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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!
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2010.MM.DD - Seattle Weekly - Reverb (Duff's column)

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:23 am

When Your Daughter's Got the Bieber Bug, the Whole Family Gets Infected

By Duff McKagan,
Thu., Jul. 1 2010


I have a daughter, Grace, who turns 13 this summer. I have borne witness first-hand to the changing paradigm of how kids these days get turned on to new music, through everything from YouTube to the Disney Channel. Grace finds pretty hip stuff, and has turned me onto to bands like Phoenix, Le Roux, the xx, and many more. But she isn't immune to the really commercial pop stuff (neither am I, actually!).

Six years ago it was all about Britney Spears, until she got too "skanky," according to Grace. High School Musical was a huge deal for her, and I remember having to find a hotel in New York that had the Disney Channel so that we could see the world premiere of HSM 2 back when that came out. It would have been a huge blow to her if we hadn't gotten to see that on the premiere night.

The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana have come and gone in her "what is cool" file, and now it is all about Justin Bieber. And this time it's different.

If you are not aware of Justin Bieber or the corresponding Bieber Fever that has been overtaking teenage girls over the past six months or so, then I guess perhaps you have been living under some kind of media-muted rock. This shit is huge. It must be like the Shaun Cassidy or Leif Garrett things that happened in the '70s. Just sheer screaming-girl mania.

The Bieber is playing Everett Events Center on July 13, and Grace is going crazy. I happen to be friends with Justin Bieber's tour manager. Grace stands a good chance of meeting him. She knows that his favorite songs on RockBand or Guitar Hero are Guns N' Roses songs. Grace is hoping and scheming to use these angles so that The Bieber will go down on one knee that night and ask her to marry him. She knows that his favorite eye color is blue (she has blue eyes). She knows that his favorite sport is hockey (she is, as I write, learning everything she can about hockey). She has already informed her mom and myself that we are not to plan anything for the two days leading up to the show, because she needs this time to get ready. Two whole days?! When I question her about what the hell could take two whole days, she gives me the look that solidifies the fact that we men don't know the first thing about our opposite gender. Not a damn thing . . .

There was a day when rock tours sold out arenas, and tours came through town all the time. It is rare these days for a bona fide rock band to do an arena tour here in the States. Green Day, Metallica, and the Foo Fighters can do it, but few others. No, the real arena acts these days are things like Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, and The Bieber. I guess TV is the great difference-maker. MTV used to play music videos 24 hours a day, and these videos acted as commercials to whet the appetite for a ready youth market. These days, it's all about the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon and the product that they push.

My friend, Justin Bieber's tour manager, says that every arena is sold out and that they are averaging $27 per person on merchandise sold at those venues. These young kids tug on their parents' pant legs with hopeful eyes and get what they want. Trust me, I am one of those dads who will buy the tour program or shirt for their daughter. We parents are suckers for that kind of thing, for sure. Do the math here--20,000 people a night x $27. On top of what they are already making in ticket receipts. They are printing money over there. But that is off-topic.

No, I suppose the reason for writing this particular piece is really only to invite you all in as I take this journey. It's awfully damn sweet and cute and innocent. Heck, if nothing else, I scored some bonus "cool" points with Grace. Justin Bieber likes my old band. He can't be all THAT bad.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100704055530/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/07/when_your_daughters_got_the_bi.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:26 am

I'm Gonna Need a New Roof: I Never Thought I'd See the Day.

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Jul. 8 2010


Back in the fall of 1993, I had serious thoughts that there were not going to be many more springs and summers and winters ahead for me. My two-and-a-half year run in support of Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion had come to an end, and I found myself with a caustic and deadly addiction to drugs and alcohol. I was lonely, tired, and never ate.

I had also finally bought a house back in Seattle. It had a basketball court and an old, leaky roof. I never thought I'd use the basketball court. And I remember thinking that the cedar shake roof that I put on the house--rated to last 25 years--would outlast me.

Today it's looking old and somewhat worse for the wear. I guess I do too. I take not a small amount of solace in the fact that I figured out a way to outrun the life expectancy of my roof. To hell with how I look from the outside. I am giddy just to be here.

It's when the seasons change, as they did this week, that I feel dead lucky. I am in Seattle with my family right now, and on one of our recent 85-degree July days, playing basketball in our backyard with my soon-to-be 10 year-old, it suddenly dawned on me that THESE are the good old days. Right now. Right here.

So often I find myself rushing through a day trying to get this done or that. When a friend in London and I were discussing the details of business and family and time away from home, he e-mailed me a reminder: "THIS IS NOT A REHEARSAL!" It's easy to forget.

It happens in a flash, life does. It seems like just yesterday that my 13-year-old daughter, Grace, was born. Only the ever-deepening lines on my face tell me that I have been alive for a while. I don't FEEL any different. I still have geeky and adolescent thoughts. I still tell the same dumb jokes. Didn't I JUST paint my house? That was 10 years ago?! It can't be.

There's no question that life is treating me well, inside and outside my house. I got to fly down to L.A. last weekend and take part in one of the most fun gigs I have EVER played. Jane's Addiction played a show to be included in Donovan Leitch's film about Hollywood and the Sunset Strip. The band is allowing me to be a part of their history, and for that, I am deeply honored. Life is good indeed.

But contrast in life is needed for balance. If it were all gumdrops and pink girly-stuff in my life, I am quite sure that I would go fucking insane. I love my girls and my household, don't get me wrong, I just need pain and darkness now and again to even the teeter-totter. I like to write rock songs about the "other side"--often laced with profane utterances ("Los Angeles/You're a fucking whore/Hollywood/You're an open sore")--all the while trying not to use "bad words" in my own house. I like exercise with pain and some suffering involved. I like old-school punk rock. I like Slipknot and The Refused, too.

Contrast in my life is also apparent in the oldest friends that I have. My longest/best friend, Andy, has always called my bullshit and often scratched his head at my chosen path in life. Andy's catchphrase to me seems to be, "What you doing THAT for?!"

From the time I moved to L.A. back in 1984, to my changing Grace's diaper too slowly, he has always challenged me to clarify and sharpen my goals and intents. We have been hanging out this week a bunch, and thus I have had to explain to him what I have been up to over the last year or so. Andy lets me know that life is indeed not ALL about me. He didn't know about me and Jane's Addiction. Of course, I thought EVERYONE knew about it!

Andy reminds me that most other people do have a life of their own that doesn't center on me. He doesn't read this column. He doesn't go to music websites to troll. He's a normal guy. Because I have always kept my best friends from childhood--men whose professions differ greatly from mine and who thus have perspective (as I hope I provide in return)--I am a normal guy . . . or at least I STRIVE to be a normal guy.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100711120254/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/07/duff_mckagan_july_8.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:35 am

Four Things I've Learned After 99 Columns (And Yes, I'll Tell You All About the Justin Bieber Show!)

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Jul. 15 2010


It is probably a bit self-important of me even to recognize that this week marks my 100th Thursday column for Seattle Weekly. It is sort of par for the course that I can't really think of what to write this week--writer's block, I suppose. Or is it that I am putting too much pressure on myself and therefore can't feel a flow?

At any rate, here are four things I have learned thus far from my writings, and from you readers:

1. Writing is a journey into honesty, more so than the spoken word. Once you make a written statement, you must follow it up with supporting text. For me, at least, this has helped me to clarify some things in my life currently AND in the past.

2. I have been really lucky with the quality of this column's readership. You lot are, for the most part, much more smarterer than me, and have challenged me with witty and thought-provoking comments. I love the back-and-forth. Intellectual discourse for me is for sure a major spice in life.

3. Heck, when I started this column two years ago, I never would have thought that it would last this long. I have found in writing a new passion. I probably would never have had the "chops" to get a gig at some old-school newspaper back then. The Weekly has allowed me to learn as I go. I guess blogging IS the new op/ed.

4. Now that the Internet is the "newspaper" of this generation, I believe we have a responsibility to be as truthful and fact-based as we can. Putting bullshit stories or op/eds out there is passé and rather dumb at this point, and gets old. Does this make sense? Let's step it up!

OK. So enough of all that! Let's move on to a topic I wrote about a couple of weeks ago--Justin Bieber! The concert was Tuesday night here in Everett (just outside Seattle), and I took four screaming tweeners. Awesome.

Actually, for those of you who may scoff at the idea of a pop teen idol (and I am usually at the top of that list), Justin Bieber is actually . . . the real deal. I have been to more than a few of these teenage arena concerts. I won't name names, but for the most part they are lip-synch affairs. As a musician, it bums me out. When I go to a concert, I don't want to listen to tape, and I don't think my kids do either. At that point, you feel like you were just brought to the arena to buy a T-shirt and pay a bunch of dough for parking and bottled water.

Justin Bieber is a whole other animal. Firstly, he writes his own songs. Also, he plays guitar live, and his band is pretty damn slammin'. There was no lip-synching, either. I would go as far as to say that if you like old Jackson 5, then you may be an eventual recipient of Bieber Fever yourself. I'm just sayin' . . . If nothing else, it was a good time that harkened back to '70s pop.

My daughters, Grace and Mae, brought two friends, and because of my ties with the touring personnel, I was the parent chosen to take them all. It is quite possible that I was the only male in that whole crowd of 8,588 people (a record for Everett's Comcast Arena). I was a dude alone in a sea of estrogenic zeal. It kind of freaked me the fuck out. There were moms drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade and dancing and waving their hands at 16-year-old Justin, almost knocking over their own kids to be seen (I guess?). Pretty funny (and odd) moments for sure. Cougar much?

I have seen--and may I say, even been a part of--some pretty rabid audiences, but there really is nothing that quite compares to thousands of screaming and crying girls. The noise level between songs is the loudest and most hysterical thing I have ever been a witness to . . . and I have PLAYED shows in front of 100,000-plus drunken rock fans who LIVE for rock and roll.

I was chided quite a bit this week by friends and family who knew that I was going to the Bieber show. One of my friends went as far as to say that I had finally sold my soul to the devil for going. This show wasn't about me being a "rock guy," it was about me simply being a dad.

But finally the opportunity came Tuesday for my girls to actually meet JB. When my friend who works on the tour came to us before the show and waved us through to a backstage room, it became apparent that it was time for us to meet "the dude."

My girls played it cool and didn't freak out. I was proud of that. Afterward, however, they were floating on clouds. Bieber wanted his photo taken with me too, and for that I won tons of points with my girls. Grace asked me today if I had talked to JB today yet. She thinks that because we did a photo together that maybe we will be friends now. Heck, now that I think of it, maybe Slash and I can finally announce the new singer of Velvet Revolver--Justin Bieber!

https://web.archive.org/web/20100822154427/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/07/four_things_ive_learned_after.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:38 am

Izzy Stradlin's Got a New Album, Wave Of Heat, Out. I'll Bet You Didn't Know That!

