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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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2011.MM.DD - Seattle Weekly - Reverb (Duff's column)

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:28 pm

Duff McKagan: The Top 10 Rock Band Dos and Don'ts

By Duff McKagan, Thu., May 12 2011

It dawned on me the other day that at this point in my life, I have been in one rock band or another for more than 30 years. This rarefied status should definitely give me a point from which to reflect a bit, and maybe even dispel some hard-won knowledge, the things that work and do not work within the makeup of a rock band. No?

With no further ado, then, here is a quick cheat-sheet on some of my wise(assy)ness.

1. Find a good and solid drummer first. Without a great backbeat, your band will simply never get out of the starting gate.

2. After that first solid drummer becomes too much of a pain in the ass--jettison said drummer, and repeat step #1. This process could very well end up consuming the rest of your career!

3. I'm kind of kidding about #1 and #2.

4. Get a singer that has what we call L.S.D.--Lead Singers' Disease. That person has to have the ability to stand in front on a stage, and usually with no guitar to stand behind--and absolutely OWN the whole stage and venue.

Yes, it takes an odd sort to feel comfortable in this odd situation. It usually takes a person who has very high thoughts about his or her own personage. It WILL get old after a while to the other band members. But hell, by the time the band is sick of the singer's antics, the sychophantic managers will already have found a way to wedge the original band guys out of the group.

5. The use of high levels of alcohol and drugs usually play cozy bed-partners to all persons who are in the later stages of #4.

6. Get a bass player who has a good sense of humor, because inevitably the "bass player jokes" will start to chip away at that poor sucker.

(There was a scientist visiting a lost tribe in the jungles of Africa. He was there to document the village life. On the day that the scientist gets to the village, the tribal drummer is playing for hours without a break, and everyone in the tribe seems happy and tranquil. The moment the drums stop, though, the villagers take off screaming through the jungle, away from the village. Then the scientist stops the chief of the tribe before he takes off, and asks why everyone is so scared and fleeing in such an abrupt fashion. The chief looks at the scientist in a panic and says, "Oh, now comes the bass solo.")

7. Guitarists are always cool from the outside. Their appearance onstage is always the envy of all of the "cool people" in the audience. If your kid wants to play an instrument, steer them to this instrument.

8. Everyone in the band should end up helping carry the gear to and from gigs. One thing that the band guys will have to look forward to, though, is the fact that their fitness will eventually be the best. Yeah, singers never DO end up helping in the endless schlepping of gear.

9. If you think I am only speaking of one particular band that I have been in here in this column, you are sorely mistaken. These steps are commonplace with most all rock bands that I have either been in or witnessed.

10. I have played all the above instruments in one band or another, so yes, I have indeed fallen in the trap of every above scenario!

11. Yes, I DID state that this is a "Top 10" list, but we musicians aren't the best at numbers . . . and letters . . . and names . . . and geography . . . and book-learnin'.

12. Have a GOOD sense of humor. If you take all this stuff (like this column) too seriously, then indeed you are not in on the joke--and hence will miss all the "good times" that being in a band will bring you.

13. And once you find yourself in a band, and you feel that the chemistry is perfect and the music is the best thing you can ever be a part of--just enjoy that time. All the other personal crap that you may have to endure, is just that . . . crap.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110515083042/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/05/duff_mckagan_the_top_10_rock_b.php
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:36 pm

Ain't No Business Like Book Business

By Duff McKagan, Thu., May 26 2011

As many of you very well know, I am a die-hard and hardcore book-nerd. Some of you may also be aware that I have been writing a book over the last year or so. The book, It's So Easy, is done, and has a release date now of October 4, 2011.

Cool enough. But now all of real fun begins. It is time now, for me and Touchstone/ Simon & Schuster, to actually go out and try to sell this book to all of the different booksellers out there.

Book Expo America has been taking place in New York all week. This is a closed convention, where all of the different large and small publishers show their new wares to buyers like Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, Costco, Target, Hudson (you know, the stores at the airports), as well as all of the independent bookstores like Elliott Bay, Powell's, and the like.

For my book--and what is a common practice--they made up what's called a "catalogue copy"; mine is the first 9 chapters and the prologue to my book. It's pretty cool to actually see all of my solitary work actually coming to an endgame.

The night before my signing at the Expo, my senior editor and her staff at Simon & Schuster threw a cocktail party in my honor at a fancy restaurant in Manhattan called Lamb (so damn posh, right?). It was actually one of the sweetest things I've ever been too.

The publishing community is VERY different from the music community...or probably to be more exact--the publishing community is like some wonderfully kitschy and nerdy indie movie. The mood and personality that filled the room at this cocktail party in my honor was really not unlike the mood that we strike here in the comments section of this column: Interesting, thoughtful, smart, nerdy, and diverse.

I have been trained to be a little (OK, a LOT) dubious of rock and roll press. They always want "the dirt," or are looking for some snidely and wise-ass way to catch me off-guard or mis-quote me so that it seems much bolder and dumber than the things that they actually ask me about. And there was press at this cocktail party.

I quickly pulled my editor to the side and frantically told here that I didn't know that the press would be here at this party, and that I didn't want to talk to them at the risk of being miss-quoted for the umpteenth time. She looked at me quizzically, and stated that "The publishing press would never dream of doing something like that!" Yeah, I guess Kirkus Reviews and the book side of Associated Press and whatnot, just don't want the dirt. The publishing industry, it turns out, is just still a quaint little field, that is still in the business of actually being excited about new things, and press and all of the different publishing companies are still in the business of helping each other out. They want their industry to be strong, and there just really doesn't seem to be any sort of under-handedness and BS happening behind the scenes. This may seem like a bold statement from a neophyte like me, but I am pretty sure that I am right on this fact.

At dinner after the party, I sat with a few of the mucky-mucks from S&S.; We were talking about books we had been reading. I had just finished One Bullet Away by Nate Fick, and one of the gentlemen that I was sitting with had edited that book. Yeah, that's right, for a book nerd like me, that was like sitting with the guy who had just produced the latest Rolling Stones record. Pretty cool.

At the Book Expo, I signed copies of my 'catalogue copy' for a thronging line of like-minded book nerds. There were a lot of people from other publishing companies, book buyers for larger and small stores, and librarians (even one from our own downtown Seattle Public Library).

The one big difference--and I must say that I WAS a tad crestfallen--was that none of them asked for me to sign their tits.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110528021551/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/05/aint_no_business_like_book_bus.php


Last edited by Blackstar on Mon Jan 03, 2022 11:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:39 pm

There's Taking Things to the Next Level, and Then There's Prince

By Duff McKagan, Thu., Jun. 2 2011

Life can get overwhelming for all of us. There are blocks of time when--and even when you are ultra-aware of it and its reproductions--stress and tension and work and family obligations take us out of ourselves. Some of us have religion, yoga, exercise, and creative art to relieve life's weight. But sometimes we need a little something more. For me, seeing Prince play the Inglewood Forum during his multi-week stand was just what the doctor ordered.

I have been a die-hard Prince fan since the early '80s. When Controversy came out in 1981, a punker friend of mine in Seattle demanded that I listen to it. Prince was unlike anyone else.

When 1999 came out in 1982, the record transformed my insides. I was going through a tough break-up with my first real long-term girlfriend and was heartbroken. 1999 somehow became my psychiatrist, and I held on to that record for dear life as I slowly got my feet back under me.

When Purple Rain hit, I was free and starting to take life by the balls. That record was the soundtrack to my life and gave me the confidence to move to L.A. at 19, with nothing more than belief in myself. Prince's music can do that.

Flash-forward to 1992. GNR were playing stadiums around the world. My life, again, was getting confusing and unfocused. In an attempt to contain things, I was going into studios in different cities, and making a record on my own, trying to get some of that "Prince-ness" back into my life.

I was in Berlin on a day off of the GNR tour, and Prince was playing the arena there on his Diamonds and Pearls tour. I went, of course.

Because I was an ersatz and begrudging "A"-lister, I was ushered backstage in a rush when I got to the gig. I had no knowledge or hint that I was going to meet Prince that night, but I was suddenly shown into a backstage room, and there it was, just me and Prince. I was completely tongue-tied and overwhelmed. I didn't know what to say, and what I DID say probably sounded like dumb-ass babble.

I mean, how was I supposed to tell the guy that he and his music had gotten me through so much stuff, and that he was maybe THE reason I was now in a band that, had he not inspired in me the confidence to move to L.A., may not have happened? How was I to really tell him how his music had gotten me through so many rough spots, and helped me to celebrate my triumphs? How? In truth, I don't remember what I said to him at all. Dumb-ass.

My wife Susan and I went and saw Prince again in Las Vegas a few years ago for my birthday. He was doing a residency at the Rio Hotel. The gig was magical. Every time I see him I get inspired and just plain feel better about myself and others.

There are other bands and gigs that do this for me once in a while, but Prince is just next-level shit to me. Actually, much further than next-level.

I was getting ready to tour last week. It is always stressful to get everything organized and together. Not to mention going to New York that week for my book business. I also hate to leave my family. And it seems like everything in my house is broken and in need of repair. My car died last week, too. My back hurts, and I can't find a belt that fits me right. My feet were starting to slip out from underneath me . . .

I wanted to do something with Susan and my daughters for my last night before I left for a tour of Europe. And I wanted to see Prince at the Forum before I left, too. I decided to combine the two things. We went as a family to see him.

My girls really had no idea who Prince was, and I think really only went because they knew it was my last night and it was something that their dad wanted to do.

I told my older daughter, Grace, that she was about to see maybe the best pure singer on this planet. I told Mae that Prince was magic, and that intrigued her, I think.

So there we were. The house lights went down, and the first chords of "Little Red Corvette" sounded. I was suddenly in a different space. All of the things that had been overwhelming me suddenly evaporated. Prince played all of his hits that night, and it was an uplifting barrage to my soul. It was like church, I suppose. It was religious.

I'm just not sure how this dude does it, but Prince is a better performer, singer, and guitar player than ever. If he is in fact getting older, a person would be hard-pressed to recognize or spot any tell-tale signs of his time. No, like I told my daughter Mae, I think he has some serious magic working in his corner.

Prince is a pure genius. I am changed. It WAS just THAT good.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110604191711/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/06/theres_taking_things_to_the_ne.php
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:42 pm

Question for Duff: How Do I Make My Music Students Like Me?

Thu., Jun. 9 2011

Hello, Duff.

I recently opened up a piano studio after I had several parents request that I teach their children piano. Most of them thought that I'd connect to the kids since I'm only 16. However, 10 of the 13 children I'm teaching, all of whom are below the age of 8, have already told me that they hate piano. Four of them said that they hate me. So I was wondering what you would do if you were in this situation, because I don't quite know how to tell the parents that I'm not going to force their 6-year-old to learn piano.

Sincerely,
Lilly*


Dear Lilly:

It may truly be that these kids don't want to play piano at all. BUT, I have experienced with my own kids and their friends that if you make something fun and not a chore (but a "free-time" activity), those kids suddenly think that "thing" is cool.

Kids don't like to be told what to do by their parents, especially in front of others. When this happens, that "other person" (you, perhaps, in this case), may be seen as some sort of enforcer of their parents' vision.

Try to maybe be a bit more conspiratorial with these kids. Teach them a modern song that THEY are into. Make this stuff something that those kids have SEPARATE from their parents.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110613001306/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/06/question_for_duff_my_piano_stu.php
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:44 pm

Question for Duff: Can You Fix These 10 Things That Are Wrong With My Life?

Fri., Jun. 10 2011

Hey Duff :

Here is a list of things wrong with my life:
1. I was born in the wrong year because I don't care about any of the shit that everyone my age apart from my best friend cares about.
2. I use proper spelling which apparently is a sin when you're 13.
3. I'm too boy-ish I have no idea what that's supposed to mean (I'm a girl by the way).
4. I listen to the wrong music, which makes no sense because I listen to everything but because I prefer rock I'm a sinner.
5. I spend lunch break talking about guitars with my friend.
6. I prefer Jaws to Step Up 3 which makes me a sinner above sinners according to the "normal people."
7. I'm obsessed with...wait for it................. NINJAS of all things.
8. My best friend is the geekiest boy in class but also the coolest.
9. Whenever I go to his house or he comes over we spend our time watching Star Wars and have now found a new love in Lord of the Rings which is apparently not cool.
10. The coolest thing about me according to my friends is that I speak "American."

So what do I do about that because I actually want to fit in. And it's a bit hard when I know nothing about actually fitting in.

--Cece (Cecilia)


Shoot, honey, you sound like a fun person to be around!

I get it, though--I have a 13-year-old girl at home. There ARE "mean girl" cliques, and they can be brutal if you are not a part of one.

Screw it. I hope you DO know that none of this stuff you are going through will matter at all later on. I never really fit in at your age, sweety.

It sounds like you have a boy that accepts you for who you are. Ninjas, Jaws, and Lord of the Rings are all fine and dandy.

Lady GaGa was an outcast in her middle and high school. She seems to be doing all right now! This is all character-building stuff for you right now. Look at it that way, if you can.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110613032449/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/06/question_for_duff_can_you_fix.php
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:46 pm

Tour Diaries: The Highs, the Lows, the Ass-Grabs

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jun. 16 2011

Loaded have been over here in Europe for the June rock festivals. We have done this a few times before, so now we have been moved up a few notches on the time slots. It's a good feeling for a band trying to make its name.

A band like ours has to play every single night--or as close to it as we can--to make it all work out financially. Often we will play a show and then do a "runner" (bail the stage and take straight off to the next city, dripping wet and all).

We played the Download Festival again, but this time we were on the mainstage instead of the second stage that is in a tent. Loaded has gone "big time" . . . sorta.

