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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

2009.MM.DD - Seattle Weekly - Reverb (Duff's column)

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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:50 pm

I've Been Listening to Joy Division, Lou Reed, and Kelis

By Duff McKagan
Monday, Nov. 30 2009


Joy Division, "Atmosphere" (Permanent): This song and this record as a whole always has held a spooky -- while beautiful -- and very honest place with me. Atmosphere is a spiritual meditation.

Kelis, "Milkshake" (Tasty): If hip-hop/urban music has a punk-rock anthem, then it would most certainly be "Milkshake". I have always really dug how sister Kelis rolls. This chick is a bad-ass!

Lou Reed, "I'm Waiting For My Man" (American Poet): I really was a late-comer to the stylings of Lou Reed and even the Velvet Underground for that matter. This Lou Reed track has lately become one of my favorite songs and will stand up to any other genre of music if you have your iPod on shuffle. That is always the test of a good and relevant track to me.

https://web.archive.org/web/20091203165912/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2009/11/ive_been_listening_to_joy_divi.php
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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:52 pm

Rock in Rio, Billy Idol, and Loving What You've Got

By Duff McKagan
Thursday, Dec. 3 2009


As our flight took us somewhere above Central America, the pilot came on to tell us the United States had just attacked Iraq in something that the Pentagon dubbed "Operation: Desert Storm." It was January 17, 1991.

Before the Internet was common knowledge, and before there was a computer in virtually every home (as there is now), playing rock shows in faraway places like Brazil was an exotic endeavor, to say the least. Flying all the way down there to headline two nights at the Rock in Rio Festival was pretty surreal. We just had no idea if Guns N' Roses had fans in this part of the world or not.

My first trip to many foreign lands came as a result of the growing popularity of my band. For most of the places we first traveled to, however, we had a good idea of our fan base because of the well-tracked record-sales data from each region (yes, artists used to sell records!). In pretty much all of South America, though--back then and to this day--records, CD's, T-shirts, and whatever else, are all pirated. As a result, and with no MySpace "hits" or Twitter follower counts, we just had no idea how many fans were going to show up to see us.

I hate to fly. I have always been claustrophobic. A plane is a metal tube with no way out. I used to self-medicate my condition with whatever was available. And after a long trip like this, the constant to-and-fro and drag and frum, I am exhausted. The plane lands, and thousands of really emotional fans are waiting. I am overwhelmed. They are overjoyed. I feel like a fucking Martian after traveling for so long and feeding my body with mind-numbing intoxicants. I've got to get to my hotel so that I can get my head around this whole thing.

Funny as it sounds now, Billy Idol was a touchstone for me. Not that he ever knew this, and it wasn't like we were real close, but I knew him enough and I knew that he was also playing at the RIR. Sometimes even in my own band, I would feel completely alone and alienated. The fact that Billy was down there gave me a sense of solidness somehow. I have never talked about this, and now it seems a little funny and goofy.

If I could really paint a picture of what things are like constantly touring and being claustrophobic and being adored and loved and being tugged around and loving back as hard as you can . . . and filling my body with all the bad stuff, the picture that I'd paint would resemble some kind of upside-down stairs manned by a bloated U.S. Customs agent. With my name in large letters on top his list of people to apprehend. I suffered a gradual-but-steady loss of sanity during about three or four of those early years. Things that are plainly insane to me now were absolutely normal, ho-hum events back then.

Back to my point of not knowing if we had fans in Brazil up to that point: Apparently we did . . . and lots of them. The Maracana Stadium in Rio is the biggest stadium in the world, and we were playing two nights there.

In the year prior to these gigs, sadly, we had to replace our founding drummer because of acute drug problems. We had to replace him so that we could finally get on with making our new record and touring. Providence was with us at long last when we found Matt Sorum, who had previously been playing with The Cult. Matt is one hell of a drummer, and held the constitution and road fortitude to keep up with the rest of us. These two shows in Rio, 175,000 per night, were Matt's first as our drummer. Trial by fire . . . on steroids.

Those first gigs started what has become a long-running love affair with my chosen place in my chosen profession, and South America as a whole. On that first trip, I came to realize what absolute passion and honesty the average rock fan down there has about music and life on a grander scheme.

That first foray down there for me made many lasting memories--both good and bad, I suppose. I grimace sometimes when people make assumptions about how fancy my band was at that point. How we must've felt like princes, and that everything had to have been handed to us carte blanche. For me, it's a story of "you always want what you don't have." That is to say, at that time there were friends of mine who I would have switched places with. Friends whose life seemed normal and on-track while mine seemed to be spiraling out of control: the choking pressure on my chest, and the charcoal-black and sickened stomach.