By Duff McKagan
Mon., Jul. 19 2010


Sorry if I am late on this Monday edition of the music column. I was east of the mountains and beyond the reach of any internet contact. Maybe Izzy Stradlin's new record, Wave Of Heat, exemplifies this situation best.

I'm not much of a 'critic' when it comes time to write about music, and hence I really only write about stuff that I like. I really like the way Izzy, my old Guns N' Roses bandmate, goes about writing, recording, and releasing his records. He records his stuff out in the 'sticks' where he lives. He writes and demos the songs in his house. He releases his records straight to iTunes. No press. No drama.

In a lot of ways, at least for me, Izzy has almost singlehandedly carried the torch over the last 18 years for REAL, no bullshit American rock. His records are always gems of song-craftsmanship. Wave Of Heat came out last week and this may be the first place you may have heard about it. (Full disclosure: I played bass on this record.) Izzy walks his own path always and never plays footsies in any way with the newest musical fad or craze. He fucking ROCKS! Plain and simple.

Izzy Stradlin, "Beat Up" (Wave Of Heat): An up-tempo rocker that needs to be played LOUD!

Izzy Stradlin, "Difference" (Wave Of Heat): This is classic tongue-in-cheek dry humor from the Iz-man. He has always had the gift for great lyric writing. The chorus of this song is one of the catchiest I have heard in recent years.

Izzy Stradlin, "Texas" (Wave Of Heat): Actually, I feel kind of dumb writing about these songs separately anymore. This is a RECORD and should be listened to as a whole. Period!

https://web.archive.org/web/20100723155133/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/07/izzy_stradlins_got_a_new_album.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:41 am

I Have Officially Bowed to the Information Age

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Jul. 22 2010


Last Christmas, my wife bought me a Kindle. To be honest, I had to sort of fake that I was stoked to get this present. As most of you probably know by now, I am an old-school, turn-the-paper-pages kind of guy. What was I to do with this new gadget? My wife would surely be checking to see if I was indeed using the Kindle, and I was totally reluctant at first. A happy life = a happy wife, and so sometime a few weeks after Christmas, I acquiesced and bought my first e-book. I haven't looked back since.

I can appreciate how hard authors must surely work on their craft. I have never illegally downloaded music and ALWAYS buy what I listen to. I probably take this credo a little far with e-books. Authors DO make less on this new medium, so I also buy the physical book as a companion. I like to put those books on my bookshelf anyway ...

A few days ago, I read in a news story that e-books just surpassed, in sales, their physical counterparts on Amazon. Is this the beginning of the end for paper books? Have I somehow contributed? Does anyone care?

I've been reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts on Kindle. It is a massive read, somewhere around 1,000 pages. The odd thing about reading a book on a Kindle for me is that there are no page numbers. Shantaram is an epic story that goes through many varied stages. Not knowing where you are in a book can be a bit confusing. I've read a couple of Upton Sinclair books on Kindle, and with his abrupt endings, I thought I was missing part of the book--as if it actually hadn't all transferred to my gadget. I've been reading Shantaram for like five weeks and I have no fucking idea how much of the story is left. I guess this can be good and bad. Because I don't know where I am in the story, I am rather lost in it, and without the burden and restraint of anticipating the end. But because I don't know how much further to go, I'm not sure how much weight to put into certain offshoots in the story. Does that make sense?

Prince recently said that the Internet was "passé" and in its death throes. I love me some Prince and would never doubt anything that he pronounces, but . . . actually, I wouldn't mind if somehow that would be true. Record stores would thrive again, and maybe all those bloated, fat-Elvis stage pictures and YouTube videos of me would be gone(ish). What if suddenly it all went away or just became uncool? What would be next? I'm not exactly sure if Prince offered anything in the way of a new direction after his revelation last week. But of course this talk of the Internet vanishing is foolish.

Last week I touched on the topic of electronic media, and what I said sort of meshes nicely with Kindle et al. Online and downloadable news sites and newspapers have done in more than a few substantial brick-and-mortar newspapers. Perhaps that is the natural evolution of these things. I like the fact that people can comment instantly to articles and op/eds like mine. I think blog writers in general are taken more seriously this year than they were last year and the year before. The writing is just better. The sites are getting better, too. The intellectual level of commentary to my column alone over the last two years has risen considerably--probably because the "fleetish-ness" of online media as a whole has subsided. I guess people get sick of just blurting out dumb things online, and switch to real discourse after awhile. Or is it that people have just stopped reacting to childish Internet stabs? I for one rather like how we have all risen in the face of this complexity.

I am proof, then, that an old dog can change. I lug my Kindle through airports along with my computer and iPod. I may buy a paper once in a while, but mostly refer to my Wall Street Journal text alerts for the main and to-the-minute stories of the day. Yeah, I will always maintain a library and see live music and go to the movies, but I have become a man of this Information Age, for sure.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100817030623/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/07/i_have_officially_bowed_to_the.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:43 am

Racism, Reality, and "One in a Million"

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Jul. 29 2010


My wife and I were having lunch at an outdoor cafe in Wenatchee about a month ago, when a dude in his late 20s recognized me from my Guns N' Roses days. He stopped to talk to us, excited to tell us about what he'd been listening to and what concerts he had lined up for the summer. It all seemed nice and innocent, until he started to tell us about his girlfriend and how she had just recently gotten into rock 'n' roll. She used to be into hip-hop, she said. Her former boyfriends were Mexicans. But now she's into rock, because, "you know, white is right!" My wife and I both sat speechless in stunned silence.

This was the most recent of more instances than I'd care to remember when I have been assumed to harbor racist sentiments in my life.

I used to think it was because of the GN'R song "One in a Million" and its use of a few choice racist words. That song was meant, to the best of my knowledge, as a third-person slant on how fucked-up America was in the '80s. I don't know. I wouldn't have used the words, but Axl has been known to be amazingly bold at times.

I think for a while there in the late '80s and early '90s, GN'R were looked at as all kinds of bad things, even racists. I remember hearing that the KKK, or some faction of the Klan, had even used that song as a war cry. Art gets misunderstood all the time, but try to imagine being on MY end of this misunderstanding. Me, the little brother of a sister with a black husband whom I looked up to. What about Slash and what HE must have gone through then (Slash is half-black--or is it half-white?).

Starting long before anyone had ever heard of Guns N' Roses, and well before I picked up my first bass guitar, periods of racial tension have cropped up in virtually every stage of my life.

I grew up in a time when the civil rights movement here in the U.S. was at its most embroiled and tragic. Early memories for me include my mom pulling me out of kindergarten to march in a peace rally after Martin Luther King was shot and killed (the line "Did you wear the black armband/When they shot the man/Who said 'peace could last forever'" from GN'R's 'Civil War" was taken from this experience).

My oldest brother-in-law, Dexter, was a black man with a Black Panther tattoo on his left forearm. ANY tattoo to a 5-year-old boy is just the coolest thing ever, period. I didn't know that the Black Panthers were a militant group, nor would I have even understood it. Dexter was just my really cool brother with a kick-ass tattoo! I was too young to make a distinction between black skin and white skin. There was a white kid down the street who was born with an albino skin pigmentation--his skin was both really white and tan. My first two nieces and nephews were both half-black . . . or is it half-white? I dunno, but they were only one and two years younger than me. Our neighbors across the street were brown-skinned Filipinos. As a result, I just thought that we humans just simply came in ALL colors. Nothing more. Nothing less. Turns out that I was right all the way back then.

The year that I started kindergarten was also the year that Seattle Public Schools started the busing/integration program. I don't think we kids, black or white, really knew what was happening. The tensions of certain kids' parents about this situation came out in those few kids in the way of racism (from both colors), but these were mostly isolated in my experience.

The middle school I attended was a rather rough place when I went there in the late '70s. I got into my very fair share of trouble there, and had made the dumb decision to start carrying a knife to school. There were bullies of ALL races there. One day, two of these bullies followed me into the bathroom and demanded money from me. When I produced my knife, they ran and told a counselor that I had made racist threats. I am white and they were black. It was pure bullshit, but I became a scapegoat and was expelled. I was horrified of what my family may have thought. I know that they knew I was no racist, though, and that this situation was purely a product of the times; and I am sure these two bullies were snickering about my dilemma for the rest of the year. Were they assholes because of the color of their skin? No. They were just assholes.

The fallout two weeks ago from USDA official Shirley Sherrod getting the axe has some very depressing repercussions for this country, I am afraid. Racism has reared its ugly head in a new way that I can't imagine anyone really could have seen in retrospect. It appears that certain conservative affiliates are doing what they can to run black-on-white smear campaigns. It also appears that the Obama administration pulled the knee-jerk reaction of the century to set things back on track. They are afraid. The conservatives are apparently afraid too. It is appalling to witness just a couple short years after this country made one of its best collective decisions ever in electing Obama.

Are we taking steps backwards? I sure hope not. I have hopes that maybe WE are the generation that will be perhaps the last to witness this type of BS in America. It is just fear--and it is a fear that is just boring at this point. C'mon now. Let's move the fuck ON!

https://web.archive.org/web/20100731102426/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/07/racism_reality_and_one_in_a_mi.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:48 am

The Summer's Last Great Vacation

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Aug. 5 2010


In my line of work, it is either feast or famine, it seems. Either I have too much going the hell on, or scant little. No matter which, not since my early 20s have I had a 9-to-5 job with clear-cut free weekends and two weeks of paid vacation.

With kids in school now, I am very cognizant of when I have time off from touring, writing songs, or making records. It always happens that MY downtime is when THEY are in damn school! When summertime rolls around--almost without fail--my work schedule just gets fucking slammed. A joke around my house is "Your kids' schooling gets in the way of MY vacation!" I would never dream of doing a solo one. I'd rather stick by and just kind of wait for the girls to come home from school every day. I try to act all cool and nonchalant, but truth be told, I dig being around and with my family all the time. Not very rock-and-roll, some may say? Yeah, well . . . whatever!

I have been going to eastern Washington in the summer ever since I was a kid. My wife Susan and I bought a little piece of property over there in the late '90s. Ever since our girls have been alive, I have tried every ploy to get them as excited about that high desert locale as I am. I have failed miserably, for the most part . . . until this last weekend, it seems.

In the little neighborhood that our property is in the middle of, we have become friends with the other families and their kids. In a situation like ours, when we are not around a whole ton, it can be awkward for preteens to sort of mesh and become good buddies. My daughters are very nice girls, but kids this age are just shy, I guess.

