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

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2011.04.13 - Fender News - Duff McKagan Q&A

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2011.04.13 - Fender News - Duff McKagan Q&A Empty 2011.04.13 - Fender News - Duff McKagan Q&A

Post by Blackstar Mon Nov 15, 2021 1:35 pm

Duff McKagan Q&A

Fender News recently caught up with our signature artist to talk about his new album and his other recent endeavors.

Q: We hear that The Taking is more thematic than Sick.

A: This record really sort of took on a life of its own, and the songs really revealed themselves to us as we went along. Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera, Deftones) came into the picture at a time when his genius ear helped to capture a sonic theme for the record. You can't underestimate what a guy like TD brings to the table. The Taking is the closest thing to a concept record that I have ever been involved with. Pain, loss, triumph, and redemption. Life. Bring it.

Q: How did you get hooked up with Terry?

A: Terry suddenly fell in love with our band, Loaded. I don't know where that came from. It's a band I've had for the last dozen years or so. We made a record in Seattle, where I'm from; went and toured it. Meanwhile, Velvet Revolver, we've been looking for a singer and on sort of hiatus, and Slash went out and did his thing and suddenly Terry Date came out of nowhere and said, "I want to make a record." So it was just a matter of "How do we make this happen?" because it's Terry Date -- the great Terry Date. He actually made it work for us. We recorded up at Studio X in Seattle, where a lot of really great records have been made. Pretty earth-moving experience to work with him.

Q: What can you share about the accompanying film?

A: Hopefully it's funny. It's about our drummer getting kidnapped and more in line with a very twisted A Hard Day's Night, where the songs on the record did the "talking" and the band tried to make its way through a bunch of insane circumstances. So we try to "act."

Q: You play guitar on the new album but your signature Fender bass, which is based on your original instrument with GNR, is still quite popular. How did you come across that original bass?

A: I lucked out I guess in that when Guns originally got our record deal in '86, we got an advance and we split it up and I went and bought gear -- the gear I wanted to get. I had been eyeing this bass at the Guitar Center on Sunset, which is right by where we rehearsed. I was one of those guys who always went in there and looked and I think the sales guys just got used to me coming in and looking knowing that I couldn't buy anything. I finally had the money and so I bought the bass. I made Appetite (mega-selling 1987 Guns N' Roses debut album Appetite For Destruction) with that bass, and then I got a real bass tech when we started that tour.

I needed more than just the one bass; obviously if something happens or whatever, you need a backup bass. They only made the particular bass that I got for a year, so we contacted Fender and they custom-shopped me another one. And then I noticed the neck on the new one was a little off -- it didn't play like my original one. They spun the neck on the computer or something -- I don't know what in the hell they did -- but they said there was sort of a mistake made on mine. It was a bit more egg-shaped, and so they started making those necks for me and making the bodies. Time went by, and people would come up to me asking, "Where did you get that bass? How do I get one of those basses?" I didn't want to sound snooty, like, "Oh, I get mine custom made," because it's a standard. There's nothing really that high-end about the bass that I play. In 2004 Fender contacted my bass tech, and it was on the Velvet Revolver tour that we started to take apart my original bass and really get the specifics on the neck and body and wiring and what not. They'd send out a prototype for me, and I'm not a technical guy. I just know what feels right and sounds right. I actually shun the technical parts of stuff because I still to this day think it's going to muddle up the purity. I just know what sounds good, what feels good, what's right and what's honest, and that bass is.

Q: Do you still play the original anymore?

A: That first bass is retired. It's gone off to a vault someplace. There are a lot of nicks up on the headstock where I'd bash Steven's (original Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler) cymbals with it or I'd throw the bass. They don't break. I did break one once, but it took a lot of effort. It was pretty awkward, because we were playing in front of a huge stadium audience and I thought, "I'm going to finally do that Paul Simonon thing on the cover of London Calling and I'm going to break this bass." They don't show Paul making contact with the ground because I'm sure that would have been an awkward photo. I've heard stories of somebody running over a P Bass in a truck and it played fine afterward. I don't think I broke it clean, and it took a lot of hits on that stage. My basses, I don't treat them gently at all onstage. They have scars and nicks. Put some new strings on 'em and they're fine.

