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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.


2009.04.DD - Classic Rock Revisited - Sick Things: An Exclusive Interview with Duff McKagan

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2009.04.DD - Classic Rock Revisited - Sick Things: An Exclusive Interview with Duff McKagan Empty 2009.04.DD - Classic Rock Revisited - Sick Things: An Exclusive Interview with Duff McKagan

Post by Blackstar Mon Jun 28, 2021 2:57 am

Sick Things — An Exclusive Interview with Duff McKagan

By Jeb Wright

Most people know Duff McKagan as the bass player for Guns "n" Roses and Velvet Revolver. In between bands, however, Duff did the most un-hard rock thing, he got his GED and went to Community College then Seattle University, earning a Bachelors Degree in Finance. Duff currently writes a weekly column for and a financial column for

While finance is one of Duff’s interests, music is still the mechanism that makes this man tick. While still a member of Velvet Revolver, the band’s hiatus continues to increase, leaving music in the vault just waiting for a singer to be hired. In the meantime, Duff is back with Duff McKagan’s Loaded, who have just released their first album in eight years titled Sick. Duff may be a wanna be Wall Street guru but his love of loud music may just prevent him from ever being mistaken for Lewis Winthrop or William "Billy Ray" Valentine from Trading Places. While that move may not be as good for his bank account, it is great for fans of his music.

Jeb: I love the cover to Sick. There were other songs, however, that might have been better titles. The first single, "Flatline," "Sleaze Factory" or maybe "No Shame." Why "Sick?" What made it the one?

Duff: I think Sick would be a good album title even if we didn’t have a song with that name. We wrote "Sick" back in 2002. We knew even then it would be a good album title because it reflects the way the band views life. This band has a really sick sense of humor. There is actually a very high level of intellect in the band, me not included. Mike Squires has probably got an IQ of 160. We talk about politics, the economy and art.

Did you hear about the horse fucking thing in Washington? That was the first conversation we had when we got into the studio. One of our friend’s wife was the prosecutor for the case, so she got to see all of the video. I guess when that guy got fucked by the horse and died, they pulled him off because they knew something was wrong. When they got him off, I guess one of his buddies finished the horse off by blowing him—he blew the horse. That was the first conversation we had in the studio. I think that may have set the coarse for the entire record because I had that visual in my head. Sick is the title we went with. It was actually cool to have the name of the album before we even started the album.

Jeb: You are known as being a member of Velvet Revolver and Guns ‘n’ Roses. However, this band shows a big Punk influence. When did that become part of your musical arsenal?

Duff: I am the youngest in a very musical family, so I grew up listening to my older brothers and sisters music, which was great. Because of them I listened to Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and even Motown. It was great to discover all of those different influences. I turned 13 in 1977 and I started to discover these bands like DOA and The Lewd. They were scary. They were dangerous to me. I met some dude who had a Mohawk, who was a couple of years older than me and he started turning me onto all these bands. I also met Kim Warnick, who was the bass player in the Fastbacks, which is one of the first bands I played in. They were one of those bands that never made it. Pearl Jam would take them out with them, and everyone in Seattle loved them, but they never made it as they were just too pop. She became my friend, and my personal mentor. She turned me onto the Ramones, The Vibrators, The Damned, The Germs and The Sex Pistols. All of a sudden, I had music that was my own and didn’t belong to my older brothers and sisters. I saw The Clash in 1979. It was the tour before London Calling and there were only about 200 people there. The same year I also saw Iggy Pop’s band. Brian James, from The Damned was playing guitar and Glen Matlock was playing bass. I remember the whole gig to this day. It really changed my life.

I moved down to LA in 1984 and Punk was done. There was a lot of heroin in Seattle at the time. I was 19 at the time and I knew I needed to shit or get off the pot. I decided that I was going to move to either New York or LA. I chose LA and the first person I met in LA was Slash and the second was Izzy Stradlin. We formed the band and Guns utilized the best of all of our influences.

Jeb: Does Loaded give you the opportunity to let your inner punk out?

Duff: I guess it does.

Jeb: It is not a Punk record per say, and there is a lot of hard rock, but I am like you, I love Metal but I love Punk too.

Duff: I started the band ten years ago and I set the initial tone that the band has gone into, and now evolved into. I don’t write all the songs anymore. I wrote "Wasted Heart" and "Forgive Me" on my own. I also wrote "No More" on my own. The rest are all band written songs. People bring in their own songs and we play them but the rest is all a band effort.

Jeb: Talk about "Flatline."

Duff: That is the one that is going to radio. It is the first single and we made a video for it. We don’t have much of a budget. We have a small little record deal. We made this album for twenty grand—recording, mixing and mastering. You can do it but you have to have your shit together. You can forget about having any sort of food budget or wasting time. I know guys from huge bands that have unlimited budgets. If your budget is $800,000 then you will use all of it to make the record. You will think, "Oh, I don’t have to get in there right away. I can order some sushi for lunch." When you don’t have the luxury, then you get in and make the record quickly. I think the record sounds more urgent because of that.

Jeb: In the old days you had to get in and take care of business. I think there is something to be said for that.

Duff: Listen to a Free record. You can hear that they are in a fucking room and there are mistakes but they are great mistakes.

Jeb: Some people view this band as a hobby and a side project. How do you view the band?

