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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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2013.MM.DD - Seattle Weekly - Reverb (Duff's column)

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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:12 pm

New Year, New Books, New Rock

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jan. 3 2013

Yep. Here we go again into another new year. 2013 will undoubtedly have the same types of ups and downs as every year: politics, births, deaths, crime, celebration, war, recession, and economic upturn, mega-mergers, and downsizing.

The only real thing that changes that we can look forward to without any real collateral damage is our arts and culture. So, here is a list for discussion of some artistic events that I have experienced as of late, or simply look forward to here in the near future.

Wildhearts' new record, via Pledge: The Wildhearts have been an English institution of sorts since sometime in the mid-80s. They had a time when they even had some success in places like Japan and Europe, but never quite made a big enough mark in the U.S. that would have cemented their commerciality as far as keeping the band a viable business venture. Record companies have shyed away from the Wildhearts as of late, and the band had almost closed-up shop. They decided to try a Pledge (PledgeMusic.com) campaign to make one last record.

They asked their fans to help them raise $50,000 to make a record and market it, and instead, the Wildhearts were overwhelmed with $400,000 to their PLEDGE campaign. They have recently made 3 new records; the first to be released this April. If you love good English rock n' roll, give the new Wildhearts a shot. It's a great success story of a band that was down, but refused to be counted out.

Django Unchained: This movie kicks ass. Jamie Foxx is the best Western superhero since Clint Eastwood. Blood, guts, racism, slavery, and redemption. Typical Tarantino...pushing everything to the limits.

Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski: Another WWII instant classic (read his The Greatest Battle). Nagorski illustrates the unlikely rise of the Third Reich through the eyes of American journalists who reported from Germany from 1921–41. It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking angle. Nagorski has become the ultimate WWII historian since the passing of Stephen Ambrose, and his writing will send you to the footnotes looking for more books on war (Nagorski’s reference material has now become my de facto reading list).

On deck: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan: The Seattle author who wrote the epic American Dust Bowl treatise The Worst Hard Time, Egan is one of those historical writers a guy like me simply can’t get enough of.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:19 pm

How to Be a Man

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jan. 10 2013

I wish I had the answer.

There's never been an adequate manual for instruction on how to be a man. Images of put-together, suit-wearing studs drinking whiskey on TV commercials are just not real life. As much as we fellas want to be like Jason Statham, kicking ass at will--well, good luck with that.

I don't look as good as Statham does when I wear a tuxedo with my bow tie a bit loosened. My kung fu will never be as fluid as what I see in movies. My hair will never be cut to perfection, and top-shelf cologne can't make everything else in my life perfect and well-kept.

All that said, I have made some observations so that I may help the man-traveller of these current and confusing times:

To be a man also means to be a man of your word: In this day and age, being straight-up with others is almost a foreign tactic. A completely new and strange phenomenon has surfaced because of text conversations between men and women (I have been made to understand). In the song "Say My Name," the girl wants her man to say her name out loud in a phone conversation--because she suspects that her dude is with another woman.

Now that texting is the main mode of conversation, apparently, suspicious ladies are now asking for a picture from their beaus. As in: Show me that you aren't with some chick. Man up. Don't commit to a girl unless you are done being the carouser. If you feel solid in your relationship but your girl still asks for a picture, it may be time to move on.

Learn how to fight: Yep, go box or learn some style of martial art or mixed martial art. It'll actually have the opposite effect on us fellas. Instead of being threatened out there at a bar or whatever, having skill in some fighting discipline will calm that dumb machismo that all of us dudes are born with, and those previously thought threats from some dumbass will suddenly seem silly. Fighting skill and conditioning will give you confidence in many areas of your life.

Save it for your girl: The "it" I am speaking of actually acts as "glue" for a relationship. Monogamy is key. If you can't be honest with your lady, it serves that you aren't being honest at all, and that is a loser's game.

Get a cause: A good friend of mine with a wife, three kids, and a full-time job still finds time to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. Guys like these are a true inspiration for the rest of us fellas.

Don't road-rage: See #2. Keeping calm is an art form perfected only by the manliest of men.

See people in person: Or at the very least, call.The art of conversation is a dying thing. Man up and sit down for coffee with that person you usually text with. That's right . . . and look them in the eyes (this may seem totally weird for anyone under 30, I understand).

Be the man: Be a good example, even if you've got to fake it. Your kids observe everything you do. And even though it may not seem like it at the time, your kids want to be like you. They want to be proud of you and brag about their dad at school and to their friends. Be observant of your own actions around them kids.

Lead by example: Men are fixers. It gets frustrating for us fellas if we can't mend a situation, or if others don't adhere to what we think is righteous and forthright. All you can do is be the best you can be at that moment. Forge ahead in your own light, feet firmly planted, chest out, shoulders back. It will be noticed when you lead by example.

Listen to your girl: We men sometimes get frustrated when our ladies talk. We will try to actually converse when she is deep into a story about the boss being a dick, or some other friend of hers doing your girl wrong. Do not even try to fix this situation! Your sweety just wants you to listen. Hell, you don’t even have to agree. Just listen. This is black-belt-level man stuff.

Do the dishes: Hell, take it one level further: Cook the dinner and do the dishes. Doing laundry is man’s work too, as well as cleaning up after the dogs and cuddling your kids. Having a home life where you get the opportunity to be a family man and partake in all these things is a very good thing. It means that you have matriculated your man thing to the very top level.
Keep it up.

Don’t be a pussy: Don’t shy away from a situation just because it’s tough. If it is protecting the one you love, or things are tough at work . . . pin those ears back and remember who the fuck you are.

Get smart: Educate yourself on what is going on in culture and politics. Read some books about history. Don’t be a pawn, be a scholar.

Evolve: Our dads and granddads grew up in a different time. Communication and tenderness were not neccesarily components of their age groups’ makeup. You don’t have to be exactly like them. Even though we saw good examples of man-stuff in them, the times they are a-changing. So you see, there are no real tips for how to look like a male model with the perfectly hewn facial hair. There are no fitness guidelines on how to get that perfect six-pack ab look. I’ll let you know about all that stuff once I figure out how to unwrap this P90X DVD and get my wax on.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:25 pm

How Would We Deal With Taking a Team From Sacramento's Fans?

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jan. 17 2013

If we do indeed get a new NBA team, let me just say that I may very well be the first in line for tickets. There is no one more excited than me or my friends and family. I went to a 1978 championship game. I bought season tickets in 1996, and insisted that my-soon-to-be wife, Susan, become a Sonics fan. My dog had a Gary Payton jersey. I had Freddy Brown, Slick Watts, and Shawn Kemp jerseys. My basement still has the remains of Sonics fandom in every corner.

Man. When we heard the news last week that talks were progressing much further than anyone had thought of the sale of the Sacramento Kings to the Hansen/Ballmer/Seattle contingent, we were all pretty damn stoked. But the business of the NBA has set in, and it gives us some pause for further thought.

I hate stopping to think when it comes to sports. No. Sports is something for us all to get away from the reality of the more mundane things in life (like work, heartache, traffic, politics, and further conflicts around the world, just to name a few). Thinking about how a team will come back here and be the Seattle SuperSonics can be a buzz-kill.

Chris Hansen is a damn superstar in Seattle these days. He has come back home to champion a new arena financed largely by a pool of private funds. Hansen's main intent is to bring the Sonics back to Seattle come hell or high water. He has had to fight local politics by bending to interest groups that are using the new arena--in many respects--to fulfill old promises made by some old mayor or City Council. Hansen appears to take all of this old bickering in stride.

If you are over the age of, say, 12, and grew up in the Seattle area, then a lot of you also grew up as fans of the Sonics. In the 2000s, we began the hard path of losing our team to big-money power plays . . . that many of us just couldn't get a grip on or really understand. It was simple to us. We just loved our team, and never really thought that we could ever lose our team. That would be preposterous!

And then it happened. We lost our team.

The Sacramento Kings' fan base has been going through this same losing-their-team scenario for the past seven years. The family Maloof (majority owners of the Kings), have bumbled their way through their tenure, and have seemingly shafted the fans of the Kings with the same "Well, you know . . . we need a new arena" scare that we got up here from 2005 to 2008(ish). It's almost exactly what we heard, and that fan base must feel almost exactly how we did.

Let's say for a minute that the sale goes through, and Seattle has a team again. How are we supposed to manage just where our team came from? Where are we supposed to put this in our collective mind's eye? And how would we honor the Sacramento faithful if that happened? Or do we just move on, and put our blinders on if and when Sacramento fans cry foul?

For the most part, we here in Seattle just sort of assumed that the number of Sacramentoans who still followed their NBA team had waned in a big way. Had our fanship for the Sonics lessened just before we lost them? Well, yes . . . kind of. We had a few seasons in a row of hopeless basketball. Our ownership group was obviously jettisoning payroll, and hence big-time players. We felt used, and in large part, we began to stay away from games. Sacramento may find that somewhat familiar. But were we, or are they, any less of a fan of their team? The Kings have had some hellacious teams since its inception in 1985, and the Sonics earned Seattle its only world championship. We had the Reign Man and the Glove. They had Chris Webber and Vlade Divac. The memories are the thing here that hurt the most–even if ownership is trying to disrespect our love for our Sonics then or their Kings now.

And now, Seattle, it is time to get in line with what the NBA has become. We are big kids now, and have learned the very hard lesson of what a market the size of Seattle can be in danger of: losing a team because of a supposed “outdated” arena and, more likely, losing a team because we were sold to a bidder who had no intention of keeping the team here . . . a high-bidder who was also part of some sort of good-ol’-boy network with the commissioner of the NBA. I guess at the very least, Chris Hansen has not even proposed to keep the Kings in Sacramento if his offer goes through. He is our good guy and has played this whole thing with confidence and calm. The Maloofs are Sacramento’s bad guys, and have long ago given up on a kickass product for their city. This may very well play out like some twisted made-for-TV drama.

Put your blinders on, Seattle, and don’t look in the rear-view mirror.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:27 pm

How Ginger Wildheart Survived the Punk Wars (And You Can, Too)

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jan. 24 2013

U.K. rocker Ginger Wildheart has just released 3 records simultaneously. He financed these recordings through Pledge Music (kind of like Kickstarter), and perhaps the best and most real punk rock song in a long, long time has sprouted as a result. "How I Survived The Punk Wars" off of the Hey! Hello! record actually stunned me. This song speaks to the regular-guy/gal-every-man/woman ethos that we can all relate to, and the anger is pointed and founded. Again, another record done without major label backing.

I'll keep this column short. Watch this video of this song. Listen to the words. Go out and change something for the better. Go work harder than everyone else, and don't complain about it when you do. Put your head down and forge the fuck ahead.

So, there it is, just listen to Ginger Wildheart. And maybe go listen to The Off! after that.