This past weekend, though, as I scurried back from L.A. and quickly loaded the truck to get my family over to eastern Washington for our last time all together for a while, my daughters asked if they could bring a couple of their Seattle girlfriends with us. These arrangements always seem to be better. When the girls have friends along, my wife Susan and I get less flak about not having enough activities laid out (kids get REALLY bored REALLY quick!). Perhaps, I quietly thought to myself, the buffer of having their friends with them would help my girls be bolder with our neighbors' kids over there. Does that make any sense?

On Saturday, our first night there, we were invited by our neighbors to go see some car racing at our local racetrack. They do kick-ass stuff up there, like chain up boats and trailers to the back of crash-derby cars and make them run in figure-eights until there is only one car and, uh, boat left (Yep, that's how we do it over in the 509!). Car races aside, a funny thing happened up there at that race . . . and all at once. BOYS! Oh, shit . . . here we go.

I don't want to embarrass anyone here in the writing of this column, especially my older daughter (she is almost 13). Suffice it to say that, at about this exact age, the opposite gender has suddenly gained some merit. I actually don't mind it at all. I like having little dudes around to talk sports and other muddy things with. I am sure this won't last long--the me-liking-it part--but I will take it for now.

On Sunday, Susan wanted to learn to ride a dirt bike, and so again our neighbors came to our aid. Sunday just happens to be the day a local orchardist opens up a part of his acreage to all the locals to ride their dirt bikes. As you might imagine, most of these riders are boys. Did someone say "boys"?! Suddenly my daughters and their two friends were VERY interested in tagging along with us to the track to, uh . . . watch Mom.

It suddenly dawned on me that maybe I was getting what I wished for. Those childhood trips to Sun Lakes east of the mountains contained a lot of my first experiences with having a momentary crush on some girl from Yakima who was also there with her parents. It's all so very innocent and sweet at this point. I have made the decision to sort of sit back and let it all happen. Well, except for writing this column about it.

As we drove back Monday over the mountain pass, we all talked excitedly about what our favorite things about our quick vacation were. We all seemed to agree that there was not a bad part. The candy at the racetrack was great, the jet-ski rides were awesome, the water temperature was warm....and the company was perfect.

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:52 am

Loaded's Headed Into the Studio With Terry Date, the Guy Behind the Records That Inspire the Records I Strive to Make

By Duff McKagan
Mon., Aug. 9 2010


I am pretty fucking psyched to say that my band Loaded is doing a record this month with legendary Seattle-based producer Terry Date.

If you haven't heard of this guy, well then, you must have skipped over the genre of "hard rock" over the last 25 years or so. A recent glance at his Wikipedia page reminded me just how much he has contributed to the cause. Here are just a very few.

Soundgarden, Louder Than Love (1989): The sound of this record back in the late '80s really changed how records were made after its initial release. Gone was the histrionic "metal" drum samples and wimpy guitars.

Screaming Trees, Uncle Anesthesia (1991): It is nice to do a record with someone whose very work has been an inspiration. Many times in the studio over the years, I will have to audibly reference sounds of other records to a producer so that we can get on the same page. Terry Date has made many of those records. This Trees record is one of them.

Slipknot, "Vermillion," Vol.3 (2004): Need I say more?

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 4:54 am

Letters From Belltown, Which Could Be the City's Crown Jewel of a Neighborhood

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Aug. 12 2010


Rather than go long on a single issue this week, I thought I'd relay several observations that I've been able to make about the Belltown area of Seattle while I've been down here making a record this week at Studio X.

There is a little market across the street from the studio that has the usual fare--Red Bull, chips, string cheese, crack pipes (sorry, glass tobacco pipes), and an assortment of baseball hats and beanies. I guess these are the items that sell the best here in America. Every corner market in every major city in the States seems to carry the same stuff.

But the baseball hats at this store gave me pause. I like humor, especially when something is not supposed to be funny. The slogans on a couple of the dustier, long-hanging hats instantly explained why they had yet to sell. One hat had a graphic of a crafty king's jester with an evil smile. The slogan above the graphic read "JOCKER'S WILD." Heh, heh. The other hat showed a graphic of the U.S. Presidents on Rushmore. Above this, it simply read "MOUNTAIN RUSHMORE."

My new friend who runs this store, a fellow whose first language is not English, bemoaned the fact that these hats were made in China and that "they can't spell English down there." I thought to myself that perhaps he was missing some of the humor. Someone from his store had indeed displayed these hats to sell. Besides the fact that, yes, a lot of our disposable goods are imported from China, I'm just glad that I live in a place where I can banter with an Ethiopian gentleman about a Chinese-made product and openly complain about our government.

The U.S. is a melting pot, and I hope that it remains this way. Immigrants built this country on grit and determination for a better life. I COULD do with more U.S.-made products and/or less outsourcing to other countries, though. I'm more than sick of hearing about another car or plane plant closing because of cheaper labor and other costs abroad. Maybe my new slogan to reflect my insights should be "MORE IMMIGRANTS, LESS IMPORTS."

Because I have been down in Belltown recording every night until midnight, I have been privy to the crap that goes on here at night. It is a fucking crime free-for-all. I love this city, and it bums me out to see crack deals and threats of violence in our urban center. I like a city with some edge, don't get me wrong, but this is plain ugly and scary. For 10 nights straight, I have not seen one police car or cop presence at all. I'd rather walk anywhere in Boston or New York at night than have to circumnavigate Belltown these days. Hey, Mayor McGinn? What's the deal?

Belltown could be THE crown-jewel urban Seattle neighborhood. It is far from that right now, from what I have seen. I know there have been recent meetings with Belltown neighborhood groups, but I don't think extending weekend police activity alone will do much to stave off the day-in, day-out bullshit that I have witnessed this past week.

Lastly . . . the Seattle Mariners. Will someone please fire president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln? They are not apt to fire themselves, and Seattle baseball fans deserve so much more than the very less-than-average Major League team that we have now. There is no tradition of winning, and I am afraid that it can't start while these two fellows are running the show.

Back to the studio.

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:01 am

We Changed, Anvil Didn't, and That's Pretty Badass

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Aug. 19 2010


It's not that I grew up with Anvil or saw them at all in the '80s when they were tearing it up back in the day. No, as a matter of fact they were not really on my radar at ALL until I saw their movie at the premiere in Los Angeles last year. It was the movie that struck a chord with me. The struggle and ebb and flow of a working rock band gets me every time.

The documentary shows the friendship of Anvil's two original members (drummer Rob Reiner and singer/lead guitarist Lips) more than anything. These two guys have been through so much crap and somehow remained the best of friends. They have not changed one thing about themselves over the last 30 years, probably to the detriment of any real success.

Shit. Think about THAT for a second. It is really quite bold to just sort of believe SO much in what you do that you don't change one damn thing over a course of a long, long musical career. A guy like myself will indeed believe in certain precedents in music (like a punk-rock ethic for instance), but I have also changed how my music is written and recorded and how I look and all. I wonder--if I had had some sort of success with the Fartz back in 1981, would Paul Solger and I have just remained punker dudes and just kept writing songs about how "this world stinks"?

Back in the '80s, when bands like Megadeth and Anthrax and Testament started to garner bigger and bigger success, Anvil got left somewhere in the dust of it all. Their songs were maybe not as good, and probably the production of their records dated them too much. But maybe now, in retrospect, that is what I like about this band so much: they just didn't seem to give a fuck. Or was it that they just didn't get the memo that trends were changing? Either way, it's kinda badass now.

When I saw this movie with my band Loaded at that premiere, I think it instilled in all of us some of the fortitude that got us through all the ups and downs of the long and arduous touring schedule we went on. Indeed, seeing what these guys in Anvil have suffered through made me think of the stupid stuff that we in Guns N' Roses and even Velvet Revolver let get in the way of the music. The kind of stuff the guys in Anvil would have fought and stayed together through.

If you are going to Bumbershoot, do yourself a big favor. Go and rent Anvil! The Story of Anvil first. I guarantee that you will fall for this band and root for them. If you are a Capitol Hill hipster or a Lynnwood mom, it really will not matter. You will have your fist in the air, and perhaps feel a drop or two of tears. Celebrate good humans. Celebrate Anvil!

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:05 am

My Dirty Laundry, As Aired By My Daughter, Grace

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Aug. 26 2010


Of the more than 100 columns I've written thus far for Seattle Weekly, I would say that probably a good quarter have been centered around my life as a family man. The "family" pieces are the ones that might be the most widely read.

A couple of months back, I wrote a column about the whole "Bieber Fever" thing, and I used my own daughter as a sort of example within the piece. Until then, my daughter Grace had never really read my column, but she was made aware of that particular piece because it seemed that everywhere she and I went in Seattle just after that, people would come up to us and say something like "Duff and Grace! Bieber Fever!!!" Grace was not pleased with me . . .

And then, just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote another column that touched on the topic of "boys." It is very safe to say that again Grace was not pleased with me . . . Yes, she reads my column now.

The other morning, Grace came to me with an already written column . . . a sort of response, I suppose. I back it. So without further ado, here are my daughter Grace McKagan's first ever e-published words--a sort of "Oh yeah, Dad? Take THIS!"

DAD'S DAILY ROUTINE:

7:00 a.m.: Wake Up & Talk REALLLLLLLY Loudly on the Phone with Jeff Rouse About Coffee
8:00 a.m.: Drink Coffee & Watch the News REALLLLLLLY Loudly
9:00 a.m.: Go to the Gym (EWWWWWW)
12:00 p.m.: Eat DISGUSTING Tuna Curry Coffee Bean Protein Shake
12:30 p.m.: Go to the Studio & Record
1:00 p.m.: Coffee
2:00 p.m.: Coffee
3:00 p.m.: Coffee
4:00 p.m.: Coffee
5:00 p.m.: Coffee
6:00 p.m.: Coffee
7:00 p.m.: Coffee
8:00 p.m.: Coffee
9:00 p.m.: Coffee
10:00 p.m.: Coffee
11:00 p.m.: Come Back Home From the Studio

DAD'S BFF's:

(Not in Any Particular Order)
Jeff Rouse
Isaac
Mike Squires
John Potatoes (Varvatos)
Sean Kinney
Tavis LeMay
Scotty P.
Matt McKagan
LuAnn Finklstein
PatrowTrow
Cupcake 123 (Buckly)
Gilby Clarke

DAD'S EMBARRASSING STUFF:

He Buys Cologne From SEPHORAAAAAAA (The Gucci One)
He Eats Chocolate Like Every Night
He Always Says "age" After Everything
I.E.: Cool "songage," "manage"
He Takes His Shirt Off ALL THE FLIPPING TIIIIME When it is Hot Outside
He Gets His Hair Colored (He is a 46 Year Old "MACHOOO" Dad)
He is OBSESSED With his BlackBerry

SO UHMMM YEAH PEACE OUT GANGSTAHHHHS THANKS FOR READING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

https://web.archive.org/web/20100829062537/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/08/my_dirty_laundry_as_aired_by_m.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:08 am

Another World Debacle? Time For Another Hoot!

