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

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

Registering is free and easy.


2009.02.18 - Classix Metal - Interview with Duff

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2009.02.18 - Classix Metal - Interview with Duff Empty 2009.02.18 - Classix Metal - Interview with Duff

Post by Blackstar Sun Mar 20, 2022 6:17 pm

Many thanks to @Twinaleblood for sharing this rare gem with us!


Duff: Hello.

Twinaleblood: Hello.

Duff: Hi.

Twinaleblood: Duff, is that you?

Duff: It is.

Twinaleblood: Oh, hi. This is Tony Aramini from Classix Metal magazine in Italy. It’s a great pleasure having you to answer my questions.

Duff: Oh, great, thanks.

Twinaleblood: Well, first of all, let me say that I really enjoy your columns on Seattle Weekly. I read that every week, so…

Duff: Oh, nice!

Twinaleblood: So keep up the good work.

Duff: Okay, thanks, man! I appreciate that. I appreciate that you read them.

Twinaleblood: Well, I'm actually dating this girl next week, so we'll see if your dating tips will work.

Duff: Ah!


Duff: Yeah, wear some sexy lingerie, man. It works.


Twinaleblood: How did you get involved with that?

Duff: Um, yeah, I don't know. Life just takes strange turns and a couple of years ago the Seattle Weekly asked me to write about my experience going to Seattle University. So I wrote this thing about it, and a couple of years went by, and a new editor at Seattle Weekly was going through all of their old stuff and he asked me if I'd be interested in writing a weekly column for them. I said, “I’ll try it, sure, yeah” and I started writing. It's just something I've really come to really enjoy. I use a different part of my brain to do it and I can make fun of myself and… yeah, so it's fun. I like doing it and it's kind of rewarding. People write back and… you know?

Twinaleblood: Yeah.

Duff: People agree or disagree with me and that's great. And then from that, just recently, I was asked by Playboy to do their new financial column there.

Twinaleblood: Yes, I heard that.

Duff: Yeah. It's pretty crazy.

Twinaleblood: Okay, Duff. Let's go to the music now.

Duff: Yeah.

Twinaleblood: You have a new record deal with Century Media and it seems you have important plans for Loaded, haven't you?

Duff: Well, yeah, I think people have really gotten excited about this record, which I’m really happy about. We made a really, really inspired record last summer and last fall. You know, Loaded held an important place with me, musically, for the last ten years. It's a musical safe haven for me. It’s, you know, my really good friends that we haven't had to deal with a lot of business, so it hasn't been… it's very stress-free. And we went out and played a bunch of gigs in Europe and England and stuff last fall, and then went to Japan. And it seems like in the absence of Loaded the band has gotten bigger than it ever was when we were active. So it's a lot of fun right now. We’re getting a lot of really good press and that's always good.

Twinaleblood: Yeah. Well, I really appreciate Sick. It sometimes reminds me of another album you played on, the one you did with the Neurotic Outsiders. I mean, both records are straightforward rock ‘n’ roll with no frills and they have a sort of where I'm from doing this feeling.

Duff: Yeah, yeah. Somebody else said that, that it reminded them of Neurotic Outsiders; and that's great, because that's one of my favorite records I've been a part of.

Twinaleblood: Oh, cool to hear this.

Duff: Yeah, the Neurotic Outsiders record is great. So, I mean, if it's reminiscent of that at all, it’s killer.

Twinaleblood: Are you still in touch with Steve and John? I mean, can we expect a Neurotic Outsiders reunion show sooner or later?

Duff: Yeah, yeah, I'm in touch with Steve Jones. Yeah, man, he's the godfather, you know, he's the man.

Twinaleblood: Oh, I'd love it.

Duff: You know, he was talking about, maybe… Do you remember his band, or do you know of the band that him and Paul Cook had after the Pistols – they were called The Professionals? So it's kind of a semi-rumor, but he actually asked me if I'd play bass if they did a couple gigs, and I'd be honored, you know. I would do anything, any musical thing with Steve Jones, because he's just the greatest.

Twinaleblood: Okay. Well, overall it seems that you enjoyed going back to your Seattle-y roots. Compared to the heavy money-orientated L.A. music scene, does Seattle give musicians a better opportunity to develop, in your opinion?