Maybe Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and The Saints too.

Some Germs, "Lexicon Devil."

Killing Joke, "Requiem."

Or, go see D.O.A. somewhere on this farewell tour of theirs. They were the first, and the leaders and the champions of D.I.Y. touring and releasing records and putting gigs on.

Oh, also listen to...

Zeke, "Chiva Knievel"

Minor Threat, "Betray"

U.K Subs, "New York State Police"

Stiff Little Fingers, "State Of Emergency"

Refused, "New Noise"

Joy Division, "Something Must Break"

Or, start your own band....even if you don't know how to play. More than a fair share of the above bands did just that.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:29 pm

KEXP: The O.G. Alternative

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jan. 31 2013

Seattle's KEXP radio station at 90.3 FM remains a one-stop destination for those music appreciators who like a bit of everything: new, old, indie, not-so-indie, metal, old punk, electronic, rockabilly, alt-country (and all of that just on the drive home from the grocery store). KEXP really does play alternative in its truest sense: the alternative to everything else on the radio.

"Alternative music" is a moniker used primarily for marketing purposes in 2013.

I spent about a week last summer mountain climbing with a male 20-something. He was constantly listening to his iPod with headphones, and I finally asked him what music he was listening to. He replied "Alternative music". I asked this fella who the artists were, and he remarked: "You know...Linkin Park, Evanescence, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and that stuff." I pressed on, inquiring about how he found these bands all to be "alternative." I, of course, am thinking that all of these bands are majorly mainstream, and far from any alternative to what is mainstream. I stated as much to my friend. He looked at me weirdly, and then answered that "alternative" is how iTunes categorically lists these bands. My friend will simply look at what is "alternative" first in the iTunes store, and then make his purchases off of that list.

He is from a smaller city in California, and hence, probably is much more a voice for the "regular" American music listening populace that doesn't live in places like Seattle, San Francisco, and New York.

Anyhow, back to KEXP and further to the fact that they are celebrating 40 years in existence this year. Of course, before Paul Allen infused some well-placed dough into the station-and thusly changing the name to KEXP (an Experience Music Project nod),the call letters were KCMU. The affiliation with the University of Washington still remains, and so does its mission statement of playing new music, mixed with just about everything else...those harder to find tracks or artists that may never have found the light of the radio airwaves without a station like this.

Punk rock, new wave, post-punk, reggae, and Tom Waits-ish types were the alternative to everything else back in 1979 when my friends and I first started listening to KCMU. It was our station, and the UW students who spun the records had an uncanny ability to kind of mind-read what those of us actually in the young music scene in Seattle wanted to hear. We felt lucky to have the station.

I actually remember one day listening to KCMU during a dry-wall job I had and the DJ proclaimed for the first time that KCMU played the music that "is the alternative to everything else on the FM or AM dials." I like to think that I was actually a listening-witness to the first time in history this term was used.

KEXP has remained a great place to hear new music, and to re-visit an old Buzzcocks gem...or even hear some Prince or Solange Knowles segue into a bit of the Deerhoof. There are specialty shows for heavy-metal and rockabilly and live performances in-studio, and on and on. The "alternative" mission statement has remained adhered to there at KEXP.

And now, my eldest daughter listens to KEXP. She is 15, and KEXP is what the cool kids this age apparently listen to. At 40 years running, KEXP has officially become generational with Seattle families such as mine.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:37 pm

The People Are Isolated. Their Cause Is Not

By Duff McKagan Thu., Feb. 7 2013

With the Sundance Film Festival sounding as the starting bell, the season for new independent films and documentaries is upon us.

My wife Susan has been involved with the Surfrider Foundation ever since I met her in 1997. She grew up near the beach in San Diego where she saw first-hand how mankind's effluvia and manifest destiny have slowly impinged on our shorelines. Care for our beaches and oceans is just one of the many things that Surfrider focuses on.

Last summer, Susan hosted the International Surfing Day web-a-thon. When she came back from the event, she told me of a group of surfers who had gone to Papua, New Guinea to make a documentary about an un-surfed wave somewhere in the far-reaches of the backside of that huge island. They came back with a different story.

Susan and I went to the Santa Barbara Film Festival last week to see the debut of this documentary Isolated, and I came away with a whole lot more than I had bargained for.

This international cast of pro-surfers (Travis Potter, Jenny Useldinger, Andrew Mooney, Jimmy Rotherham, and Josh Fuller), simply set out on a pretty innocent mission of finding a surf break that they could only assume existed in an exceedingly remote part of the already remote island. Movie cameras, for the most part, hadn't captured any images of this locale since World War II. The Indonesian military has a pretty tight grip on what they want tourists to see down there, so these surfers and the documentary crew decided to forego a guided trip from the military-this was the only way that they hoped of really finding this beach that they assumed was there. It was in a sort of military-enforced tourism no-man's land.

Indonesia has governed the land that was once home to the indigenous Papauan people since the second half of the 1960,. Since the fairly recent discovery of gold and copper in Papau, a new level of commerce has been extracted from these remote and previously untouched mountains. The bad guys are the Indonesian military and a U.S. mining concern that feeds money to this arm of the Indonesian military to protect these literal gold mines.

[the rest of the article is missing]
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:48 pm

by Duff McKagan
February 14, 2013


Has any one else checked out this Jodi Arias trial that has been showing daily on Headline News? It has hooked me like a fish. It has everything: a brutal stabbing, bondage, sex tapes, religion, the shooting death of her lover, a confession, and the death penalty.

CNN’s Headline News has found another captivating trial to show daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Casey Anthony trial of 2011 must have scored big numbers for Headline News (as they showed that trial every day too), and the braintrust at CNN have seemingly scoured the crime files of the U.S., to bring us this new gem of a murder trial.

Nancy Grace is having an absolute field day with Arias. It is more that apparent that Grace doesn’t believe one word Arias has said in court. This isn’t a murder trial really (Arias has already admitted , finally, to killing Travis Anderson)–this is a death penalty trial. Nancy Grace wants Jodi Arias dead. And that, too, has been just as fascinating to observe.

HLN makes this all really easy and convenient to watch. Most of us don’t have our whole days free to watch a whole damn trial all of the way through… and you don’t have to. Just turn on HLN, and they will encapsulate the whole thing for you, about three or four times an hour. The Nancy Grace bits are shown fairly frequently too.

How does a major news outlet like CNN actually choose which cases they are going to highlight? How was it that the Casey Anthony story (her 3 year-old daughter was found duct-taped and dead in a field a block from her house) was suddenly a national furor?

These cases are grim and outrageous for sure – but this Jodi Arias case, and that Casey Anthony situation – are, sadly, just two of the hundreds of these types of cases that happen yearly in America.

Do you ever wonder how a jury in a massively high-profile case like this Jodi Arias one, or the OJ Simpson trial, or the Phil Spector spectacle, actually stay hidden from all of this news on the TV? I can’t help but be somewhat curious at how they stay away from it all. This whole thing makes me curious. What makes someone tick who can kill another human being? What goes through someone’s head when they are faced with the death penalty or life in jail? How does a lawyer defend someone who may be obviously guilty of a morose crime like killing a child? How does a jury process and act on information that only has hard evidence, and how does that jury ‘disregard’ everything else?

I guess this all taps into that human trait of watching a car crash or an arrest on the side of a road. We can’t help ourselves… and Headline News knows this.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 1:59 pm

by Duff McKagan
Thursday, February 28, 2013


It’s been a while since I reported from the road on a rock tour. I am currently in the midst of a 10-day travelling festival tour of Australia called Soundwave. Extraordinary in its pure logistics, and in its’ 6th year-now, a finely tunes mechanism. With something like 60 bands–from Metallica to Garbage, and Lincoln Park to Ghost and Red Fang–the scope of getting all of these bands and their equipment around this huge country in time and in order is mind-boggling by itself.

The highlight of the festival experience so far has been the fellowship between the acts. With so many people in one place at a time, and so many who don’t know each other–I have witnessed a great amount of fraternity between bands: Metal dudes hanging out with pop-punkers, and grind-core badasses hanging out EDM DJss and so on.

Soundwave seems to have been able to grow and flourish over these last 6 years because of the obvious care and attention they devote to the fan experience. It’s clean, safe, easy to get around, and flat-out friendly. I haven’t seen a fight or even a tussle. I’m not sure how exactly the organizer’s have managed this… but it is way cool.

Ah, but Australia is a long, long ways away from Europe and the U.S (where most of the music acts are from). The jet-lag factor with just about everyone there in the first few days, was a pretty hilarious thing to bare witness to. (Personally on my second night in-country, I was so out of it from sleep deprivation, that I thought the huge fruit bats in the tree’s were monkey’s with wings, and that they were surely going to at any time, swoop down and bite my face off. No, I don’t drink and don’t smoke the crack.).

Our guitar tech, Paul Hutzler, found a fun and informative way to combat his U.S. to Australia temporary insanity. He was Skyping his girlfriend back in Seattle last night, and decided to call local pet stores in Sydney (with a a fake Texas accent no less), and inquire if he could purchase a wombat and “Take that son-of-a-bitch back to Texas!”. Paul is not 14. He is 41.

The Soundwave festival itself is a 2-weekend Friday-Saturday-Sunday affair, and so on all of the in-between weekday nights, the festival organizers have put together ‘sidewave’ shows in pretty much all of the venues–big and small–in the cities that we are staying in. The other night in Sydney, there were something like 13 separate ‘sidewave’ shows to go to. Red Fang with Kyuss Lives and Orange Goblin? Sure. Lincoln Park with Stone Sour? Check. Perfect Circle? Sum 41 and Billy Talent did a show, as did Slayer and Anthrax.

It makes you wonder if a city in the U.S. would not only support a festival of this size, and also all of these stand alone gigs. All of these festivals are sold out down here, and the ‘sidewave’ shows are either sold-out or darn near close. Astounding really.Rock and roll seems alive and very well down here in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s is truly great to be a part of this whole damn circus, and I shall report back from Japan next week.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:05 pm

Screw The Postal Service. I Hope Your Cute Indie Clothes Chafe You All Summer Long

By Duff McKagan Thu., Mar 7 2013



The braintrust here at Seattle Weekly asked me to respond to the above leaked video. This is my response.

Look man; I didn't even really want to go to the tryout at all. I'm not a try-out-for-a-band type of musician. But it was 2002, and I was going to school at Seattle U., and they DID say that Weird Al was going, too. And, hey, I liked the song. So ...

The Postal Service? Dumb name for a band, I know. I may be coming off as a bit resentful, and maybe I am. They told me that the video they made for this tryout deal was strictly for internal use. They told me no one other than Jimmy would ever see this.

