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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.


2011.05.10 - SoundSpike - Q&A: Duff McKagan

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2011.05.10 - SoundSpike - Q&A: Duff McKagan Empty 2011.05.10 - SoundSpike - Q&A: Duff McKagan

Post by Blackstar Tue Nov 16, 2021 3:35 pm

Q&A: Duff McKagan

Story by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
SoundSpike Contributor

Velvet Revolver/ex-Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan calls his project Loaded his "small band." Although formed in 1999, Duff McKagan's Loaded isn't exactly the household name.

"We're not your typical get-on-the-radio [band]," McKagan said during a recent late-night phone interview with SoundSpike. "We're not Nickelback. We're not Three Days Grace or something. We're not that accessible. We'll hopefully get a hit with 'We Win' that radio will be forced to play. They're playing it at sports games, so maybe. Maybe? That way you can make it work."

Though the band's U.S. fanbase has yet to gain critical mass, lead singer/guitarist McKagan and his bandmates -- lead guitarist Mike Squires, bassist Jeff Rouse and drummer Isaac Carpenter -- are willing to tour the U.S. on their own dime.

"We'll probably go out August-ish," McKagan said. "We're going to Europe [first]. We're playing all of Europe and the U.K. We'll be over there. The thing is about Europe and the U.K., we have an audience. We can go over there and we can have an audience that we know is into our band. To be quite frank, we can make a living going and playing there. The States, it's going to be another thing. We can go out and play clubs, but we'll have to put some money in the war chest. I think playing the States is going to cost us some money."

McKagan is one person who knows a thing or two about money. In the late 1990s, he earned his GED and eventually attended Seattle University to obtain a bachelor's degree in finance. An avid reader, McKagan also writes columns for and Seattle Weekly.

McKagan spoke to SoundSpike about "The Taking," his writing career and the status of punk music.

SoundSpike: What inspired your new album, "The Taking"?

Well, I think being on the road for the last record, "Sick," being on the road for that, knowing we'd come off the road and be making a new record. I've never been in a band that came off the road and made a new record -- ever -- without there being some lag time. You come home from a tour, take eight months off and then you start writing for a new record. We were writing on the road for this record. There was no rush -- we were just writing songs. We were together all the time -- caffeine, testosterone, all dudes. I live in a house with three women -- my wife and two daughters, who I love more than anything on this planet, but it's pink and fluffy all the time at my house. I don't drink, I don't do drugs but I definitely have a dark side, which got me into all that mess in the first place. I need to get it out.

But as a band, we witnessed something. There was somebody on our bus, one of our guys. We know him and his now ex-wife, but at the time it was his wife, very well. Their marriage went through a serious fracture right before we went out on the road. We couldn't really be this guy's confidante. We're living on the bus. We're together all the time. We couldn't be his confidante because we were friends with his wife and it just wouldn't have been cool. That's borderline taking sides. You don't want to get in to that. He wouldn't ask us to do that. So we witnessed this fracture and then this deceit, lying to yourself, lying to this other person. Pure heartbreak and anger. All the different phases. They got a divorce. We were watching this thing like Zen Buddhists -- not talking about it, not gossiping about it. Nothing. What happened was the riffs we were writing got a little harder. The first lyric we wrote was a song called "Easier Lying" that really set the tone like, "Oh shit. We're going there." Mike Squires wrote that lyric for that first song. The next lyric was either "Wrecking Ball" or "She's an Anchor" -- one of those two. It really became this backward concept record, a concept record after the fact about, well, fucking life. All things we've been through I'm sure. That inspired the record. I was reading a lot. I go through phases of what I'm reading. I read every night. I was reading Cormac McCarthy. I've written about Cormac McCarthy in my columns. People either love him -- like me -- or hate him. I just absolutely love him. There are just a lot of different influences -- just being a band, testosterone and adrenaline and witnessing this thing together.

It wasn't hard to write on the road?

Oh no. It's the best place to write. It always is.

Terry Date produced your record. That must have been great to work with him.

Before I came back to my house here in Seattle, I went and saw the Deftones with Terry just tonight. He's done about three Deftones records. That was fun.

What do you think he brought out in the band?