The funny thing is: Having lived through all of it and learned all my hard-won lessons, life for me, like anyone else, is indeed what you make of it. My dizziness and claustrophobic moments are still with me. But they no longer own me.

https://web.archive.org/web/20091207064356/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2009/12/rock_in_rio_billy_idol_and_lov.php
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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:54 pm

Duff: I've Been Listening to Dr. Dre, Ice T, and NWA

By Duff McKagan
Tuesday, Dec. 8 2009


​I spent a day recently driving around some of my old haunts in Hollywood. I drove by an old house of mine where I used to have a bunch of parties. At one of those shindigs, I invited the guys from NWA up. I was completely into rap at that time...mesmerized by it, really. That being said, here is a period iPod list:

N.W.A. Anything off of Straight Outta Compton: Living in LA back in the late '80s, I couldn't help but be exposed to all of the Blood and Crip gang violence. NWA were storytellers and painted a pretty graphic and grim picture...the din of the urban streets finally had a hook.

Ice T, "6 in the Mornin'" (Power): I think this whole record is pretty stellar and definitely groundbreaking for its time. "6 in the Mornin'" takes the listener deep into the bowels of the sheer terror that must have been a reality for certain sorts in South Central LA.

Dr Dre, "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" (The Chronic): Dre was the one in my eye at least, that bridged the gap between old-school rap and modern hip-hop. He is a visionary dude who is just too damn cool!

https://web.archive.org/web/20091214055918/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2009/12/duff_mckagan_ive_been_listenin_2.php
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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:58 pm

Army of Prose: How I Kicked My Habit(s), With a Little Help From London, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald

By Duff McKagan
Thursday, Dec. 10 2009


​In 1994, I suddenly felt myself gasping for air after what seemed like an eternity dunked underneath a green thick pond of muck. My 10 years of constant skirmish with vice had finally ceased fire with an unsteady truce. I was sober but thirsty. My mind had almost atrophied from the lack of stimulation. I felt that I needed to read.

Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson were indeed great authors, but to me these were crazy stories told by even crazier men. Sure, I DID read some when I was drunk, but only by these authors, as to read anything by anyone else would certainly only make me feel isolated and insane. Thompson and Bukowski made me feel sane compared to them.

Now that my life had taken a turn for the better, I wanted to read what I was missing out on. I started to think of all of the required reading that high schoolers were made to do. I missed high school. No, it's not like I was forlorn for the DAYS of high school; I actually did not attend but five semesters of high school. D.H. Lawrence? F. Scott Fitzgerald? Jack London? Where do I start? Fiction? Nonfiction?

To be honest, when I first got sober, someone gave me the Ken Burns PBS Civil War set on VHS. I was by that time very much alone in Los Angeles, as I felt it prudent to throw out my black address book filled to the brim with the names and phone numbers of people who would probably not want me being sober. No one likes to drink or drug alone. I would go to my bedroom around 10 at night, pop in one of those video tapes, and become enthralled in the quagmire and bloody entrails that was the Civil War. I could not get enough.

I started to read stories of war. Books about prisoners of the Japanese or on the Bataan Death March. I was totally and completely enthralled. I would move from the First World War to the Second, from the Civil War to the slave trade, the Revolution to Vietnam. When I happened upon a book on the Spanish Civil War by Ernest Hemingway, it at once dawned on me that I wasn't reading much that had any real style and subtlety. I was reminded that I had yet to delve into my initial plan: read some of that required reading that I'd heard so much about.

For Whom the Bell Tolls was the book that for me suddenly unlocked the world of literary eloquence and elegance. The beauty that Hemingway described was surely see-able. When he wrote of hunger and pain, I sat with sudden pangs and soreness and dread. The cadence of his writing style awoke me to the rhythm that a well-turned phrase and paragraph could dance and saunter to.

I ravenously consumed The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, The Green Hills of Africa, and The Old Man and the Sea. I read Hemingway's poems. I read his short stories. I consumed two huge biographies on the man . . . even though one was unreadable.

I read White Fang by Jack London and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I agreed with his take on the American Dream, as my own dreams had nearly and recently almost been shattered--my own dreams that so mirrored in my mind Gatsby's or Fitzgerald's or whomever's.

In my new and often lonely world of desert-island sobriety, I was at last connecting with something. I would feel triumphant as I rode the rollercoaster of these amazing and well-told tales, heartbroken when someone died or fell lovelorn and lost. If I was not yet finding MY place in the world, I was for sure finding places and things and people that I could relate to, despise, or aspire to in these many great books that I read in my first two years of sobriety.