Jimmy! You've got it coming, pal. I've heard that most recently you have been training in MMA and visit cross-fit gyms around your 'hood and are generally trying to be a badass. I heard you've put on 30 pounds of muscle, too. Doesn't scare me. I have the dark and ancient martial art of surprise on my side. I'll get you dude. Just like I was surprised by this video clip showing up everywhere on the internet while I've been down here in Australia touring with Metallica, Slayer, Ghost, and ... Slayer!

The guys in those bands keep coming to my dressing room and laughing at me. Thanks Jimmy and Ben. Thanks a lot. Can you even fathom what it might be like to have a demonic guy in a Satan-worshiping band who wears the crown of the dark pope come over and snicker at you every half hour? It ain't cool. I didn't even know an evil pope could snicker! They can, Jimmy and Ben. And that dude from Ghost has been snickering...a LOT.

Oh, and now I am made to understand that you guys are going out and headlining all of the huge festivals this spring and summer. Fuck you guys. Fuck you. Just think how big it would have been if Moby and I would have also been in the band. Yes, dwell on that for a second. Morons.

Whatever. Oooh... The Postal Service is releasing a 10-year anniversary edition of its debut ... ooooh. Indie! Oooh. Who gives a rat's ass? All of those people who bought your records and who are going to attend your shows, probably got free tickets and downloads. Don't get too excited, Jimmy and Ben.

And Death Cab is just a fluke, too. Right, I know it's, like, seven records in....but its still a fluke. You guys probably don't even see it that way, after all of those #1 hits and all. Never heard of a #1 hit band being a fluke? Well, neither have I...but still, that's the way it is. The fall from your fake grace will be hard. Guess who's not going to be there to soften your fall?

Aimee Mann is also crushed that this video leaked. Now you guys have messed with America's damn songstress. Nice work, guys. Nice work.

I hope your cute indie clothes chafe you all summer long.

Good luck getting chicks.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:12 pm

So, Yeah, I Was Kicked Out of a Guns N' Roses Bootleg Shop in Tokyo

By Duff McKagan Thu., Mar 14 2013

Flying and layovers are a key component to tours--like the one I just wrapped up through Australia and Japan--where there is no traveling by van or bus. In fact, if you've seen Anthony Bourdain's TV show about layovers in different cities around the world, you have a pretty good idea of what a rock tour is like (if you add a gig and takeout, that is).

One of the first things I do when I travel to a new city is try and discover what the locals do. I'm not too big on the touristy type of stuff, unless I'm with my family. Tourist food and tourist factoids all seem to blend together into a homogenized stew of ersatz nachos and cardboard hamburgers.

From Perth, Australia, to Tokyo, we had a 10-hour layover in Singapore. Singapore sits just 70 miles from the equator, so heat and mugginess are factors if you choose to go out of the airport (which I did). Although a cab into the heart of the city is only $9, you do have to make sure that the area you are going to is open. The area I went to was not "open," so I treated myself to a long and aimless walk in the heat. I finally found a local place to eat, and I was so damn hungry by the time I was served my meal that I will forever love the taste of fishheads over goats' innards (or whatever the hell I ate).

But all this travel talk is really just a lead-up to something that happened when I finally got to Tokyo.

My family was to join me there for the end of my trip. My daughters had never been to Japan, and they were super-excited to go to an area in Tokyo called Harajuku (it has a trippy, Capitol Hill-esque vibe . . . on steroids). The day before they arrived, I decided to cab it over to Harajuku and do a little "recon" of the area so that I could guide us through the maze with as much ease as possible. (I have learned this recon tactic by getting lost with kids in tow too many times. Not cool or fun.)

During my cab ride, my stomach started to rebel from my questionable meal in Singapore the day before. This happens all the time on the road, and my cure-all (passed down from our road-dog forefathers in DOA and Black Flag. No shit.) is salted peanuts. Upon my arrival in Harajuku, I ducked in to a 7-11 type of store and got a nice peanut-and-rice cracker mixture. Perfect for eating and recon-ing on the go!

Harajuku is all connected by alleyway streets lined with themed shops in amazing contrast to each other: punk-rock clothes next to pastel-only skirt shops next to early-'80s NY beat-boy clothing next to a Star Wars store. It becomes obvious that many of the printed T-shirts with band names or Star Wars characters are bootlegs (last time I checked, Skywalker's first name is "Luke," not "Look").

It was in one of these alleyways that I stumbled upon a rock-and-roll (bootleg) T-shirt store. What caught my eye was a Metallica/GNR split-band T-shirt in the front window. Of course, this shirt never existed in real life back in the day, but it got me to further peruse the inside of the store. I was met with a dazzling array of O.G. Guns N' Roses shirts with some "artwork" close to the original and other "artwork" comically missing. Just as I was looking at a skull-guys-on-the-cross GNR shirt (where we all looked more like chimps than dastardly rock-and-roll hellions), I was asked to leave . . . for eating inside of the store.

I was relieved that they didn't recognize me. I rather hope that I look nothing like a skull-chimpy type of rocker. Nope. I'm a rock-and-roll hellion, with salted peanuts . . . on a mission to find the bunny-petting cafe and nail salon and Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant in Harajuku.

I'm a bad-ass.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:18 pm

The March 21 column (Duff's review of Danko Jones' album) has not been archived.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:26 pm

Egan, Shirer, and a Pair of Classics

By Duff McKagan Thu., Mar 28 2013

Yes, I know that my previous reading lists have included a lot more than two books. But, like many people, I read at night before bed. It’s the only way I get to sleep. Sometimes it doesn’t take much before I start to nod off. This method gets me through roughly one average sized book per month. But if the book is one of those weighty, 1500-page doozies, all bets are off. The following books…took a while.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, by William Shirer: I have been planning to read this tome for a long, long time. After reading Andrew Nigorski’s Hitlerland about the American journalists inside Nazi Germany in the 1920s and ‘30s, I was stunned by how bellicose toward Hitler one journalist was: William Shirer.

The breadth, scope, detail, and research that Shirer pours into the book is absolutely second to none. Shirer was in Germany as Hitler took over. He stayed there and reported to the rest of the world until 1941 when America entered the war (and he was kicked out). Shirer came back for the Nuremburg Trials and combed through tons of captured Nazi and Wermacht documents and confiscated personal diaries of many of the top German military and Nazi Party brass.

How Shirer assimilated all of this material, and made it such a readable story is really beyond comprehension. But readable it is, and better than any recent novel I’ve read, as we all know that this dark and twisted story, is actually all true. HIGHLY recommended.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis, by Timothy Egan: This National Book Award-winning book by local author Timothy Egan (Not his first National Book Award; Try The Worst Hard Time), is a page-turning look at treasured and celebrated Native American photographer and ethnographer Edward Curtis. If you are already a fan of Egan’s writing style, then you will know of his gripping and fluid prose.

We will all instantly recognize many of Curtis’ early and beautiful “Indian” photos, but this is the story of how hard Curtis worked to get these shots, and how head-over-heels in love Edward Curtis fell for the plight, wisdom, religion, language, and people of the many, many indigenous tribes scattered throughout the American West, Canada, and the Arctic. Curtis sacrificed his family and livelihood to pursue what he saw as a life’s work: to preserve and archive what was left of the quickly disappearing customs and people who were in North America first.

Another instant Egan classic.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:34 pm

by Duff McKagan
April 4, 2013


Editor’s Note:

With Johnny Marr coming to Neumos on April 15 to promote his new album, The Messenger, we dispatched SW columnist Duff McKagan to interview the former Smiths guitarist. It took professionals in New York and Seattle to get the boys in Manchester and Los Angeles together on the phone. Here’s what transpired:

Marr: Hey, Duff?

McKagan: Hey, Johnny, how are you?

I’m very well, thank you. How’s it going?

Good. I think we could have just done this, me calling you. It’s pretty official this way, isn’t it?

Yeah, we’ve gotta be guarded. We’re being guarded by those who must be obeyed. But, nice to talk to you, man.

I feel like I know you, dude, because I’ve known [The Cult’s] Billy [Duffy] for so long, and he talks so favorably of you, and I know you guys are mates.

Yeah, likewise, Duff. I guess Billy’s the person I’ve known longer than anyone else. The neighborhood we grew up in was really cool, it was very working-class. We would just know and dissect about everyone who was making a record at the time, and I look back on it now and I think, wow, that was really quite a cool apprenticeship.

You were sort of the anti-guitar hero. I’m just so fascinated by your guitar style. I know Manchester. I know what Billy Duffy has told me. I try to picture you guys in 1979 or whatever. I don’t know what you were listening to to get that sound.

Joy Division were rehearsing in the room above my band, and they were scary guys just to look at because they wore old-men’s clothes. Very austere, grey, thrift-store stuff going on. Haircuts that looked like they just fought the Second World War. That was much scarier than someone who looked like one of the New York Golds or the Rolling Stones. It was so off-paced.

My thing was getting invited to play with other bands, because I had the knack and a certain kind of facility. Certain things came easy to me, I guess, riffs that were going around at the time. Everyone would be trading riffs, almost like currency. If you could play “Rebel Rebel” without sticking your tongue out, that was impressive stuff.

My family was obsessed with records, so as a little boy, my favorite toy was a little toy guitar. So I had a thing for the guitar much younger than all of my mates. I would think about the shape of it and all of that—it wasn’t for the fame and fortune or getting girls or anything, I really just loved this little wooden guitar as a boy. I would always be upgrading that.

Around 11, I was very keen to be able to write some songs on it and put songs together. I think the big influence on my playing was that was the same time I was able to start buying 45s with my money, and I am still obsessive about 45s. Both those things at the same time: being able to hold chords down and buying chart music of the day, which I am still not a total snob about.

What were those 45s?

The 45s were things like “Amateur Hour” by Sparks; “All the Young Dudes” by Mott the Hoople; all the T. Rex songs; and some of the songs by The Sweet, The Glitter Band. I guess in the U.S. it’s called bubblegum, but it was just regular chart music.

I got very lucky because that very commercial music was really based on guitars. There were so many riffs and they followed that commercial single format.

I was very young to start playing, but I was very serious about learning to play. I wasn’t necessarily isolating the guitar part—something done on an organ or a bass line, I tried to play it on the acoustic guitar. Still, when I write or play a song, I’m trying to play a whole record, really. Does that make sense?

It totally makes sense. I grew up in the same sort of big musical family. As a kid, music was just this magical thing. You’ve moved back to Manchester, is that right?

I moved back from Portland deliberately. I knew I was into writing a big number of songs, which has resulted in this new record The Messenger. The Cribs were still touring, so I was playing with them at that time. I knew when I did get off the road, I would start writing that. There was a very, very kind of faint echo in the back of my mind; I didn’t try to overanalyze, but I recognized [it] as being enthusiasm to sort of catch the vibe that made me excited when I was a schoolboy and performing before the Smiths.

I kind of just—almost on a kind of superstitious hunt—I thought, if I go back to the UK, Manchester particularly, that will get me closer to the vibe.