By Duff McKagan
Mon., Aug. 30 2010


About six months ago, a few weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, STG hauncho Debra Heesch and Ashley O'Connor (the wife of Pearl Jam's Mike McCready) stepped into action. The "Hootenanny For Haiti" at the Showbox at the Market--featuring McCready, myself, Star Anna, and Mark Pickerel, among others--was quickly organized by these two erstwhile ladies and sold out even faster.

It can be a big headache to corral a bunch of different artists into the same cause and venue for one single performance. I think it says something about this cities' arts community that all of these musicians will actually drop everything, not only for an important cause, but also for the chance to play with each other.

With oil-spill clean up efforts still on the losing end of a long-term battle in the Gulf, funds are in dire need. Deb and Ashley are back in action. "Hootenanny For A Healthy Gulf" will take place this Thursday at the bigger Moore Theater. Yep, fans have been clamoring for more of what they say last time and bigger venue is needed!

Funds raised from ticket sales and a silent auction will support efforts of the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), the only non-profit exclusively focused on the health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Deadliest Catch studs Edgar Hansen and Matt Bradley will be on hand to speak on environmental issues as they pertain to ocean waters and what they have both seen in their recent trip to personally assist in the BP-Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Artists this time around?

Mike McCready, Pete Droge, Shawn Smith, The original Fastbacks, Rachel Flotard, Rusty Willoughby, Star Anna, Kim Virant, Mark Pickerel, Ty Bailie, Jeff Rouse, Kristen Ward, Gary Westlake, Justin Davis, Chris and Rick Friel, Tim DiJulio, Victoria Wimer Contreras, and uh....me!

Sept 2. 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 in advance. $25 day of show.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100906021802/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/08/another_world_debacle_time_for.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:10 am

One Loaded Summer

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Sep. 2 2010


Well, HELL! First off, I must admit that I thought the column that my daughter Grace and I wrote together last week was only going to meet perhaps a polite response. Was I ever wrong! It gives weight to the suspicion I've had that the columns I have written about family are really the most widely read and commented on. It's like you all are saying "Yeah, great GNR story, Duff, but get back to some more of that all-girl household/dorky-dad/Buckley-the-dog stuff!"

They are running the "Grace column" in print this week for you locals. Grace is now running around the house convinced she is going to be the next Anne Rice or something. Whatever, Grace . . . !

This summer was really quite excellent all the way around--if only for the simple fact that I got to be home in Seattle for most of it. No real touring, and therefore I was with all my women in June, July, and August. I am indeed ready for football season to start, though.

Not that it was all-girls-all-the-time this summer. No, the most excellent Loaded was back at it making a record. Famed producer Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera, Deftones, Prong, Screaming Trees, just to name a very few) came in to the Loaded fold somehow just before we were to start this record and offered his assistance in a producer role. Yeah, when Terry Date wants to do your record, you run and not walk straight to that man.

Actually, who could blame Terry? We are all pretty smokin' hot dudes, and our collective wit and charm has yet to be matched anywhere west of the Mississippi. Truth be told, though, Mr. Date is probably still scrubbing himself in the shower a whole week now after we have finished, in an attempt to get our off-color humorist hue out of his skin.

For those of you who follow the band, you will also know that having Terry produce this new record is a departure from Martin Feveyear, the producer of the first two Loaded records. Martin is not only our producer, but one of my dearest friends, and I can probably speak for the other fellas in the band when I state that this was a very tough decision for us. Martin totally understood and told us to make a great record. I love you, pal.

In a summer filled with girls and pink fluffy "cute" stuff, it was an equalizing pot of gold to get in a studio with "the fellas." Terry Date has ESPN and Mariners games playing silently on the TV screen in the studio at all times. If no games are on, he will change it up to the Discovery show with that dude who catches all the strangest fish he can find all over the world. Man stuff for sure!

The odors that start to happen when it is just dudes hanging in the same room for 12 hours at a time can be quite stunning, to be sure. It's weird. The smells--as I have noted--are almost always preceded by a sharp and quick muffled noise. I wonder what that is all about. Studio X smells JUST like our tour bus. Strange.

And the humor. Uh. WOW. For those of you who may know me on a personal level or have come to a Loaded show, you know that I like to tell jokes. Some of you may even think my jokes are dumb and crass. No. The jokes that I tell in public are simply the cream of the crop of what I prune from long studio sessions and such. If you think MY jokes are dumb . . .

We hope to find Loaded a label home that will do our record a bit more justice this time around. There is not a group of guys anywhere who deserve more reciprocation from a like-minded, hard-working record company. But THAT is another story!

Yes. It is time now to start routing a tour for next spring and summer, and to get back on some of those awesome festivals that were so good to us last tour. The story of Loaded is set to continue. Gauging from this excellent summer with my bandmates, the story will include a huge dose of our wackiness and humor. Thank God!

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:11 am

Notes From the Hoot: Kim Virant, Kristen Ward, and Victoria Wimer Contreras

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Sep. 9 2010


Last week, as we were running down the songs at the rehearsal night before The Hootenanny for a Healthy Gulf at the Moore Theater, it suddenly dawned on me that I had written or otherwise talked about everyone who participated, except for three--Kim Virant, Kristen Ward, and Victoria Wimer Contreras.

If you read my column, then you already know how highly I regard the other Hoot musicians, like Star Anna, Mark Pickerel, Shawn Smith, Rachel Flotard, etc. As a matter of fact, it is just plain odd, if you are me, to play with some of the most talented musicians on this planet, and see that some of them are still trying to "break" themselves on a larger scale, while my career broke many years ago. I am in no way a better player or more of a personality than the rest of these folks. There is just no rhyme or reason in the music industry. To try to at least do this industry a little justice, then, I would like to tell those of you who don't know about these three ladies in a bit more detail and color.

Kristen Ward has put out a couple of rock-flavored records in the last few years, but it is her latest alt-country record Charles that may best suit her amazing talent. She has a voice that is sweet and gentle and can seem like it just drips around you, or wraps you in a warm coat. Kristen doesn't need all the ruckus and noise of loud rock to hide her voice behind, and I think perhaps the song "Maybe" off Charles best exemplifies what I am trying to get across. Check it out.

Kristen and her musical partner, the great and mighty Gary Westlake, have just started to venture out of the Northwest, playing some shows down in Los Angeles. I would recommend trying to see a show now . . . something you can store in your "I saw her when" file. No bullshit.

Next up, Kim Virant. If you are anywhere near Seattle, then of course you have probably seen a KV show. For those of you who haven't, well, it may be a bit simplistic for me to try to describe and compare Kim to say, Stevie Nicks . . . but that IS the ballpark and high-water mark that Kim lives in. She is comfortable singing in about any format, from hard rock to country murder ballad, but her CD from last year, Songs From a Small House, pretty much nailed her comfort zone, the place where she flourishes most . . . her own music! Check out "Love Ain't for the Weak" off this record. It's a really nice song featuring beautiful song-craftsmanship.

Kim's musical partner just happens to be the Hoot's drummer and general man-behind-the-scenes, Chris Friel . . . a killer all-around dude if it's me you are askin'.

Victoria Wimer Contreras is by no means last on this list, for any reason other than that I knew she would be the hardest to write about. She has the most "legitimate" musical background of ANYONE who was on that stage that night. She has studied with Maestro David Kyle (vocal coach to Ann Wilson, Liza Minnelli, and Geoff Tate, just to name a very few). Victoria studied music and vocal jazz in the esteemed Central Washington University music program. Her leanings have been more toward jazz until recently (thank God for us rock and country fans). Her duet of Oasis' "Wonderwall" with Jeff Rouse at the Hootenanny was a stunning jaw-dropper. She doesn't have anything up on iTunes yet, but check out "This Is Not Goodbye" on her MySpace page for at least a tiny example of what she is capable of. If the world were right all of the time, Victoria would be a huge star right now.

It is very fortunate for all you locals that you will be able to catch Star, Kim, Kristen, Victoria, AND Rachel Flotard at their tribute to Patsy Cline this Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at The Triple Door in downtown Seattle. This is an absolute don't-miss!

A couple of asides: If you get a chance to see Tim Dijulio, the guitar player for the Hootenanny band, do it. For now, you can see him shred on the YouTube clip of Shawn Smith's version of "Purple Rain" from that Hoot-Moore show.

Also, Paul Hutzler made his pedal-steel debut at the Hoot. He only started playing this instrument one year ago, and with eight hours a day of practice, made himself world-class on this hardest of all instruments!

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:13 am

OK, Let's All Chip In on This One

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Sep. 16 2010


Sometimes things just get stuck in my craw and I just can't shake them. Sometimes these things can be good and funny, like the fact that my daughters think I am just SO embarrassing these days. But other times, the things that get me pissed off and keep me there are when foolish and thoughtless crime puts the innocent in danger or leaves them with nothing.

Last Christmas, I wrote a piece in the Weekly on the Ronald McDonald House here in Seattle by Children's Hospital. The RMH is a place of last resort for families whose children are undergoing cancer treatment and have no place to stay in the Seattle area. For all of the wonderful work and service that RMH provides, it is still not a place you want to be . . . needless to say.

The Ronald McDonald House is just a few short blocks from my house. Over the last 15 years, I have met some of these parents, and have felt first-hand the sheer tragedy that overtakes a family who has sold everything and is in debt to the hilt for the sake of medical co-pays and the like.

I saw a segment last Thursday night on KING 5-TV that shook me to the core.

The segment is about Jeremy and Karen Hartle and their 3-year-old son, John. They are a Montana family here in Seattle at the Ronald McDonald House while the boy gets cancer treatment. John has stage-4 neuroblastoma which has metastasized to every bone in his body.

Last Thursday night, on top of everything else, the Hartle family truck was stolen from right outside of the RMH. Their 2002 Ford F250 had been their lifeline.

From the KING 5 article:

"Who does that?" says Jeremy. "Who steals a car right in front of a place like this?"

"I'm 7 months pregnant and we had a lot of material things for the baby in the truck," says Karen.


On top of this, this truck contained medical equipment for the care of John, Jeremy's work tools for his masonry business back in Montana, and new stuff for the pending little baby. All of this stuff was in the truck because there is just no room left in the apartment provided by RMH.