Maybe this was a great way too for me not to have to face some of the things in my business and professional world. Things I had never been trained to face head-on and without help. These great authors gave me a confidence to use my own voice when speaking and to use intelligent words, as opposed to a raised voice that really only masked fear. A fear wrought with ignorance of how to deal with an insane situation.

Reading for me was, and to this day remains, my place of solitude. At the end of every day, whether on tour or at home with my family, I always have that time alone at night when a great author or piece of nonfiction will act as a mediation and a time to arm myself for trials to come.

https://web.archive.org/web/20091214055848/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2009/12/army_of_prose_how_i_kicked_my.php
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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:59 pm

I've Been Listening to Some Old Time Rock 'n' Roll: Pixies, Queen, and Richard Hell

By Duff McKagan
Monday, Dec. 14 2009


​This week, I have picked some songs that really have nothing to do with current times or with each other. Sometimes good music needs no rhyme or reason. Actually, good music NEVER needs a reason!

The Pixies, "Bone Machine" (Surfer Rosa): The Pixies put the cool in indie rock and recorded big sounding records while they were at it. I wish more bands today threw as much caution to the wind when recording.

Queen, "Stone Cold Crazy" (Sheer Heart Attack): Quite likely the most ferocious rock song ever written and recorded. There will never be any better than Queen.

Richard Hell, "Love Comes In Spurts" (Blank Generation): The late '70s celebrated the Pistols, The Clash and The Ramones while Richard Hell sat idly by making a masterpiece. Every rock fan should own Blank Generation, in my humble opinion.

https://web.archive.org/web/20091221192536/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2009/12/ive_been_listening_to_some_old.php
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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 10:01 pm

I Am a Freak for the Giving of the Holiday Season

By Duff McKagan
Thursday, Dec. 17 2009


I love Christmas. I get dewy every year when my family and I watch It's a Wonderful Life. When I was single and my life was upside-down in my 20s, I would cry when I watched that movie--for the sheer beauty of the message and because I thought I would never have something like that for myself. My tears now are of happiness that I seemingly have it all: a family and the means to make enough each year to provide for them.

I am on a plane right now flying back to Seattle. My first event this Saturday will be a benefit show (with Loaded) that KISW has selflessly and tirelessly organized to raise money for the poor families of those four slain Lakewood police officers. There is a man on the plane right now who had a huge fit when they had to gate-check his bag from the plane because it was too big to fit above. He was screaming for the names of the flight crew, who frankly were just trying to help the guy.

I think we should all perhaps take a step back during this season to realize what things we should be at least a little thankful for. I was thinking of these cops' families when this man on the plane was losing it . . . over a piece of luggage. Luggage he will get when we get off this plane in two hours. These families will never get back what they lost. Maybe it is unfair of me to make fun of flight guy's predicament, but after the crew told him his bag would be fine, they also tried to wish him a Merry Christmas. He was not, let's say, accepting of the holiday tiding. Poor guy.

I have been a BIG fan of the Toys for Tots program ever since I could afford to take a trip to a toy store before Christmas and bring a toy to the nearest fire station--maybe because my dad was a fireman and I have been cognizant of Toys for Tots since I was a little kid. It is now an ongoing tradition in my family; my girls LOVE to go to Target and help me pick out the toys. They make sure that we buy cookies and stuff for the firemen, too. The firemen think my girls are pretty cool, and they are right in that assumption.

This year, Washington's Toys for Tots program is facing a dire shortage of 60,000 gifts as it begins distributing to the 108,000 kids served by King County's Department of Health and Human Services. The Marine Corps Reserve and various fire departments are pleading for new unwrapped toys for children from newborn to age 13. Check the Toys for Tots Web site for drop-off locations, or take them to your local fire station.

Last year, I wrote of a family I became acquainted with who had spent their life savings on health care for their 17-year-old daughter with cancer. The Seattle Ronald McDonald House was their last chance for at least a roof over their heads while their daughter went through treatment at Children's Hospital. Last week, I stopped by the front office of the RMH to see what might be needed as far as donations. Yeah, they need a LOT.

Families who come to the RMH are, as I said, desperate not only for their child's chance for a cure, but broke. RMH provides an on-site apartment or larger townhome, and an open pantry in the main house, rec center, front office. On their list:

Food:

--bagged or boxed pasta
--pasta sauce
--canned food of all sorts
--frozen dinners
--cake mix
--canned meats
--canned, boxed or bottled juices
--condensed milk
--jarred baby food
etc.

Housekeeping times:

--sheets for queen and twin beds
--an Oreck 600 vacuum and carpet-cleaner combo
--six blenders
--new plates, cups, glasses, and silverware
--brooms and mops
--dustbins
--toilet paper and paper towels
--sponges
--pillows
etc.