I went on this intuition that these songs should be pretty exciting and up-tempo, good to play live, [in the] spirit of the sort of things that you liked when you were a kid.

You’ve kept yourself really current. I’m sure that’s not something you’ve tried to do. You’re just doing your thing. I just really appreciate that about you.

Again, you know, something you’ll probably understand as a musician, but when I was invited to play with Modest Mouse, they were complete strangers to me. I took up that invitation somewhat skeptically, because I wasn’t sure if it was going to work.

After all the members convened—it’s a rag-taggle, strange bunch of people with odd kinds of instruments—I was sitting in the middle of the room working on the riffs, and I went: “I don’t know what this is, but I like working with these guys.” That reminded me of when I was a kid—when you’re not good enough to analyze or copy but you just plug in. I like to think that I never really lost that connection with that person.

When I was playing with the Cribs, they came to my studio—which is nice and big in the countryside—but then we went out to the warehouse in the industrial north, because I wanted to write and rehearse there.

When we were moving all the gear into the service elevator together, I was thinking “We’re all the same, we’ll load the gear.” It doesn’t matter how many records we’ve sold, fans we have, or what we’ve so-called achieved. It’s a connection to who you were when you’re younger, and if that’s the main reason you do it, no one can take that away from you.

That’s inspirational. I’m glad you’re around and doing it.

Well, thank you very much, man. How was writing the book? Did you enjoy that? Was it difficult?

It was tough, Johnny. I enjoyed it. It doesn’t sound like you go back in time and think about the old days of when you were 22, and I don’t either. I’ve got kids, and life just goes forward—you don’t have time to think about when you were 15 or when you were 25. Writing about the particular story I wrote about—kind of like how I fell into addiction and my way out—was rewarding, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.

I think I’m going to do it, but I’ll wait a couple years. But I can’t wait too long, ’cause I’ll start forgetting stuff.

You know, I didn’t write the stuff I forgot about. I kept it pretty simple. I didn’t try to dig through old tour books or any of that crap. I just wrote about what I remembered.

I guess [publishers] want me to give a load of dirt . . . obviously I’m not gonna do that. I’ve got a load of stories like yourself. I’ve played with so many different musicians, just casually. Whether it’s David Crosby on the end of his bed or hanging out with Keith Richards, all of that stuff. People are kind of fascinated by it.

I’ll tackle it one day in the not-too-distant future. I wanna do a couple more records, praise God. I’ll get that done, and then I’ll take some time out and do that.

I’d love to hang out and shoot the shit. Also, it’s great for me to speak to someone who doesn’t say, “Hey, when’s your old band gonna reform?”

Johnny, I get the same interviews.

[Laughs] Let’s get together and catch up. I wanna see ya, and all the best to your family. Keep doing it, man. It’s great.

Cheers. Thanks, Johnny.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:38 pm

by Duff McKagan
Monday, April 8, 2013


Once in a while you get to talk to someone or have an experience that positively readjusts your own view of things. My phone conversation with Johnny Marr (the Smiths, the Cribs, Modest Mouse) was one of those experiences for me.

Musicians talking to other musicians puts a different slant on the typical interview. It’s not necessarily better per se, it’s just more casual and full of surprises. With Marr, I was much more interested in just how the hell he keeps so current and fresh in his songwriting, and I wanted to know how he came upon his particular style of guitar playing. A “journalist” may have pestered Marr on other more tired topics (“Hey! When are the Smiths getting back together”?).

The interview in these pages (see page 33), I believe, showcases a man dashing headlong into the still-mysterious and exciting arena of writing new songs and playing with musicians who inspire him. He is as excited about plugging in a guitar now as when he was 14 years old. When Marr talks about being as inspired to make music today as he was as a kid, there’s honest excitement in his voice—not the blase and predetermined excitement of some veteran trying to simply “pimp” a new record. Johnny Marr is an original, and a damn fine gent.

Marr had been living in Portland for some time during the Modest Mouse run. He jammed with that band because he was completely mystified about what and who influenced them. His wanderlust for musical exploration leads him just as strongly now as when he was a teen taking trains across Manchester to jam with some dudes he didn’t even know.

Moving back home to Manchester in 2010 with his wife and family, Johnny got a large dose of the gravity and familiarity of returning to a place of comfort and invention. The songs for The Messenger were born on his trip home, and now he has been touring with this great band of his. Johnny Marr is the anti–guitar hero—an inventor, an explorer, and a guy who seems to fully “get it” as far as his place in the mix. He is a regular guy with an irregular past. I was glad and honored to have been able to have a chat with this affable and pleasant Manchesterite.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:39 pm

On Star Anna, Timothy Egan, and Jackie Robinson

By Duff McKagan Wed., Apr 17 2013

Before I get to the movie and book picks that I carved out for this week’s column, I want to give a quick plug for Star Anna’s show at the Tractor TONIGHT—yes, Wednesday night!

If you are local, I hope you already know about our latest and greatest songbird: She’s one part Ann Wilson, another part Patsy Cline, and all parts motherfucker. Tonight’s show is a fundraiser so that she can make a new record. If you’re in town, do the right thing and go. If you’ve never heard of Star and go to this show, you will immediately start telling every friend and near-friend about your new find. She is a local gem that won’t be staying in places the size of the Tractor for too much longer!

OK, readers of this column know I’m a big fan of Timothy Egan, a local author who has found international acclaim writing books about the Northwest (present and past). Here are a couple good places to start:

The Big Burn: As that “radical” President Teddy Roosevelt was nationalizing huge swaths of our U.S. forests and trying to stock them with a few good men and women (the first Forest Rangers) to protect the trees from evil clear-cutting lumber companies, a massive fire-fueled anomaly of a hurricane swept through the inland Northwest. The year was 1910, and there was no such thing as forest firefighters yet. The saga that ensues is an edge-of-the-chair fete of death, survival, heroics, and frustration. This book makes me want to take a driving tour of eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, just to see the remnants of this 110-year-old mega-fire.

Breaking Blue: Spokane was once a burgeoning promised land of wealth and growth. During the American Dust Bowl and Depression, Spokane became a main destination for tons of people looking to start anew with a chance for a job and perhaps even prosperity. But Spokane was also a place run with an iron fist by the law, where graft, prostitution, liquor-running, and burglary were all reserved for the police. If you stepped in the way of any of these vices, you may have gotten killed . . . even if you were another cop. This is a brilliantly written book on a true story that took 55 years to finally come out.

And, finally, do yourself a favor and go see this movie!

42: Jackie Robinson was an American hero. He and Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey were both American heroes. actually, and this movie depicts a dark period in U.S. history, when pro sports had yet to let anyone but whites play. This film is simply beautiful and victorious. My family and I left the theater with our heads held high, and feeling that you know what, we humans just might end up doing the right thing after all. There should be more movies like this. The world would be a better place.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:42 pm

Flying Around the World With Adrien Brody, Sean Penn, and “Doug”

By Duff McKagan Thu., Apr 25 2013

I am a sensei warrior in the art of jet lag, a master at blending into different countries and cultures. I zig. I zag. I adapt. I can say hello in nine different languages. I’ve learned it all the hard way, from being that dumb American too many times.

I am, indeed, suffering from jet lag as I write this. Flying to Sydney, Australia, from Seattle for two days, and to London via Dubai from there (a 23-hour flight no less), will fuck with your head. Big time.

Sleeping on planes is not my forte, and I get real jealous of those who can. I watch movies. On a 23-hour flight, a guy can watch a lot of movies. But I’ve seen all the new releases available on this Qantas flight. I liked Silver Linings Playbook, Hangover II, and This Is 40, but not enough to watch them again so soon. Instead I went for the “Oscar Classic” menu and the “Art House Movies.” It was awesome.

So without further ado, here’s how to get yourself through a flight from Sydney to London via Dubai:

Start with The Pianist: The movie that made Adrien Brody a star. It’s an epic tale of war-torn Poland and the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw.

A Thin Red Line: I read the book, and this 1999 movie has just about every major male actor of the time, including Sean Penn, Adrien Brody (again), and George Clooney. A great and powerful movie of the Pacific Theatre in World War II.

Dead Man Walking: I can’t believe that I’ve never seen this flick. A murderer on death row (Sean Penn), and a nun (Susan Sarandon) reveal to the viewer an inside view of mortality and diabolical crime.

Master and Commander: Russell Crowe and an HMS warship in the early 1800s makes for perfect long-flight fare.

This is where I landed in Dubai. I had to get off the plane, go through security (seriously), and get back on the same plane. I was too tired to even ask why we did this. Cattle. Moo.

Pentagram: The Bobby Liebling Story: I’ve heard Pentagram before, and was sort of enchanted with the mystique of this band. They’ve been going since 1971, and were more Sabbath than Sabbath, but without the fame and fortune. This documentary was a great find, especially for a major airline to have in its “Art House Movies” catalogue. Heroin and crack addiction, failure, redemption, jail, failure, and redemption again. I want to see Pentagram now . . . if I ever get the chance.

I landed in London at 7 a.m.

I make myself stay awake the whole day wherever I land. I found a hot yoga class to go to in Soho (shocking your body is one way to kick out the jet lag). I’ve never done Bikram yoga before. Risky. I drink an energy drink, and then another. The lady who leads the class has a hands-free microphone strapped to her head, and it’s 105 degrees. I’m seeing trails and raise my hand when she asks if there is anyone new to Bikram. She asks my name through the sound system, I tell her but she gets it wrong.

“Not Jeff,” I say. “It’s Duff.”

“OK, Doug.”

Namaste.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:49 pm

by Duff McKagan
Monday, May 6, 2013


Throughout the history of rock ‘n’ roll, bands from the Beatles to Metallica have played their early gigs in clubs and bars. We all know the story of the Beatles playing that long-standing residency in the red-light district in Hamburg in the early ’60s.


I’ve had the experience of playing some of these same clubs. The red-light districts in Hamburg, Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe are also heavily populated with youth hostels and “backpackers hotels,” cheap and spartan places for young travelers with a Euro-pass to rest their heads. These hostels, and the culture surrounding them, has always intrigued me. Yet I have never stayed in or even been inside one of these places. Until this week.
I’m currently on tour with a band that is trying to build an audience and fan-base throughout Europe. We are playing those clubs in those shady areas and red-light districts. (These tours put your mind-frame somewhere between Anthony Bourdain and Fight Club . . . but that is another story).


We played a place called the Winston in Amsterdam last Sunday. The club wasn’t configured to have a backstage room for the band, and on these ancient blocks and lanes, there is definitely no room for expanding these structures. The Winston is directly attached to a hostel (same owner), and our “backstage” room was a room with a bed, some chairs, and a shower—on the 3rd floor of this particular youth hotel.


