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

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

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2008.12.14 - My Planet Rocks - Interview with Duff

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2008.12.14 - My Planet Rocks - Interview with Duff  Empty 2008.12.14 - My Planet Rocks - Interview with Duff

Post by Blackstar Thu May 27, 2021 3:50 am



Transcript:
---------------

Parts 1 & 2

Duff: I’m extremely happy, as a matter of fact, I’m on tour. That’s why I’m here with my band Loaded.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: It’s a band I’ve got since ’98, on and off. I went back up to Seattle, moved home and started going to university. I started playing with Geoff Reading who was the drummer of Loaded. I couldn’t just go to school and have a kid and stop playing music. I have to have it all, in all times, you know (laughs).

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: So we started playing, we got some other guys and made a record, really on the down low, licensed it to Japan and to European label, and on my spring breaks from school we’d go on tour. So Velvet Revolver started in 200… [after] three years or so, Slash and I got back together and started playing – and Matt – and of course we’d look for a singer, and that really took precedent over everything.

Interviewer: Sure.

Duff: I came back down, I didn’t finish school - I went back down to L.A. By this time I had two kids.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: And we, in earnest, nurtured that band, found a singer and made, I think, a great first record, Contraband. And really that was a serious commitment, obviously.

Interviewer: Sure.

Duff: But still with Loaded-

Interviewer: And then (?) you came back to Loaded (?).

Duff: Well, every Christmas Loaded would still play for, like, a charity up in Seattle. It was always kind of my… I could release the pressure playing with Loaded. There was no business per se, so there's not that weird, “Okay, we’re a band but we're also”-

Interviewer: You have to deliver.  

Duff: …“we’re in this business.” There’s a bunch… you know, with a band like Velvet Revolver, you're playing arenas, you're selling merchandise (?), you know, you have licensing deals going on. It's just endless, the business. It's just endless. You know, I carry around a Blackberry-

Interviewer: (Laughs) I was gonna say, I saw you with a Blackberry and I thought, “That's just amazing, that's a sign of the times.”

Duff: Oh yeah. And you know, we played a gig last night in Sheffield, and we were on stage for an hour and a half, and I get off stage, I come back and shower up, and I look at my Blackberry. I have 11 emails; they're all from lawyers.

Interviewer: (Laughs).

Duff: You know?

Interviewer: Let's go back a bit. Let’s just go back to your early life. You already mentioned Seattle,  that's where you grew up, and you were kind of - I understand that you grew up in a musical family, so everyone played something.

Duff: Yeah.

Interviewer:  So music was kind of you were destined to be in music.

Duff: Yeah. Whether I liked doing it or not, you know, the instruments were around and I was the last kid. So it was sort of, when I was 9, “Duff, go play the drums.”

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: My brother would be working on some tune, whatever, and “Duff will play the bass.”

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: You know, “I'll show you how to play.” We would play some Beatles song, so he showed me, you know, Beatles bass lines. Great place to start. Paul McCartney is pretty good.

Interviewer: Yeah. (Laughs) I thought that.

Duff: He’s a very good bass player.

Interviewer: Did it take all of your life, in the way that it does with many people? Or was there ever any opportunity or any thought that you might do something else apart from be a musician, any other career pathway?

Duff: Well, until I was about 15, and at 15 I did my first tour. And by 15, when I did the first tour with a band called the Fastbacks - I was playing drums.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: I went, “Okay, wait this is what I want to do” and I put the blinders on at that point. Of course, when you’re 15, 16, 17, you have… it wasn’t ever my mom, but it was people saying, “Oh, you should go to college, you should graduate high school,” and none of that stuff was really that important to me.

Interviewer: What were you listening to around that time? Because the Fastbacks was a punk - you were kind of-

Duff: It was punk pop.

Interviewer: So what were the influences? What were you listening to around that time? (?) One of your influential tracks from that time.

Duff: Oh, from… that was probably 1980?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: Um… yeah. Generation X - Kiss Me Deadly was a big song for me at around that age.

Interviewer: And the band you were in at the time.

Duff: Yeah. Actually, my first single that I ever did was in 1979. I played bass and my name was Nico Teen. The band's name was the Veins. And I wrote a song on the single, the B-side. It’s called “The Fake” and, if you hear the chord progression, it's what Jungle… it finally became Jungle, Welcome to the Jungle, fantastic. So I started writing, really quite badly, but-

Interviewer: It doesn't matter.

Duff: You know, I put the chords together and put melody to it, and didn't know anything about song craftmanship.

