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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!
SoulMonster

2023.10.12 - The Seattle Times - Duff McKagan on Guns N’ Roses tour and new solo album ‘Lighthouse’

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2023.10.12 - The Seattle Times - Duff McKagan on Guns N’ Roses tour and new solo album ‘Lighthouse’ Empty 2023.10.12 - The Seattle Times - Duff McKagan on Guns N’ Roses tour and new solo album ‘Lighthouse’

Post by Blackstar Sun Oct 15, 2023 3:29 am

Duff McKagan on Guns N’ Roses tour and new solo album ‘Lighthouse’

By Michael Rietmulder

It’s been a fertile few years for Duff McKagan.

The Seattle punk-turned-stadium-slaying bassist’s most recent lap around the globe with Guns N’ Roses will bring him back to his hometown for an Oct. 14 show at Climate Pledge Arena. A week later, McKagan will unleash his third solo album “Lighthouse,” a set of topical and personal new tunes that bolsters the rocker’s singer-songwriter credentials following 2019’s Americana-flavored “Tenderness.”

In between the two solo offerings, two anonymous figures bearing an uncanny resemblance to McKagan and his Fastbacks buddy Kurt Bloch dropped an album as Max Creeps — a quasi-mysterious duo with a fake backstory (delivered with a wink) about the Seattle band that supposedly invented punk rock.

Through it all, McKagan’s been hopping continents along GN’R’s pandemic-delayed We’re F’N’ Back! Tour, the Los Angeles band’s second multiyear outing since McKagan and Slash reunited with frontman Axl Rose under the Guns’ banner in 2016. “It’s been really powerful,” McKagan said of the latest chapter with Guns N’ Roses, “and it’s [expletive] fun right now.”

When COVID hit as Guns N’ Roses were kicking off a tour in Mexico City, McKagan and his family returned to Seattle where he had recently bought an old recording studio. He started working on songs, expecting to be back on the road in a matter of weeks.

“Once the creativity thing’s going, just writing or whatever, it begets more creativity,” McKagan said. “So, I just kept writing more songs. Four weeks turned into eight and eight weeks, as we know, turned into two years.”

McKagan wound up recording close to 60 songs, including the title track and the Jerry Cantrell-assisted “I Just Don’t Know,” which bookend “Lighthouse.” We caught up with the homegrown rock star and (ahem) Seattle Times subscriber ahead of the album’s release to discuss his inspirations, Seattle collaborators and an ax-wielding Clash concert McKagan said “changed my everything.” This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

So, you had all these songs. What common threads did you start to see as you assembled the record?

Two years is a long time, so you go through different phases, thematically. By my studio, a camp went up like a block away. This camp, it wasn’t a homeless camp, it was a drug camp. Somebody got murdered. You’re watching people walk down the street, people are a little freaked out, places are closing down, there’s nobody out. There’s a song I wrote, it’s not on this record, [called] “Panic on the Street.” I really don’t watch cable news. I’ve given up paying attention to American politics, really. But I’m not a dum-dum, I know what’s going on. I look at The [Seattle] Times, I’m a subscriber. So, you get social-political stuff, but I’d rather have, like, the old pissed-off God up on 10th Street pissing and cursing, ‘You guys [expletive] up, just judging the [expletive] out of us.” And that’s [the song] “[I Saw] God on 10th St.”

Was that song inspired by a real-life event?

No. It’s a nice visual, you know. In songwriting, lyric writing, the authors that I love use a lot less words to mean a hell of a lot more, like Cormac McCarthy for instance. An image, something you can grab onto. I had this chord structure and this melody and the first words that came, “I saw God on 10th Street,” OK, what does that mean? Then you fill in the story. I had a lot more of those. When I write a song, I’ll have like 15 verses, so I’ll pare it back and find what I like. That was just the imagery. I guess it’s quasi-political and social-political. But it’s really just a three-chord punk song.

On his history buff proclivities and sobriety journey converging on the song “Longfeather” …

When I got sober back in ’94, I was in this position, like [expletive], how do I do this? Somebody introduced me to my martial arts sensei. I came in and was doing two-a-days. I was pretty desperate to find center. We did meditation and I started calling people, [like] what you do in AA, calling people or meeting with people [to make amends].

Then [my sensei would] say this thing at the end: “Today’s a good day to die.” Everything else is so positive, this is such a macabre thing he’s saying at the end, I don’t know what it means. One day when I’d made all my calls, had done all my things and I told the people that I love I loved them, I woke up one morning and had nothing on my shoulders — not one [expletive] thing — and I could look in the mirror and I could smile at myself. It was the weirdest thing and it was so powerful. And today’s a good day to die means, “I don’t want to die today,” but you’ve made all your amends. You’ve told all your people you love them, you’ve left your affairs in order. Everything’s cool.

Benny “The Jet” [Urquidez], my sensei, is Blackfoot Native American and this was a saying either Longfeather or Crazy Horse would say to his guys before they went into battle. It’s about how you live. I went and visited the Custer’s Last Stand [monument] on tour, after COVID, in Montana. It’s astounding. The rangers do such a good job of representing the Native Americans’ side of things. It was meant to be a slaughter of families. So, I clothed this story of overcoming and taking care of your [expletive] in this Custer’s Last Stand battle.

On recording with a small, mostly Seattle cast in isolated pandemic sessions …

I was really lucky to get Tim DiJulio, local hero, everybody’s favorite guitar player in Seattle, to come in and play. … He’s perfect for my music. … I’d be like, “Tim, I have five songs. Can you play on these all today? Be great, make the parts timeless, be epic. But you’ve got to do it in the next five minutes.” That was kind of the joke. I used local guys, Ryan Burns on keyboards, he’s played for a bunch of people around town. We have so many good players in Seattle — Shaina Shepherd came in, sang backing vocals on stuff. I love her.

I know Shepherd sang on the “This Is the Song” EP you put out this year. Is she on the [new] record?

Yeah, the end of the song “Lighthouse.” We did a few things together. I played bass on some stuff for her. She’s a pal of mine and, [expletive], I just love being around people that are that talented.

Another Seattle guy, who just got added to the Climate Pledge show, Ayron Jones, someone you’ve been supportive of for years. What’s it been like watching him develop as an artist?

Man, the fun thing is touring as much as I do … you get to see your friends and some people’s careers rising. Ayron’s career, I could actually physically see. He got on some festivals, he started moving up, his name would get bigger in the poster.

He’s the real deal. I got to see him playing the Crocodile just before he got signed.… It was like going to church, man, that particular show. [Ayron]’s got Seattle cupped in his hands, he really does, and he’s starting to do that other places. It’s great to see that happen to such a talent, a good guy, a truth teller. That’s all I try to do with songwriting, tell the truth.

For me, seeing The Clash in 1979 at the Paramount, that show changed everything. The Clash came and they were just as exotic as Led Zeppelin to me until a kid in the front got punched in the nose by a yellow-jacketed security guard, because he was pogoing and they didn’t know what it was, so they broke this guy’s nose. The Clash stopped the show and Paul Simonon comes out with an ax. [Joe] Strummer’s like, “We’ll cut down this wooden barrier because there’s no difference between you and us. We’re all in this thing together!” And it was like, “[Expletive]! Wow! This is the answer!”

That just totally changed my everything. It changed how I write songs to this day, how I think about it, how I view other artists, like Ayron. Like Shaina. When you’re telling the truth and you’re doing it real, I got a bunch of time for you.

https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/music/duff-mckagan-on-guns-n-roses-tour-and-new-solo-album-lighthouse/
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