I have now played Download on five separate occasions. The first time was with GNR in 1988--when it was still called Donington. (If you have ever seen the video for "Paradise City," the black-and-white portion of it was filmed there.) I have played there twice with Velvet Revolver and now twice with Loaded. It has become a second home to me of sorts, and playing the mainstage meant a LOT to me and the band. And we KILLED it, quite frankly.

But we did have to pull a runner . . .

So coming off that stage, in front of some 40,000 people, the band was pretty stoked. But we had to get in a van and rush headlong back down to Heathrow Airport, some 140 miles away, to catch a flight to Prague.

That's all fine and dandy, but we were running late, and now it was looking like we wouldn't make our flight . . . that means not playing our gig in Prague the next day . . . and that would have killed this tour on a financial level. So there we were . . . stressing BIG-time, and telling the driver to please go over the speed limit--without seeming like assholes--proved to be a challenge.

So we make it to Heathrow and RUN with all of our guitars and whatnot . . . we have 45 minutes until this flight takes off. Will they accept our baggage this late? Can we even make this flight? Do I smell as bad as I think I do? Ah, the highs from that Donington gig are starting to wear off.

We make it through security, and then to our gate. Ahhh, we are all good. Stressed a bit, for sure, but all good.

We get on the plane and they shut the doors, and then the pilot gets on the PA system and announces that we will be sitting here for an hour . . . with no power on. The heat on the plane is oppressive, and I start to get claustrophobic (a plight that has plagued me for years). To add to this, there is a Japanese soccer team in the back of the plane, and they are all hacking their lungs out. My pores are open, and my immune system is run-down. Fuck.

The highs from the Donington gig, just a few short hours earlier, are officially gone. And this, my friends, is basically how it goes on a rock tour.

The next day in Prague, we played a gig with the Misfits. For a punk-rock dude like me, that was pretty all right. But I DID get sick from those dudes on our plane. REALLY sick. Nothin' you can do but forge on. The day after that, we played the Nova Rock festival in Vienna, Austria, with Danzig this time. Again, pretty fucking cool for me.

The virus I got from that soccer team finally passed through.

This week, we are playing a string of gigs with my new most-favorite band, DOWN. Phil Anselmo turned me on to a Swedish band called GHOST, who wear masks and hide their real identities--AND blindfold their interviewers when they take them to do a interview. Cool. I dig that kind of stuff. The majesty and hilarity of rock is still alive and well in Sweden, I guess.

My wife comes out to join me in a couple of days. I will definitely have to take a bath and clean some of my clothes . . . and curb my language. Actually, she is a pretty damn good "road dog" herself. She may even spit and try to grab my butt . . . just like the guys in my band do! Well, hopefully, anyhow?

https://web.archive.org/web/20110623043609/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/06/tour_diaries_the_highs_the_low.php
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:59 pm

Last Call on the Tour That Shouldn't End

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jun. 23 2011

Some of you know that I am currently on tour in Europe with my band Loaded. A lot of the gigs we are doing are at those magical European festivals with names ranging from the self-explanatory (Sweden Rock) to the Germanic (Rock im Ring and Rock am Park) to the inexplicably information-age-ish (Download) to the odd. France's Hellfest is a better name than its former moniker, FurryFest, but still conjures up the idea that it's filled with Satan-worshipping bands. And I don't think Iggy and the Stooges, The Cult, Mr. Big, or Kyuss are anything close to death metal . . . nor do any of those bands wear corpse-paint.

So, as this will be my last post from the field on this tour, I thought that it may be fun to let you all in on some of my personal highs from the last four weeks:

Ghost: I know that last week I wrote maybe one sentence about these guys, and their whole mask-wearing shtick.

Later last week, I was backstage with Down's Phil Anselmo, and asked him if he'd gotten a load of Ghost's whole deal (no one knows who the actual band is, as they hide their identities, and blindfold their interviewers, etc.). Phil looked at me, kind of like an excited kid would after hitting his first Little League homerun. "Do I KNOW who Ghost IS?!! Dude. They are my new favorite band! Listen to THIS!" He proceeded to play Ghost's new record for me and Mike Squires. Mike bought it on iTunes immediately, and I followed suit.

Ghost is not what you would expect, I guess. Well, I've never actually given a "satanic" band a chance in the past. But if you like indie rock, Blue Oyster Cult, early-'70s rock 'n' roll, and a good pop song . . . check these guys out. Really great songwriting. Killer players. Great analog recording. All of that, with a bit of the ol' Lucifer thrown in.

Down: Best live rock band of the month. Anselmo means it. The band sounds ridiculous. Black Flag mixed with the best of stoner rock equals greatness (read: Down). Yes. Greatness. I don't need to say much else.

Lifehouse: You may ask how it is that I can put Lifehouse in here right after Ghost and Down. I must say, this band was never really ever on my radar before I saw them play two shows over one weekend a couple of weeks ago.

These guys write really good pop songs, and execute them with ease, flair, and even some balls. These guys have some roots in our own Port Orchard, too. I'd go see them again for sure.

Judas Priest: Yes! Loaded has had the chance to play a few shows with the almighty Rob Halford and co. And, even though guitarist K.K. Downing inexplicably bailed out right before this farewell tour, there IS still Glenn Tipton at stage left, shredding it up pretty damn good. Rob Halford has, hands down, the best and strongest pure hard-rock voice ever. Ridiculous.

Family Guy: Yep. I hadn't seen the show until last week. Our drummer, Isaac Carpenter, has been on me for like a year to watch this show. I've never been into adult cartoons and thought I was somehow above these types of shows.

Finally, on the tour bus last week . . . I relented. Isaac has a few seasons of Family Guy on the hard drive of his computer. The first one he played for me was the episode when the Dad (Peter) gets injected with the "gay gene." Holy fuck. The funniest and most twisted show on TV, or maybe ANYWHERE! I, for one, am now completely hooked.

French Loaded Fans: Who knew that people even knew who we were here? In my whole career, I have never had the pleasure of playing four straight shows in France. From Lille to Paris, and Strasbourg to Clisson . . . just great and excited fans of the rock.

Handing out and touring with Mike Squires, Jeff Rouse, and Isaac Carpenter (aka Loaded): This has been one of those tours that, while I miss my family at home, I just don't want to end.

These guys are the fucking best dudes EVER. We travel light, and tour hard--often having to react and move and perform, with little to no information and less sleep. It is a perfect scenario to garner hot heads and snappy-ness. We have none of that.

It is rare to be in a band where there is no inner-band gossip. Loaded is that rare band (unless of course, they are gossiping about me, and I just don't know it!).

On this trip, it has been an honor and a pleasure to travel and fight the good fight with these gentlemen.

My wife Susan meeting me in Paris, sans kids: Fancy time. Yes, that IS what I mean.

Bonjour. Ahoy. Good day. Guten Tag. Etc.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110627055136/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/06/last_call_on_the_tour_that_sho.php
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:16 pm

Our Night With Britney Spears: I Stayed in My Seat, But My Girls Made It Onstage

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jun. 30 2011

So, um . . . yeah. I, your trusty scriber of all things mostly rock, am going to try my best here to give you all a blow-by-blow account of my experience Wednesday night at Britney Spears' Tacoma Dome concert. Yep.

Some of you may remember me writing here about my night at the Justin Bieber concert. If you do, then you will also know that I am the father of two girls, now aged 10 and 13. I encourage music and arts with my daughters, so when they want to see a concert (any concert!), I will take them. I have learned to leave my preconceptions sitting next to my dog Buckley--squarely at home.

OK, enough of me explaining my attendance.

With me just getting back from playing a whole slew of shows in Europe, going to a concert on my third night back probably was not on the top of my list of priorities. Especially a concert in Tacoma.

Driving ANYWHERE with teen and preteen girls involves--in my case--a large dose of finding the right music on the right station at the right time. When I am facing a drive that involves some time or distance, a parent in my position must sort of steel themselves and become almost numb. If you were to actually think in advance how many times you will be asked to turn up or down the music, or to "switch back to that OTHER station!", you go a bit numb with caustic pre-coil to the long drive. We listened to Ray J, Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, Britney. Not exactly deep and soulful. But the girls were wrapped up in THEIR moment, and last night WAS their night, after all.

From the get-go upon arrival, people-watching is the component that slaps one upon the broadside of the head at a Britney Spears show. The first person I saw was a rather larger and manly-man, dressed as the schoolgirl version of Britney. He was not exactly sexy in my view, but the bloke probably felt so sexy deep down inside. Alrighty then. That's all cool with me.

We all know of the crap the Britney Spears has gone through in her life, especially over the last seven or eight years. Drug use, a mental downward spiral, a child custody dispute in a very public forum, etc. One of the first people I saw and talked to at the gig was Britney's dad, Jamie Spears, a nice and very hospitable gentleman from Louisiana. You could visibly see the relief in his face and demeanor at the recovery in life that his daughter has seemingly been having as of late. I can respect what he must have had to deal with.

On to the show. It was a spectacle of Cirque du Soleil proportion. Britney seemed relaxed and happy, and just as or more important, my own girls were just absolutely losing their sh#t. The production was amazing. The show was G or PG-rated. The hits were unstoppable. My girls even randomly were chosen and invited onstage to dance at one point. My wife Susan took them to the spot side stage when it went down, and I stayed in our seats. The next thing I witness was ALL of the McKagan girls onstage dancing . . . even MRS. McKagan! The usher near me just looked at me and chuckled in a "you-poor-bastard" type of fashion.

But my girls had the time of their lives, and so did all 20,000 of the other people in attendance.

As we left, I saw the same dude in drag leaving the show in the parking lot. He seemed a bit disheveled and used, like a hooker after a long night's work. Britney has been through a bunch of crap that may have left her--all these years later--looking a bit haggard and disinterested too. But she was on top of her game. I was happy for her. If nothing else, as a dad of girls myself.

P.S.: I would like to send out a hearty congratulations to 'AxlReznor' and 'Katy (just me)' who write in often to this column.I have known then as a couple for the last few years, but I just learned tonight that they actually met years ago through a Velvet Revolver fan-forum on our website.

They will be getting married this weekend in their hometown in England. Other attendees will have traveled from the U.S. to be able to be there. These people have met too on either Loaded or VR websites. It is nice to know that social media brings with it love and friendship.

AxlReznor and Katy had BETTER make me the Godfather of their child--if they so choose to go that route. I'm just sayin'....!

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:18 pm

The Sound(s) of My Summer: From Glasvegas and the Saints to Prince and Band of Skulls

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jul. 7 2011

t has come to my attention that whilst I have been away, Seattle Weekly has been having "guest writers" chime in with what is on their iPod's "Top 10" list. Thought this was clever and interesting.

As I sat down to write this column, I have been ruminating on all of my great experiences here in Seattle this past week. Britney Spears, A Perfect Circle, a Mariners game, a comedy show at the Paramount, riding Harleys with my good friend, and spending time with my family. Good stuff. Summertime is indeed here!

With that being said, and getting back to the "playlist" idea, I will illuminate my most recently purchased digital music for you to perhaps help fill your summer-music criteria. Write back with yours. Let's have a party!

Glasvegas, "Geraldine" (self-titled): A great early Clash-esque band from Glasgow, Scotland. I HIGHLY suggest getting this whole record (titled simply GLASVEGAS).

Tokyo Police Club, "Favorite Food" (Champ): A haunting yet somehow jangly song that is definitely a theme to someone . . . somehow. It reminds me of the Saints from the late '70s into the '80s.

The Saints, "I'm Stranded" (I'm Stranded): Before the Sex Pistols made the genre popular worldwide, there was a little punk-rock band from Brisbane, Australia, writing the songs that would influence so many.

The Saints, "Blues on My Mind:" Chris Bailey is a genius. Listen to this song and let it overtake you.

Kanye West, "Runaway" (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy): You just can't count out old Kanye. He seems to be getting better and darker, with his tongue planting more solidly in his cheek (I hope?).

Twilight Singers, "Waves" (Dynamite Steps): Greg Dulli has come back again with another stroke of his songwriting brilliance. This whole record is a journey worth taking from beginning to end.

Florence and the Machine, "Howl" (Lungs): The first time I heard this song I was in some hipster retail shop a few months back. I thought it was some Kate Bush song that I had somehow missed back around the Lionheart era. Nope. I thus discovered Florence & the Machines.

Ghost, "Ritual" (Opus Eponymous): Give this record a chance for sure. If you like good '70s analog rock and roll . . . lend these dark spirit-loving lads from Sweden a moment of your time. They will be playing El Corazon in September, and other North American . . . uh . . . haunts.

Prince, "Laydown!" (20Ten): This "hidden" track from Prince's latest record made me go back and revisit "For You" and "Dirty Mind." For whatever reason, I hear the young man experimenting again. Live? Well, of course there is NO ONE better.

Band of Skulls, "I Know What I Am" (Baby Darling Doll Face Honey): A perfect addition to anyone's summer song list. It's never too late to be the coolest kid on your block, cranking out some Band of Skulls.

https://web.archive.org/web/20110714072502/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/07/the_sounds_of_my_summer_from_g.php

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:21 pm

Singers Get Off Scott-Free, Bassists Get the Slammer

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jul. 14 2011

This past week seems to be a "Hell Week" of sorts, in the world of rock bass players.

Coheed and Cambria's Michael Todd got arrested on charges of armed robbery and drug possession when he held up a Walgreen's pharmacy while on the road supporting Soundgarden on the East Coast.

Four things here: maybe don't (1) take a cab back to the gig after (2) yell "Give me your Oxy, I have a bomb!" (3) You could've probably scored the drugs at the rock show. Duh! (4) Maybe time to get sober, pal.

You're going to have the time now that you be doing some time in the federal slammer.

Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri got a visit from LAPD's SWAT team on Monday night. Apparently, it is illegal to have a loaded assault rifle while telling your girlfriend she can't leave the house.

Singers and guitar players seem to get off Scott-free (pun intended) on these types of things. I fear that bass players and drummers may fare a bit worse. They are "out of the spotlight" types, and perfect targets to be made examples of.

These things usually come in threes, so Geddy Lee and Sting and Mike Inez--lay a bit low this week, and stay very, very far from the crack!

Note: I'll be answering a couple reader questions in this space tomorrow and on Monday. Stay tuned!

https://web.archive.org/web/20110718062855/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/07/singers_get_off_scott-free_bas.php
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:31 pm

Dear Duff: What Should I Do About School Getting In the Way of My Music?

By Duff McKagan Fri., Jul. 15 2011

Dear Duff:

I quit school in the middle of sixth grade (two years ago) and decided to go back to home schooling, because I couldn't handle public school. My mom enrolled me in an online school, which is really nice, because I can do school whenever I want. I had to start the school year late, in January, so I was already a little bit behind. However, I've been putting school on the back burner and playing guitar instead. This, of course, has forced me to work on school through the summer, and I'll still be behind when I start eighth grade next year. I'm a straight-A student, and I test at college levels, but I can't seem to turn the amp off and do my algebra. My mom's threatening to take my guitars away if I don't start doing school. What should I do?

Thanks,
Sunday

Hi, Sunday:

The thing that stuck out to me in your question was the fact that you state that you "can't handle public school." What is the situation there? Playing and having a passion for music is definitely key if you want to go further there, but doing things with others in a social environment is equally important. You've got to know how to be a "team player" to be in a band or just simply jam with other musicians. Social interaction plays a big part of finding people to play with. Sharing, learned by being in closed quarters often, will have payback when you write songs with others and tour and whatnot.

I, too, was good grade-wise in middle school. I started to fall behind, though . . . like you. I went ahead and got a GED, but I was always kind of jealous of those who actually graduated high school with their class. Sure, I was off playing music and working, but I didn't realize that suddenly I would feel sort of left out.

Sunday, pursue your music. By all means, it sounds like you have been given the gift of "passion" for your art. But try to do both, or at least, be prepared for feeling left out and alienated around others if you don't.

Duff

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:33 pm

Because the Bookstore Has Taken Up the Strip Club/Bar Space In My Life ...

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jul. 21 2011

I had the pleasure last night of going up to Elliott Bay Books, one of Seattle's best independent book stores. Bookstores to me these days are like what my experience was in the past of going to a bar or maybe even a strip club . . . I'm like a kid in a candy store when facing shelves and shelves of books. The only poles at these places hold up bookshelves, and the only "crack" here is the small sound a book makes when it is opened up.

I do pretty much all of my reading on my Kindle, but I buy the physical books, too. That is, I buy the e-book for my device doo-hicky, and the hard cover for my bookshelf at home.

Kindle isn't always the best way to find new books. It's cool for sure, in the way that if you hear about some new book, you can instantly download it to your device. But a bookstore is the ultimate way to immerse yourself into what is new. You can browse, and you can ask around, something you just can't do in the cocoon of e-commerce.

Here is what I found:

Corey Taylor, Seven Deadly Sins: I've known Corey (of Slipknot fame) on a personal level for the last few years, and have come to know that he is one of the smartest dudes out there. When he told me about his journey into authordom, I had no doubt that whatever topic he chose to write about would be deep and heavy.

I just picked this book up last night and gave it a cursory browse. It looks fascinating. It's a funny yet poignant look at Corey's own dip into drugs and vice and asinine behavior in his youth, while also studying the age-old question of whether certain personal traits are learned or bred into a person.

Corey Taylor is one of those people that just seems impossibly good at whatever he chooses to pursue, and I have no doubt that this tome will reflect this fact.

I can't wait to see what Corey's version of "Sloth" is! I shall report back to you all.

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (hardcover): Either you love Cormac McCarthy's prose, or you can't get through two pages of it. There seems to be no middle ground. His writing is too real and brutal for any half-measures. I am a huge believer myself, and anytime I see a McCarthy title that I don't have in hardcover, I will pounce upon it. Elliott Bay Books is the type of store where you can find these types of hard-to-find titles.

Steven Kasher, Max's Kansas City: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll: This is one of those coffee-table books that a guy with my influences just has to have. It wasn't my birthday, but purchasing a book like this does feel celebratory.

I never got to go to this club in New York before it closed down, but if you are a fan of The Ramones, The New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Bruce Springsteen, or Patti Smith, well then you undoubtedly know of the lore of this hollowed ground.

Michael Hodgins, Reluctant Warrior: There are newer titles coming out about our U.S. soldiers' experiences in Vietnam. Just when I thought I had read everything there was to know about this conflict in Southeast Asia, boom, there comes another great account. Michael Hodgins writes with ease about his time as a Marine at the end of the war.

There is nothing at all wrong with a Barnes & Noble or Borders store. In many of the sprawling outskirts of our larger cities, these stores may be the only convenient means to browse what is available book-wise.

But the little indies like Third Place Books in Seattle, Powell's in Portland, Fingerprints and Book Soup in Los Angeles, or Warwick's in San Diego and Strand's in Manhattan instantly take me to a warm and inviting place where I feel welcome.

As with all of the other times that I have written "suggested reading" columns, please feel free to criticize my picks, and suggest some recent reads of your own.

We nerds must unite!

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:35 pm

Nobody Chooses Addiction, Not Even Amy Winehouse

By Duff McKagan Mon., Jul. 25 2011

Like everyone else this side of the pond, I woke up Saturday morning to hear the sad and terrible news that singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment. Like everyone else, too, I suddenly felt a great loss and not a little bit of anger.

In my head I yelled at her, "C'mon, girl! It seemed as if you were pulling OUT of that drug shit! It seemed as if you were on your way back! It seemed as if maybe, just maybe, you'd be putting that troubling time behind you..." But no. It wasn't to be after all. Alas, the Winehouses do not have their daughter Amy anymore.

In the late '80s into the '90s, there was a mess of drug-addled youth in their 20s in and around rock and roll music--buying into the "Live Fast, Die Young" mantra and all of that stupid and ignorant rot--that I found myself and my circle of friends a part of. I lost two of my very best friends to overdoses. And for a while it seemed that I'd most certainly go that same route.

But I had good people around me, a network of friends and family that some of my peers didn't have. It was those people, who when I saw a chance to get better, and get sober, it was they who called and stopped by, and showed me how to stay away from the bad stuff--taught me how to stay alive.

Amy lived her life for the last eight years in a fishbowl. We all peered in when she had her great and worldwide success. We all gawked at that same fishbowl as we watched her stumble again and again. Our view into the fishbowl changed as her life's trials changed. But her view OUT of the fishbowl never changed. I'm sure it was claustrophobic and terrifying in there. For those of you who may say "Yeah, but she had EVERYTHING! Why would she waste her time on drugs; she should have JUST GOTTEN SOBER!", let me just say a few things:

-- No one loves to be addicted.
-- No singer or musician I have ever known has dreamed of one day being successful AND strung out.
-- Do you think Amy's success changed HER more, or do you think it is possible that her success changed how other people treated her more?

People who become that high-profile in an overnight fashion rarely have the time or guidance to really know what the hell is going on once that massive "fame monster" smacks them upside the head. She was suddenly on TV and the radio all of the time, she suddenly had a #1 record all over this planet, and won five Grammys. All at once, we expect these people to adjust how we perceive we ourselves would adjust in the same limelight. When that doesn't happen in Amy's case, the tabloids are right there to show us all that "this girl is just plain fucked-up." Maybe she never got a chance to catch her breath.

The "specialists" and talking heads on cable news are criticizing Amy Winehouse's inner circle of "advisors." I know Amy's manager and accountant, and I also know that both of them are VERY stand-up people. It is a shame that people like this, people who have tried their best to help Ms. Winehouse in the past few years, get their names dragged through the mud. But in the end, it is just so sad to have lost this young woman to what will most likely be discovered to be, drugs. She was a talent. She was different. She railed against the norm. She was a musical trailblazer.

In the end, I cannot compare what I went through or experienced with what Amy Winehouse went through. I only know that addiction is a lonely and terrifying place to be. It's not glamorous, and addiction does not care if you are well-known and rich, or a loner-hermit with no dough.

In Amy's case, like mine, I think she had some friends and family who tried and cared about her, but in the end fell short.

I'm sure she must have been a good friend to some people.

I'm sure her parents must have watched with joy as her musical talents blossomed in her young teens at school.

I'm sure that they must really miss her right at this very moment.

They will not have their daughter . . . anymore.

https://web.archive.org/web/20111017174131/http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2011/07/nobody_chooses_addiction_not_e.php
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:45 pm

Here's to 90 More Years on Neptune

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jul. 28 2011

For those of you reading outside of the Seattle area, let me tell you a little story about an old movie theater here called The Neptune. For those of you here and familiar with this grand old place, let me fill you in on what's new with it.

A couple of years ago, as the city of Seattle was planning for places to put its new Light Rail train stations, their architects zeroed in on the southeast corner of N.E. 45th and Brooklyn--the site where the 90-year-old Neptune sat. I am all for progress, but not at the cost of losing our iconic places of culture and history. I guess that Seattle Theater Group felt the same way.

If you are indeed a Seattleite, well, then you have probably read about the transformation that STG has done to The Neptune--from the movie theater it has been for the last 90 years to a live venue that will also show a film from time to time.

If you grew up in this city, and are around my age, then the Neptune was the place where you went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show in middle school. The ruse of "sleeping over at so-and-so's house" always seemed to work. It had to. There was no way you'd miss those midnight showings on Fridays . . . you might even score with a chick this time!

If you grew up here, and liked movies about rock and roll, The Neptune is where you went to see A Hard Day's Night or Quadrophenia.

If you grew up in this city and were around when punk rock was brand new, then The Neptune is where you went to go see Penelope Spheeris' The Decline of Western Civilization.

The Neptune was different, especially to those of us who would otherwise find a fire escape or open window to sneak into. No, the Neptune was hallowed ground, where one just didn't take all of this ornateness and splendor for granted. We paid to get in, and we didn't fuck around once inside. The same couldn't be said for any other place in town . . . if you grew up around the same time as me, that is . . .

Some folks around town are bummed that the Neptune isn't just showing movies anymore. The way I see it, live rock music seems like the best way to save this historic place. Movies ABOUT music have played there so many times, that maybe some of you will think you have entered the realm of 3-D (personally, I stopped doing the hallucinogens many years ago, but this venue IS surrounded by the highest populace of people under 25 in town . . . most probably).

I got to get a peek around the theater this week. I finally got to see what was behind that stage (nuthin', a brick wall actually), and above it (an OLD but very lived-in and quaint apartment building). STG has taken one of the apartments above-stage and made a sweet-ass backstage room for talent. The stairs are very steep to get up there, so the "talent" must also have some fitness and mobility. (They told me that if an artist can't get up there, they will just get an artist's trailer in the alley out back. Knowing STG, that trailer will be sweet-ass too).

If you grew up in Seattle, and are about my age, then you are getting nostalgic about those particular things that MAKE us different . . . you too are sighing a breath of relief. The Neptune has been refurbished and the stained glass inside is polished and the floor is clear. But everything else inside is just as it always has been--including the candy in the glass case . . . still for sale. It won't be raised. It will not change. Let us all hope it will be around for another 90 years.

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:46 pm

My Favorite Seafair Memory

By Duff McKagan Thu., Aug. 4 2011

Seattle has had a longtime love affair with water. We are surrounded by it on basically all sides, and the first settlers in this area--of Scandinavian descent--moved here so that they could continue and capitalize on their well-honed trade of fishing. Thus, boats and all else that floats are many up here, and boating is a treasured pastime.

We have had, since 1950 or so, an annual summertime event here called simply Seafair. If you have grown up in this area, you will most likely associate Unlimited Hydroplanes with Seafair. Those of us who were indeed raised here collectively keep an almost mythological place saved somewhere in our souls for the Hydro (for those of you outside this area, a Hydroplane is a boat that skims across the top of the water. An Unlimited Hydroplane is a REALLY fast fucking boat that skims across the top of the water).

On the first weekend of each August are the big Seattle Cup boat races, and these races always attract a massive crowd.

I remember when I was a kid, a boat called the Miss Bardahl crashed and disintegrated on Lake Washington during a race. I was probably about 5 or 6 when this happened, and some of my first memories are of some of the older kids in the neighborhood bringing little pieces of the hydro back home from expeditions to different shores on the lake.

Later on, I picked the Miss Atlas Van Lines as my boat to root for, and a prized possession was a wall poster of that circa-'70s hydro. I was totally cool!

A big event that coincides with the week of the boat race is the Blue Angels dominating the air in and around Seattle. They torment the neighborhoods with their deafening loudness, and snarl traffic because the bridges have to close as certain times--but I am pretty sure that all of Seattle would not have it any other way.

But Seattle would not be Seattle, and Seafair would not be the same, if there wasn't a bit of quirkiness involved. My favorite piece of quirk is the Milk Carton Derby on Greenlake. Some hippie in the early '70s thought it'd be a good idea to fashion an ersatz hydroplane out of milk cartons and "race" it around Greenlake. A sudden craze and event were instantly spawned. If you notice milk cartons being absent from houses' recycling bins come February or so, the Milk Carton Derby is the reason why.