Interviewer: It didn’t matter, you did what felt right. And, as I understand, you played… you had a couple of bands that you played in Seattle and then, when you were around about 18 or 19, you made the move to California?

Duff: Yeah.

Interviewer: What was it that prompted that move? Because I guess you could have… I mean, Seattle bands later became enormous. You could have been a very integral part of that mold. What prompted that move?

Duff: Yeah, well, this was about 1982. A lot of… heroin became really prevalent in the music scene there, and there was amazing talent just going to waste.

Interviewer: You were watching this, I guess. You could see this happening.

Duff: I was watching it, it was happening all around me, they were falling left and right. And my band - we had a band called 10 Minute Warning, which was really, like, on the verge of breaking in, you know, punk rock America.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: Which is killer.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: So I was 18 years old, 18 or 17 or 19. I was playing guitar in that band and the other guitar player started getting high and stealing money. I had a girlfriend who I loved to death, my first, like, real girlfriend, and she started getting high.

Interviewer: Wow.

Duff: And my roommate, and this friend of mine who’d become a junkie, too. But he was a thoughtful guy, and he said, “Duff, if you don't get out now, you're never gonna… At least you gotta go try and realize your dream.” So yeah, at 19, I got my car, I had 360 bucks – you know, some piece of crap…

Interviewer: It's a classic, you know, rock story: “I had a car and a few dollars, and that's it, I'm off.”

Duff: “I’m off,” yeah. I went to L.A., I got a job the first hour I was there…

Interviewer: To do what?

Duff: I worked all through my teens, too.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Duff: I wasn’t-

Interviewer: No, no-

Duff: I didn’t make any money from music, so-

Interviewer: Yeah, sure.

Duff: I did construction, I was a cook and I actually became a pastry chef, because I worked in a bakery for so long that I moved up and became an actual pastry chef. I had cards that had my name and said “pastry chef” and the restaurant’s name. So I could really get a job in any restaurant I wanted to.

Interviewer: Yes.

Duff: And I got a job - you know, I just stopped at this restaurant that was kind of a big chain, I went in and they said, “Can you start working right now?” (laughs). “Sure.” “Let’s go.” You know, after I got off work that night, I asked one of the other cooks in there, “Okay man, so where’s… where’s Hollywood?” and he goes, “Hollywood, man?!” And he gave me these elaborate directions, “Alright, so it’s a ways away, huh?”

Interviewer: (Laughs).

Duff: So, you know, with 360 bucks, I didn’t have money to get an apartment. So I lived in my car for the first two weeks until I got my first paycheck.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: And I moved into this cockroach-infested building. Literally, I would turn on the lights – it was just a one room apartment. You’d turn on the lights and it would just be filled with cockroaches and they’d go scattering, and “oh my god.” So I got used to it and, yeah, I mean it was cops outside in the alley behind us in the street all the time, hookers, drug dealers… I was right in the mid of it. And I would go out to clubs, and I was just getting my bearings and looking to the newspapers, want ads, like, what's going on out there. And it was kind of Yngwie Malmsteen shredding sort of thing at that point, Eddie Van Halen…

Interviewer: Right.

Duff: Which wasn’t my bag. I was more a Johnny Thunders, Steve Jones, Stooges type. I was looking at one ad and there was a guy that said “bass player” - I could do that; you know, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, and Fear was another reference band, it was this American punk rock band that I loved. And it said “Slash,” and that’s a name, like, you know, I thought he was a punk – because, really, in ’84 punk was dead.

Interviewer: Sure.

Duff: So I thought, “Okay, he’s an ex-punk like me,” you know? “And he’s looking to do something new.” And that was really an exciting year, because punk rock had died.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Duff: There was a “what was gonna be next” and we were 19 or 20 years old. We were gonna be the next thing. And we really - kids at my age really knew that.

Interviewer: Yeah. Like you said, you didn't have any background. You just knew.

Duff: You just knew. You just knew. So I went and met Slash, and he wasn’t an ex-punk rock guy, he was just a long-haired guy, you know (laughs). And Steven Adler was with him, blond - it was just a culture shock for me; “Here I am, California, it’s like, these exotic long-haired California rock dudes.” But we got along, amazing, from the first minute. You know, I had short blue hair-

Interviewer: (Laughs).

Duff: You know, just the oddest pairing of people. And within, you know, the first couple weeks we moved into this apartment, Izzy moved across the street.

Interviewer: Right.