Duff: I think Seattle is just a really unusual and special place, because, for some reason – you know, the more culture and arts you're involved with, I think, the higher regard you’re looked upon in Seattle. You know, at a place like L.A. it's the complete opposite, you're looked at a higher standing if you got more money, and more Gucci, and a newer car. Up there it's just a different thing and it does rain a lot, so you're inside, you're in your basement, you're in your garage playing music a lot more than you would in sunnier places, I suppose; it might just be that simple. And people talk about books and they talk about intellectual things, and people just seem to be more educated. And I think, yeah, bands that have come out of there have had a huge impact, like Alice In Chains, I think massive impact, of course Nirvana and Soundgarden and… there was just a whole sort of movement that came out of there for a while that was pretty killer. And then, you know, you go back to the days – of course, like, Hendrix is from there and… But I think there's always been good music. There's this book I read called “Q”, it's by Quincy Jones and he talks about the jazz scene. Quincy is from Seattle, too, and he talks about the jazz scene in Seattle and how hot it was in the ‘40s, and how musicians would move to Seattle from New York and L.A. and Chicago, you know. So I guess it's always had something to it.

Twinaleblood: Yeah. Well, have you ever thought about what would have happened if you hadn't moved to L.A. back in the ‘80s?

Duff: Yeah, I mean, like, when Soundgarden came out, that's probably a band – because I knew those guys before I left, those guys are, like, exactly my age and, you know, I thought, “Oh man, it maybe would have been cool to stay in Seattle and just have been in Soundgarden; that would have been killer.” You know, you always think that kind of stuff. But my path, where it led me, was amazing. Guns N’ Roses is a band we formed in the middle – before all that shit happened. You know, five guys got together, and we formed this band and believed in the music, and eventually the rest of the world did. And there was nothing like that ride; it was amazing. So my path has taken me all the way to now, to a Loaded record kind of getting back to the basics; and my path is also taking me to writing columns and God knows what's next for me – I don't know.

Twinaleblood: Okay. Well, in the last 15 years your life went through some major change. You got sober, you started a family… Did this change influence your music in any way?

Duff: I mean, I’m sure it has just in that I have learned to see things clearer. I've learned to get comfortable in my own skin, I've learned to kind of stand up and do what's righteous as much as I can. You know, if I would have kept drinking, I would have been dead, so the alternative would have been no music.

Twinaleblood: You played in 10 Minute Warning with Greg Gilmore and he was also the drummer of one of my favorite bands, Mother Love Bone. Did you ever get to know Andy Wood?

Duff: Oh yeah, I knew Andy Wood pretty well. Yeah, yeah, during Malfunkshun days before I moved down to L.A. Yeah, we were good friends and of course Greg and I were in the same band – we were in the same couple of bands, another band before 10 Minute Warning called The Living.

Twinaleblood: Okay. Well, a few words about Velvet Revolver, if you don't mind. I heard that the announcement of the name of the new singer is coming soon. Is that right?

Duff: Oh, I hope so. We haven't exactly picked the guy. I think rumors have gotten ahead of our actual thing. We’ve got it down to a few guys, that's for sure. I hate to say we've stopped looking, because maybe that… It’s a hard place to be in, man, because we want the fuckin’ – the guy’s got to be amazing, you know?  And we've got three guys that are amazing. They are amazing and we won't know until we get into the studio with them in a couple weeks if they're the right guy. So it's kind of early – too early – to tell.

Twinaleblood: Yeah. Have you ever thought about splitting the band when Scott left?

Duff: No, I don't think we ever thought of… you know, that would be a hard way to split up. You know, like, it was a bad last six months of that band. Scott was out of his mind doing drugs and stuff, and that'd be a terrible way for us to just stop. You know, because our singer started smoking crack, we were going to stop? No. So it didn't enter our minds, but we're all very strong personalities and we're not going to let something like that take us down.

Twinaleblood: Okay. Well-

Duff: If nothing else, it's probably made us stronger like, “Okay, now we got something to prove,” you know.

Twinaleblood: Okay, so we'll wait and see what happens.

Duff: We will wait and see what happens.

Twinaleblood: Yeah. Okay. Can I ask a couple of questions about Guns N’ Roses, if you don't mind?

Duff: Sure. Depends what they are, if I got an answer for them.

Twinaleblood: Well, I'd like to ask you about one Guns N’ Roses unreleased song that I really enjoy very much. I think it's one of the funniest songs ever made and it's Cornshucker.

Duff: What was the song?

Twinaleblood: Do you remember that’s… Cornshucker.

Duff: What… Oh!

Twinaleblood: “Cornshucker, a real buttfucker…”

Duff: Yeah, yeah, yeah (laughs).

Twinaleblood: (Laughs) Yeah. You wrote that, right?