The Seafair Pirates add a great bit of nautical dirtiness to the whole month of July leading up to the boat races on Lake Washington. From their landing on Alki in early July to the end of Seafair in August, I don't think these pirates see a sober day. I got an offer to be a "pirate for a day" this year, but to be honest, those guys kind of scare me. Wikipedia claims that the pirates " . . . cause perennial objection to their prominent involvement in the festivities" because of their loud and often raucous buffoonery, but that "most people who enjoy Seafair see them as an essential part of it."

The Torchlight Parade is a great event for the whole family, but the only time I actually went was in my punk-rock days. My buddy Ed was getting on one of the Seafair princesses. Yep.

So to sum this whole piece up, shall I ask you all if you have a favorite boat or favorite Seafair memory? Were you ever a pirate or Seafair princess? Did you ever enter the Milk Carton Derby? Do you remember Pat O'Day? Are you glad we kept the radio part local with KJR's erstwhile Mike "Gas-man" Gastineau calling the races?

Keep your head down, here comes another low-flying Blue Angel!

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:48 pm

No Need for Heat: Dead Babies Take Care of Themselves

By Duff McKagan Thu., Aug. 11 2011

Life gives us little pleasures sometimes when we least expect them. Unexpected good happenings don't necessarily slap one upside the head when they are taking place, but simply reveal themselves as little pleasures after the event takes place. Last week, I had two such "events."

I did some hanging out with former Post Stardom Depression and current Missionary Position frontman Jeff Angell all week long. It is always fun to catch up with a fella as talented and chill as this guy. Jeff and I have a lot in common:

-- We are both musicians
-- We both are fathers to two girls
-- We are both from the Northwest
-- We both are fans of the Prince

When Jeff told me that his band, Missionary Position, was playing last Friday in Georgetown, I took this to be a perfect opportunity to get a little "dude time" out of my feminine household. Besides, the gig was in Georgetown and I hadn't been down there for some time.

For those of you who don't really know much about Georgetown, in truth, the residents down there would probably prefer to keep it that way. It is a hidden and commercial-free little mecca for art, coffee, pizza, good beer (they say), and bikes.

Not just any bikes, either.

The Dead Baby Bike Club, a bike "organization" originally formed from the social outer-edges who make up a healthy part of Seattle's bike-messenger community, holds an annual event down in Georgetown in August called the Dead Baby Downhill, a hilarious bike romp through the city that now ends down there near Boeing Field, followed by Dead Baby Bike Club's "Greatest Party Known to Humankind."

Check out a slideshow from the Dead Baby Downhill race and party.

As it turned out, the Missionary Position show was just one of many bands playing that night. Dyslexic 33, Plaster, and Horse Headall were also among the bands playing after the finish of the Dead Baby Downhill, a sort of Georgetown punk-rock street fair. All without the notable presence of the Seattle Police Department.

Apparently, the Dead Baby Downhill race and ensuing party in the streets of Georgetown are both a rather unsanctioned affair by the city. From what I understood from that night, the citizens or punkers of G-town--and the neighborhood police--could not really agree on a set way to hold the DBDH. The police wanted more safety (and thusly, less fun). The Dead Baby people wanted less safety (and thusly, more fun?).

Somehow--and I am not even sure how it was sorted out--the area of Georgetown and the city agreed for this whole affair's responsibility to come squarely on the Dead Baby Bike Club's jean-vest-wearing shoulders. They rose to the occasion.

The absence of the police in all other situations would more than likely be an unremarkable aside. But at a nighttime function with free kegs of beer and jousting on bikes without any pads or helmets, it was hard not to notice that police were not around. Because here is what happened . . . there was not even the slightest hint of violence in the air. Not even the slightest threat of a fight, or some dumb-ass being a dumb-ass in public. People seemed less hindered and fettered and more responsible and chill all seemingly BECAUSE there weren't cops visible and showing force. It was an "ah-hah!" moment.

I couldn't say, nor would I think to recommend, that all of Seattle's street fairs and parties shouldn't have the police around. But in Georgetown, I am telling you, it just seemed to work better that night.

The four different artist stages showcased all kinds of different rock, punk rock, DJs, and sundry other types of music. When I finally found the stage that Jeff Angell's band was to be playing, I was pleasantly surprised to find Tad Boyle's new-ish band Brothers of the Sonic Cloth just plain ol' rocking out. What a sweet thing to just sort of run into. Only in Seattle, right?

As I stood there waiting for Missionary Position, it became apparent that the people in front of me were still moving. What I thought was a mosh-pit for BOTSC was actually a rather damn large lineup of people for the free beer kegs. The free-beer part of this street fair was just another way to keep this more of a "party" in the city's eyes, and less a commercial venture. If it was a private party, well then the Po-Po wouldn't be a necessary invitee. Ahhhh. I get it now!

And alas, as I waited for my buddy Jeff's band to start . . . some other band who hadn't gotten to play earlier took the stage. My eyes grew tired, and all of the hoopla was starting to take its toll on me. I get up early, ya know. I'll catch MS on their next gig if it ain't too damn late.

This column kind of wanders a bit, don't it? Well, here is one more point of randomness. I did see John Roderick at Slayer the next night, and we found out that we are related in an abstract way. He is my nephew's uncle-in-law. Figure THAT one out.

As I said, it was a week filled with a few little pleasures.


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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:51 pm

Punk Rock, and Stiff Little Fingers, Introduced "The Troubles" to Kids in the States

By Duff McKagan Thu., Aug. 18 2011

When punk rock first reared its head, people were introduced to the genre through bands like the Ramones, the Dictators or even as a late-comer to the Stooges. The music was rough and impactful, but otherwise, the songs were about cars, girls, fun, and dope.

In the UK and Ireland, though, there were political and class struggles that were pretty pointed and scary. In America, we did not have the same level of problems, economy-wise, that they had. And in America, we had nothing close to Imperialism intruding in on us.

When The Sex Pistols and The Clash records stormed into our U.S. record stores, we became educated on seemingly very exotic problems and situations that were happening 'over there'. Remember, there was no cable TV 24 hour news networks, and especially no Internets. They definitely didn't teach us about the disgruntled working class in the UK or the Troubles in Ireland in school. Punk rock music became much more than just a heavy riff with a snotty vocal.

But still, the impact was pretty damn far-removed. I guess you could say that there was sympathy, but other than that, there was no REAL understanding from us on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

There was a scrappy band from Ireland called Stiff Little Fingers whose songs told a rather bloody story about a people under siege. I had no idea at the time that the first two records--Inflammable Material and Nobody's Heroes -- were personal stories of an area run red with blood and goreƚ Belfast and Northern Ireland.

In 1980, I was 15 years-old, and, of course, lived at home still. My mom was very supportive of me playing music, and she even pretended to take an interest in the Damned, Jam, Germs, Ruts, and whatever other records that I would play in our living room. She worked hard every day, and so when she got home, I would turn the volume down to give my poor ol' mother a break.

But often, I would see her looking through the jackets of the records I brought home. Some of you may think that she would (naturally) be looking for crude or inappropriate content. But if you knew my mom, Marie, you would probably agree, that she was just looking for something that she could find common ground for us to talk about. She was a nice and smart Irish lass after all; with a huge curiosity for what was 'out there' in the world.

One day, I came home from some band practice or another, and was surprised to hear Stiff Little Fingers music coming from my house. I knew it was not next older brother Matt playing my records, 'cause he was ONLY into Jazz back then. As I entered our living room, I saw my mom holding the Nobody's Heroes jacket cover with tears streaming down her cheeks.

What I wasn't aware of until then, was that my mom had been following what were called "The Troubles" there in N. Ireland. Her father was from there, and we had a lot of family living in and around those parts (most have moved south to Dublin though by the '80s... the Troubles did that).

Political and, especially, religious strife had gotten that country into such a civil war of sorts, that there was a fear-based gridlock, choking the people as a whole. Terrorism and sabotage and car-bombs were a daily occurrence for many, many years.

"Bloody Sunday," "Suspect Device" (the British term for a supposed bomb), "Gotta Getaway" were just a few of the songs that suddenly came to life for me, as my mother gently explained the intricacies of what these "poor boys" in SLF must have been facing daily.

But that was then, and this is 2011. The Troubles are thankfully a thing of the past. But also thankfully, the Stiff Little Fingers are still alive and kicking some butt.

This Sunday, at El Corazon, may I suggest you go see Stiff Little Fingers, a band who hasn't been here for more than 15 years, but will hopefully be back before another 15 years goes by. I for one, am completely excited. Marie McKagan would've went if she were here...that lovely lass cared for these "boys."

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:55 pm

Headliners Create Lines. It's Everything Else That Makes a Festival

By Duff McKagan Fri., Aug. 26 2011

Much has been made of the seemingly huge drop-off of big-name headliners for this year's Bumbershoot Festival. Last year there was Bob Dylan, and in 2009 we saw Katy Perry, Sheryl Crow, Fergie, Death Cab for Cutie, and Modest Mouse. The 2011 lineup is topped by Daryl Hall and John Oates.

This is not a commentary on the artists (I personally really dig Hall and Oates); this is all about what Bumbershoot was willing to spend to attract the bigger-name artists, and its decision to pass on marquee acts to keep the festival affordable (and in business). This change hasn't sat well with many folks who remember Bumbershoot as a festival that regularly capped the summer with some of the biggest names in music.

Seattle is a funny town. We hate the headliners when they come, and feel left out and small when they don't. But does it really matter to you who is headlining? Do you go to festivals for the headliner, or do you go for the whole experience, and perhaps even the chance of discovering something new?

In Europe, where my band has spent a fair amount of time touring and where the major cities and countries are much closer to one another than in the States, there has been an explosion in the summer-festival circuit. I've seen bills packed with the likes of Sweden's mellow The Soundtrack of Our Lives and the Gutter Twins, topped off with a little Slipknot. And Korn, Journey, Mastodon, Ghost, and Foreigner all together, with a dubstep tent somewhere in between.

It is not just the odd combinations of artists that I find rather appealing and fresh. It is the knowledge that I will more than likely discover something new, an artist that re-inspires a guy like me.

It's not about the headliners. Heck, you can go see those guys when they are passing through town on their big-ass tours. I've always felt that experiencing artists whom you'd otherwise maybe never get a chance to see--or know to see--coupled with odd groupings of artists from all sorts of different genres, is what truly makes a good music festival even better. And Bumbershoot has plenty of that.

Red Fang, a kick-ass band I saw this past June in Clisson, France, is playing Saturday. As is Campfire Ok, a band I've heard nothing but good things about. Having a chance to maybe see them on the same day as Red Fang and Pentagram? Now this is getting interesting . . .

Vendetta Red are on a redux as a band, and that could be a very good thing. And I know that The Jim Jones Revue could have a chance at stealing this whole festival when they play on Sunday. Or will the Butthole Surfers have something to say, and prove my headliner theory wrong?

But, honestly, when I look at the Bumbershoot lineup for this year, it is a dazzling array of mysterium. Who ARE half of these artists? Am I admitting that I am not so cool anymore when I admit that I don't know who a whole swath of these acts are? Who cares? That is the fun bit about a music festival, the discovery.

So quit your griping about how Bumbershoot has been diminished. Just go out and see something new, and rediscover what has always made Seattle a different sort of music town, one that celebrates all kinds of genres while maintaining a sense of humor and grace.

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:57 pm

Seattle May Be Aiming for Clean and Green Transit, But It's Not Convenient (and Hurts My Undercarriage)

By Duff McKagan Thu., Sep. 1 2011

It is really hard for me to ever really say anything adverse about my dear old hometown of Seattle. I mean, what is there not to love about this place? Great coffee. Great music scene. People are generally less dick-ish. Culture and literature are highly held attributes. Mountains and water and rivers and sports and, oh yeah . . . traffic.

Being a guy who has bounced back and forth to Los Angeles since the '80s, I never thought I'd see the day when traffic in the Northwest EVER got to a place where it would compete for worst on the West Coast. Los Angeles is congested with single-driver automobiles, and traffic lights down there are so badly timed that you start to think that it is all some sort of plot to keep the general populace in a state of edge. As they kept building more and more further-out suburbs, this just added to the morning and evening traffic gridlock.

Seattle, as we all know, was built surrounded by water. You can't get anywhere in this town without going over a bridge. Whether it is the West Seattle bridge or the Aurora, I-90, Fremont, or Montlake, you are at the behest of a waterway overpass (I am only naming but a few bridges here . . . ).

The Interstate 5 and I-99 that run through Seattle both seem to narrow right at the heart of the city, and city planners back in the day, until this day, seem like maybe they were just a few degrees off plumb. No one seemed to be looking to the future and designing the roads so that they would keep up with the population. Too late now.

We all have voted one way or another on the Light Rail, and now this new tunnel. The Light Rail system here, I just don't get. I am one to always try and look at the glass as half-full, but this train thingy we got ourselves just doesn't seem like it will ever be a mass-transit system that will alleviate traffic in this city. Do YOU take it anywhere?

The Light Rail system is currently building a station right at Husky Stadium. I suppose this is meant to be a tactic to lessen the traffic gridlock that now hinders that area around the Montlake Bridge and 520 interchange. OK, but let's just say that I'd take it to work downtown in the morning instead of drive; I'd still have to GET to that station, right? Where would I park?

New York and London have great mass-transit systems because they have made these trains and subways totally convenient, affordable, and easy to use. I think up here in the Northwest, a lot of lip service has been paid to the fact that the Light Rail is a "greener" and cleaner way to get us all around. Great. But is it convenient? And if it ultimately isn't easy to use, will we suffer for the greater cause of "green"? Maybe once or twice . . . but then we will get back into our cars, and tint our windows so that our neighbors won't be able to see us as we carve out a big ol' size-13 carbon footprint.