This truck provides the only transportation for this couple to get back and forth to Kalispell to see their two other children.

So that was it. If you are at all like me, you are at this moment looking around for information on how to help the Hartles. Here is what I have found out . . .

There IS a bank account in Kalispell, Montana for the Hartles. It had been set up earlier to donate to the family for the ongoing care of John and the ongoing cost of having a family when you just suddenly have to drop everything and go to Seattle . . . before they knew that some asshole thief was going to steal their truck here.

Mike Bickford at Bickford Ford in Snohomish heard about this story and has absolutely stepped up to the plate. They have contacted the family and have offered to cover almost half of what it would cost to replace this truck.

I know where I am buying MY next car.

I feel that a sense of community can be attained suddenly. There are times when I think this city is just getting too big and mean, and then I hear about something like this, a car dealership and its third-generation owner taking the time to give a hand. Outstanding.

The Hartles DO have insurance, but as we all know, it won't cover the full price of replacement, not to mention the contents of the truck.

So there is room for us to help, and it's not a huge number. It is attainable! I'm not in the practice of asking the readers here to help with a cause financially, but this one is extra-different. This happened in OUR town. These people are on OUR watch. Let's DO this!

Johnhartle.info

Three Rivers Bank
233 E. Idaho
P.O. Box 7250
Kalispell, MT 59904
(406)755-4271
contact Kay Ross
kross@3riversbank.com

Also, you can contact Bickford Ford directly.

Dan Hudson
Danh@bickford.net
(425)212-2811

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:15 am

10 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started a Band

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Sep. 23 2010


First, I must say that there is really nothing that I would or could change about my story thus far in the context of the bands I have been in . . . or how I have conducted myself and bandmates' reactions to certain situations. It is what it is (and it has been what it has been).

HOWEVER! Because SW's REVERB Local Music Festival is coming up (Oct. 9, Ballard), it may be helpful if I could perhaps dispense a few dos and don'ts to new and up-and-coming rock bands.

Believe me, I have walked into a few brick walls in my times of rock-and-roll madness. I've matriculated sometimes only because this person or that showed me how to walk AROUND that same virtual brick edifice. On that note, here are 10 tips to muse on, mixed in with time bombs to hopefully avoid!

1. If you are one of those people who got into music for the chicks and drugs and not the passion of a song and the power of musical moments, go home. Wankers.

2. Don't smoke crack on a leased private jet. The smell gets into EVERYTHING!

3. Like the people in your band. Or at least use the animosity within your band as a springboard for great fucking art!

4. Have a kick-ass band name. Unless your band is so good that your band name is THAT secondary, choose a name that means something to the band and has some sort of imagery that is a reflection of the music. Let's face it, the band name MUSE is kinda lame. But once you see or hear the band, the name is the last thing you think about.

5. Don't sign a deal that ties you up with one particular manager. There is no real upside for the artist here. If a manager believes in you and can get you good tours and nice licensing deals, etc., well, then just give the manager commissions on that stuff. Trust me. Not signing a deal keeps a manager hustling FOR the artist.

6. Don't get addicted. Drugs and alcohol can seem sexy and fun--for a while . . . until you can't live WITHOUT them. Then it's all dumb and terrifying.

7. Watch how the business works around you. Ask questions constantly and never be embarrassed to do so. "How much does a T-shirt cost to make?" or "What does publishing really mean?" are just two examples.

8. From the start, try to ascertain that you and your bandmates have the same goals. Back when Guns N' Roses first started, there WAS a different lead guitar player and drummer. When Axl, Izzy, and myself booked a punk-rock style tour of the West Coast in 1985, and these two other guys didn't want to leave the comfort of L.A., we went and found guys who DID! Thankfully and serendipitously, we found Slash and Steven Adler!

9. Get used to being away from cozy shit and the safety of home. Bring your teddy bear if you need to. And get Skype.

10. Don't be an asshole to other bands. If you are good and stay around for a while, being an asshole PERIOD is going to make life very hard for you.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100927032036/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/09/10_things_i_wish_id_known_when.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:17 am

Slash Dance: You've Heard His Axe, But My Friend's Dance Moves Will Shred You to Pieces

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Sep. 30 2010


The first time I heard Slash play guitar was in 1984 in the basement of the Los Angeles townhome belonging to his mother, Ola, a woman who would later become like a surrogate mother to me during my early years in L.A.

Slash didn't have to try to impress--he just picked up an acoustic guitar and started to play. Up to that point, I really thought I had seen and heard the whole gamut of the talent pool of my age group in America. I had toured extensively with punk-rock bands, and had seen just about every band that came through Seattle from '79 to '84. But when Slash played in that basement that night, all I thought I knew was suddenly swept aside.

Through the years, he's been asked to play guitar with everyone from Michael Jackson to Rihanna, but it was sometime in late 1988--the year after our first band, Guns N' Roses, had released its debut, Appetite for Destruction--that I knew Slash had transcended anything like flash-in-the-pan or local-hero status. It wasn't due to the growing press he received, or some other outside force. It was from an Irishman--a call from guitar legend Rory Gallagher.

Rory asked our manager if Slash would like to come down and play on "Whipping Post," the Allman Brothers Band's rolling blues-rock anthem that Rory was well-known for playing live. It was, for sure, just a small gig at the Roxy, but from where I stood, I was proud that my friend and bandmate had stood his ground that night in the company of a legend.

Slash has been through the fucking ringer of rock-and-roll excess--blistering highs and soul-crushing lows--and has come through it all with a grin. And there are always plenty of grins to be had when Slash is in the room. I'm pretty sure that most of you don't know that Slash is also a world-class Russian crouch-down-and-kick-your-legs-out dancer. OK, perhaps not technically world-class, but he has been known to bust it out from time to time when a comical moment is needed.

Earlier this year, Slash released a record that had been percolating inside him since at least 1992. Slash, his first-ever solo record--to which I am honored to have contributed--is a badass culmination of his hard-won songwriting skills and kick-butt guitar playing. The who's-who of guest singers on the record--from Ozzy Osbourne to Fergie--shows how much respect Slash gets in our industry. If you are a fan of rock and fucking roll--or crazy Russian dance moves--don't miss this gig.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101003114013/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/09/slash_dance_youve_heard_his_ax.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:19 am

Question: What Did the Buddhist Say to the Hot Dog Vendor?

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Oct. 7 2010


Answer: Make me ONE with everything!

Yeah, well, I want some of that. I only use levity here because I like to tell a good joke--and the joke itself highlights in reality, something that I yearn for. As hard as I try for some semblance of tranquility in this journey of life, it seems that there is always some sort of mini-drama playing out somewhere on the sideline. And I know that I play a part in them ... if only just simply by reacting.

I should be a master in the art of band politics by this point in my life, but I find myself often caught in the trappings of drama and intrigue. Man, it's true: as often as I tell myself just to 'keep my side of the street clean' (that is, take responsibility for what I do, and try to walk a somewhat straight-ish path), I can get a little bit lazy with my personal program or belief, and I find myself in the midst of gossip and/or angling for a better position.

I think we probably all do this to some extent. At work and in our personal lives. we naturally all want what is best for ourselves ... and our loved ones. Did anyone see that ESPN shot of that young couple at the Houston Astros game this season? When an errant foul ball came their way, the guy moved out of the way and fully exposed his girlfriend to the full brunt of the baseball's impact. Ouch. Even if we want our workplace to excel in sales or whatever, and our love life to be as pristine as a Hallmark card, we often put ourselves first in the equation, even if we're unaware.

Back to the band. I don't want this to be taken the wrong way, but how am I am supposed to give, say, a new singer in Velvet Revolver--should we decide to find one-- a fighting chance, given all of my past history with our previous singer, Scott Weiland? Truth be told, I have a lot in common with Scott and I only wish him the very best. BUT! I still feel a little bit screwed by that situation. Not screwed over by Scott himself, per se, but by allowing myself to get hung up on some major-league, old-school rock trappings, and getting stuck there. A work environment mixed with the emotion of trying to portray a shared vision and sound can sometimes just get downright ridiculous.

This time I will just try it differently. This time, I will try and avoid the intrigue and not try for an angle. I'm sure I did it before. I'm SURE I did. I just wanted that band to be as great as I knew it could be. I probably let a lot of truths go flying past me in the process. This is life, I suppose.

All I can do from here is learn from the past, and adjust myself accordingly.

My girls are both of an age--10 and 13--when things at school and in their personal lives get acutely magnified. These things get brought straight into our house after school. You see, 10- and 13-year-olds rarely have a "filter"... In situations more and more frequently, I find myself reacting with either a big voice or just straight-up annoyance. It's not cool that I do this. I tell myself this when it happens. I write about these things for you so that I can at least write down what is happening. This column has been a wonderful tool for me to both flesh out personal/family issues and to keep myself in check. I know that you people read this. Because you read it, I cannot contradict myself. Damn!

I went to Seattle University--a Jesuit school--a few years back. If you know anything about Jesuit schools, you will o know that the Jesuits require a ton of philosophy courses for their students to advance. Hence, I am a quasi-expert armchair philosopher. There is a Buddhist saying that says, and I paraphrase:

"Be the water flowing down the stream, and not the boulder in the stream trying to hold the water back."

I like this meditation.

I wonder if simple edicts like these are attainable anymore. The Information Age brings with it a mad plethora of gadgetry that keeps our minds racing with too much monkey business. I have to drink way too much coffee just to keep up.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101009130146/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/10/question_what_did_the_buddhist.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:32 am

The McKagan Family Business Is Booming, Despite Its Doubters

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Oct. 21 2010


I have been away to London on business all of this past week. From what I understand, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing.

Chris Kornelis posted a story here last Thursday about the fact that my sweet wife is a part of a new reality show on the E! network. I received some e-mails from friends on my Blackberry pertaining to some of the dark and mean-spirited comments that followed Chris' piece in the comments section. I also heard from Chris that a lot of you stood up for Susan and our family. Thank you. The comments were bad enough, though, that the Weekly was forced to take down the comments board.

Let me tell you a little story: Back in 2002, I was living happily in Seattle with Susan and our two babies. I was an ardent student at Seattle University, and our lives were pretty much nerd-filled and stress-free.

I had pulled back from a scary life of excess that had almost killed me, and with the help of my girls (Susan IS one of my girls), I was settling down to a life I thought I could never attain: peace and academia and good friends that I grew up with.

But almost suddenly and out of nowhere, the lure of a great rock band in Los Angeles reared its presence to me. It was a chance to play with Slash and Matt Sorum again, and there was a lot of excitement around what this thing could be. I HAD to try it. I don't ever in this life want to wonder "what if?"