The Ronald McDonald House is located at 5130 40th Ave. N.E.

It may be a bit gauche for me to ask you, my readers, to help out with things I think are important this holiday season. I am quite sure that many of you give to charities and such that are family traditions, or perhaps even just help out someone you know. Maybe you help out at a mission or church or synagogue or temple. Maybe you spend time praying or meditating for those less fortunate or who have recently lost a loved one. Maybe you just smile at someone when they need it, or man a crisis hotline. The recession has hit us all hard these last two years, and a donation in cash, toys, or food certainly may be not even remotely doable for many of us, which is a big reason, I am sure, that Toys for Tots is running so low this season.

I must say now that I have been honored to have you ALL as readers and friends during this last year and a half at Seattle Weekly. It has been a journey for me, and I hope I can at least keep things interesting and thought-provoking. Life is an adventure. Happy Holidays to you all. Now I've got to find a Santa suit that has fashion-forward tapered-bottom pants and a jacket that accentuates my "pluses"!

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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 10:05 pm

Duff's Been Listening to (and Watching) Lots of Nirvana

By Duff McKagan
Tuesday, Dec. 22 2009


​This week, instead of just highlighting three songs, may I recommend Nirvana's entire catalog--especially the 'Live At Reading' DVD.

Last week, I had the chance to watch this new DVD at a friend's house. Usually I am not that into live DVD's, as I find the actual live experience much more satisfying (duh). Plus, live DVD's can be doctored with extra studio overdubs and other stuff.

However, my friend put this DVD on; and in an instant, I was mesmerized.

The Reading gig really shows this band at its best, and the sound and visual quality is awesome! The mystique of the band actually is enhanced by watching this show, as it is hard to believe how these guys could be so damn good with only three instruments. It's astounding, really.

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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 10:07 pm

Why Duff McKagan Left Seattle for Los Angeles

By Duff McKagan
Wednesday, Dec. 23 2009


In the Autumn of 1984, I moved from the familiar comfort of the Seattle punk scene to Los Angeles. Many assume that leaving the oft-stormy weather of the northwest for the more tranquil and sunny Southern California would be a no-brainer. A guy like myself could throw caution to the wind and basically go anywhere I wanted, well, anywhere that my beat-up car could get to, and anywhere that had a music scene that had more infastructure and less heroin than Seattle did then.

Let me first explain that I did not leave Seattle because there was a lack of talent or originality. Seattle in the early '80s probably had the most diverse and supportive scene in America. If the place where your band rehearsed at got shut-down or was otherwise made unavailable, it was never a problem to find some other band to help out. At a gig, if any piece of some band's equipment broke down, replacement gear was as close as the next band's gear on the bill.

No, I left Seattle because as a result of the early-'80s economic recession in the area, clubs and youth halls were shutting down. The streets of Seattle were dire and empty. My bandmates, roommates and girlfriends all started on the smack. and I lost a new guitar amp that I had worked hard for. I was working, paying rent, doing weekend tours, and coming back to theft from friends at home. So I left the city I love for a city I knew no one in or nothing about.

My first couple weeks in L.A. were a sort of recon mission. My next-oldest brother Matt lived in Northridge, and he got me a job my first day in town as a cook at a Black Angus. For anyone who knows, Northridge is actually quite far from Hollywood, especially in a piece of shit Ford Maverick with no brakes and a leaky oil pan. I would go down to Hollywood to go to a club and often just drive into the hills afterward and sleep in my car, because I was afraid of breaking down on the freeway in the middle of the night. On top of this, I was not yet 21, and therefore had to come up with crafty ways to get into clubs to see a gig.

Back then, we people from Seattle just plain looked different. I remember when bands like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys would come through Seattle, they would always comment of the different look of the crowd. Now that I was in L.A., I decided to use this 'different' look to convince people checking IDs at club doors that I was not from the United States, and thus spoke no English.

When asked for an ID, I would produce my sunglasses and a puzzled look. They must have thought I was Swedish or something but, no shit, it worked more often than not. To further explain how 'different' we Seattleites looked, upon first meeting Slash in response to a Musicians Wanted ad, his girlfriend Yvonne assumed I was gay and asked me about it after a couple of tugs off of a bottle of vodka. I almost pissed myself with laughter, and it took me a few days to actually convince her that I was a fan of the ladies..but that is another story.