I guess I’ve had preconceived notions of what these hostels were like, and instead of ripped up walls and urine-stained carpets, we found this hostel to be clean and actually rather arty and yes, almost classy! What the?
The club fed us dinner there in the lounge of the hostel, and the Chicken Kiev and fresh chopped salad was ridiculously good. The music that was getting cranked through the system in the lounge was stuff like the Stooges and Bowie, and good and weird dancey stuff that I have no idea what it was.


I was completely intrigued at this point. What gives? These rooms are cheap, and their lounge was hipper than shit! The joint is clean, and the only rules posted on the room doors, was “have fun,” “don’t be an ass,” and “if you liked your stay, tell someone.” Very communal in the best sense of the word “commune.” I do believe that this place is as close to the punk-rock Utopian dream that us dumb-ass kids were pining for back in the halcyon days of 1981 or so (you know . . . “Fuck Reagan,” blah, blah, blah . . .).


I had the chance to have a chat with an English ex-pat gentleman who ran the joint. It turns out that this particular hostel is part of a chain called “St. Christopher Inns”; with locations all over Europe and the UK. They all have these nightclubs like the one I ate dinner in, and it is a place that I would recommend to anyone actually. Its cool enough for a business traveler, a sight-seer, a youth (I would have been completely floored to have been able to do this as a 19 year-old . . . but I guess I am doing it now sans the Euro-Pass), or just about anyone else.


There must be other chains like this, but for this “Raw Power” listening, poultry-loving, vagabond traveler, the youth hostel in Amsterdam, was a refreshing and energizing look into this whole world. I’ll suggest it to my own daughter’s when they come of age.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:56 pm

by Duff McKagan
Wednesday, May 15, 2013


We Seattleites who are over the age of 15 all grew up with the Seattle Supersonics. And if you were a fan of the NBA and the Sonics (like me), not having a team anymore has left a gaping hole in those months that the Sonics would have otherwise filled … whether a good team or bad.

Every May, it seems, the Mariners are trying to figure out if they are going to be a .500 team or not. We patiently take another bite of that apple; after all, those are the Mariners that we love. The underdog. The “it-could-happen-maybe” factor.

In previous Aprils and Mays and sometimes Junes, we had basketball to ease the anxiety of a so-so start of a Mariners season. But these past five months of May, I have found myself trying to fill a void that not having the Sonics has created. Of course we can’t pull for some other NBA team. I have tried to find another team, but it doesn’t work. “Some other team” just ain’t the Sonics. I went to a Clippers game this season — the first NBA experience I’ve had since the Sonics left — and it felt so very weird. I tried to get into it, but in the end, it was just a hollow exercise in sports watching.

The following things have helped, in these laid-bare months, now that there is no NBA in Seattle:

1) Get More Involved With Your Kids. Ah, but my kids are in their teen years. Parent involvement is a contact sport with teens I am finding out, and not unlike trying to pry cement from a sidewalk with a crowbar.

2) Get Marriage Equality All Legal’d Up In Washington State. Check. Next?

3) Legalize Pot. Right. That too.

4) Find A Sonic-Crazy Billionaire Or Two To Bring A Team Back. Right. That too. No city will probably ever see something like we have experienced here in Seattle with Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer thus far. These guys are hell-bent on bringing our Sonics back.

5) Get Into The English Premiership. I’ve tried to get myself into soccer. In England and the rest of the world, they are crazy for it. I try and try again … but alas, it just isn’t the Sonics.

6) Have An NFL Team Go Deep Into The Playoffs. Go Hawks! You have lessened our pain of no NBA in this past year.

7) Cram More People Into The Seattle City Limits. Have you heard of these things called “APodments”? Yes, inside of some of our more congested areas, there is a sort of boarding house clause, an exemption that is now being pounced upon by area developers. Apartments are being built with a communal kitchen and small bedrooms that the leasor can rent to sub-leasers. An interesting idea for the city dweller, I suppose, but the jury is still out on how this will affect urban traffic that is already taxed to the hilt. See also, “micro-apartments.” It’s getting tight in here Seattle.

8) Help KEXP With Their Move Next Year. We are very lucky to have a station such as KEXP. The music and programs that they air is the true alternative. They have always had vision, and have always been a proponent of local music, while keeping the national and international artists involved. A money-raising venture will be underway soon, to help with their move to a new location in the Seattle Center. This non-profit is a local treasure. Get behind it!

9) Go To Shawn Kemp’s Restaurant Oskar’s Kitchen. Good food and bittersweet memories just a block from Key Arena. The feel of this restaurant is a mix between indie-Seattle and a sport’s bar. Kind of a perfect little joint for breakfast and more. Shawn does show up all of the time too. Get your Sonics fix!

10) Listen To The New Alice In Chains. They are Seattle rock at its best, and the new record is stunningly good. Period.

BRING OUR SONICS BACK!
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 2:59 pm

Keeping Humble as a Musician

by Duff McKagan
Thursday, May 23, 2013


One of the most important parts of a musicians’ mindset is confidence. If you aren’t constantly terrified of your instrument, there is an ease-of-mind that starts to set in. When your head isn’t completely messing with you as much, your playing will start to flow. Put it this way: Do you even think at all when you walk or ride a bike? Probably not. It is effortless, and playing your instrument, hopefully one day, will be somewhere in this same frame-of-mind as walking and chewing gum.

But remember, there is always someone better than you (unless your are Prince!). One should never let the confidence that comes with hard work get in the way of being humbled by either playing with other killer players, or learning riffs and beats off of records from some of the many greats who are greats from yore … or even contemporaries.

A guy like me took influences from growing up around great ‘70s records, morphed those influences into my own approach and “style,” and then kind of just stuck with that one thing. Hell, it worked for me, so why even try to challenge myself to stuff that may not be in my wheelhouse? I got this thing, man! Ah, but at around 30 years of age, I realized that I wasn’t experiencing any growth in my playing. I was relying on the same old tricks, same old approach. It was time for a challenge if I wanted to get better.

I never used to learn other artists’ songs. Well, scratch that actually. My old band would sometimes cover other bands’ songs … but certainly not in a note-for-note way. We would do our own interpretations and versions of said songs. Just sort of winging it at best.

In my 30s, I started to playing less bass and more guitar. Guitar was something I always did, and wrote most all of the songs I was part of, on the 6-string. But I never really delved into it fully. At some point in my early 30s, I saw Brian Setzer play, and I was fully inspired. I got some Beatles song books and learned all kinds of chords. I played guitar all of the time, and got to play with some other really good guitar players who would show me stuff. I saw music again in a fresh and energetic light. Note: Being in a band with Slash as your guitar player can make guitar playing seem like an unattainable mastery. Dude is just so damn good and gifted. But he DOES practice all of the time, and constantly challenges himself.

We may all think as players that we have our own clear forte. Whether it is the fact that maybe you can retain more information songwise than some of your peers, or maybe you know more music theory, or that you can just simply shred better than most, or are a dynamic live performer. But I think growth as an actual player is needed to truly keep the spark — and hence your personal love affair with music — alive and flourishing.

The reason I write this now is that all this week I’ve been learning a bunch of songs from Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and Mott the Hoople on the bass. I’ve really gotten back into the bass in the past bunch of years and even started taking some lessons. If you want to stay humble when you just think that you are “all that” on the bass, just try playing some John Paul Jones or Deep Purple. Holy shit. Holy, holy shit. I am back to square one apparently … but completely inspired. I mean, what if I can master these lines?! I will be the greatest! (These are those crazy day-dream images that play through my twisted and mis-informed mind.)

Alright. Enough about me. Just my two cents. A lot of people have asked me music questions, and here is one little stab into informing you all of just a thing or two that I have culled along the way. Perhaps there will be more in a later column. Write with any tips of your own.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:01 pm

What about the Beginners?

Thu., May 30 2013

We got a lot of feedback from last weeks’ “Humble Musician” column. There were way too many questions to actually even attempt to answer; but in the same breath, there were enough good questions to warrant a follow-up here this week.

One question sort of stuck out more than the others to me: What is a good starter guitar/bass/drum kit/amp?

First off, and before you make an investment into a new instrument and/or amp, make sure that playing music is something you will be doing for a while. Gear can be expensive, especially if it is only a passing fancy. Alright?

I had a paper route when I was a kid, and also some summertime regular jobs of cutting peoples lawns and whatnot. An older kid at my middle school knew I was into music, and offered to sell me a Gibson EBO bass for $125 (pretty sure it was, er, “hot”). Paper routes and cutting lawns is tough work, and when I paid this older kid for this bass in installments, the fact that it was my own hard-fought dough put an extra emphasis on my taking the next step and following through with actually starting a band. Walking Papers keyboardist Ben Anderson picked cantaloupe all summer in Arizona when he was a teen to get his first guitar. Paying for your own gear might help!

My first amp was a Peavy TNT 100 that I bought new on a monthly payment plan (my dear Mom co-signed for me).

Getting the very best and top-shelf gear from the get-go is probably not the most important thing. Gibson and Fender do make really good entry-level guitars and basses these days, and places like the big-box Guitar Center, and even American Music, can have ridiculous deals on these axes.

Amps are a bit different. There are entry level guitar and bass amps, but the sound varies a ton. You will never go wrong with a Fender combo guitar amp with tubes. Different pedals for distortion, or whatever, can be added between your guitar and amp to help achieve whatever added sound you are looking for.

Bass amps vary just as much. Make sure you have at least 100 watts, and that your tone isn’t too brittle. Listen to Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones’ sound before you go shopping for an amp. You can never go wrong with his tone.

Drums are a whole different animal. Entry level kits are fine, but the sturdiness factor of inexpensive hardware can end up costing you to replace time and again. Good cymbals are expensive too. So if you are a new drummer, I’d suggest just going for it, as far as getting a good and not-so-inexpensive kit. Make sure the hardware is the best quality. Note: I was a drummer in my teens. I just couldn’t afford replacing cymbals anymore.

M-audio makes a great midi-keyboard with what is called “waterfall” action for around $100. Not the same feel as a piano, but with all of the computer software that comes with it, you can get whatever sound you need. And if you want a real piano, and have some cousins with strong backs, Craigslist always has free pianos just about every week.

Craigslist, in general, is a good place to find stuff if you’ve got all of the money now. You can often bargain, and just find plain old good deals left and right. Know what you want first, though, and don’t just jump on something if you have a feeling it isn’t “you” … if that makes sense. You have got to want to play the instrument that you get. It must inspire you!

A lot of you may have just got back from Sasquatch Festival. You have seen your heros play, or maybe found some new hero. Just remember, all of those artists who played over there last weekend have gone through what you are going through now. Forge on. Practice. Start a band. Music needs you!
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:03 pm

Rock’n’Roll [Art] Will Never Die

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jun 6 2013

The What: Artist Rebecca Miller’s one night solo show, New Works: Charcoal Drawings on Antique Sheet Music.