But Susan got worried, and rightfully so. Would old demons haunt me in a city that had more than a pound of my flesh? Would I act on them? And what about the kids? It's a big thing to uproot a family and just go.

Susan had my back, though. She knew that she could not be the one to hold me back if my musical passion called. Our lives changed from the tranquil lakeside setting in Seattle to a constant adapt-to-chaos situation in Los Angeles. Susan kept our household stress-free and steady for our daughters and me the whole time--as things were really starting to get crazy all around us.

When I relapsed on pills after 11 years of sobriety, Susan was the one there for me. She nursed me through my sickness and withdrawal and sought education on addiction, as opposed to being pisse -off and judgmental. She had never known me when I was drinking and using back in the day.

With the rise of Velvet Revolver, Susan began to be approached by a few different TV producers with varying ideas. She was, after all, a top model, and now a top mom and swimwear designer. They thought that there was perhaps a compelling TV story or series in there.

This gave Susan the idea to write and create a scripted show. The things that she had experienced out there with the other wives in VR were just too good and almost juicy . . . and FUNNY. She had caught the TV bug and now wanted to create a show. She had created herself as a model. She had created her own swim line. She had created herself as a kickass mother. Why couldn't she create this show?

Ah, but scripted shows are not the big and easy money-makers for the networks. Reality shows are. The production costs are minimal in comparison to their scripted counterparts. Susan's show idea went from basically a screenplay to a reality show with HER as one of its "stars." Trust me, she doesn't see herself as a "star," and thinks the whole thing is hilarious!

But then there is me. I do not like reality shows. No, I actually despise what little I have seen and think that some of this stuff has really poisoned our perception of reality. But then again, I have a ton of male rock friends who watch this stuff and fucking LOVE it. I don't believe that there is a real place for "rock guys" on an E! show, and Dave Navarro will be the first to tell you that if he could have done it differently, he would have never done the "Carmen and Dave" show. He has had to claw his way back into legit musical circles, as he sees it. (I think Dave is just so good at what he does musically that NOTHING could ever do THAT much damage to him).

So then that day came--the day Susan asked if I would be on her new show "just for one episode, baby. PLEASE! I know that you don't like this stuff, but they want me to ride a motorcycle and I thought we could do it together?" The show IS called "Married to Rock," right?

Since we had both immediately decided that our daughters would NOT be a part of the show (that would go against our ethos of privacy for them and for any "celebrity" that they might come upon, which would be of their choosing AFTER THEY ARE AT LEAST 18! Grace of course was BUMMED--but I digress).

How could I say no to my wife? How DARE I? This woman who has backed ME and taken care of ME and believed in ME? No, baby, whatever you need from me, I will do (of course, within reason).

We both decided that showing me with any band I was in would be fucking tacky and seen as gross commercialism. I suppose Loaded could USE a little gross commercialism, but not of this sort.

People may love this show or hate this show, and likewise Susan's participation in it. I'm in it for a few seconds too, but blink and you will miss me. I am not in this life to judge or react too hard to what people say to me either on fan forums or here at the Weekly.

First and foremost, I am in the McKagan family business, and doing right to those whom have done right by me and stayed with me through it all. And business is booming.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101024102724/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/10/duff_mckagan_oct_21.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:34 am

Replacements

By Duff McKagan
Mon., Oct. 25 2010


About a week and a half ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Tommy Stinson. For those of you who don't know, he is the guy who replaced me in Guns N' Roses. But also for those of you who don't know, Tommy is known to a lot of us music fans for his work in his first band, The Replacements.

Our meeting last week was by no means the first time we have hung out. No, back in 1983, my band 10 Minute Warning opened for The Replacements right here in Seattle, at the long-defunct punk club Metropolis.

Tommy is a great fucking guy, and I always come away glad when our paths have crossed over the years.

So here is a nod to you my friend. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present, The Replacements:

"Kick Your Door Down" (Sorry Ma! Forgot To Take Out The Trash, 1980): This is the year that American punk rock really started to come into its own. This was also the year that The Replacements put Minneapolis on the map as far as the young rock mind went.

"Left Of The Dial" (Tim, 1985): "Left Of the Dial" is an old term used to inform listeners where college radio was located on the FM number dial read-out. The 'alternative' to everything else was located down there. The Replacements were of course, an alternative to everything else before that term was used simply as a hip marketing term.

"I'll Be You" (Don't Tell A Soul, 1989): This decade was remembered for Prince, Madonna, U2, and Duran Duran. What many of us knew then though was that The Replacements were just plain heroes to the rest of us.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101028141805/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/10/replacements.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:37 am

London, Axl, and Continued "Patience"

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Oct. 28 2010


In 1984, Izzy Stradlin lived in an apartment across the street from me in Hollywood, right behind the Chinese Theater off Hollywood Boulevard. The man seemed to ALWAYS have an acoustic guitar in his hands, and was always writing bits and pieces of songs. He still does this today.

There was one especially melodic thing that he had been working on, and every once in a while he would dust it off and work on it some more.

By 1986, our band Guns N' Roses had a record deal. With that money, I put myself on a small stipend that could basically pay my rent--or half-rent, I should say--for about six months.

One of my best friends at the time was looking to move to Hollywood from her parents' house somewhere in Orange County. She and I decided that we could share rent on a one-bedroom apartment on Gardner; she would get the bedroom, and I the floor of the dining room (which I cordoned off into my little den of darkness).

My other good friend then was a guy named Del James, a recent transplant from New York who became an important part of our tightknit little group of friends and ersatz consiglieres.

Del needed a place to crash for a week or so, and back then, what was mine was his. During that first week of couch-surfing at my apartment, Del and my roommate Debby became romantic, and Del moved from the couch to her bedroom.

Del was an avid reader, and turned me onto a book called Slugs by Shaun Hutson. I remember just sitting in my bedroom/dining room with my curtain pulled taught, and reading this book with life sort of swirling around me in our apartment. There were drugs aplenty then, and Valium was the drug-of-the-month at that particular point.

I remembered Izzy's little ditty, which at that point had a working title of "Patience," and I wrote a lyrical verse then that went, '"I sit here doing drugs/Reading a book about slugs/All I need is a little patience."

This horrible lyric never made it past my apartment front door, thank God. Axl came up with a great lyric, seemingly out of nowhere, that of course became the story and melody of that song. The whistle part at the beginning--a ballsy move by Axl--while seeming odd to some of our fans and critics alike when the record Lies was released, became a part of pop culture. The song just wouldn't be the song without it, right? This was always one of my favorite GN'R songs that we did live.

A few years ago, when Loaded was recording something or other (maybe "Wasted Heart"?), I counted in the song. On playback, someone in the room exclaimed that the count-in (me) sounded like the recorded count-in of "Patience," which is also me. For a while, the joke went that if I couldn't get a good table at a restaurant, I could simply say "One-two-one-two-three-four," and the gates would open for me.

Sometimes things come at me like that. It is impossible to gauge the impact of stuff you have been a part of. It is only when something like what happened to me in that control-room of the Loaded session happens, that I realize the mark a song like "Patience" made . . . or makes still.

Life can throw curveballs at us when we are least prepared. So many odd circumstances have befallen me over the years that I've come to almost expect the unexpected these days.

Two weeks ago, I flew off to London for a week's worth of non-music-related business. Mere hours after landing at Heathrow I found myself onstage with a friend that I have been to hell and back with, and lived to tell the tale. Axl and I just happened to be in hotel rooms next to each other. Unexpected? Oh, fuck yes.

Sometimes, though, it takes a serendipitous moment like this to put some important things into perspective. I for one was glad we were sort of thrown into meeting. I hope he was, too, for the sake of the pounds of flesh that we shed in the struggle and fray.

Mostly we laughed, and that was indeed great.

That same night, I found myself onstage playing "Patience" in front of 14,000 people at the 02 Arena. To put it lightly, this is not what I had expected when I boarded my flight the night before for my business trip. Crazy shit.

This chance meeting gave me pause for thought and reflection. Many of you have asked me to write about this gig and our meeting. Other magazines and whatnot have tried to contact me for a "statement." Really? A STATEMENT? I'll state this: Trust is built on foundations of granite. Trust is not built when a late-breaking story can prompt you to gossip.

I did an interview for our local rock station, KISW, about a week after the gig. They have started to play a new Loaded song in preparation for our halftime performance at the Nov. 7 Seahawks game as part of Veterans Appreciation Day. The song, "Fight On," was written by Loaded as a nod to our fallen and fighting young men and women. I was doing promo for the gig and the song (profits from the download will go to our Puget Sound VA HealthCare System). The conversation on BJ Shea's "Morning Show" naturally took a turn from "Fight On" to my participation onstage with Axl. I've been on BJ's show enough times to know that they wouldn't ask me anything dumb or be otherwise rude or untoward. They let me say my piece, and that was it.

I hope you all understand, and thanks for reading.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101031183130/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/10/london_axl_and_continued_patie.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:41 am

Hometown Songs for Hometown (Sports) Fans

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Nov. 4 2010


Regular readers of this column know I am a big fan of sports. I'm a huge Mariners fan, I mourn the Sonics, and I bleed the Hawks' teal and green.

When I watch games live or on TV, I am always pretty pumped when I hear one of my bands' songs being played. It was a dream come true to be in the room when the Sonics beat Salt Lake in seven games to make the NBA finals in 1996, with the crowd going nuts, confetti falling from the air, and "Paradise City" blaring from the rafters.

Of course, this can go both ways. Much as I love New York City, I cringe at the thought of "Welcome to the Jungle" being played to pump up fans at Yankee Stadium. It is then that I am the opposite of pumped, and I always think to myself, "No. That song wasn't written for YOU guys!" Yes, I am a sports nerd. Those of you who spent your youth following our local teams, as I did, can probably relate to how excited I am about what I get to do this week: My band, Loaded, is going to play the Seattle Seahawks halftime show this Sunday. I've been blessed with many high points in my career, but playing halftime for the Hawks is a milestone for me.

Some of you may be scratching your heads. Loaded is not a ubiquitous band. We are not on everyone's iPod or car stereo or rock station. This column has been a great meeting place for ideas. Some good stuff has transpired because of the contacts made through my tenure here at the Weekly.

When I wrote about my mountain-climber buddy Tim Medvetz a few months ago (and his taking wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to the highest peaks on the planet), I received an e-mail from Ken LeBlond from our local Puget Sound VA hospital, and a connection was made.

Tim haunted me a while back with a story about some of the wounded vets he's met: 19-year-old kids who have lost a limb or two and are now back on their mom's couch somewhere in Minnesota or whatever, with nothing to fill the void but gut-wrenching depression.