Duff: So there's this guy, who does look like me.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: You know, and he's like, “Hey man” – you know, I was coming out, “Hey.” He said, “Hey, my name is Izzy. You’re playing in a band?” I said, “Well, not yet, man, not yet. I just moved here” and I told him my story. He was like, “Yeah, man, I’ve been out here from Indiana for about a year-and- a-half. I’m looking to do something new, and this guy from Indiana came out with me, the singer, and we want to form a band.” And so that was the first Guns N’ Roses, and it was Izzy and Axl, Tracii Guns, and this drummer kid, Rob Gardner. I've told the story a million times and you've probably heard the story, but Slash and Steven… I mean, while we were playing, jamming in this thing that Slash had kind of had called Roadcrew – we didn’t have a singer, but we were jamming, and I was playing, and I was meeting people.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: And I'd started to, like, almost… I had friends, you know, Slash and Steven, and their girlfriends were my friends.

Interviewer: You were still at the restaurant all this time, while this was going on? You must have quit that job, I guess.

Duff: No, no, I was working, man.

Interviewer: You were still working, huh?  Okay.

Duff: Yeah, yeah. So-

Interviewer: Wow.

Duff: So you got this and, as you say, the story of the formation of Guns N’ Roses is quite well known. But were any of you prepared for the way that it would take off?

Duff: No.

Interviewer: Because it was a meteoric rise of the ultimate proportions, wasn't it?

Duff: There is no way you can prepare for that, you can…

Interviewer: Did you even know this is happening? That's the way, I think – because I’ve heard some people say that when you're in the middle of it you can't actually tell what's going on.

Duff: When it really started to take off, we were still… I think the big reason you don't notice - I mean, you notice things, more people coming to the gigs and people are singing your songs. But Appetite had been out for eight months, you know, before we had, like, a hit song. Like, a song went to radio - not only went to radio, Sweet Child, it went to number 1.

Interviewer: Mmm. It’s My Planet Rocks on Planet Rock and if you stick around after the break, we'll hear Duff's first radio hit, as well as the story of Guns N’ Roses’ meteoric rise to fame.

[Audio for Part 3 is missing]

Part 4

Interviewer: So after the demise of Guns N’ Roses, at what point did you know that you had to leave all that behind and move on to other projects?

Duff: So I moved back to Seattle. I'd gotten sober. Guns had sort of just petered out.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: We had tried, we had tried, and there was a lot of different things in there that pulled the whole thing apart - and it really wasn't the guys in the band, it was outside things.

Interviewer: And we come around to Loaded.

Duff: We do, yeah. So, like I said, Ι was going to school and really changed my life. Αnd everything was – Ι was getting things back and Ι was really excited about life again. Αnd about two years into my sobriety, Ι met a woman who's now still my wife –  in about ‘96 I met her, great positive influence on me. I was doing martial arts, I was exercising my intellect by going to school and challenging myself, and started really looking into, like, song craftsmanship, like writing songs and playing with different guys, Mark Lanegan, who's a great friend of mine and great guy to play with - playing with different, just odd people, you know? Again it was another time of, like, what's going to happen, you know, in music. The late 90s were not a great time in music.

Interviewer: No, sure.

Duff: Just for rock and roll, it was not…  Things were getting really processed and really commercial, and, you know, everything goes in cycles.

Interviewer: Yeah…

Duff: So I went the opposite way and made the first Loaded record, Dark Days, and we went and toured when we could. Velvet Revolver started, however, and that was something that Slash and I had unfinished business.

Interviewer: Sure.

Duff: “Let's get to it.”

Interviewer: Was that a problem for you? Because, you know, you were working with Loaded, you were kind of three years into that. Did you find an annoying distraction or were you happy about that?

Duff: I was happy. You know, I kind of relegated myself to “Don't try to push where your music is going to take you; just go with it.”

Interviewer: Right. Just go with it.

Duff: And I realize that about music now. I’m 44, I'm really relaxed about things, because I know things are going to happen whether I try to make them happen or not, my life is going to move on. The most important thing to me is [that] I take care of my two little girls. The rest of everything else, it's all icing. It's hard work, touring is hard work, and it's what I do. So, for me to complain and go, “Oh, I'm tired” … you know, who cares.

Interviewer: I know. When Velvet Revolver, though, took off, did you ever get a feeling of “Oh no, here we go again”? (laughs) Because it was, again – you know, it just became really successful and really big, and everyone wanted you again.

Duff: Yeah, but I knew what it was about this time.

Interviewer: Okay.

Duff: I saw all of them people.

Interviewer: “You don't want to be my friend for the right reason” (?).