The When: 6-10 p.m., Thursday (that’s tonight!) June 6th.

The Where: Alki Arts at the Harbor Steps, 55 University (at the base of the building).

Like most of us, I can appreciate all kinds of art in a range of mediums. For me though, art has to somehow feel right. I’m no expert, and—like so many of us, I’d assume—it’s annoying if I don’t know what I’m looking at is supposed to be good. I’ll see something at a tattoo shop that hits me and other stuff that really doesn’t (this happens at SAM). Hell, I’ve been to the Louvre and seen stuff that I thought was pedestrian or just too “cool” for my tastes. I view art the same way that I hear music: it either moves me or it doesn’t.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know some truly talented artists and one of them lives right here in Seattle: Rebecca Miller, an artist I’ve been acquainted with for over a decade.

Rebecca is a transplant to Seattle who has fallen in love with this place, and I’ve witnessed first-hand how her work has come to gain more and more accolades, from local rockers and the upper-echelon art crowd to just regular everyday folk. I’ve observed several different periods in her work and her latest mode is genius: it starts with antique sheet music on canvas which she then overlays with images ranging from Billie Holiday, Iggy, Prince, and Salvador Dali to Alice in Chains and everyone in between. This is “Artist Art,” if you will. (I would go on but describing her work is sort of like trying to write about music: dumb and nay impossible.)

Seattle. We are lucky to have such a talent in our midst. We are a city that holds our arts in a lofty place, and we can chalk up another good one here with Ms. Miller.

Don’t be surprised if you see some rock luminaries at the show. Don’t be surprised to see those cool-looking art-expert types at the show. But also, don’t be surprised to see a bunch of people like you and me; folks who just simply like and appreciate cool fucking art and good rock n’ roll imagery.

Rebecca Miller is an original and for this first public showing ever, I know she’s nervous as hell. Check out the link here and have a look for yourself, or better yet, go to the show and check it out. Rebecca, if you’re reading: The best of luck to you. Break a, er, brush!
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:05 pm

Top 12 Tour Bus Rules and No-Nos

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jun 13 2013

Again, your erstwhile scribe is on tour. I’ve gone from amazing South Africa to the green and poetic isle of Ireland. I’m currently on a ferry on the Irish Sea en route to Scotland, where I’m traveling with 5 other dudes, and it’s 6 a.m. We played a late gig last night in Belfast, and we have another one tonight in Glasgow.

Of course, with all of this travel together, you’ve got to be somewhat cool to each other or things can go sideways in a hot second. Ergo, today I thought I’d enlighten some of you to some golden rules of the rock ‘n’ roll road.

Top 12 Tour Bus Rules:

12. Pass ass-to-ass. We all know the most important “ass-to-ass dog” technique when passing each other in tight quarters (no, this not a yoga pose!). It can get a little cute if one turns frontal suddenly on an ass-to-ass pass.

11. Personal hygiene. This is key. Crap breath or stank butt can lower moral and kill an appetite (a band does need to eat and stinky body odor from an orifice or two can kill ones’ will for nourishment).

10. Don’t be serious. You will ganged up on in no time, and the butt of every tour joke. Join in on the fun…be the river flowing down stream, and not the rock trying to hold the river back.

9. Know some history. It’s always cool to know something about where you are. For instance, Dublin is in Ireland. Belfast is in North Ireland. Do not fuck this up (broken fingers aren’t good for guitar playing). History is good tour bus or van convo too, a bonus.

8. Don’t be a dick. Life can be hard enough on the road with the mishaps that present themselves in everyday scheduling conflicts. Don’t be that guy making a mountain out of a molehill.

7. Have a look around: Go out a take walk where you are. People and different cultures are so damn interesting, and remember: Know where you are going. Getting mugged with tour-float dough ain’t good for the bottom line.

6. Don’t get stuck: If you are having a pint or five after the show, it is always a good idea to grab a card from the hotel where you are staying. One doesn’t want to go through the old “I have no idea where I am staying, Mr. Cab Driver” debacle. Could be an expensive cab ride, driving around seeing if things look familiar.

5. Listen up, Crew: Please don’t have a drink until the last bit of gear is packed away. Band members can be pretty unforgiving about a left-behind guitar (See #6).

4. There is no “I” in “Team”: It may be your name on the tour poster or the marquee, but a takes the efforts of everyone on that tour to make things happen. T.E.A.M. = Together Everyone Achieves More. (Again, #6.)

3. Remember why you are there: Music is a gift, and one of the greatest human ways to communicate. Go kick some ass.

2. Shut it. Never miss an opportunity to keep your damn mouth shut. Whether you are talking to an audience, boring them with your banter, or regaling stories on the tour bus, don’t talk too much!

1. Sleep little baby, sleep: If one of you is sleeping, then everything is out of limits. Sleep is so hard to get enough of out here that if one of you is catching some zzzzs—anywhere—he or she must not be disturbed (and if you are that guy that wakes up a sleeper, the rule-of-the-road is that you must get kicked squarely in the nards. No ifs, ands, or buts!).
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:07 pm

Top 10 Tour Tips for the Uninitiated (or, How Not to be a Dumb-Dumb)

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jun 20 2013

Last week, we went over some simple living-together-as-a-band-on-the-road tips. This week, I’d like to review some of the more mundane, technical aspects of being in a touring band. Mundane they are, but if you fuck them up, you could stand to look like a real dummy in front of an expectant audience. Here’s my top 10.

10. Don’t climb up onto a speaker cabinet unless you are really going to jump. Have you ever seen that gig where the performer gets all the way up to the top of a cabinet, and then realizes it is just too damn high? The awkward climb down is one of the most embarrassing moves in rock ‘n’ roll.

9. Put the guitar cable through the back of your guitar strap. Stepping on the cable while you are mid-rock, and thus pulling the cable from your guitar, is a key sign of the rock novice.

8. Always have an “oh, shit!” cable. Guitar cables are notorious for going bad in the middle of a set of songs. Don’t be that guy who has to stop the show as people scurry around back stage looking for another cable. Always have a back up sitting on top of your amp, neatly bundled, curled, and ready to go. We call these oh shit! cables.

7. Be on time. Uh huh.

6. Turn problems into opportunity. On a summer tour, there are sure to be tons of obstacles. The van breaks down. Some piece of gear goes awry. A promoter is being a complete dick, etc. Get your Zen on. Turn your set inside-out if a guitar breaks or whatever. Take that opportunity to just jump into the crowd and say hello to your peeps. If your van goes tits-up, take that opportunity to become a better V8 engine mechanic. If a promoter is being a dumb-dumb, make that a time for enlightening said dick to the better side of humanity. Walk away, and thank the gods of rock and roll that you are not a dick. Thusly…

5. Don’t be a dick. Though this isn’t a truly technical item, it is perhaps the most important step to having a successful rock experience. I recently had the opportunity to do a couple of shows way down in South Africa with some lofty rock characters. Joe Elliott, Slash, Matt Sorum, Myles Kennedy, the great Glenn Hughes, Gilby Clarke, Ed Roland from Collective Soul, and Dave Kushner from Velvet Revolver. All of these guys are cool as fuck, and there is not a ‘knob’ in the bunch. Whether you are a man or a woman, just don’t be a dick.

4. Have your shit sorted. Don’t pack too much or too little. Put all your vitamins in one bottle. Forget keeping underwear clean, simply get used to not wearing any! Don’t forget your passport, and always have a high-res photo of it in your phone just in case. Have a kick-ass backpack for your day bag. Know where your shit is in your bag, so that you aren’t the one holding up the show when everyone else is ready to leave in the hotel lobby. Oh, and hair conditioner makes good shaving cream, so don’t bring both.

3. Have a guitar that stays in tune. Don’t take that delicate axe that you love simply because you just love it. If that shit ain’t gonna stay in tune, leave it at home.

2. Don’t roam. Holy hell! Turn your data off on your phone if you are going international. Just turning on your phone when you land in say, London, can cost you like 30 British Pounds (that is, like, 10,072 U.S. Dollars) when your emails load. Either get some cheap phone when you land at that airport, or wait for wi-fi at the venue you are playing.

1. In any language, a smile is worth a thousand words. And at least try to speak the language of the country you are in. If you can’t understand a person in Glasgow, Dublin, or Wales—even though they are indeed speaking your mother tongue—just nod and pass them a beer. It’s probably what they’re asking for anyway!
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:14 pm

by Duff McKagan
Thursday, June 27, 2013


No matter what, you get to the gig. Plan ahead. Think of worst-case scenarios and contingency plans. No matter what, you get to the gig.

There is a lot of touring going on in the summer. A whole lot of bands are crisscrossing the world right at this very moment trying to get to that next festival or club show. Planes are not always on time, and highways are not always traffic-free. Buses, cars, and vans are not impervious to breakdowns and mishaps. Navigation systems don’t always give you the directions you need to get to the back-entrance of a venue in some medieval and twisted-road city like Bruges, Belgium, Nuremburg, Germany, or Tilburg, Holland. Trust me.

A couple of years ago—while on the road with my band, Loaded—we had thought we had plenty of time at 9 a.m. on the outskirts of Milan to make our 1 p.m. showtime at the Gods Of Metal festival. No problem, right? Hell, we’d be there by 10 a.m., and we’d be able to catch some breakfast at catering. Plenty of time to set up gear and all of the rest of that stuff you have to do before a gig. Plus, our German bus driver said he had done this festival ground countless times before. It was a piece of cake.

As we passed the same landmarks for the third time, and the bus/car sickness was starting to set in from going through all of those curvy streets over and over again, we realized we were lost and running short of time. It was now 11 a.m.

I always like to have an hour of “me time” before a show. Most bands do. “Me time” consists of the band hanging together in a room together, playing guitars, and maybe listening to music. It’s a sort of bonding/chill time before you unleash the onslaught, if you will. The gear is all set up, the interviews are done, and now you can just set your sights on being a musician. Simple.

It’s now 11:30 a.m. and we are stuck in a dead-end somewhere in Milan. This huge bus cannot turn around, as there is a car blocking the arc of the only route for a u-turn. The driver of said blocking car is nowhere to be found. You get to the gig no matter what, so we all piled out of the bus, picked up this car, and moved it out of the way. Yes, that’s what we did, with a gathering phalanx of local Milanese people gathering, gesticulating, and shouting in Italian. Whatever. We got a rock show to get to.

Next up, we had a rather pointed discussion with this German bus driver. No more fucking around. We got out an iPhone and found our own directions (and, the right ones it turned out). With the iPhone Google Map dilly-bob- gadget-thingy in the driver’s face, we made it to the gig at 12:45 p.m. The gear went straight on the stage, and so did we, still bus/car sick and without that “me time.” But we made the gig.