But back to the matter of just too much traffic. This Alaskan Way Tunnel (or whatever they are calling it) is gonna be a massive mess. I get the fact that the tunnel will be safer in case of an earthquake, and that our waterfront will be more accessible and real estate will increase and all--but from what I understand, it's not going to ease congestion at all. Oh yes, the plague of our Seattle city planners again. And can you imagine how bad north-south traffic through town is going to be for those years that it takes to build? Oh, dear God.

Atlanta, Miami, and San Francisco all have horrible traffic issues like us in Seattle, so don't feel alone here. Maybe it is really time to look into and perfect jet-pack technology . . .

And have you tried to drive east-west or west-east within our city? The traffic lights are just abysmally timed. Try this route, if you like torture. Drive east from say, the Ballard Locks, and take a right on Leary Way and follow like you are headed to the University Village (this would be the less trafficky short-cut). Take Leary up through Fremont to Pacific, and ultimately turn left on Montlake Blvd. The lights are so bad here, that last week, as my wife and I traveled this on my motorcycle at 10 at night (when there was NO traffic), it took us 35 minutes to travel about 2½ miles. That CAN'T do anything to help traffic during rush hour, can it?!

Right, and to my last point of contention--and probably my first move I'd make if I were Mayor of Seattle. To all you sailboaters: Sorry. The bridges should no longer go up and down for you at your behest. Nope. High-masted boats should only be able to go through, say, before 6 a.m. and after 7:30 p.m. Summer traffic in Seattle is gnarled double because of our lower drawbridges constantly going up and down for the leisure boater. Dumb.

I could go on and on. The Stewart street exit in the morning, anyone? Getting on the 520 during rush hour around Montlake, anyone? 85th Street in and out of Ballard, anyone? West I-90 trying to get to southbound I-5 at rush hour, anyone? One lane, REALLY?!!

Ah, but I do love our fair city, and our views are some of the best city vistas in the world. I have studied the outline of the Cascade and Olympic mountains whilst sitting gridlocked in traffic. I have counted boats on Lake Union as I have sat motionless behind the wheel. I have checked the frequency of the Bainbridge ferry as I have power-walked my motorcycle along the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Carpools are not really working. Mass transit seems to be so far, a bust. Bicycles just hurt my undercarriage after too much riding, and it's too wet to ride a motorcycle all year round. People need to get to work. People need to drive their cars. Parents need to get their kids to school. Trucks need to carry their loads. What now? It has gotten real. It has gotten bad.

For those of you reading from outside our area, surely you will not recognize these areas of which I complain. But I am sure that you most probably have some of the same-such ires in your city, town, or burg.

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:01 pm

Again, My Summer Movie Agenda Is Derailed . . . By John D. Lukacs, Donald Ray Pollack, and Co.

By Duff McKagan Thu., Sep. 8 2011

At the beginning of summer, just as all of the bigger Oscar-worthy films are starting to screen, I have good intentions of going to see 'em all. But this summer was really no different from the ones past. Things just get busy when it is warm out, and I always seem to scramble right about now to play catch-up.

When I told a few of my dude friends that I really was looking forward to seeing the film The Help, I got a sort of sideways look that foretold of male-ego-living-around-chicks-too-much-whatever-dude-chick-flick-watcher. Yes, whatever indeed. I read and enjoyed the book, and had heard that the movie was just as good. Oddly enough, the other movie I made it to, also featured a mainly female cast. But Bridesmaids ain't no chick flick either.

Getting to a book, of course, can be done on a nightly basis at home. Hence, I have some new reads that I'd like to share.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett: I hate to write like I am a film or book critic, because I am not. I DO, however, know when something is depicted so well, and the story is so good, that I am deeply and profoundly moved. This era of American history has always piqued my interest, too.

I wrote about the book last year, so I won't repeat myself. But I will say that if you haven't seen this movie yet, do yourself and your friends and/or family a favor and see it. Emma Stone plays a perfect "Skeeter"; Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer portray "Aibileen" and "Minny" so well (aka, the "help"), that it is hard to fathom how actors get this good.

Escape From Davao, John D. Lukacs: I've read a whole shit-ton of books about World War II, and have spent a lot of that time zeroing in on things in the Pacific. The Bataan Death March, and anything to do with being a prisoner of the Japanese back then, will most certainly be in my realm of expertise (That's right. I said it!).

This story of airman Ed Dyess' escape from a Japanese labor camp in the Philippines is as epic as Unbroken. Lukacs is a top-notch nonfiction writer who can put together the facts of warfare, distance, hunger, and fear and still make a compelling and engaging full-length book. Escape From Davao goes to the top shelf of my book case.

The Devil All of the Time, Donald Ray Pollack: In trying to find good fiction authors who I can somehow sympathize or see their angle, my search takes me far and wide. I am still a bit new-ish to fiction, and hence maybe a few of you already know of Donald Ray Pollack's work. For me, I was just turned onto him by a friend who owns a hip and independent bookstore in the Bay area.

TDAOTT is an abrupt and sickening story of murder, rape, white trash, religion, and hopelessness in 1970s America. Pollack is a master.

Knockemstiff, Donald Ray Pollack: Once you start, you cannot stop reading Pollack. Knockemstiff, Ohio is, according to Pollack's storytelling, a desperate and no-win corner of America. In the same sense that Cormac McCarthy can make a reader queasy with the necrophiliac in Children Of God, Pollack can do the same with his speed sniffing, glue-huffing ruffians and sex fiends.

Bridesmaids (movie): Holy fucking shit! All right, so most of you have probably seen this movie? But if you haven't, please read that first sentence over. Holy fucking SHIT! This movie is one of the funniest and certainly-not-a-chick-flick flicks that I've seen in a few years, for sure.

Saturday Night Live alums Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are absolutely ridiculous. There are a bunch of scenes that got uncontrollable laughter in the theater. And for the first time ever, there was yet a few more scenes during which I actually heard people laugh so hard that you could hear the beginnings of a good throw-up. Now THAT is good humor, ladies and gentlemen!

Here Be Monsters . . . 50 Days Adrift at Sea, Michael Finkel (Kindle Single): I don't advertise for anyone here, of course, but I do now also use an e-reader, as well as simply just buying the physical book. Kindle has started to amass a bunch of different larger articles from the likes of GQ, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Outside , et al., for the purpose of selling something they call "singles" for a buck ninety-eight or some such trifle. I'm not sure if I am going to be looking into these that often, but was glad I ran across this story.

I like stories of survival and misery for some reason. Last year, three 15-year-old boys from the tiny speck of the island nation called Atafu in the South Pacific got drunk and decided that they had had enough of living so far away from the modern world. They made the inebriated and knee-jerk reaction of stealing an uncle's fishing skiff and setting off on an adventure. There is no other land anywhere nearby. They did not bring any water or food. They guessed that they'd probably be found within a day or two anyway. They were not.

The boys did survive their 58-day ordeal, but just, and Finkel does an outstanding job of reportage. My second question is: Do magazines still have the dough to send a reporter all the way to Samoa to write this stuff?

Note to Seattle Weekly: I want to write about a climb of Mt. Everest. Can we sort that out?

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:07 pm

Questions for Duff: My Band Sucks. What's Our Problem?!

By Duff McKagan Thu., Sep. 15 2011

Have you ever had a week where you just have too much crap in your head, and are just plain overweighed by, well, life? That has been my week. So instead of ranting and/or overly praising some asshole/saint, I shall go back to the old question files here at Seattle Weekly. I want to see just what the hell YOUR problem is!

Hey, Duff: I kind of get upset when people call me buddy or big guy, especially if I don't know them. I just want to be like, "Hey, buddy was my dad's name. You can call me pal." How do you feel about that? Sincerely, Adam Kearney

Duff: Hey, Adam: At least "buddy" and "big guy" are terms of endearment. Or at least I imagine the tone that they are used in is hopefully non-threatening (as opposed to something like "Give me your fucking MONEY, buddy!").

Nah. I don't really mind it if somebody calls me "Big Guy" or whatever . . . I AM tall. It reminds me of one of the first bus drivers that GN'R had as a band.

We were just completely stoked to have a bus at all--and our first-ever driver had been driving around bands and their crews for like 30 years. The dude had just plain met a lot of people over those years, and could in no way even start to remember all of the names of these people.

So, "Johnson," our bus driver, just called everyone else . . . "Johnson," or Jimmy Johnson. Or Jimmy Joe, or John, or JJ, or John Jimmy Joe, etc. But it was the WAY that he called us these names. He smiled and looked us straight in the eye. He meant no harm--and soon enough, the rest of us were calling each other Jimmy Johnson or John Jimmy Joe, etc.

Ever since old Johnson the bus driver, I have had no problems whatsoever with somebody calling me a nickname. Hell, I know who I am!

Dear Duff: Why is it that no matter how much hard work and countless hours my band and I put into our music, I still feel that we suck? Andrea Jasek

Duff: Well, Andrea, I've been in some great bands that have really been good songwriters and live performers, etc., but there are those moments or nights where we did just plain suck.

The important thing for you to do right now is to figure out if your band is just bad, or if your outlook and expectations are skewed too high for now.

If music is something that you want to do on a full-time basis, and you don't feel that you are with the right people--then perhaps it is time to move on.

Hi, Duff: My name's Liz and I'm from Jersey. I'm 17, and after this last year of high school I'll be expected to do something with my life. But the thing is, I'm definitely the stupidest person in the world! I get crap grades in school, I took my written permit test for my license 5 times so far and still haven't passed! I can't find a job so I'm currently unemployed while all my other friends have their license and jobs and know what college they're going to already!

And my dad tells me that I'll be fine and everything will happen in time, but my mom is really being horrible about it and makes me feel really bad that I haven't accomplished any of these things yet. I've just been really down and out. I even thought about suicide once but decided against it. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. Help?


Duff: Hello Lizzy, my friend! OK . . . here is the deal. At 17 years old, you are in that perfect storm of too old to be a kid and too young to an adult. It is a really, REALLY confusing age. I too had those dark thoughts when I was around your age. I think a lot of us do.

Lizzy. DO NOT EVEN WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BECOME right now. Some of us are early bloomers, and some of us blossom much later. Crap. I couldn't have gone to college yet when I was your age.

Try something else for me, too. Stop thinking of yourself as "the stupidest person in the world." Just because you may not pass a certain written test really doesn't mean much. Your brain just isn't working along those particular lines right now.

Do this, and I call it "Act As If" (yes, I do this).

When I am feeling down or confused or overwrought or ugly, I "act as if"--

I act as if everything is OK. At least outwardly I do. I smile and hold my head up and put my shoulders back. Don't curl up in a ball and wither. Soon enough, and I swear it is true, other good things come from this acting job.

Act as if you and your mom are friends. Act as if she is on your side. She will notice, and things may change from this piece of theater.

Act as if you are not overwhelmed by this life. Charge back at it, with your ears pinned back, your shoulders wide, and the wind helping you along, young lady.

And listen to some Prince!

We are pulling for you, Lizzy.

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:19 pm

Seattle: It's High Time We Chilled Out

By Duff McKagan Thu., Sep. 22 2011

Back in the day, Seattle was a place that bands loved to play. Bands that made it all the way up to our isolated corner of the country in the '70s and '80s were met with unbridled crowds that didn't give a hoot what anyone else thought about what they were doing. Seattle had yet to receive the memo that you were supposed to try and be cool at concerts. We were physically so far removed from the rest of the country that we just developed our own thing. This is the sensibility and sentiment that our now-beloved rock bands Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Tad, the Melvins, Pearl Jam/Mother Love Bone, the Fastbacks, P.U.S.A., and Nirvana all were born and bred from.

Along the way, though, and after many of these bands went on to stardom, Seattle audiences and artists--and I belong to both groups--lost their way. WE believed the hype, and WE started to look around to see what the other guy was wearing, thinking, saying. We stopped thinking for ourselves. We became precious.

When the Experience Music Project's Andrew McKeag called me in early August to see if my band, Loaded, would play a song off of Nirvana's Nevermind for their 20th-anniversary shindig featuring a whole swath of local talent, my reaction wasn't positive. I didn't want to fail and soil the weight of what the record has become. But I relented, and we agreed to play the hit "Lithium."

As the show approached, I heard rumblings from some of the other artists wondering insecurely, "What would Kurt say?" I admit I bought into the anxiety a bit, and let some of this pressure sit squarely on my back.

In the early '90s, Nirvana--perhaps kicking and screaming--became the poster kids for change, and not just musical. In fact, a recent Rolling Stone article stated that Nevermind changed the world in an economic and political way. When we talk about Nevermind, we're rarely talking about rock and roll anymore.

Don't get me wrong. Nevermind, from beginning to end, is one of those great records that should be remembered always and forever. But when we start talking about a music's legacy as a lever for things like political and social change, too often writers like myself begin to interject our will into the experience. We forget that we're talking about rock and roll, something that's always been meant to get us out of our everyday head space, and a lever to have a good time.

There was a tension at EMP on Tuesday. A tension caused by what I believe to be a collective fear of "Is this the right thing to do?" I could see it in the artists' faces backstage. I could see it in the audience's faces when I came out sidestage. I saw it in my own face when I looked in the mirror. The only guy who seemed totally at ease, and full of grace and calm, was Krist Novoselic, Nirvana's stalwart bassist and a special guest on the night's bill.

I literally forgot the words to "Lithium" right as my band went onstage. Yes. I was freaked out. But I saw Krist sending a big smile from the side of the stage. It gave me the confidence to ask the crowd to help me sing. They did. I think that is all that was needed, too. The audience sang the whole damn song, and thankfully, very loudly. Suddenly, it seemed like old-school Seattle again.

Later in the evening, Krist joined the Presidents for "On a Plain" and "Sliver," and it was completely evident that our collective anxieties were misplaced. The night was meant to be, and it WAS OK to celebrate Nevermind without fuss, naysayers be damned.