Tim's story really stuck with me, and when we started writing songs for this new Loaded record, I dedicated a song called "Fight On" to these men and women.

With the acquaintance of Mr. LeBlond through this column, and Ryan Madayag of the Seahawks, we three have partnered to make "Fight On" available for download on iTunes exclusively for the benefit of VA Puget Sound Health Care System. This Sunday when we play is Seahawks Veterans' Appreciation Day. A thousand veterans and their families will be on the field at halftime when we play live.

The way that this whole thing came together just plain gives me chills, and makes it seem that we are doing something good here.

The "Gas Man" at KJR sports radio, Mike Gastineau, has been a big proponent of Loaded, and was the first one here in town to wave a flag for getting one of our songs used by our local sports teams. He played a song called "We Win" about six weeks ago, just after we had recorded it.

I am very--well, stoked. I don't mean to shamelessly self-promote or otherwise seem like I am using this space to pimp myself out, but hell, I'm gonna do it anyhow. My NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, are using the new Loaded song as a means to get the team and fans pumped.

I imagine that some of you reading now are big sports fans, right? OK, so put yourself in MY place. Imagine that you wrote a song and now your favorite team is using it. AND you now get to play at their halftime.

Not only that: When I was in London a few weeks back, I received an e-mail request from someone at MLB to use "We Win" as musical content for their TV and online channels. I thought it was kind of premature for Major League Baseball to contact me in October about the following season, and I let them know that I had never received a song license request so far in advance. No, it was for THIS season. The World Series, to be exact.

Not bad for our little band from Seattle.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101107074028/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/11/hometown_songs_for_the_hometow.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:42 am

Service and Suffering Plus Redemption and Forgiveness at the VA Hospital

By Duff McKagan
Fri., Nov. 12 2010


My Loaded bandmates--Mike Squires and Jeff Rouse--and I were invited on Monday to go to the Seattle VA Hospital and visit some of the patients. It was much less a "celebrity" thing than simply an "interaction with someone other than hospital staff" thing.

Through this column, I have become acquainted with Ken LeBlond, the public-relations guy at our Puget Sound VA Hospital. Here is a guy who does all he can either to raise money or pump up awareness for the plight of our fallen and often forgotten veterans. He had reached out to me and my band to see if we could and would make a visit.

I was kind of left scratching my head a bit. It is in situations like this that I find myself feeling a little embarrassed, maybe. I know for a fact that Loaded is not a household name and therefore not a band that most patients up at the VA would know about or recognize. I voiced my concern to Ken, and he calmly stated that this was not the point. But more on that in a minute.

We had written a song this past summer for our new record (which comes out in February) called "Fight On." The song was inspired by personal stories I heard about the plight of some of our returning vets. So here at least was somewhat of a tie-in between Loaded and the VA.

A sobering thing to think about is that with all the new-technology armor and immediate and high-caliber medical attention that our soldiers are getting on the battlefield, we are seeing a much higher survival rate than ever before. In other words, and to put it bluntly, guys and gals who would have certainly died in Vietnam from terminal wounds and injuries are now not dying.

But we have now more and more kids coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with missing limbs, disfigured bodies, and spinal-cord injuries. Also, with all this armor, more kids are surviving as witnesses to their buddies' deaths. Post-traumatic stress disorder is almost rampant now among our returning soldiers. Think about that.

What we noticed on our visit to the VA was an overwhelming sense that these soldiers just really believe that they have been forgotten and that no one cares about them anymore. I suddenly realized that Ken did not necessarily ask our band to visit so much because of our celebrity. No, he was just simply and hopefully seeing if we'd come as human beings that would maybe talk to the guys we saw. To show that someone gave a shit. I guess through this column and what I had written about in the past, Ken surmised that we would be likely candidates to do just that--give a shit. That's all. It was that simple.

With the pain issues from injury and the rising onslaught of Vicodin, Oxycontin, and the rest, the addiction wing at the VA is a bustling hub. Alcohol abuse seems to be the only cure, too, for others suffering from PTSD. When Mike, Jeff, and I visited there, I finally felt at home. Let's just say that I qualify for entry. We had a really deep and inspiring visit with some of those suffering right now. Suffering from withdrawal. Suffering from guilt. People trying to find an answer for why and how the fuck they got themselves into a place like this! It's simple at the end of the day. We are after all, human; and as humans, we are all fallible. We are also, though, capable of redemption and forgiveness to ourselves.

I am a semi-learned student of history with an open mind to all sides of different stories. I have a healthy skepticism of our government, of those that govern other countries, and of religious sects and factions. I have the freedom, though, to express my thoughts publicly without fear of prosecution. I have traveled far and wide, and know from my travels that we indeed have it good here in the United States. I'm not some pro-American nutcase, just a guy who appreciates the difference between the haves and the have-nots.

I want to wish all of our veterans a very happy belated Veterans Day. I want to thank you for your service. I am awed by some of your stories. I care.

I hope through the writing of this that some of you readers will stop by next time you are in the neighborhood of the VA. Tell your friends and family. Write a card to a patient there. I found out too that dirty jokes are appreciated up there. Thanks for reading.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101115045309/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2010/11/service_and_suffering_plus_red.php
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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:45 am

San Francisco Punk Rock: The Dead Kennedys

By Duff McKagan
Mon., Nov. 15 2010


One of the first punk 7" singles that I bought at Cellophane Square down on the Ave. (until I figured out how to steal them) was "California Über Alles" by the Dead Kennedys. I'm not quite sure what the B-side was ("Kill the Poor," maybe?), and it didn't matter. I was transfixed.

Old fucks like me who were around back in the day these records came out will probably agree that all this stuff was just so fresh and new and fucking dangerous. I was way too young to get the cynicism and wit of Jello Biafra's lyrics, but as I grew up his words and wit began to unveil themselves to me . . . which was kind of cool.

One of my favorite rock-'n'-roll memories is of an after-party during the DKs' first visit to Seattle. Recognize that bands like this for me--these actual guys being at a party in the SAME HOUSE that I was in--was like being in the presence of Led Zeppelin or KISS.

The party-giver thought he would ingratiate himself with the band members by playing their record. The next thing I saw was bass player Klaus Flouride pulling out his dick and urinating right on the record player, screaming "Don't you think I have already heard this enough times?"

Ah, the good old days.

"California Über Alles," on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables: The ultimate American punk-rock song. Period.

"Stealing People's Mail," FFFRV: I do believe that this song, and the DKs in general, had a huge influence on Jane's Addiction. Both of these prior points are way good things.

"Forward to Death," FFFRV: Yeah, the lost art of a great intro. Cynicism and a sense of humor toward some dark and twisted issues. Got to love the Dead Kennedys!

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:48 am

Upton Sinclair, Thomas Pynchon, Adam Hochschild: This Time of Year Brings Out the Book Discusser In Me

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Nov. 18 2010


Fall is suddenly upon us, and in the Northwest, all seemingly at once. I am a year-round, every-night reader, but this time of year seems to bring out the book "discusser" in me. Goofy, right? Yeah, well . . . you all know what you are going to get when you read this column. Nerd-fest. Me.

There was a discussion last week about civil war and colonization in Africa. A couple of great books that initially informed me about the ins, outs, and causes of these conflicts are:

Hotel Rwanda, Terry George: A fairly good film adaptation of this book starring Don Cheadle brought much-needed international attention to the suffering innocents left on the bloody trail of rampage and revenge there. It seems that once the common oppressor left (those nations who colonized those parts of Africa), the old warring tribes were left to remember old beefs. Fucking hardcore.

King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild: Hochschild is, in my opinion, one of the most readable and well-researched writers of our modern times. This is THE ultimate story of the colonization of Africa, with no thought whatsoever to the effects on its human beings.

Bury the Chains, Adam Hochschild: A different angle on this story--slavery out of Africa, and the resulting anti-slave movement that started in England around 1760 or so. Both of these Hochschild books are "must-reads."

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, Philip Gourevitch: A most heartbreaking and maddening story of senseless and inhuman slaughter among brothers and sisters.

I got a text from a friend the other day asking if I had read the new Keith Richards book? He said that he had to put the book down a few times during the heroin-withdrawal parts (a fate that this particular friend had gone through more than a few times). On my friend's recommendation, then:

Life, Keith Richards: Hey, Orion is the publisher that's putting out my book in the UK next year. This book MUST be good!

Old Gods Almost Dead, Stephen Davis: I know firsthand that Davis is not the most thorough of rock writers (he doesn't worry about such things as "fact-checking" or "primary sources"), but this Stones book was a fun and quick read on a short vacation a few years back. If you like Hammer of the Gods, you should enjoy this one too.

Now on to random titles:

Carnegie, Peter Krass: If you are a lover of history and the big, beefy, earth-moving characters that shaped much of it, get this tome. A massive but amazingly readable and enjoyable undertaking.

A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca, Andrés Reséndez: I love this kind of books. The subtitle says it all: "The extraordinary tale of a shipwrecked Spaniard who walked across America in the 16th century." Now THAT is what I call a real story!

Oil!, Upton Sinclair: Early 20th-century Southern California and its oil! Sinclair was the best at throwing the big interests under the bus way back when this type of thing was yet fashionable. Read EVERYTHING by Upton Sinclair.

The White Spider, Heinrich Harrer: Brad Pitt portrayed Heimlich when his story stayed in Tibet (Seven Years in Tibet). Did you know that this amazing man (Harrer, not Pitt, ladies) took part in the first successful climb of the north face of the Eiger in 1938? This book leaves one gasping.

Some recent books that I have added to my read list:
The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
Vineland, Thomas Pynchon
Mason & Dixon, Thomas Pynchon
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro was recommended to me as "the best writer alive." The person who pointed me in this direction also shares my love of Cormac McCarthy. Stark and sparse words on an often brutal human condition.

What say you? Input or further recommendations that you'd like to share with the rest of us? Criticisms of my list (as if)? Please chime in, you lofty readers of this column; this should be rather good!

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:50 am

Traveling Leaves No Cure for the Aching Heart

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Nov. 25 2010


I have to travel to make my money. It has been that way ever since I was about 20 or so. Traveling is fine and dandy when and if you don't have a family and dumb dogs. But these days, I have these added parameters to work within.

I just arrived back in Seattle from another trip to Europe. For those of you who read this space regularly, you will remember that I was JUST there a couple of weeks ago. I try to see friends while I am there on business--friends who know my wife and girls, friends who can serve as a sort of touchstone.