Last week, The Walking Papers had somewhat of the same ordeal. Our trip was to be a four and a half hour northeastern trek from London to Tilburg, Holland. There is a ferry crossing of an hour and a half from the White Cliffs of Dover to Calais, France (Dover is really only an hour from where we were in London). Calais is about two hours south of Tilburg, so giving that we made our ferry on time (we did), we’d have no problem getting there for our 5:30 p.m. load-in time in Holland, right? We left London at 10 a.m. GST. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Of course, continental Europe is one hour ahead of the U.K., so as soon as the ferry docked, we were working with less time. Alright, but we had planned for this, I think (as a side note: at this point, Walking Papers is a small operation. Our tour manager, Andy, is also the driver, and sells merch at the shows. A tour manager usually calls the shots as far as when to leave a city and how long the next drive will take. But in this band, you have Barrett Martin, a damn college professor, and Ben Anderson, a genius, and Jeff Angell, who runs his own construction company, and me, the jaded-touring-don’t-worry-about-it-been-there-done-that guy. We are all grown-up adult men who probably don’t take to direction too well, and surely, we have out own thoughts on the best way for a planned day to go). Suffice it to say, Andy has a lot more opinions than his own floating around in that van. Poor fucker.

Calais, 3 p.m. The ferry schedule we had previously based our route on was still operating with the winter schedule and hence, our particular ferry was an hour later that we had thought. We are still in Calais at 3 p.m., but still, even with the two hour drive ahead of us, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Problem #1: We hid a satanic traffic jam just ten minutes out of Calais. There is a jack-knifed truck just ahead of us, and we ain’t movin’. As they say in France, merde.

They get the wreck cleared somehow, and we finally get on our way, but it is now 4:45 p.m. No worries, we shall haul ass. We make a call to the production office of the venue in Tilburg and say that we may be a “tiny bit later than 5:30 p.m.” No problem.

Problem #2: Highway construction just 20 minutes later. We are all being re-routed to an arterial road that is a frontage road that runs along the highway. It has stop lights, and with this whole heap of new traffic to the arterial, the stop lights cause a sort of gridlock that Belgium probably doesn’t see too often. Sacre bleu!

We call the production office again, and say we will most likely not be there until 6:30 p.m. Images of Milan start to flash in my head.

Problem #3: Once free of the detour, we are now on open freeway again. A wide open four-lane, and we start to fly, until another fucking jack-knifed (or, hoorgaansvoord truck, we are now in Holland after all). We are again at a standstill.

We get free of this thing finally, it is now 7:15 p.m., we are absolutely careening down the freeway, calling the production office, sweating, having to urinate. We get to Tilburg, where the streets are all one-way and windy and made out of ancient brick. The navigation doesn’t know how to get us to the street we need. We finally ask a Dutchman on a bicycle, and he points to the next street “that one there.” We finally arrive, with 10 minutes to spare.

Still car/van sick.

No “me time.”

But we made the gig. No matter what, we made the gig.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:16 pm

by Duff McKagan
Wednesday, July 3, 2013


This past Monday, just by chance, I actually—really—heard the lyrics for Macklemore’s “Same Love.” I saw the video last February in Australia and loved it, but hearing it on the radio and truly meditating on the lyrics a few days after the Supreme Court overturned Prop 8 was particularly poignant. Not to mention that it was Gay Pride weekend in Seattle and that the Seattle Mariners flew the rainbow flag on Sunday, a first in Major League Baseball. A good week.

Macklemore’s song highlights the fact that pre-conceived notions and stereotypes concerning gay culture are as widespread as similar notions were to African American civil rights up until the late ‘60s and women’s rights until more recently. We live in a country and world at this moment where it is still largely acceptable to say someone is a “faggot” if you are trying to belittle that someone. It is somewhat okay in large parts of our culture to say, “That is so gay.” I’ve done it. You’ve done it. Black or white, male or female, a lot of have said it.

A friend and I were recently discussing how bad ass it was for the Mariners to fly the rainbow flag. He was telling me how the Seattle Seahawks have proposed to fly a rainbow “12th Man” flag this season, and how some of the Hawks more blue-collar season-ticket holders may be a bit flustered by it. He is right—football is a bit different than baseball. But hopefully, Seattle will rise up to this occasion if and when that flag does fly. We passed the Referendum making same-sex marriage a legal thing after all.

In “Same Love,” Macklemore also states that same-sex marriage legalization is really just a piece of paper, and that the document doesn’t mean it’s going to change how people talk behind closed doors, or more succinctly, what kind of things people post on YouTube with aliases or whatnot. But same-sex marriage legalization is a start. Those prejudices will have less room to roam free.

Interracial marriage was illegal in many states here in America until the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. When we now look at this fact, most of us think how fucking archaic it is. Let’s hope what the Supreme Court did last week will be a giant step towards our kids looking back in 20 years and thinking how archaic the same-sex marriage ban was.

That is really all there is to this week’s column. Just a thought to chew on a bit. Love is indeed a universal thing. Even my kids know that—and they haven’t even experienced young love yet.

It’s a no-brainer, I’m glad to have seen it come to pass, and I’m proud to be a damn American, especially on weeks like this. Happy 4th of July!
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:17 pm

by Duff McKagan
Thursday, July 18, 2013


My sister and I went to one of those eateries recently where you pick up after yourself and return the tray and rubbish back to a three-station recycle/compost/trash section near the door. I paid for the food, and she thusly insisted on doing the “clean-up” afterwards as I went and grabbed the car. I grabbed the car just fine, but surmised that something was amiss as I waited near the front door of the eatery in my car. After a few minutes, I jumped out of the car and came back in to the restaurant to see if everything was cool and found my sister a bit bleary-eyed and sweating as she carefully and laboriously sorted every last item to be perfectly discarded in the appropriate bin. We had a good laugh about how conditioned we are to avoid the “recycle police” or the discerning eye of the lurking “eco neighbor” who could be in that line behind you, or sitting somewhere in that same restaurant.

Some cities are way more environmentally conscious than others, and Seattle probably ranks among the top. There are recycle bins at homes in Los Angeles along with straight-up garbage bins and yard-waste bins, but unlike L.A., the Seattle residential recycle bins actually get checked by those drivers who come around every two weeks to collect them; if a resident has anything that is not a recyclable item, that truck will leave your bin full and sitting at your curb….a sort of eco “fuck you, loser.”

We’re seeing more and more those self clean-up eateries with the three-bin choice when you go to discard your plates, trays, cups, left over food remnants, glass, etc. It’s a comical sight most times to see the people there trying to figure out just what the hell goes in which bin. We all try to do our best, as we all feel that we are doing our ‘part’ to save the planet, one region at a time.

The interesting thing is this: Does all of this recycling do any good? Or is it just a big aspirin that makes us feel better about the shit tons of waste we all generate?

In my ‘30s, I went back to school to get a business degree. The great Seattle University was my choice, and it being a Jesuit school, we undergrads had to immerse ourselves in a variety of courses that covered social anthropology, philosophy, and religion (all quite fascinating actually). In one of the social anthropology courses, we did a huge semester-long study of waste, recycling, and the garbage mounds that anthropologist excavators look for to discover ancient town sites. Yes, they look for strange looking hillocks that don’t fit the topography in a given area in say, the Middle East or somewhere; they look for garbage heaps that have been naturally covered over with dust, dirt, and vegetation. Every one from antiquity to now, has garbage heaps.

All of that old stuff returns to a degraded state. Most of our modern stuff will too. Plastics can degrade and eventually sluice into the water table and get crappy things in there, but most other things just go away…except for Styrofoam and disposable diapers. Right, when those anthropologists in 2,000 years come looking for us, they will look for the grown over piles of non-degraded disposable diapers. No shit (couldn’t help myself there).

But, more to the point of the trucks and facilities that have now been employed to pick up all of our recyclables and clean and sort them, and get them eventually back into a recycled newspaper or whatever. It is great that this industry employs people, but think of this: There are now two trucks emitting double the pollution, and now, not one but two plastic non-degradable-water table-sluce-making bins in your front yard. Most people who work on-the-go like driving a truck, perhaps get their food in to-go styrofoam containers, so we have to double that as well. And what about all of the pollutants that go into the water at these facilities that clean this stuff? And, are those workers there eating from styrofoam as well? Could be. What about the millions of tons of batteries that we discard? Where does all of that toxic acid go?

Our findings that semester at S.U. was that it was about a 50/50 proposition. Recycling is great, but the waste that the industry produces may indeed even the playing field, and we are running out of places to put our garbage (not to mention places to put our goddamn carbon emissions)!

But it makes us feel good to recycle. It’s one big ol’ aspirin…maybe.

There is more that we can do though. Use less paper when possible. Compost your own food waste, and use it in your garden if possible, instead of putting it in that “compost bin” they give you. Re-use your plastic milk cartons for something else, or get the paper cartons instead. The disposable diaper thing is what it is. They are just too damn convenient, and it would be a damn hard sell to convince a whole drove of new parents to go back to cloth (and what about that waste in the clean-up?). Drive less and car-pool more. Scan things like legal docs and get email tickets to concerts and sporting events and airline tickets on your iPhone. Eat at home and bring your lunch to work in a Scooby-Doo lunch pale. Drink water from a refillable water bottle from home when you need water throughout the day at work or at play. Our study at S.U. found these above steps—if done by everyone—would make a massive difference.

I’m not trying to suggest that we should all stop going out to places to eat; the food in Seattle is just too damn good. But next time you are at a restaurant or some such place with the bins that make you sort out your paper and plastic and compost, hurry the fuck up. I’m waiting outside with my car running!
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:18 pm

A Few of My Favorite 2013 Gigs

By Duff McKagan Thu., Jul 25 2013

Whether I am out on the road, or at home here in Seattle, seeing good live music for me always acts as a “restart.” We all have so much noise and even chaos in our day-to-day lives, that sometimes, a live gig is just the ticket to lift us out of the humdrum-ness and/or drama of matriculating normal life. Music is a positive mantra for us, and great live bands can spin that positivity to unimagined heights.

The SubPop Silver Jubilee in Georgetown earlier this month afforded me the chance to see a bunch of live music all in the same day. I discovered a few new artists that I somehow missed the boat on as of late, and I caught up with a few journeymen in their prime. Here are a few highlights from that weekend along with some other cool gigs that have helped me restart in the past few months.

METZ: It’s always great to “discover” a band through its live show. I was drawn to the main stage at the Sub Pop thing sometime around 4pm by the power and abrasiveness of this band live. This trio from Toronto is a Nirvana-esgue Bleach-period rock outfit, but somehow totally original and mean. I bought the record when I got home, and it is just as good.

ROSE WINDOWS: I saw these guys first acoustically earlier in the day as a three piece and was blown away. Before the gorgeous full-band set later that day, I went up to guitar player Chris Geveyo and praised his radical skills (really quite brilliant). He sort of nodded at me and walked away... fucking cool!