Duff: Yeah, it was a joke. It was kind of one of those joke songs you sit around and write when you're drinking beer you, know? Yeah, it was just… we recorded it as a joke and I don't think we ever played it live – we may have once. But yeah, it was just kind of a… Did you ever hear this band called The Mentors?

Twinaleblood: The Mentors, yes, the Seattle band. El Duce.

Duff: El Duce, yeah, yeah. (Laughs) All of his songs were like that and I think I was listening to some Mentors song when I wrote that song.

Twinaleblood: Oh, that's cool (laughs).

Duff: Yeah.

Twinaleblood: Is there a lot of unreleased material left in the Guns N’ Roses vault?

Duff: Is there a lot of material? Um, no, I don't think so. I mean, there's probably outtakes and that kind of stuff in the studio that we have, but there's not any – I don’t think there's any unreleased material. We would release everything we recorded, you know?

Twinaleblood: Yeah, okay. Axl said in a recent interview that he wouldn't mind collaborating with you on stage. I guess already a lot of people have asked you this, but would you ever consider performing with Axl again on stage without the other original Guns N’ Roses members as Izzy did that a couple of years ago?

Duff: Yeah, you know, I'd have to be – I didn't read the article. You know, just like anything at this point in my life, if something makes sense, and it's fun, and it's for the right reasons, I would consider anything.

Twinaleblood: Yeah. Well, another question about the old times. On the so-called Hell Tour back in ’85, do you remember if after the show in Seattle did you play other gigs on the way back to L.A. or you went straight home?

Duff: No, we went… See, what happened on that tour is, we left L.A. and it's 1,200 miles to Seattle. Seattle was our first gig and we were supposed to play Seattle, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, Sacramento, San Francisco and then back to L.A. But, on the way out of L.A., our car broke down-

Twinaleblood: Yeah, I know that.

Duff: Yeah. So we didn't have our equipment. So, when we – I knew the band we were playing with in Seattle-

Twinaleblood: Yeah, the Fastbacks.

Duff: It was the Fastbacks, yeah. So we borrowed their equipment and played the Seattle gig, and our car with our equipment never caught up to us, so we couldn't play any more gigs, so we just came back to L.A.

Twinaleblood: So you went straight home. Okay. What's the hardest to play song you ever worked on?

Duff: Hardest to play song?

Twinaleblood: Yeah, in the studio.

Duff: Hmm, that's a good question.

Twinaleblood: Yeah.

Duff: Um… wow… the hardest to play song… You know, by the time we got to the studio with anything, I was so well rehearsed on anything that might have been hard. You know, there were certain, like, little flash riffs, little flourishes. And the way Slash and I play off each other, we play a lot of the same thing, like bass guitar we’d play the same little riffs, and there's some things he'll play on guitar that are really fuckin’ hard to play on bass just because the strings are so much bigger and so far apart than a guitar; on guitar it's kind of an easy riff, but on bass it's not so easy. You know, a song like Brownstone…

Twinaleblood: Yeah.

Duff: On a guitar you can play that on three strings. On bass, you can't. I would have to play that riff, that (sings) “but a little dum dum dum” – I’d play that all on one string so it’d sound even. And that's where bass gets difficult, because you have to make everything sound sort of even, so I had to play that riff all on one string and that's a tough little riff to play on one string. That's probably, maybe, the hardest thing I had to learn how to do.

Twinaleblood: Okay. Well Duff, you're a famous musician, you’ve sold lots of records, you have a great family, you are dealing with some business stuff and you have the financial column on Playboy. Is there anything else you want to try in your life? Do you have any goals you want to achieve?

Duff: Oh. Yeah, I have. I've yet to begin, my man, and I… You know what, I'd like to climb Mount Everest.

Twinaleblood: Yeah, I have read about climbing on Seattle Weekly.

Duff:  Yeah, I'd like to go to the Himalayan and climb. I'd like that to be – maybe that's my next goal when I find time. I work out a lot, so I’m in shape, so, you know, that's a whole another thing I'd like to try. I maybe would want to write a book, but I want to write it myself and it wouldn't be a tell-all book about my time with Guns N’ Roses; it would just be a a funny book about my observations on life and going through the bands. Maybe I'll write that book, I don't know. There's a lot of things-

Twinaleblood: I hope you can do it.

Duff: There’s a lot of people that I haven't met. You know, I am 45, but I look at it like I'm only 45. I got a lot of life left to live.

Twinaleblood: And that's very cool to hear.

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