Maybe now Seattle can get back to being weird and different and fun again. That'd be really cool.

P.S. I'd be remiss not to note that our man John Roderick added some serious elegance to the night with The Long Winters' version of "Something in the Way." Nice work, John.

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:23 pm

Thanks, Guys. See You on the Road (and on Dr. Phil!)

By Duff McKagan Thu., Sep. 29 2011

Well, guys, your trusted scribe is heading out for his first-ever book tour (see all my the dates here)--not only here in the U.S., but also in the UK and Ireland. You are left in the trusty hands of, well, my book.

Seattle Weekly will be running selected excerpts from It's So Easy (And Other Lies), for the next 4 weeks as I travel.

Before I check out of here for that time, let me just thank you all for hanging out here while I have tried (and sometimes failed) at this art of writing. I'm proud of the community that we have built here, and look forward always to your comments. They have made me a better writer. They have made and sometimes forced conversation. They have enlightened. Those are all very good things indeed.

If some of you want to come hang out, I will be in New York next week. Come down to the Strand book store in Manhattan, or Bookends in Long Island, or the Book Revue in Huntington. You may just find me combing through the first-edition section . . . or trying to find Suttree in hard cover.

Or next weekend, if you are in Southern California, try the Costa Mesa and/or Santa Monica Barnes & Noble, or Book Soup up on Sunset Blvd. If you can't find me at the signing table, tell them to look for me in the crossword book section. More directly, at the section where New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz has his selections.

I will be doing plenty of interviews too. So if Dr. Phil or the O.C. Weekly or the Miami Herald is more your speed, check me out there. I'd tell you what I spoke with Dr. Phil about, but I signed a waiver promising that I would not do just that. He is on to us here.

If you are in Minneapolis, and are a frequenter of the Mall of America's Barnes & Noble, we can get together and shop for some Husker Du at the record shop.

If you like Seattle as much as I do, come to Third Place Books in the north end.

Or come to the University Bookstore, where I grew up.

Or the Seattle University-sponsored Elliot Bay Bookstore event--and see where I did my book-learnin'.

Or come out to the Neptune on October 20 and listen to me flubber through a reading of selected passages--as Jeff Rouse, Jeff Fielder, Paul Hutzler, and myself guide you through a musical "then and now" of the bands I have been in.

Yo, Portland! Loaded had an amazing time playing down there a few weeks ago, and I am psyched to be doing a book-stop at the lofty Powell's. Acres of well-chosen books. Maybe I can find a seafaring or polar-exploration book that I haven't read yet.

In La Jolla, California, I am honored to be signing at the great and prestigious independent Warwick's. I do believe that I will be on the local news that morning . . . interviewed by none other than my very own wife, one Susan Holmes McKagan.

Oh, and if you see a pair of fairly beautiful young girls out there, that'd most likely be my two daughters, Grace and Mae.

If you come from the other side of the pond, try me at WH Smith in Glasgow, or Waterstones in London, or the HMV's in Belfast and Leicester. Those won't be until the first week of November, but still . . . At least over there, perhaps the wait will be paid off doubly, as Loaded has been invited to play some gigs along that book-tour route.

It is possible that over the coming weeks I'll be asked a bunch about GN'R being nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What an honor it is, and I will probably be short for words. None of that has really hit me yet. I mean . . . uh, what would YOU say, besides . . . THANK YOU.

So indeed. Thank you all.

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:30 pm

Duff McKagan: I Was Born in Seattle. Guns N' Roses Became a Band on a Tour Back Home

By Duff McKagan Wed., Oct. 5 2011

The following is an excerpt from Duff McKagan's memoir, It's So Easy: And Other Lies, out now via Simon & Schuster. McKagan reads at the University Bookstore at 7 p.m. Wed., Oct. 19; Lake Forest Park's Third Place Books at 7 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 20; and at Seattle University at 7:30 p.m. Fri., Oct. 21. He performs at the Neptune at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 20.

On Thursday, June 6, 1985, we played our first live show with the Appetite for Destruction lineup. The bill at the Troubadour in West Hollywood included Fineline, Mistreater, and, at the very bottom, Guns N' Roses. Slash's high school friend Marc Canter--he turned out to be part of the family that ran Canter's Deli--came and shot pictures. He made prints of each of us the next day so we'd have head shots to put up in the places we played on our tour. That was Friday.

On Saturday, June 8, Izzy Stradlin, Axl Rose, Slash, Steven Adler, and I got together to set out for Seattle, a happy bunch of malcontents about to hit the road in search of rock-and-roll glory, ready to live by our wits in order to prove ourselves and our musical vision--or not. At the very least we thought we had real musical chemistry. That much was obvious even before the tour started.

A friend of ours named Danny had a huge Buick LeSabre with a powerful 455 big-block V-8 engine and a trailer hitch. Seven of us crammed into the car that Saturday afternoon: the five of us in the band, plus Danny and another friend, Joe-Joe, who had signed up to serve as roadies. These guys would go to the mat for us, really solid friends, and we were glad they, too, had not blinked an eye in the face of the uncertainties of a no-budget road trip. We rented a U-Haul trailer to carry our gear behind the LeSabre. Our plan was to drive straight through to Seattle--it would take something like twenty-one hours--and arrive there at some point on Sunday. My buddy Donner was going to let us crash at his house the first few nights before our show that Wednesday.

As we rose up out of the "Grapevine," a writhing section of Interstate 5 just south of Bakersfield, California, the car started to hiccup and cough and rebel against the weight it had to shoulder in the blazing late-afternoon heat of the San Joaquin Valley. By the time we passed Bakersfield, a mere 105 miles out of L.A., Danny's car up and died. A passing motorist stopped and tried to help, but the best he could do for us was to go to the next gas station and call AAA. The hope of grilling burgers the next evening in Donner's backyard quickly faded with the realization that Danny's car was going nowhere at all until it had some major work.

We were broke, hungry, and sweltering, hunkered down on the side of the highway. Dusk slowly descended but the heat didn't break. When the tow truck showed up, the mechanic was a bit put off to find a whole gang of sweaty, skinny rock guys who wanted to ride in his truck. We ended up walking to the next off-ramp, where there was a truck stop and gas station.

At that point, removed from the whizzing cars, we took stock of the situation. It was the middle of the night. We had thirty-seven dollars between us. If we went back to L.A., we would obviously not be doing this tour. That was not an option, regardless of our current dilemma. We decided that the five of us--along with three guitars--should hitchhike, continuing north while Danny and Joe tried to get the car fixed. They could then catch up, uniting us with our gear either along the way or in Seattle.

I called Kim Warnick of the Fastbacks from the gas station. Our first gig in Seattle was opening for them. I began to explain the situation. Actually I had to go back further and fill her in on the lineup change that had taken place since I set up the show.

"So Izzy, Axl, and I convinced Slash--"

"Izzy, Axl, Slash--and Duff," she said. "What kind of names are those?"

"Well, there is a guy named Steven."

She said it would be no problem for us to use the Fastbacks' gear if Danny wasn't able to get up there in time. Okay, that part was taken care of and now it was time to find a ride, someone willing to transport five guys and their guitars--a tall order for sure.

We knew it was going to be tough to hitchhike in such a big group. To make clear the magnitude of the task at hand, I should add that even though I was in my full-length leather pimp coat, I was not the most menacing- looking among us. Even someone who'd be willing to stop for one bedraggled rocker would never take us all. So we decided to try to catch a ride with a northbound trucker. Truckers had those big empty sleeper cabs and would surely love to have some company, right? Someone to talk to on that long and lonely stretch of I-5 that runs up through California's agricultural outback.

We approached several truck drivers and finally found one willing to give us a lift as far as Medford, Oregon, in exchange for our pooled cash. That was his end destination, and for us it was six hundred miles closer to our first out-of-town gig. It was a win for both parties: he would get thirty-seven bucks and we would be heading north at highway speeds.

It was obvious right from the start that this particular trucker was a speed-freak, and that our thirty-seven dollars would be used to supplement his habit. He had probably already been up for a few days, and riding with him in that state in a huge semi truck was a risky endeavor. Fuck it. We were on a mission. Do or die, we were going to make it to Seattle.

I was hoping Kim would spread the word in Seattle that we had broken down and were on the road without a car. Maybe someone would be willing to come down to Portland to pick us up if we made it that far on our own. For now, we piled into the eighteen-wheeler, guitars and all. The other four guys climbed into the sleeper cab. It was tight. I rode shotgun in the passenger seat up front.

The guy couldn't believe our story.

"Let me get this straight," he said. "You guys are fucking hitchhiking to a gig--a thousand miles away?"

"Yep," I said.

"And you don't have any equipment--or even any food?"

"Well, yeah, but our equipment . . . "

"I don't mean to sound like a prick, but, I mean, can't you play anywhere in Los Angeles?"

I tried to explain the swashbuckling magic of playing to strangers, in strange places, us-against-them, us-against-the-world . . . winning over listeners a few at a time.

He shrugged.

The drug-induced sleep deprivation started to take its toll on our driver about two hundred miles into the drive. By the time we hit Sacramento in the morning, he said he needed to rest his eyes and clear his head of the speed demons. It was okay with me. I had been talking with the dude for this first part of the ride and noticed that he kept looking into his sideview mirrors and sort of jumping around in his seat. This kind of stuff happens when you don't sleep for several days. I had a little bit of experience with speed from my teenage years, enough to know what was happening to the driver.

Sacramento sits at the top of the arid central California valley--the area became a center of agriculture only with the aid of intense irrigation. When it's hot in the valley, Sacramento always has the highest temperatures. Our venture into the valley coincided with an absolutely scorching heat wave. Now, for some reason, the driver stopped in front of the state capitol building.

"All right, boys, I'm going to need you to hop out here." We didn't know what to say, and were in no position to argue anyway. "I've got to take care of something," said the driver. "But I'll be back for you, don't worry." Yeah, right. I was convinced our driver had just tricked us and left us behind. I'm sure the rest of the guys shared the same suspicion. We were left sitting on the curb.

No one said a word. No one even made a face, sighed, or raised an eyebrow.

As we sat there in front of the capitol, wilting in the heat, exposed to the intense sun, it became clear: as of this moment, Guns N' Roses was no longer a band, but the band--our band. These are my fucking boys-- they're willing to fight through anything. I already knew this trip had set a new benchmark for what we were capable of, what we could and would put ourselves through to achieve our goals as a band. This band became a brotherhood under that oppressive Sacramento sun. Fuck yeah!

Then, as I sat there silently rhapsodizing about my friends and our collective determination, the eighteen-wheeler suddenly pulled up and the driver nodded.

"Let's roll, boys," he said. He had actually come back to pick us up. Unbelievable. "You have a fucking show to get to!" he said. I hopped back in the passenger seat. He was cranked out of his mind.

He must have dropped us off to go score some more speed, and to this day I have no idea how, in that state, he remembered to come back for us. That afternoon, just after Redding, I cautiously suggested we pull over at the next rest stop and take a break. I could see it was getting even more dangerous being in a huge moving vehicle with him. He had huge black circles under his eyes and he was sweating profusely. By some miracle, he agreed--and he actually slept there for a few hours while we just hung out nearby, trying to be as quiet as possible. We had no money for booze or food. I'm not sure what Izzy had with him, but he wasn't showing any signs of withdrawal yet. After the driver came to, he took us the final hundred and fifty miles up to Medford. "I'm actually sorry I can't take you any farther," he said. "Shit, I might even try to make it up there myself on Wednesday for your show."

It was now Sunday evening. We found a pay phone to check in with our contact person in L.A., who Danny was supposed to call with an update on the broken-down car. Danny hadn't been able to get the car fixed yet. The replacement part would have to be shipped down to Bakersfield from San Francisco on a business day.

With no money left, our only hope now was to straight-up hitchhike on the side of the freeway. From a less determined perspective, it would have seemed a hopeless long shot that anyone would pick up five fucked-up-looking guys with their guitars--if anyone even had enough space. But we didn't see it that way at all then. We just had no alternative.

After only about forty-five minutes, a Mexican farmworker in a Datsun compact pickup pulled over to give us a ride. In broken English, he made us understand that he was going only as far as Eugene, Oregon, but that we were welcome to pile into the back. After only a few miles, it became painfully obvious to us that this ride would not last. The little pickup couldn't bear the weight; the wheel wells kept pressing down on the back tires and began to take rubber right off of them. Our victorious feeling from just moments earlier sank as the man pulled over to drop us off. I will never forget how apologetic he was. I hope to this day he realized how grateful we were to him for at least trying to help us.

Back on the side of the road, we started to walk while we thumbed. I knew how far it was to the next town because I had driven back and forth from Seattle to San Francisco more than a few times on tours; it was too far to walk, that's for sure. But as driven as we were at that point, we thought at least we would be making headway. So we walked.

Eventually we found ourselves in the middle of an onion field. When you're hungry and don't know where and when your next meal is coming, you can eat almost anything. Those were the best damn onions I've ever eaten. At that moment they tasted as sweet as apples.

After a few more hours of walking, I was only slightly aware of the passing cars. No one was going to pick us up, I thought to myself. My hope was that maybe we would come to a farmhouse with a phone and I could call Donner or Kim up in Seattle. Maybe someone would be able to come get us.

By morning, I was so fucking hungry and thirsty. We all were. Just then, a full-size pickup swerved to the side of the road and stopped in front of us. Two women in their mid-thirties told us to get in the back. They were sorry, they said, and explained they had passed us without picking us up when they first saw us. They were scared. But then they had talked about the way they, too, had been passed so many times on the roadside as hippies back in the early 1970s; they scolded each other, turned around at the next exit, and came back for us.

