolver's Duff McKagan  Velvet10

What's your favourite bass line?

The song I'd love to master bass playing on, it's 'Good Times Bad Times' by Led Zepp, that's what I'm working on right now. It's a really, well if you listen you might go well I don't get it. But if you listen to it more intently you'll go woah shit! And then you peel off another layer and really try to try and learn every single line per line, it's really kind of a brutal song to play. But it's amazing and really great.

So can you read music then?

No, no, I'll just listen to it and then just play along to it and I've never done that until two months ago and then I started to really listening to stuff and starting to play along to it.

So in October 2007, Fender released a Duff McKagan signature P Bass model, based on you main Jazz Bass Special - so now do you play that all the time?

(Laughs) It's only my signature bass because it's the one I play, it's the first bass that I bought when Guns n Roses got our advance and that's the one I wanted. Fender stopped making them, so they would make those basses for me at the custom shop. It's the bass I preferred to play and it's the one I still to this day. I have some other Fender basses and I have some old P3B-F (P-III Bass-F) ones and they're great and cool but I wouldn't take them on the road. So you could say on the road I played my bass.

You love doing cover versions in Velvet Revolver what's your top five?

We did 'Surrender' by Cheap Trick, We did 'Seasons of Winter', 'No More, No More' great, great song. Anything by the Stooges is great for me.

After UK tour in March are you doing some UK festivals?

Well no, after this UK run we're done for this album cycle. We might do some festivals it's hard to say. All we have planned so far is finishing off the UK dates and then, like I don't know, Amsterdam.

Where do you like touring to most in the world and why?

Crowd wise it'll be the UK is probably my top, it is probably our second home. All the way back to Guns N Roses it was the first place we broke, we headlined theatres in the UK and it's the first place that really grabbed on to Velvet Revolver too. It's a great place for me and very familiar I have friends there, it's good and South America is also amazing.

Is there any differences between touring the USA and the UK?

I think rock fans music fans in the UK are just more knowledgeable about music, maybe it's because bands can get around easier there, I'm not sure what it is. It doesn't seem to be as commercialised. Okay there's certainly a huge commercial aspect to pop and stuff in the UK. But that's not really my ball park, I'm a rocker and rock to me in the UK seems to be less commercialised.

You're a father, do your kids like your music?

They do, they totally appreciate what we do and they've been on tour with me. They're going to be over in the UK with me again this time. They've probably seen our band a million times, we swear too much for them, you know. They're more into Amy Windehouse, Lilly Allen. They're into the UK shift thing right now.

What new bands do you like?

There's a band I kind of dig they're called 'Black Mountain' from Vancoucver D.C. They're very seventies, you know, they're kind of groovy.

What's the best gig you've been to as a punter?

Believe it or not, I saw the Led Zeppelin in '77 that one, I saw The Clash in Seattle in 1979. That was probably the most amazing gig I saw. I saw Iggy in 1980, all the early concerts I went to were like the best. Iggy when Brian James was in the band, that was fuckin' sick. And Prince, I gotta tell you, 31-21 club in Las Vegas, he did a whole thing, four or five nights a week for about eight months and it was completely inspiring as a musician. As a musician he's probably the most amazing guy to go and see.

What's your favourite rock tee shirt that you like to wear on stage and why?

Well I have a favourite rock T-shirt, but I don't wear it. It's an old Iggy and the Stooges T-shirt that Iggy actually gave me from the early seventies. I played on one of Iggy's records back in 1990 and he realised what a huge fan of his I was. And one he came in and gave me this shirt. So I don't wear it, but one day I caught my wife wearing it and I said what the fuck are you doing with that shirt one. I got a bunch of rock shirts I wear I don't really wear a favourite one, I just wear whatever shirt gets recycled to the top of the pile?

Which of the band is best at Guitar Hero?

I don't think anybody in the band really plays it. I know my wife and my daughters play that thing, but nobody in the band, we're not big video game people, that stuff just came a little bit after we'd come of age. Dave might be a video game guy, I dunno he's a bit electronic.

What's your favourite song to play live?

Ummmmm, I think the answer for me is every night. It's whatever song. You know some nights are just magical,especially for me as a bass player to have a drummer like Matt. Some nights we're extremely locked in and it's like your in a huge cavern or cave and it's warm and you're sunk into this cave and on night's like that I'll play a whole set and it will feel like it's the most groovin' thing I've ever done in my life. So it's not a particular song, for me it's the feel of the gig.

So what's been your best gig?

There's been a few, there's been a few in the UK a Hammersmith show, that was particularly on, and one in Glasgow at the SECC and that was, you know when the crowd are so behind you that you can't you really can't go wrong. Then you're more relaxed and then you play better and there's more of a groove, there seems to be. The other big was the New Year's at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City a couple of month's ago. That was for some reason one of those magical really inspired gigs.

So do you get along as band members then?

You know, we got along musically, that's all that really matters, we get along famously on stage and yeah Matt and I are good friends, and Slash and I, of course, are good friends. We have such a long history together that I guess you could say have music in common.

2008.03.03 - eGigs - Velvet Revolver's Duff McKagan  Velvet11

Do you still do martial arts, does that help with the fitness regime, you've all been around for some time and you're crossing generations now?

Well for me, fitness totally helps me for touring, I kick box it's called Yukita Kon kick boxing, the traditional, what you would know as kick boxing, it keeps my head clear and focused and the more fit you are means you can last longer on the road. By the end of the tour, there's a lot of drama and stops and a lot of travelling, and a lot of airports. It's the airports that take it out of you, just moving, physically moving from one location to another takes it out of you.

Do you have time to look around when you tour, or is it just the inside of the hotel?

Yeah it's mostly the inside of the hotel thing, once in a while I'll get out if I have a day off somewhere interesting, I'll try and get out and walk around or do something to get out.

You say you take the family do they help?

Yeah, like at Spring break at school, they'll be in London, when they're out I do a hell of a lot of more stuff than I would do if I were on my own.

So now the rock and roll excesses are over is it good to have them around?

I think it's a lot more fun to live and to have people that look to you, like your kids, that certainly is a lot more enjoyable than trying to kill yourself on a daily basis. I had a fabulous time, the times I remember where great, but once you get caught up into being a completely an addict and completely an alcoholic then it becomes sort of a chore, you have to feed that thing. And there's the fact that oh shit if I stop I'm going to be hurting, and have to go into detox. and you have to keep it going and after a while it gets pretty dire and pretty fucked up. But there was a point when it was all fun and games, it's wasn't as long as I wanted it to last and it wasn't as glamorous as I at one point thought it was going to be.

If you had one person from history come and watch you gig who would it be?

Man, it's kind of happened already you know Jimmy Page came and saw us play and Paul McCartney came and saw me play. We went on stage, and Paul McCartney he called me by my name, he knew my fuckin name, which totally freaked me out, you know I was like you're fuckin Paul McCartney he said, "Hey Duff, have a good gig." and that completely blew my away, like wow! At another gig and Jimmy Page came up after a gig, and it was great, seeing him and he came up and he spoke to us about music, you know and it was really surreal I got to say but pretty fuckin awesome.

Lastly, What's the best 'making out' record in the world?

Mmmmm ummm mmmm Prince 1999 you can do a lot more than make out to that record, my friend.

Thanks for your time man, take care.

That's okay bye bye.

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