I went to dinner in London last Friday with my friend who has done one hell of a good job raising three girls by himself. The girls, ages 9, 10, and 12, do all the things girls that age are supposed to do (ballet, flute lessons, gymnastics, etc.). My friend Ray has had to do this and figure this out all on his own, and it is always a joy to spend a few hours with him and his wonderful girls.

At the restaurant was a loud group of drunken late-20-somethings. The women in this group were questionably dressed, I suppose (my back was to them, so I wasn't privy at first). One of Ray's little girls suddenly said in her cute little-girl English accent, "Daddy! That lady's top is broken!" Yes, my friend Ray is raising little angels.

It made me miss mine.

Life is good for me, I do realize. I'm not one to piss and moan, and my family will rarely (if ever) be resentful for my being gone. They know that I am hard enough on myself about it. Life for me, more often than not, revolves around the logistics of not being gone for more than six days at a time . . . and that is why I travel back and forth so much, so that I am not gone ALL the time.

There should be some sort of frequent-flyer pass that a guy like me can use for TSA and U.S. Customs. I know the whole drill by rote, for Christ's sake. My computer is out, my shoes are off, my liquids are in a Ziploc in a tray, and STILL they insist on barking their orders to me. Don't they know I am just trying to get home to my girls? And for Customs: Do you REALLY think that a guy who looks like me, or like the punk-rock guy you also pulled out of line, would be the people who are going to attempt to smuggle drugs or whatever? I'd probably dress down a bit.

Blabbermouth just announced that LOADED has announced that we have a title for our new record (The Soundtrack). I guess it's official now.

We have been filming odd bits and pieces and vignettes for a film to coincide with the release of this record (hence its title). Reading the title, however, on Blabbermouth this morning, I was worried how it may be conceived by others. Sort of like, "Oh, really? The Soundtrack, huh? Well, that won't be MY soundtrack, 'cause I think you guys SUCK!" or some such reaction. But literally, it is just that, the soundtrack for the movie . . . I digress.

No, my point to the traveling part above is that this Thanksgiving, as with every one I've taken part in since Susan and I have had our kids, is about being thankful for the health and happiness that permeates our little family. I would travel five times as far as I did yesterday, and withstand all that TSA could muster, if the end result was me being back with my McKagans.

I would like to send a special Thanksgiving shout-out to my editor, Chris Kornelis, and his wife to welcome their first child. Life will get pretty damn good for you now, my friend.

And to you, my readers . . . and my friends now, as a result of this column. Whether you live here in the States or not, Happy Thanksgiving. Hopefully the things in your life that you hold dear will be more brightly illuminated and become warmer as the days in your life progress.

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 5:51 am

Kim Warnick's Mix Tapes and My Education On the Bridge Between Zeppelin and the Ramones

By Duff McKagan
Mon., Nov. 29 2010


I met Kim "Fastback" Warnick back in 1978 or so, when I was about 14, I guess. My musical tastes had before-then been informed by stuff I heard through my older brothers and sisters at home, or what I had picked up on my own through the punk rock underground.

Kim became my musical mentor of sorts from our very first day of being friends. Somehow, I had ended up in her car on a wheel-screeching ride home from some gig or rehearsal or whatever. What was always great about Kim's car back in those days were the countless mix tapes that you found yourself knee-deep in.

She seemed to sense in my musical-question peppering that I was missing a link somewhere between Led Zeppelin and The Ramones. My question was: How the hell did it go from one extreme to another with no seemingly inter-connecting genre? Ah, this is when Kim knowingly turned me onto The Sweet, Slade, Alice Cooper, T. Rex, Roxy Music and countless others. Glam Rock WAS the great link between. So here's to you, 1972.

Alice Cooper, "Elected": I'm not sure if many lumped the Alice Cooper Band into the fray with the likes of T. Rex and other British glam-rock artists...it makes no difference, really. "Elected" kicks major ass.

T. Rex, "20th Century Boy": Marc Bolan was one of those touched and gifted artists that was beyond any label that you stamped on them (such as glam). I think a prerequisite for glam songs after this one was released was to put a "boy" somewhere in the song (Bowie did it all the time, and so did The Sweet, etc).

Slade, "Gudbuy T'Jane": Slade apparently were an absolute phenomenon in the U.K. and Europe (17 consecutive #1 singles!), while never really making any sort of dent in the U.S. I had, of course, at least HEARD of T.Rex, Sweet, and Alice Cooper, but Slade really seemed exotic when Kim first played the record Slayed? for me. They were a music purist's true gold at the end of a long search for something different and non-mainstream.

Ah, what the hell did I know? I was only 14!

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 12:17 pm

Questions & Answers on Adversity, Buddhism, and Your Kid's First Bass

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Dec. 2 2010


We are going to try something new here this week. You've sent in your questions, and I've done my very best to answer them in a satisfactory fashion. Just so you all know, though, my two daughters are convinced that I am not the sharpest tool in the shed. You have been forewarned!

Q: I just picked up a junior bass for my 7-year-old for Christmas. Any suggestions to help the little guy get started in the right direction? --Tommy Blackburn, Ekron, Kentucky

Duff: When I was a kid, I was fortunate that there was a bit of peer and sibling pressure to at least play SOME sort of musical instrument. But from a young age--and what made a HUGE difference--was that there was music in my house all the time, and I was really, really into the mystery of the whole thing . . . and trying to unlock it.

With your little guy, I think that it is really important that he learns what he wants to learn. That is to say, don't force it. Find him a teacher who will inspire him to learn the music that he wants to, rather than a set-in-stone lesson. Music is an art that has many varied avenues of entry.

Q: What is the best book you have read about overcoming adversity? Who is your favorite author? Or what book inspired something inside you? --Dionne

Duff: This is a subject that reminds me of another question that I'm asked in interviews from time to time: "What are your top 10 favorite records of all time?" I always say 10 different records every time, and kick myself for not including such-and-such a record, etc.

So, my answer, as of this writing, for a book about overcoming would be Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. This book really set a high-water mark for me as far as what human beings could endure physically and mentally . . . and just how heroic we can be when put to the task.

I have so many favorite authors. I love the dark style and cadence of people like Ernest Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy. I love the descriptive narrative of Stephen Ambrose, Joe Simpson, Krakauer. For a sweeping story of industry, I will take Upton Sinclair. For a story of the street? Iceberg Slim. I could go on for days . . .

Q: How are you not deaf (or have hearing damage) after all those years of rock and roll? --Allysha, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Duff: What?

Q: Have you have read any philosophical or, like, Buddhist or spiritual literature? You seem, at least from what I've read of your column, very comfortable in your skin, and you put your focus on important things, like family and well-being in general. Or is it just wisdom that comes when you've lived your "wild years"? --Juha Aatola, Finland

Duff: It is all a serious "work-in-progress" situation for me. I am very fortunate to have had some amazing teachers, either currently or involved in my life thus far. My mom, for sure, comes in at the top of that list.

Martial arts were a huge part of my first couple of years of sobriety, and my Ukidokan teachings and sensei remain a fulcrum which my whole being swings upon.

I think for me also, being in group situations (a big family and rock bands) has really helped me to discern that while, yes, I think I am rather damn kick-ass sometimes, I realize that life and its inhabitants do not revolve around me!

And truthfully, a huge part of my self-discovery has been in my writing of words over the last couple of years. In writing--especially writing about my own life publicly--I have had to tear apart where and what MY part in all of this mess has actually been. Very humbling shit for me.

I suppose that I am happy that at least I come off as being comfortable in my own skin. More and more these days, I try to just not react to things that can set me off. I used to have a pretty short fuse, but martial arts and sobriety have chilled me. But comfortable with myself? Not even anywhere close!

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 12:19 pm

Zeppelin or Sabbath? Well, That All Depends When You're Asking

By Duff McKagan
Thu., Dec. 9 2010


I had such a good time last week with some of your questions that I thought I'd give it another shot. Besides, there appears to be an endless amount of curiosity as to what my opinion might be on a wide variety of topics. Girls? Rock? Bass? Marriage? I'll answer a few more questions through the week.

Let's get started:

Q: Zeppelin or Sabbath, and why?
--Pete, New York City


Duff: If you are asking me now, I wouldn't be able to choose an outright winner or loser. For me, as a bass player, and a recent serious student of my craft, I would have to lean toward Zeppelin and John Paul Jones (I've been geeking out to bass lately, something I had NEVER done before).

In Seattle, and when I was a youngster, there was a serious divide within the Sabbath/Zeppelin debate. If you were from outside the city, it was Sabbath, and for us relative urbanites, it was ALL about Zeppelin.

We seemed too smarty-pants for them. They seemed too butt-rock for us. Yes, but we were all young and dumb and full of cocksureness. The truth is these bands are just so damn different that there IS no way to really compare or contrast them. Actually, you can't compare ANY other band to these two fucking behemoths.

Q: What happened with Jane's Addiction?
--T


Duff: I do believe that I have answered this one somewhere out there in an interview. But to be sure, I will touch on it again.

Last year at about this time, I was asked by Perry if I wouldn't want to come in and lend a hand in the writing of a new Jane's record. I was and AM indeed honored.

We started that process, and the rumors started to swirl, ebb, and flow to the MAX! I was just trying to keep my head down the whole time and do that band as much service as I could. They are great and gentle men, all of them. A nicer group of dudes would be hard to find.

Alas, the time came for me to depart and get back to my thing, which is Loaded all the time, writing my book, developing a new business, and the ever-present hunt for a VR singer. The press blew the whole thing out of proportion to begin with, and in the end I was left to try and explain my way out of a situation that was just so simple. Creative guys . . . getting creative.

Q: Did you ever feel like a woman like Susan was out of your league?
--Jake, Ukiah, CA


Duff: Yep! And I still do.

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Post by Blackstar Sat Jul 10, 2021 12:21 pm

Question for Duff: Does a One-Week Break Means She's Gone For Good?

By Duff McKagan
Fri., Dec. 10 2010


Q: My girlfriend texted me last Monday and said that she needed a week of space, meaning we can't see or talk to each other for a week because she wants to be sure with herself. I'm so devastated I can't even concentrate on work. What should I do to make it up to her and save our relationship? --Russell, Manila, Philippines

Duff: I am maybe jumping at the assumption that this may be your first experience in true-love heartache. Listen, man, if she needs a week break, chances are that things are over and done with.

I am not trying to bring you down. No, oddly, these are the experiences that we must all go through to build true character and to finally put us in those places where we will one day find that "one" . . . or, at least one of the ones.

Believe in yourself. Don't hang onto this for too long. Keep your chin up, and just simply act as if everything is OK right now. I have found from experience that acting as if it is has gotten me through many a tight spot. Best of luck to you, and we've all got your back here in this column, my man!

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