Q: How did the reunion in London with Axl Rose last October come about?

A: It was fine. It was really not a big deal. None of it was a big deal. Seeing him again for the first time was great. I think it was great for both of us. It had been 14 years, and in that 14 years my life has changed drastically. Completely different. Maybe I didn't realize how much it had changed, but as I'm showing him pictures of my 13-year-old daughter, I'm like "Wow, she's lived her whole life and he hasn't met her." That's how long it's been. I'm this sober dad; provider for a household now. That's the only way I look at myself. I'm not some rock guy.

Anyway, I had business out in London and we ended up at the same hotel. I didn't book the hotel. So I'd flown from L.A. to London with my wife. We arrive at Heathrow; go through customs and we're ragged, but I have three meetings lined up and the first one starts a half hour from the time I arrive at the hotel. I've stayed at this hotel a bunch of times, so the hotel manager takes us up to the room. He goes, "Hey Duff, so you're playing tonight?" I said, "No I'm just here on business meetings. You should know; you booked the conference room for me to have business meetings." He says, "No, but you are playing tonight?" Again, I say, "No I'm just here on business this time." And he goes, "Well, it's going to be weird. Axl is in the room next to yours." I couldn't even really process it because I was there on business and it was completely not rock business at all.

So as the day went by I started getting calls to my room from the manager, and I decided to go over to his (Rose's) room, and we talked. We had a really nice, long talk. He asked me to come down to the gig and so I went down with him and we talked the whole time. I know the whole crew and I know the guys in the band, so it wasn't strange or odd. I came out and played, and the first song I played, you could tell the audience was excited, but I was really jet-lagged by that point. If the Beatles were playing, I wouldn't have gone all the way out to O2 Arena. I had a meeting the next day at 8 a.m. So only for Axl would I go down there. Axl and I went through a lot together; all the guys in that band. Not just being in a rock band together, but sort of coming of age as men and discovering so many things together. Only the five of us really know what happened. There are books and I've seen crap out there of this and that, but no one really knows what happened except for the five of us, and it was quite an experience.

Q: Speaking of tell-all books, we hear you are also going to soon publish your own book?

A: The book I'm writing has Guns N' Roses stories in there, but really it's a story of "How does a guy go from growing up in this family to moving to L.A. and getting into this band and then having a lot of fun, experiencing all this stuff and then all of a sudden getting more and more addicted to more and more things?" I can tell you, "I drank a gallon of vodka a day" and you?d probably go "Wow, that's a lot." But more than likely you have no experience with that. There are a lot of rock books that have that stuff -- "Oh, I drank and I did x amount of blow a day," but that means nothing to anybody unless you are me. It means something to me. I get it. So I"m trying to take the reader through the experience with the narrative and make it an interesting book in that perspective and then share the recovery from that, and going on and having kids and experiencing that shit. I'll be at the restaurant with my little family and someone is like, "Oh my God, it's Duff McKagan," and my daughter is looking at me like I'm an asshole and like that guy is an asshole, and that's really what life is about for me now. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Q: But you obviously still enjoy being onstage and being a rock star, too.

A: The one thing that just really hasn't changed and why I keep playing music is because, number one, it's the only thing that I really know how to do well that feels great. And maybe it is because I'm the father of girls, but I can really get in touch with the animalistic gene that I think we all have. I know I'm fortunate that I'm able to tap that thing and sort of exorcise it on a nightly basis when I'm on tour. It's very important. Writing songs, you get to get that out lyrically, and maybe it's not a song about your relationship specifically, but we all know what it's like to have heartbreak. We all know what it's like to be extremely angry or to be extremely happy or any of those things and I am able to get those things out by writing songs. I think I'm healthier and happier because of all that stuff, and my family knows that and let me have that time. My daughters see me onstage, and I do swear and spit and bleed or whatever, but they are like, "That's OK." They know they are still safe with me. Music has been a wonderful gift for me in so many ways.

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