Duff: Maybe at the beginning—it wasn’t a hobby. I never treat music as a hobby. I started the band when I was in college and having babies but it has been a musical lifeboat for me, especially now, with all the drama that happened at the end of Velvet Revolver. I started losing touch of what I was doing music for. We didn’t think it would take us eight years to make another record but it did.

I think Sick is one of the most musically inspired records that I have ever made in my life, and that is saying a lot. I am not saying that to sell this record or to convince anyone to go out and buy it but it really is one of the most inspired times of my life. I would like to get this band to the point to where we can play 1000 to 1200 seat clubs in the USA. We already do that in Japan and the UK. If it got to that size then it would pay for itself and everybody would make money. I really love playing in this band and I love the guys that I play with in this band. I don’t love Slash any less, but VR is a big business. There is management and merchandise companies and there are agents. VR will get back up and running but I will never let Loaded go. I will be really busy for the next few years.

Jeb: My two favorites from the album are two that are probably not even going to make the set list. I love "No Shame" and "Blind Date Girl."

Duff: "No Shame" we will play. "Blind Date Girl" is one of those Stones-type of things. In the UK they have been talking a ton about that song.

Jeb: I want to switch gears for a minute. Do you have a singer for Velvet Revolver yet?

Duff: We had a couple of guys that I thought we should have went with—one guy in particular. Everybody has got to be 100% in that situation and I respect my bandmates opinion. My opinion could be wrong, and I respect that. We have written all of the material. I don’t think VR has made our best record yet. We need to find the right guy to compliment the material, and when we do, people are going to be blown away. We were just starting to hit our stride when things started going crazy. We will find the guy. There is nobody yet that we have asked. We are actively looking right now.

Jeb: Do you feel that Scott’s [Weiland] behavior defeated music being the focus of Velvet Revolver? Did his craziness take away from any musical legacy that could have been formed?

Duff: It sucks. You put it in better words than I could ever find. I am not a guy to slag another person. It happened on the second tour and the wheels came off of his personal life. Unfortunately, it took a toll on the band. We knew what we were getting into. I have the same disease as he does, so I understand it.

Jeb: Isn’t it tough for you to be around active drug addicts?

Duff: It strengthens my sobriety to be around people like that. Drama is not good for my sobriety.

Jeb: I have been through it and have been clean and sober for years. It would just be weird for me to be around guys like Scott and Slash and be straight. It has to be weird.

Duff: It can be weird. Slash is sober now. For me, it is the drama. I had a relapse on pills in 2005. It came out of nowhere. It was because of all this bullshit. Xanax was prescribed for me. I was supposed to take one if I had a bad panic attack. I had them in my bag and that was my first mistake. I took one, and the next day, I took two. In only nine days, I was up to 22. That is what guys like you and I do.

Jeb: You are lucky you didn’t really screw yourself up. Some pills can damage the liver just like booze.

Duff: I was running the game and doing the whole thing in just two weeks.

Jeb: You live with fan worship, unlimited drugs and booze, girls lined up for you and then you also have fame and money. How do you keep those things from interfering with A) your music and B) your creativity?

Duff: Does anyone have any money left anymore? I think you are making a grand assumption [laughter]. You are asking me how all those factors affect my music.

Jeb: It is easy to become a Rock Star due to those influences and then that distracts a person from what got them into making music for in the first place.

Duff: I have an ego but I hate the term ‘rock star.’ I am not one of those guys. My wife would snicker if she heard you call me a rock star. She would say that you had the wrong guy. My older brothers and sisters always helped keep me in check. I remember when Guns got really huge and I started to get a little cocky, my oldest brother, Jon, who is twenty years older than me said, "Oh is that you are going to roll? Is that what you are doing?" That is all he had to say for me to come back to earth.

It has always been about the music for me, as long as I can remember. There were instruments around my house growing up and I started getting into it all when I was only four years old. I know guys who got into bands just to get chicks and stuff. There are those guys but I was never one of them. I just have always wanted to write the best song that I can be capable of writing. I have not done that yet. I am still on that quest and I am still exploring what I am capable of musically. I have made some money on this journey so far, and that is great. You have to make money to keep going. My job is making music.

Jeb: I was backstage at Rock Honors with Slash a few years ago. He told me that Guns almost got back with Axl. Do you have the same recollection of that happening?

Duff: No. How long ago was that?

Jeb: It was about three years ago.

Duff: Slash was not back on the planet yet.

Jeb: One more: Sick is a killer album and Chinese Democracy sucks. Why can’t people focus on this album instead of that? Does that make you upset?

Duff: If this record is given half a chance and if Century Media does their job—we are also using MSO for publicity and they have done a great job with PR. Hopefully, we will get it out and then people can hear it. At that point, we have to let people’s decision making capabilities take over. You have to understand that this is a successful record if we sell 50,000 copies. We made it for twenty grand so it will be financially successful if we only sell 10,000. People view us as a side project and until they stop viewing us that way it will make it hard. Maybe it will happen with this record. I do not like that the band is called ‘Duff McKagan’s Loaded.’ It was a band decision to call it that. I voted against it but I got outvoted. They said, "We can always just turn it back to Loaded once we get our foot in the door." Okay, I get it. I don’t like it but I get it.

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