They asked us if we were hungry. We were. They asked us if we were thirsty. We were. They asked us if we were broke. We were. They pulled over at the next gas station, bought us sandwiches and beer, and told us they could take us all the way up to Portland. Almost three hundred miles! These women were like angels sent from heaven. Food and drink never tasted so fucking good. Friendship from strangers couldn't have come at a better time.

I tried Donner's number from a pay phone at the gas station and he actually answered.

"Dude, here's the deal. We broke down in Bakersfield and we've been hitchhiking for a day and a half. We're in Medford now and some girls are going to drive us as far as Portland. We'll be there early this afternoon."

Donner grew pot. He had grow operations going in a couple of unused buildings. He always had dough. And he had already met some of the other members of the band--Donner had visited me in L.A.

I asked him, "Can you help us out somehow?"

So we started talking: could he arrange bus tickets maybe? Then he blurted out, "Fuck that, I'll pick you up. We're going to have a party at my house tonight, we'll have a feast, there'll be girls, it's going to be a Seattle welcome."

We made it to Portland on Monday afternoon, and Donner was there. By the time we arrived in Seattle, it seemed everyone I knew had apparently heard of our trials. They welcomed us with open arms, open liquor bottles, and open drug stashes. People in Seattle knew me as a drinker--they knew that as a result of my panic attacks I was not into drugs back then. For this reason, I guess, nobody offered anything hard. I think Izzy was a bit disappointed by this, and by then perhaps a tad sick from withdrawal.

Donner had, however, baked a batch of pot brownies. I think they were intended for people who would be coming over to the party later that night--people familiar with the potency of local weed.

Izzy just needed to catch a buzz off something, and I guess he thought pot brownies would be a lightweight short-term fix. Axl followed suit so Izzy wouldn't be alone.

"This shit is strong," Donner warned them. They ignored him.

In the 1980s, Seattle led the nation in the fine art of hydroponic pot growing. I'm not sure why the city excelled at it so, but the weed up there was getting potent. Really potent. Around 1982, a new strain of weed was developed for the basement water growers--the luckiest and most deep-pocketed started to cultivate what would be known as "a-strain" and later as "chronic." Up in the Northwest, we knew the strength of this shit, and also knew it was nothing to trifle with. It was like a mix between a strong muscle relaxer and LSD. Until you knew what was right for you, the best thing to do was to take just the tiniest puff and see where that got you; you had to build up a sort of tolerance.

Next thing I knew, Axl and Izzy went and curled up on Donner's couch with wide, scared eyes. I went over to make sure they were all right.

"What the fuck did they put in these brownies?" Izzy asked me. Nothing, I assured them, it was just very strong weed. "No way, man," he said. "I think there's acid in here." They were completely paranoid. I told them not to worry. I felt horrible. I was hyper- sensitive to what my new bandmates were experiencing that first day in Seattle. They were a curiosity to my friends, that's for sure. But we were all dead tired and hungry, and I wanted to make sure that Axl, Izzy, Slash, and Steven were well taken care of. I was proud of my city and my friends and wanted to cast them in the best light. It took Izzy and Axl hours and hours and a lot of beers to come down off of their first a-strain high. Fortunately, by the time the party started to get into full swing, they were returning to earth. But to this day, I am sure, they still think they were dosed with something.

Donner threw a barn-burner that night: barbecue, beer, girls. Life was suddenly really, really good.

Danny, Joe-Joe, and our gear still hadn't arrived when we played the show on Wednesday night at Gorilla Gardens. We were sloppy on borrowed gear, though on the plus side only about a dozen people were subjected to our set. Kurt Bloch of the Fastbacks is always nice, and made a point of telling all the guys we had played great. We knew we were better than the actual gig--or at least we now knew we would be. The important thing for us was that we had made it there at all. Together.

After the Fastbacks set, we helped pack up their gear then hung out for a while with the crowd at the club--which was pretty much just old friends of mine at that point. Hanging out, of course, meant drinking, and drinking heavily.

One of the people I was most glad to see was Big Jim Norris. He was a tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks who had finally found a comfort zone in our little Seattle punk-rock scene. Jim had always had his struggles with drugs and drink, but he was one of those guys who had the spirit of life in his eyes. Jim was a leader. And when I left for Los Angeles, he made it a point to keep in touch. Once I got my apartment, he sent me letters, and we talked on the phone when we could afford to. Our friendship had actually deepened since I left.

Finally, as the place cleared out, the members of Guns went back to the club owner's office to pick up our gig money, no doubt looking like a pack of hungry wolves. When I had booked the show, I somehow managed to finagle a $200 guarantee out of the venue. Of course, I hadn't gotten a contract--not for this show or for any of the others. But then again, I'd never gotten a contract. Back in the day, punk shows were always handshake deals--and often the handshake part was just implicit because you had to come to terms over the phone. Our plan now was to wire this first $200 to Danny and Joe-Joe the next day and continue the tour.

English was not the owner's first language, but he quickly made it clear that he wasn't going to pay us.

We were stunned. I tried to reason with the guy. Then I played the sympathy card, telling him of our plight and our long journey, of the sunburn and hunger, of onion fields and tweaking truckers. But the club owner didn't give a shit.

"You not bring any people to show," he said. "How I pay when I no have money from ticket?"

We made vague--and then probably more explicit--threats of violence. He held the office phone in his hand ready to speed-dial the police, and made sure we understood this.

Eventually we left his office and went back into what was now a deserted club.

"Fuck that asshole," said Axl. "We went through HELL to get here and play this show. And he treats us like scum?"

Suddenly there was just one thought in my head. It was the only solution I could see. The only way to get justice.

"Let's burn this fucking place down!"

The members of the band looked around the empty club and at one another. There were no objections.

"Let's burn it the fuck down," I said again.

Axl and I threw matches into a garbage can full of paper toweling, and we all hauled ass outside.

Nothing happened.

We had failed as arsonists, but the mere attempt was enough to exorcise our ill will for the night. And it may have saved us a stint in the slammer.

After running out of Gorilla Gardens, we went out to see a local band called Soundgarden. The initial rumblings of what would become the Seattle sound were just starting to happen then. Buzzing on our newly solidified camaraderie--and plenty of booze--we stormed the stage when they were done and asked to play a few songs on their gear. They looked at us blankly and explained in the nerdy kind of way a kid on a playground might respond to a request to share his toys, "Um, no, that's our gear."

It didn't matter. Nothing could bring us down that night: we had played an out-of-town show.

The next day we found out we had also played our last out-of-town show for a while. Danny and Joe-Joe weren't going to make it. That didn't matter either. The shake-out tour had already accomplished everything I had hoped and more.

One of Donner's friends drove us all the way back to L.A. a few days later, and we arrived home a genuine band--a gang with the shared experience of a road trip gone wrong, an out-of-town gig, and the knowledge that we were all fully committed to Guns N' Roses.
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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:34 pm

Dancing Dogs Always Steal the Show

By Duff McKagan Thu., Oct. 27 2011

Here in the U.S., every city large and small seems to have their own wacky morning news show. You know the ones. They have news and traffic and weather, sure. But there are also a lot of diet tips, fashion-accessory secrets, or some dumb-ass author coming through town flapping his gums about "my book, my book." They are fun to watch if you are caffeinated. If you are not "on coffee," though, you may end up feeling a bit confused and overwhelmed.

And yes, I DID do that book tour, and it was ME suddenly who was that guy on the morning news show. It was fun for sure, but I experienced a different world there on those chaotic live-TV, just-post-dawn shows.

I'm the sort of guy who doesn't really want to know what and where I am going if there is a lot of work to do. I just prefer to stay in the moment, and do the work that is in front of me. In the case of doing promotion, I believe this approach lends itself to fresher and more genuine interviews.

And it was in this approach that I suddenly found myself live on CNN's Wake Up Call with Ali Velshi. Again, it was live. There I was, with only maybe a quad latte inside of me, and there was Ali, that real famous dude on the news . . . and he was FULLY on 10. Actually 10+++. I remember a red light on the camera being illuminated, and that was about it.

Lesson learned. I would drink more coffee before I left my hotel on the mornings after that one. But that was still not enough.

The next morning, I was on a FOX affiliate's morning show in New York, but this time I drank TWO four-shot lattes. No one was going to get one over on me. I was pumped and alert and ultra-sharp.

But the anchor just wasted me, as far as energy level went. He was firing question after question, and before I knew it the interview was over. I asked that anchor what his deal was, as in: "Dude! How are you SO awake?" He told me that he gets up for work at 3:30 a.m. "Oh," I replied.

So that was it, huh? All right. Got it now.

My next morning show was in Minneapolis. I decided to get up at 4 a.m. so that by the time my 7 a.m. slot came, I would already be caffeinated AND gone to the gym. I was HYPED when I arrived on set. But it was a Sunday show. Really mellow and low-key and nice and Minnesota-ish.

I think people may have gotten the wrong message when I came storming on to that show. Like, maybe I had still been up from the night before.

In Seattle, our morning shows are a little bit kinder and smarter and gentler, and with full disclosure being my mission statement, my wife and I watch the Q13 show when in town . . . every morning. The crew on that show just gently caresses you into a new day.

But being a guest on these shows can be a challenge. You don't have the time to be righteous or poignant. One MUST be FULLY caffeinated too, or else suffer the consequence of being waylaid by a whole crew of impossibly up people, with a million questions that often go a million different directions. Example:

Q: SO, we are so happy to have you here. Are you in town for a while?

A: Nice being here. No, unfortunately I am just in town for the day.

Q: How many women have you slept with?

A: What?

Q: Your wife is so beautiful. You are a lucky guy. How did you guys meet?

A: Well, uh . . . jeez . . . uh, OK. We met on a blind date, and, uh . . .

Q: How much cocaine did you do?!

Also, in the green rooms of these shows, you are kind of given a preview of who else is on the show, because those people or animals are also in that green room with you.

Yes. I said animals.

I'm a big fan of Margaret Larson on KING 5's New Day Seattle, and I was naturally excited to find that I was invited onto the show to have a conversation with her about my book. It is the closest thing to the old-school variety shows we used to have back in the '70s. She often has live music too, along with the guests.

To my pleasure and surprise, Reverb's own John Roderick just happened to be the musical guest for that day's show. But then the dogs showed up . . .

OK, I am a big-time dog guy. But as a rock guy too, you just never want to be on the same bill as an animal (or, in Spinal Tap's case, puppets). But there John and I were, sharing a dressing room with two "dancing" dogs.

We watched as these dogs and their trainers practiced their tricks. You know . . . back up, standing on their hind legs, roll over, bark on command, etc.

John was warming up on his guitar, I was warming up my genius intellect; both of us smug in our being the kings of Seattle . . . when one of the dogs took a poop. Oh yeah, dogs do that. It kinda brings a guy and his "genius intellect" right back down to earth.

By the way, those dogs didn't really "dance," they just did their tricks to music. OK? They weren't as good as me and John. Even though I liked them better than us . . . because I really love dogs. OK, maybe they WERE better than me and John.

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:37 pm

The Secret to Getting the Singer Gig With Velvet Revolver (Or Any Band, For That Matter)

By Duff McKagan Thu., Nov. 3 2011

At this moment in time, I am absolutely balls to the wall, with touring with Loaded, as well as doing a book tour over here in the UK.

Typical day: Wake up in bus on ferry being tossed violently in Irish Sea. Get out of bunk to find that the bus power is off. That means? No coffee. No internet. No light, and NO going above decks as the door going upstairs are locked during the voyage.
Arrive at dock in Belfast, where car from U.K. publishing company is waiting to take me to HMV store for book signing (still no coffee). LOTS of people there. I get coffee.

Then to sound check, where we run through stuff that needs a running through. Eat. Can't forget to do THAT!

Call home.

Play rock show, and do meet and great type of thingy afterwards. Go to sleep.

Repeat all of this for next 9 straight days.

Day off (well, this "day off," actually turned into a flight to Santiago, Chile from London).

Repeat above steps for following 10 days.

Day off (THIS "day off' is a flight back to Germany from Sau Paulo, Brazil)

Tour with Motorhead in Germany for remainder of November.

My point to all of this is that, well, I get a lot of questions from singers wanting to know how to get the singer gig in my other band, Velvet Revolver, and I wanted all the aspiring frontmen and women to know how glamorous it is out here. Speaking of questions. I think I'll answer this one directly.

Hey, Duff.
How can an unknown (me) orchestrate the "chance of a lifetime" opportunity to tryout for VR?
Cheers,
Lee


Hi, Lee:

We don't actually play "orchestra" music in Velvet Revolver. It is classified in the "rock n' roll" genre. But that is a good idea. Maybe if we played orchestra music and the like, we wouldn't have to find a singer, eh?

Of course, I am just fuckin' with ya. Send an MP3 to Rick Canny at Sanctuary Music Management. Be resourceful, mate: if you can't find his email address, then maybe you should re-consider trying to join our group. We'd never let you hear the end of THAT!

Duff

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:38 pm

Herman Cain Sucks. Here's the Real 9-9-9: 9 Nights, 9 Shows, 9 Chances to Melt Faces in the UK

By Duff McKagan Thu., Nov. 10 2011

Since last week's rather spasmodic entry that entailed me trying to be funny and cute with the written word whilst bouncing around the Irish Sea locked in a tour bus with no power, my band Loaded just concluded the first part of this month-long odyssey. We played nine nights in a row in a brutal tour of Britain and Ireland.

Not in my boundless-energy punk-rock band days, or in any other band since, have I ever tried doing nine nights back-to-back. AND the only reason a band like ours can even attempt this now is that our buffoonish antics offset the strenuous and often tension-filled profession that is playing in a touring rock band. It is hard fucking work.