Duff: Oh yeah. And I had a nice little… I had my family around me and it was like, “Okay.” I really tried to just do good straight up business with the business people I had to do business with, made sure that we were getting our fair cut.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Duff: Artists are the last people to get a fair cut. I don't know if people out there really know that, but artists are the last ones to get paid. Everybody takes their commissions before – you know, out of the gross - and then you have to pay all the production costs of touring; and by the time the last truck is gone, you’ve paid that guy and you're looking at this small little pile of money you got to split five ways (laughs). It's not what people might think it is; it's a job. But it's a beautiful job and I've been able to make a living in my passion, doing my what is passionate to me.

Interviewer: You're listening to Duff McKagan on My Planet Rocks and after the break we'll take a track from Velvet Revolver as well as hearing about Loaded's transformation from a mere hobby into the full-blown band we know and love today.

[Break]

Interviewer: Duff McKagan is here today for this edition of the program. Having enjoyed more success this time with Velvet Revolver, what was do you think that provided the impetus for you to move away from that and work more seriously as a fully-fledged band with Loaded?

Duff: Okay. So, Loaded, we'd play every Christmas for a charity. This last Christmas, December of ’07, Slash, Matt, Dave and I had come to the decision – we were left with no decision, but we knew that we were going to sack Scott.

Interviewer: Sure.

Duff: So we knew the tour was going to be over in April. With Loaded, we were having a better and better time playing every Christmas, more and more people were coming at these gigs, and [we] said, “Okay let's do a record.” I said, “I'll be done touring in April,” “Great.” So we started swapping songs on emails - it's great, you can send mp3’s to song ideas to the other guys – and, you know, “great”. So, by the time June rolled around, we were in a studio in Seattle with our guy who does our records, and he also is our tour manager, and he's our sound guy. It's just a family thing, he's got a dog at the studio, it’s like the band dog… And we made this really, really inspired record that, I don't know how it became what it was, but it happened. Sometimes it's just providence that happens and this record, for me, it was one of the most free-flowing, inspired… I'd be in the studio for 13 hours and thought I was only there for three.

Interviewer: Sure.

Duff: So we wanted to tour. I've got to get back to Velvet Revolver business at some point, but, this time with Loaded, I'm making it a priority and we're going to tour proper. And this is not a vanity project. It's a band and it's a damn good band. We've been playing gigs here in the last month-and-a-half and really having a fun time. We will we break into songs we don't even know in the middle of set. We did Purple Rain the other night-

Interviewer: Oh, fantastic.

Duff: Right. I don't know if it was fantastic – it probably wasn't.

Interviewer: No, I imagine it was.

Duff: We thought it was (laughs).

Interviewer: (Laughs).

Duff: You know, and… Anyhow. So we wanted to tour right away: “Well our record's done, but we need to get it some sort of deal.” And we got a deal with Century Media, a great company; we're in partnership with them. We wanted to tour and they said, “We can't turn the record around that quick. How about we put out an EP for the UK tour?”

Interviewer: Sure.

Duff: UK is a place… the first place Guns N’ Roses broke, the first place Velvet Revolver broke, and I think UK rock fans understand whatever it is the kind of rock that I do.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Duff: So the gigs that so far we've played in Liverpool, and Bristol, and Sheffield, and towns I haven't played. I've never played Sheffield before, never…

Interviewer: Big rock town. Def Leppard is from Sheffield.

Duff: Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: Absolutely.

Duff: It was just great. I'm playing these places I’ve never played. I looked at the map and I said, “Well let's play there, let's play there, never been there.” And the record comes out, it is done. The EP is called Wasted Heart. It's available at our gigs, I guess, and I’m not sure where else.

Interviewer: Okay. On your website.

Duff: On the website, and then I guess it comes out proper in a couple of weeks. I don't know when the show airs, but… Anyhow. I think it's a really great and inspired record, and not just kind of tooting my own art. It's just… it's a great band.

Interviewer: You can hear it. We're gonna play a track for it now, and you can also go and see Loaded out, and we recommend that you do. And it's been a pleasure having you here, Duff McKagan. Thank you.

Duff: Thanks, thanks.


Last edited by Blackstar on Tue Mar 15, 2022 3:12 pm; edited 5 times in total
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2008.12.14 - My Planet Rocks - Interview with Duff  Empty Re: 2008.12.14 - My Planet Rocks - Interview with Duff

Post by Blackstar Tue Mar 15, 2022 8:23 am

I finally transcribed this.

Part 3 of the audio is missing. I found it at one point and lost it again because it was made private on youtube before I got to download it Doh!
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