GREG DULLI: Whether he is an Afghan Whig, a Twilight Singer, a Gutter Twin, or on his very lonesome; Greg Dulli is a force of nature. He is the songwriter and performer who has the ability to inspire an audience, and lift them to a higher place. Killer and OG. Dulli is always good these days.

J MASCIS: He did a poignant acoustic show on the headliner stage, at a time of day when everyone else was turning their amps up to 11. A songwriter like J Mascis can strip it down like this and be confident, because the bare-bones essence of the songs themselves are so damn good. I’m truly glad to have stopped at this stage at this time. There was ton of stuff I missed that day. TAD with his Brothers…thing (saw it once before. Great!), Mudhoney, Catheters, and a bunch more.

The rest ...

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE: I got to see these guys in June in England at the Download Festival on the week their new record came out. This is one of those few bands that can make a huge festival gig seem like an intimate club. A band in its prime that simply remains not to give a fuck what you think. Perfect.

ALICE IN CHAINS: I had the good fortune to see these guys live recently when they played on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. We have all witnessed how their career has morphed over the years. Now however, and that night especially…I saw a band of 5 guys settle into their ginormous spot…with ease and ferocity. New songs or old, they owned it Again, perfect.

THE POSTAL SERVICE: The latest show I’ve seen (last week at Key Arena), the Postal Service put on one hell of a show (italicized because it really was a show. The lights and stage and sound were top shelf). These scant few songs mean so much to so many, that even with only a 75 minute set, there was enough brilliantly played and executed songs to please that arena-full for a long time … which is good, because, well, it may just BE a very long time until PS does another tour as big as this one.

MARINERS: Yes, I know its not a musical thing—but the way the M’s have been playing as of late can lift a person. We haven’t had a MLB team in town for some time with any hope. This Raul Ibanez-led team with the young bucks like Miller and Franklin and even Mike Zunino … gives us all hope up here, of getting some place higher in the not-too-distant future.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:22 pm

by Duff McKagan
Thursday, August 1, 2013


This summer in Seattle has been one of the best I can remember. The weather has been stellar, and the outdoor music festivals we are fortunate enough to get up here have been sun-drenched and dry as a bone. All of that heat and lack of moisture can’t, of course, make music better, but it does enhance the experience and somehow, can make great music…greater.

Three gigs in recent memory come to mind:

Purity Ring: Electronic music with a flair for simple ambience and no guitars or drums probably wouldn’t sell a guy like me. I like shit to be real, and often, abrasive (in all of the best of ways). But, after an introduction through a teenage daughter, I came to enjoy PR’s first offering, Shrines. The mellowness of the record almost hides a mysterious and intangible darkness.

On my way up to the Capitol Hill Block Party with aforementioned teenage daughter, I was a bit worried that my “mellow” little band wouldn’t be quite big enough to handle the 9 p.m. headline slot on Saturday night. Would they be ruined by hecklers and other beer-infused jack-offs?

Nope. This ambient duo from Edmonton rose to the occasion. Live, Purity Ring recalls OG’s like Siouxie and the Banshees and Fleetwood Mac while remaining radically original and hip, and yes, mysterious. It’s the type of band that a crowd like the one Saturday on Capitol Hill need not necessarily know to like the music. Its infectious and groovy, and the light/video show on the buildings during the set were pretty damn fucking cool too. We are lucky to have such a well-run event as the CHBP. With fine weather to boot, the mixed crowd’s differences in background and social class were made null by the simple cadence and pulse of good music.

Peter Frampton (at the Tulalip Casino outdoor stage): I saw Peter Frampton once before. It was 1976 or ’77, I was 13, and that shit was at the damn Kingdome. I’m sure I was smoking weed, and I am sure I was all caught up with young teenage dreams of how cool mega-rock stardom must be. I didn’t understand then, the lineage Frampton encompassed at the time, with his rock group Humble Pie and the significance of British blues guitar in rock history.

But a long time has passed since then, and when I got the chance to go to the show last Sunday, I came fully versed as learned scholar of not only Frampton himself and Humble Pie, but also Steve Marriott, Small Faces, Rory Gallagher, Free, Bad Company, Eric Clapton, and many other contemporaries of Frampton.

The gig encompassed classics from his Frampton Comes Alive mega-hit live record from the mid-’70s along with Humble Pie’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and even his Grammy award-winning instrumental version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” which, this night, featured Mike McCready on guitar (Mike and Matt Cameron played on the recorded version too).

The encore version of “As My Guitar Gently Weeps” with McCready, Frampton, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd was absolutely mind blowing.

The Cult (at the Showbox): Yes, a decidedly non-outside venue housed this rock ‘n’ roll shot in the arm of The Cult playing the Electric album in its entirety, before launching into another set of songs from their latest Choice of Weapon and other rock gems from their illustrious career. I got to open for The Cult in 1987 with GN’R, and have seen them many times since, but it’s always inspiring to see a rock band like this, that somehow found a way to never leave their fucking prime.

Taking it all in under warm, clear Seattle skies is icing on the fucking cake.
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:23 pm

by Duff McKagan
Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I’m out on tour with The Walking Papers, and this is our first extensive U.S. jaunt. We have a four-man crew with us, two of whom are from the U.K.. These two lovely foreigners have never been to America, and it has been totally hilarious to witness some of their first impressions of “Merica,” because both these guys have killer senses of humor.

I’m sitting here now with Paul Spencer, our Manchester-born guitar tech, and we are drinking coffee on the tour bus which is currently sitting in a massive parking lot at a venue in Mansfield, Massachusetts. We aren’t actually playing in cities, but rather the amphitheaters outside of them, similar to the Gorge, which is nowhere near Seattle. We’ve been to places like Darien Lake, N.Y., Saratoga Springs, and Hartford, Connecticut, with a day off in Lake George, N.Y. While these are all cool places (and often scenic and beautiful), this isn’t exactly a metropolis tour.

So, what the hell are some of Paul’s observations of our country thus far?

Bigger Is Better: Paul has yet to have a meal in America and “clear a plate.” He is being nice, and doesn’t want to offend us, so he simply says that restaurant food portions are “generous.”

The Beer Sucks: Except for Seattle micro-brews, to Paul, the beer here is quizzical. He has been drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, and it’s a bit hard for me to try and explain to him the hipster resurgence of this redneck culture brew.

People are Really Nice: Obviously, he hasn’t been to L.A. yet. Period.

We Don’t Get It: Paul’s uniquely British (read: dark) humor will sometimes leave a light-hearted American scratching their head. Unless you are able to access the more twisted nether-regions of your psyche, the English sense of humor may leave you calling home for your mother to soothe you back to normalcy.

America Is HUGE: New York State itself is bigger than England proper. It’s got to be a head trip for a visiting Brit.

Truck Stops: “Bloody hell, you could do your weekly shoppin’ in these!” Ah yes, we show our visitors only the best America has to offer.

The Ladies are Friendly: Paul says that he believes the women folk here may have a thing for his accent. He also states that back home, his accent—more succinctly, the things he says with aforementioned accent—will often just get him a slap in the face. But not here. Paul has a safe haven here in the warm cocoon of the bus. Poor bugger.

People are Welcoming: I explain to him that because we saved England from speaking German back in WWII, we have a savior-complex that pushes us Americans to be nice to our little English pals.

Sports: Everybody loves sports in America. He is fascinated with all of the different leagues, and college sports are MUCH bigger here than in the U.K. He’s impressed with how our MLS Soccer is coming along and even likes our Sounders. Yea, us!

We Have Some Things to Learn About Slang: Paul cleared U.S. Customs at the lovely JFK Airport which took two hours of standing in a line that seemingly didn’t move. It wasn’t “ream” (cool) says Paul. He didn’t feel like a “playa” (uh, player or cool guy), or even a “LDP” (little d*ck player). “He was right wanker innit,” Paul exclaims (translation: “Wasn’t he a slow man with an attitude?’). He had to wait so long that he had to go strait to the “loo” (bathroom), and “drop King Kong’s finger” (um…yeah).
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Post by Blackstar Wed Apr 27, 2022 3:26 pm

by Duff McKagan
Thursday, August 22, 2013


It’s incredible to think that this week it has been five whole years since I started writing this goofy and sometimes inane weekly piece. Sometimes it’s been a lot of fun; other times, not so much. But it has been a great time all in all, now that I think back in retrospect. It has been an incredible little journey, and I have learned a lot here. Ergo, here is a “Top 10” list of things I have noticed along the way.

People Will Surprise: I came into this thing not really realizing that people could write back in something called a “comments” section. For every anonymous “you suck,” there were two-fold thoughtful insights to whatever subject was being discussed that week, often by far more grandiose writers than myself (uh, that part wasn’t too tough).

Books Are Popular: When I started writing a “book recommend” quarterly summary, these columns became the most viewed, shared, and commented upon posts. Book nerds are cool.

Apologies: When I wrote a column to Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl concerning my genuine heartache about never trying to get a hold of them when Kurt Cobain passed, it opened up a whole new writing slant that felt like a car wash for the soul. That is when I started writing those stories that eventually became my book.

Editors: Never being a writer prior to this gig at Seattle Weekly, I of course never had the experience of working with an editor. I owe a whole slew and ton of thanks to the wonderful and professor-like guidance of the great Chris Kornelis. He guided me through some tough spots, and some wonderful victories.

I Have To Write This Weekly? Crap! You mean I have to write this four times a month, month in and month out? Finding ideas to write about has really honed my ability to observe social behavior. The trick has been not to let my friends in on the fact that I was sometimes checking them out for the selfish reason of writing a column about them.

Funny Shit: Sometimes, life just gets funny. Writing about tour life always was the easiest place to find this stuff. “Fart Tennis” and “Ass-To-Ass Dog” are just two that come immediately to mind. Observing and writing about the humorous stuff in life is something I always hope I get a chance to do.

Great Peers and Colleagues: Writing alongside John Roderick, Krist Novoselic, and Jessie Sykes is something in this life I never imagined I’d have the honor to get a stab at. Thank you, guys.

The Readers: Have always kept things either educational, brutal, poignant, and forward thinking. We have discussed things here that came close to blows, or conversely, e-french kissing. You have been a class act every last one of you.

Interviews: While I will be the very first to say that I suck at these, it was completely fun doing the Jack White and Johnny Marr discussions and exposes.

You Fans Give Back: Whenever you have found a just cause here, like the Ronald McDonald House, or the father of a dying child who had his truck stolen, or the mountaineer Tim Medvetz who is taking limbless young veterans up high mountains, you all contribute to the world in meaningful ways with much more than your comments on my column.

I thank you all for these five wondrous years. I am indebted to you, and always look forward to meeting you in a coffee shop, bookstore, or airport line. My hat is off to one and all.

Duff McKagan

8/21/2013
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