Plus, on the tour bus, we have supplanted cocaine, late nights, binge drinking, and shacking up with some strange man . . . er . . . woman, with the more intellectual hobbies of reading books (I've got The Invisible Bridge, and the guys are all reading MY book . . . of course!), crossword puzzles, and watching our lead guitarist, Mike Squires, play Scrabble on Facebook.

Sitting here at London's Heathrow airport, about to fly to South America for another run of shows, has given me time to reflect a bit on the mad dash that has comprised my life since Halloween.

Day 1: Fly from LAX to Heathrow, grab my bag and guitars, and drive four hours to York. Do sound check, drink massive amounts of energy drinks, stroll the "Shambles" (the medieval part of York), and play a rock show. The gig was at a place called Fibbers, one of those low-ceiling clubs you wish every rock venue was like. Loud, sweaty, and ferocious!

Day 2: Wake up in Glasgow and head over to a bookstore to do my first signing in the UK. Thing is, they had only 30 books, and 350 people showed up. I e-mailed the publisher to convey my disappointment. They are embarrassed. Fortunately, the show in Glasgow was especially fierce.

Day 3: Get on a ferry and go straight to a book-signing in town, do some interviews, and then play Belfast's Spring and Airbrake. We've been here before, and now we even know a few people in town. We get some sleep on the bus in front of the club, and wake up and do a national Irish radio show, live to the whole isle, before driving to Dublin (about the same distance as from Tacoma to Seattle).

Day 4: Do another radio show, do another book signing, and play a rock show where the whole crowd at The Academy seemed to sing every lyric to every song . . . in unison. Magical. Back to the ferry.

Day 5: Wake up in Wrexham, Wales. Go get stuff from a drug store (like toiletries and such). Bassist Jeff Rouse and I notice that there are an inordinate number of young girls pushing baby carriages. We then find out that Wrexham is the teenage-pregnancy capital of the UK. Ah . . . Later I introduce "Sleaze Factory" (a song about fucking . . . er, sex) as a dedication to Wrexham's youth. Afterward, we hop the bus and I get into a fight with Squires.

Day 6: Wake up in Oxford. Make up with Squires and head off to find a gym. The gym I find is the Oxford University Fitness Club, and I find myself seeing Rob Lowe out of the corner of my eyes time and time again. When we play Oxford Academy that night, we find out that it is Bonfire Night, but still con ourselves into believing that all of the town's fireworks are Oxford's way of welcoming Loaded. Back on the bus.

Day 7: Wake up in Leicester, go to book signing. Work out at Leicester University gym, and rock like crazy. My wife showed up in London, so I take a car to London after the show and proceed to have "fancy time" with the Mrs. McKagan.

Day 8: Drive up to Bristol and play the famous Fleece club. It was absolutely packed--this crowd had seen the YouTube of the Dublin show and wanted to outdo their Irish neighbors. It made for a great show. I drive back to London. More "fancy time."

Day 9: London show. I always get nervous for these big-city shows. My back was hurting, so I got myself a massage. The therapist asks me what I do for a living as she is digging into my muscles. She says that she has never felt a body so badly torn up. Whatever. We play London, and it fuckin' KILLS.

Throughout all of this tour, members from our UK "Seattlehead" fan fellowship show up. Most of these people write into this very column . . . and it is always an honor to have some of these people around. They help us get through tours!

Day 10: Go to the Classic Rock Awards and see Jeff Beck and Chrissie Hynde play "Stand by You." Incredible!

Ah, so I hear my flight number being called. Stay tuned for another installment of "Journals of the Jubilant but Often Jet-Lagged Journo."

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:40 pm

Touring South America Has Evolved Considerably, But the Fans Are Still Incredible

By Duff McKagan Thu., Nov. 17 2011

​When I left you all last week, I was just boarding a plane that would become a series of flights that would eventually land me in Santiago, Chile from London, England.

I actually found the 13-hour flight from Madrid to Santiago to be the first real rest I'd had in two weeks. I slept for a little over nine of those hours. I woke up refreshed as the plane was descending into Chile. It didn't hurt that I woke up knowing that I was just a few hours from riding rented Harley-Davidson motorcycles with my good friend Sean Kinney (of Alice in Chains). Our bands would be playing together for the following few days, and had made plans before I left the UK to do something on that day off in Santiago.

Being as it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, Sean and I decided to pick up our Seattle summertime where we left it off: riding motorcycles.

Traffic in Santiago is no joke. Drivers -- especially bus drivers -- have their own view of how fast or slow to go or when to change lanes. It is controlled chaos at best, and being on a motorcycle in that circus will get one's attention. But as we escaped the city and got up into the mountains, it became quite clear just how beautiful this city and the area is. It was a good, good day to be alive.

Alice in Chains hadn't been to South America once since their initial visit in 1993, when they toured with Nirvana. Sean's memory of the hecticness of the environs seemed to be clouded by that time. Yes. Memory can fuck with a person, and blare false warnings of a place or situation. Sean was nervous about coming back down. I get it. Been there too.

Back in the 1980s, when I first started touring in rock bands, playing gigs in South America was just way too exotic, and really an unproven and sketchy place to try and book gigs. Did they have gear there? Were venues safe from collapse at 120 decibels? And what about political stability and police corruption filtering over to us rock bands?

Queen was really the first major rock band to bust out and tour down in Brazil and Argentina, and they became a beloved entity BECAUSE they went all the way down there. I could only imagine the stories that the surviving guys in that band have to tell about those first times in South America.

I've written about the first time I went to Rio de Janeiro with GN'R (the very first Rock in Rio). It was such a far-removed locale to go to, and none of us even had the slightest idea of how far or near Rio was to Los Angeles. It seemed like kind of a straight shot down the coast . . . "Maybe a six-hour plane flight," I remember somehow thinking back then.

Only 20 years later, long-distance plane travel has become something most of us have done at least once. And also, with the Internet Age, the world is a lot smaller than it was back then.

Brazilian, Argentine, and Chilean fans . . . and South and Central American fans in general, had been starved of live rock music. When a band did finally show up, they would experience what we now call Beatlemania: the locals down there would just lose their shit, and often run headlong at the band's van, bus, car, or whatever. (If you've seen the Ramones documentary, where they are in a van from the Sao Paulo airport . . . scared to death . . . then you would get the idea).

But it is all different. A lot of rock bands come here now, and as I found myself on a plane with the members of Faith No More, Alice in Chains, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Megadeth, and Down, traveling all together from Santiago to Sao Paulo, it dawned on me that now EVERYBODY is coming down here to play shows.

And the audience has matured as well. Where it was once a sort of Beatlemania (as I stated above), the fan base in general is now simply smart, loyal, and passionate. Loyalty and passion are big attributes down here.

Festivals are a big deal in South America, too. The SWU Festival in Sao Paulo even had a theme of self-sustainability (Starts With U), and the crowd and vendors did all they could possibly do to adhere to a sort of clean-energy program. Self-sustainability seems even more weighty in Brazil, as we are all aware of what is going on with the rain forest in Brazil. It really seemed that there was a real energy given to the fact that these 80,000 people in attendance were doing all they could do not to leave a carbon footprint in the wake of this three-day festival.

I sit now backstage at a venue in Porto Alegre, Brazil. I am now able to go to places here that I've never been to before. This country seems to be thriving, and there is a massive air of positivity in these parts. I am glad to be along, to ride the crest of this wave, if only for a day or so, every few years. I only wish . . . my family was with me.

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:41 pm

Old Guys Rule: a Year in Review

By Duff McKagan Fri., Nov. 25 2011

It is a poignant time for me to be writing a year-in-review column. As I sit here on my tour bus in the back parking lot of Berlin's Columbiahalle, I can't help but think that after all of these years in music, playing gigs with Motorhead is still just one of those special things that re-envigorates the rock-and-roll soul and bone.

Loaded have arrived back in Europe from South America, and are about to embark on a seven-city tour of Germany with Motorhead.

Last February, when Motorhead came to Seattle just after the release of the "Lemmy" movie, I think perhaps more than a few of you were chatting quietly about "Perhaps this'll be the last time we see Motorhead" type of speculage. Whatever. All I know is that I went to that gig (feeling a bit gray, as it was the eve of my 47th birthday . . . and 47, I thought, is just a weird age). That gig at the Showbox SoDo changed my perspective on things. Lemmy, 20 years my senior, kicked everyone's ass, and was more on top of his game than five 20-year-olds could ever be.

And it has been the "old guys" all year who have been doing it for me.

Take Prince, for instance. Last May I got to see one of his 21 shows at the Los Angeles Forum, and of course it was simply magic. He has never EVER been better than he is now. I guess it goes to show that when you keep it "real" and honest and about the music, that it can and will just get better with age.

And I saw Judas Priest twice last summer. Yes, and it was ridiculous . . . in the very best of ways. I'm not sure how Rob Halford does it--screams and sings and all at the drop of a downbeat. They too--even after being forced to replace career guitarist KK Downing--are at the very top of their game. "Retirement tour" my eye.

The biggest-selling stadium and arena acts this year in rock are not some fancy indie band from Las Vegas or Wales, no. It is all about the rock, and the old guys are doing it best. To name just two, how about Foo Fighters and Metallica?

The Foo Fighters just seem to keep getting bigger. Most of the time I probably would be the last to say that bigger is necessarily better, but Dave Grohl just seems to be able to re-invest himself fully into the Foos before every record. The end result? Hipper. Cooler. Bigger. Faster. More exploratory. Funner. 'Nuff said.

Metallica pulled off the biggest tour of the year for sure with its presentation of "The Big 4"--the other three bands of course being Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. All those dudes too . . . are old dudes.

Ah, and what about our own Seattle old dudes keeping everything relevant?

Alice in Chains did arenas this year, and made a powerful record that put them back. All the way back.

Soundgarden did a whole bunch of big shows, and are suddenly now bigger than they ever were. Word on the street is that their new record will be kick-ass.

And lastly Pearl Jam, celebrating 20 years! . . . Now here is a band that just keeps re-inventing itself, and the members' musicianship just keeps getting more incredible. The movie (PJ20) was epic. The PJ20 book remains on The New York Times bestseller list. They are selling out huge places all over the world. Relevant. Cool. Hip . . . and fucking GOOD!

Being long in the tooth myself, it may be hard for me to see the forest for the trees here, but it just seems like it is the bands whose members are well into their 40s that seem to be the drivers of what is new and good in rock and roll. That's all OK with me . . . for now. We DO need some new blood.

Will it be Sweden's Graveyard?

Or what about the unholy Ghost?

Portland's Red Fang, perhaps?

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Post by Blackstar Sun Dec 12, 2021 11:58 pm

Tour's End: Saying Goodbye to Whore's Baths, Punk-Rock Laundry, and 'Graze the Peach'

By Duff McKagan Thu., Dec. 1 2011

OK, then. You have all had chance to come along on this whirlwind tour that today concludes here in Hamburg, Germany. For the past four weeks, I have tried my best to give you all an inside-ish view of what a rock tour is like.

Well, at least what a rock tour looks like if you are a band the size of Loaded. We don't get to do fancy things, like have days off. We in the band did a count the other day. In the 31 days that we have been gone, we will have been to five continents. Check it out:

-- U.S. to the UK (that's two continents)

-- Berlin to Santiago (the count is now three continents)

-- Cordoba, Argentina, to Berlin (four)

-- London back to Seattle (five, y'all)

Now there are definitely other and more sane ways to tour, for sure, but in our little Loaded world, things have to be just a bit insane for it all to make sense to us. For whatever reason, we attract the zaniest of tour scheduling.

But you all know how much of a family man I am . . . and I absolutely HATE to be away from them. In a perfect world, my wife Susan and our girls Grace and Mae (and our dumb dogs too, of course) would go on the road together. But there is this dumb thing called "school" that just plain gets in the way.

So without them being around, and just being around the same dudes 24/7, a strange phenomenon happens: We all start to act like 14-year-old boys (see my "Fart Tennis" column.) We have a game that has developed over these last couple of weeks (RIGHT after Mrs. McKagan and I parted ways in London) . . . this game has been dubbed "Graze the Peach."

It involves surprise and cunning. A quick and unknowing flick of the hand to another fella's groin region can sustain terror and "two hands on deck" at all times of the waking day. Bus bunks are off limits, and you can't Graze the Peach if someone is holding a hot beverage or computer. I've been drinking coffee and writing columns constantly as a result . . . Yes, yes. I know this just might be TMI.

I HATE Graze the Peach.

There are things that I think all of us may take for granted. Things like laundry and hot food and soap. I'm getting sick of:

-- Punk-rock laundry: Washing your clothes in a sink somewhere, with whatever sort of soap available, be it shampoo or whatever, and letting them hang dry.

-- A whore's bath: That's when you just sort of wash your face, maybe, and re-apply some deodorant.

-- Calling home.

-- Salami and cheese.

-- Trying to find an Internet connection.

These are things I will miss, however:

-- Motorhead.

Yes, touring Germany with Motorhead has been one of the most epic rock-and-roll experiences that I've ever had the pleasure to take part in. A guy just really can't say enough about Lemmy, Phil, and Mikkey. To see how they operate from day to day has been a learning experience, even for seasoned tour dudes like myself. There is just an air of professionalism out here with this band and their crew that I haven't seen being matched.

They are the kings of the road, and have been doing this harder, faster, and with more frequency than anyone. Kudos to Motorhead, and warm thanks for having us out, mates!

But in truth, I just can't wait to get home to all of my girls and dogs. I shall be on a plane as you read this. Santa Claus is right around the corner now, and the best gift I have ever gotten is the gift of having this little family of mine.

I guess, however, that I WILL have to stop acting like a 14-year-old boy. There are plenty of those starting to swarm around my daughter Grace . . .

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