He loves the songs and he came out of the woodwork that he wanted to do this record. He became a partner in this record as opposed to asking for money up front. He knows that Loaded's kind of a small band. He goes, "I believe in this band so much. Don't pay me a fucking thing. I'll be a partner on this record. Just cut me in on it. I'll do the record free of upfront charge." The way he mikes up guitar amps and drums and that room he's recorded everything at, he knows it like the back of his hand. It's just sort of genius watching him work that room. He doesn't know chords but he knows how to get a good performance out of the band. You have to be good players to do a Terry Date record. He doesn't fix shit with ProTools and all that crap. You gotta bring it. The song's got to be done. You can't fuck around with Terry .You kind of rise to that occasion. He's an old school kind of guru.

What is the status of your wealth management company, Meridian Rock.

I'm not really talking about that right now. Fortune Magazine did a piece on us, which is fine. But we're not even up and running. But it was premature. This financial business is just so different than rock or putting out a book. You can't talk about it ahead of time. You have to have your clearance and everything. You can't just keep talking about it. You have to have your ducks in a row. You understand?

Sure. I understand. Tell me about the columns that you write.

I write two columns a week now. I have two deadlines a week now. I'm sure you know what deadlines are about. I write for ESPN now. It's called Page 2. There's guys before me like Hunter S. Thompson. It's a really, really cool place to be. I'm not a Hunter S. Thompson. I'm not even saying that I'm filling his place. I've been writing for the Seattle Weekly for over two and a half years. I wrote for Playboy for a year. Wrote a financial column for them. My Seattle Weekly column is about wherever the winds take me.

That must be fun writing for ESPN. I'm a big sports fan.

Well, I'm not a sports writer. I'm a sports fan. There's a big difference. I'm not a stats guy. I don't give a fuck about stats. I write about how I feel about sports. It's interesting. I've written it for three months now. The comments that you get on ESPN, people are pretty passionate to a point … you get some really great comments but sometimes you get these comments like "Fuck you. You suck."That's it? That's all you're going to give me. Tell me to fuck off, but back up your argument. Let's have some discourse over this." I write for two online portals. ESPN's one of the biggest websites in the world. Way bigger than New York Times or Huffington Post. Like way bigger. I didn't realize how big it was until somebody sent me this global Internet views per website, and of course Google's No. 1. New York Times is 250. Huffington Post is like 550. Playboy's like 1,800. ESPN's 52. One and a half percent of the world's population views that for six minutes a day. That's a lot of people. It's challenging to write and it's a good gig. Nobody makes that much writing. You have to write a lot to make a living. I just finished writing a book that took me about 14 months to write. It comes out next October on Simon & Schuster. That was really challenging. I wrote a book about how a guy like me went from this fresh-faced sort of punk rock kid to being completely strung out and addicted. At the age of 28, I thought I'll live until I'm 30. I was cool with that. I'm reliving some of that stuff and being really honest with myself about it. That's what writing forces you to be. You have to write a sentence and back up that sentence with another sentence. All of a sudden you're like, "Whoa, maybe it wasn't all everybody else's fucking fault. Maybe I had something to do with this. "

How's the singer search for Velvet Revolver?

We went kind of gangbusters the first few months after Scott [Weiland]. We kind of realized when and if this is going to happen, it'll happen. We can't force some guy into that spot. Slash started making this record. Loaded made that "Sick" record, I toured and then Slash is still out touring. I talked to Slash and he said, "I'm going to make another record, dude." We'll get to that when we get to that.

What do you think about punk rock music these days.

Punk rock. I'm 47. I was at the perfect age [for punk], 12 and 13, the last of eight kids. I was 17. I was able to do whatever I wanted to do. I was playing guitar and I started a band when I was 13 and started playing punk rock and touring. That wave of punk rock died in about '83. It was dead in '84. The only band that kind of survived was the Ramones and Social Distortion. All that other stuff was just a parody. It wasn't a real thing to me anymore. What it left for me was an ethic. That's the important thing to me. There was a great record by a band called the Refused called "The Shape of Punk to Come." That was a punk rock record that came out of Sweden. But they used ProTools and technology and disco and all kind of weird shit. I don't know what punk rock is anymore. Punk rock wasn't about being one thing. It was about being whatever you wanted to be. I've used that ethic to this day to raise my daughters, to write my columns, to do everything. It surrounds everything I do in life. I'm not saying I'm the be-all, end-all authority on what is and what isn't. Just because you're playing fast … I don't know what punk rock is. I think Prince is punk rock because he does what he fucking wants to do. And doesn't care about radio or what anybody else thinks. He could give a rat's ass, I think.

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