I had gone to California to play shows and be a roadie prior to my move to LA. I was by no means a neophyte, nor was I in the least bit naive. But when I did try to identify some of the things in the LA club-scene that I left in Seattle--like camaraderie or at least helpfulness from others--I was pretty much rebuffed in a wholesale manner. No, Los Angeles was a cutthroat operation, and I would soon learn to play by those rules, although I would try to convince myself that I was still 'me'. The band I was soon to help form was comprised of fairly likeminded young men.

I must say, when Soundgarden first came to play in LA when I could see them (1989 I think), I was jealous yet proud. Jealous that Seattle had turned into a place a band could be FROM again, and it had turned that way without me there. I was proud of just how great Soundgarden was, and that all of my bragging about how cool Seattle was and how much raw talent was there finally had a face. As Mother Love Bone, Alice In Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam all began putting out major-label releases, the rest of the world found out about the little secret I left behind.

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Post by Blackstar Mon Jul 05, 2021 10:10 pm

Starting Over

By Duff McKagan
Thursday, Dec. 31 2009


Somehow, I had to turn everything around. Two weeks spent in the hospital doing a no-blink stare confronted with the fact that things in my life would have to change drastically left me exhausted, confused, and actually somewhat exhilarated.

In my 20s, there were two things I never really had to come to grips with or deal with: taking responsibility for my actions and thinking about what I would do other than music. I just didn't think that I would be around to deal with this shit.

After being mired in and shackled with the constant blackness of drugs and drink for as long as I was, a person just gives up. Sure, there is a weird hope for things like a miracle cure, but that is as close as you get to hope. A tragic event is more likely the case. And bracing for something like death happening to you gets somewhat softened by the cushioning narcotic fuzz. But suddenly here I was: sober and in a doctor's care, my two-week withdrawal softened by intravenous morphine for the pain and Librium for the delirium tremors.

They released me from the hospital in May of 1994 with the hope that I would go directly to a drug and alcohol rehab that they had set up for me somewhere near Olympia. I thanked my doctor for all his help. The two weeks alone in the hospital had done as much for me as any rehab could possibly do. I was done. This was the break and miracle I had lost all hope of attaining. Now that I had been given this slight reprieve and separation from the putrid terror of addiction, it was time to turn some shit around--but how?

Back in the winter of '94, I had bought a house back home in Seattle, the place that I had hoped a miracle would happen--a house that I would either die soon in or have a family in. Two diametrically opposed situations, for sure, but such was my structure of thought back then. Here I finally was now, in my home and sober with a chance of starting it all anew.

One of the first things I did was go to the grocery store to buy food. It was a novel idea at the time, for I hadn't really shopped for food in about 10 years. Now here I was, 30 years old, and probably doing the first good grocery shopping in my life. I was an adult with a credit card, a checkbook, and an ATM card. I could buy whatever I wanted in the store, but I had no idea where to start. I thought that everyone was staring at me. It had been so long that I had been anywhere sober that I didn't know how to act or how to deal. It was like being on LSD. The lights in the store were blaringly bright to me and the music seemed to be playing hidden messages. I bought some milk and barbecue sauce and cigarettes, and that is all. My shirt was drenched in sweat and I was having a full-blown panic attack. As I drove my car home, I stiffly steered my machine out of the way of three accidents as I rode the brakes the whole way. I could smell my brake pads when I got home.

Something that I never really thought about was that just simply functioning in life again was going to be my biggest hurdle. I guess you always think that avoiding bars and drug dealers and the craving will be the things that impede sober progress. Yes, though those things would be a challenge, I first had to figure out things like what time to go to bed and what to do with my time. How was I going to play music again? Could I do it sober? How do I talk to someone on the phone now? Who do I call? Should I tell people that I am sober? Should I just go away somewhere and disappear? How do people view me after living such a reckless existence? What the fuck should I do?

My band, Guns N' Roses, was in shambles, and suddenly the dynamic had changed. Not too long after I got out of the hospital, Axl came up to Seattle to visit me. The challenge was how we were going to make a new record and what direction we were going to go musically. We couldn't very well do anything at the time because Slash was out doing a Snakepit tour and battling his own addiction. In previous years, there had seemed to be a fail-proof alliance and understanding within our band; we knew that at the end of the day we only had each other to rely on. Now I was doing sober things with Axl, like riding mountain bikes and eating healthy food and talking on the phone about a productive musical direction. That sense of family and trust had recently been tainted by management dealings and other wedges that did everything possible to vanquish our bonds.

Looking back now, it is all so fucking clear. But then and there in the moment, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that outside forces could be so selfish and money-grubbing. These were the hard lessons I would finally learn to live with, although never by.
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2009.MM.DD - Seattle Weekly - Reverb (Duff's column) - Page 3 Empty Re: 2009.MM.DD - Seattle Weekly - Reverb (Duff's column)

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