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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

2023.12.21 - Forbes - Duff McKagan On New Album ‘Lighthouse,’ Lessons Learned From The Clash

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2023.12.21 - Forbes - Duff McKagan On New Album ‘Lighthouse,’ Lessons Learned From The Clash Empty 2023.12.21 - Forbes - Duff McKagan On New Album ‘Lighthouse,’ Lessons Learned From The Clash

Post by Blackstar Fri 22 Dec 2023 - 15:10

Duff McKagan On New Album ‘Lighthouse,’ Lessons Learned From The Clash

By Jim Ryan
Contributor


On his third solo studio album Lighthouse, Duff McKagan drills down on his punk rock roots.

While the word punk often conjures up the idea of a certain sound, the punk rock ethos, attitude and mindset have always been equally important components and that spirit lies at the heart of the eleven tracks on the Guns N’ Roses bassist’s latest project.

“I saw Led Zeppelin in ‘77 at the Kingdome in Seattle. And it was epic,” recalled McKagan during a recent video call. “And then punk rock happened,” said the bassist with a smirk. “Back then, there were no big screens. And the stages were small. So, at the Kingdome, Led Zeppelin were these tiny people. And you knew they got out of there afterwards on a plane that probably said ‘Led Zeppelin’ on it and flew away,” he explained, looking back at a formative music moment. “And I love Led Zeppelin. But then I saw The Clash. I saw them in ‘79 before London Calling at the Paramount Theatre. 150 people there and it’s the punk scene in Seattle - we knew everybody,” said McKagan, setting the scene.

“Well, some guy - the yellow-coated security guy - punched one of our friends. He broke his nose because he was pogoing. This was so early on in punk that the yellow-coated security guy thought pogoing meant they were starting a riot. So, he broke this guy’s nose - blood everywhere. And The Clash stopped the show,” said McKagan. “[Clash bassist] Paul Simonon went and grabbed an ax off the side of the stage - like the fire fighting ax. Well, [singer and guitarist] Joe Strummer gets on and goes, ‘We’ll chop down this barrier! Because there’s no difference between you and I. We’re all in this together!’ I was like, ‘Wow. That’s what it is! That’s what this all is!’ The Clash,” he said, shaking his head. “That changed everything, man - that moment and that gig. And that’s how I started approaching life. We’re all in this together. Relationships. My wife and I. Guns N’ Roses. All of the punk bands I was in. Everything. We’re all in this together.”

That philosophy informs the Lighthouse album, now available on CD, vinyl, cassette and via online streaming services.

The “Godfather of Punk” Iggy Pop delivers a reprise of the title track to close the record and a storytelling arc connects the music in between, as McKagan addresses the world on cuts like “I Saw God on 10th Street” and “Just Another Shakedown.”

Working closely with producer Martin Feveyear, McKagan was joined by drummer Jamie Douglass (Shooter Jennings), Seattle guitarist Tim DiJulio and keyboard player Tim Burns, with artists like GNR bandmate Slash and Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell appearing along the way.

Recording in his home studio proved to be crucial, with McKagan writing about 60 new songs, most recorded amidst the quarantine of early pandemic.

“Hope,” however, was an exception, with McKagan working from a 25 year old home demo.

“I finally got these masters back of these recordings that I did at my house in 1996 with Abe Laboriel playing drums,” he said, referencing the longtime Paul McCartney drummer. “‘Hope’ had Slash on guitar. He came up to my house like, ‘Hey, you want me to put guitar on this?’ But I hadn’t listened to it since 1997! We got these back during COVID and I was like, ‘Whoa. This song is f–ing great, man!’ I sent it to Slash and he said, ‘I don’t even remember doing this,’” said McKagan of the 25 year old session. “I did re-sing it so my voice sounds more current. But all of that ‘Hope’ song is from my studio in 1996.”

The new album’s title track doubles as an ode to his wife of nearly 25 years, Susan Holmes, while “Longfeather” references the discipline McKagan has learned via the martial arts and three decades of sobriety.

“I Just Don’t Know” finds him ruminating on life, first looking back upon his childhood while eventually wondering what’s next?

It’s one of the new record’s most beautiful tracks, featuring guitar and vocals from Cantrell alongside finger picked acoustic guitar by McKagan himself and a lush string section beautifully arranged by Andrew Joslyn.

“I had a chord structure and I had a melody - but I didn’t have words. So, I had this melody and I knew this song. I thought, ‘Let’s make it special… But don’t think about it too much because you’ll f–k it up,” he said with a laugh. “But I was walking our dog at night during COVID - while I’m writing songs and all of this stuff. I look up and I’m in Seattle and all of the stars are out. And to my left is Lake Washington. It’s not the ocean. But I’m singing this thing. I looked at the water. ‘The ocean’s undertow, to the ether’s ever glow - I just don’t know.’ And it became this song about how I don’t know what’s next,” McKagan explained. “I had these lyrics so I had to run home and write them down. I had to pick up my dog and run back home because I didn’t have my phone with me. But that walk… the song is very special to me,” he admitted. “I’m really proud of that song and how I got onto the lyrics.”

“Forgiveness” strikes an even more optimistic tone.

While live music maintains a virtually unparalleled ability to bring people together despite divisive times, the new track finds McKagan inspired by his travels.

Influenced by his encounters with ordinary people across the country and around the world, “Forgiveness” finds McKagan continually applying the still relevant lesson he learned from The Clash nearly 45 years ago.

“I’ve traveled so much. I read a lot and I go out and I talk,” said the GNR bassist. “The last couple of weeks, I was in the South. And I’ll have a drive day. Where, instead of going directly to the next city, if there’s a day off, I’ll go to say Owensboro, Kentucky, apropos of nothing. I’ll go to Hot Springs, Arkansas. I went to Savannah, Georgia. I’ll do it in Europe or wherever I go - if I can. I’ve always done this,” said McKagan.

“When I go to Owensboro, Kentucky, Guns N’ Roses isn’t playing anywhere near. So, people are not looking for me. They’ll let down their guard and talk like normal people talk,” said the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. “I really stopped watching cable news about the end of 2016. I really did. Because I was watching this divide being created. And I was like, ‘This is f–ing bulls–t. I travel around. I talk to people. This isn’t real!’” McKagan observed. “Sure, there are extreme people everywhere. People who are just on the internet too much or whatever they’re doing. But, mostly, I just don’t see it at all. People generally and genuinely want to be kind,” he said. “So, ‘Forgiveness’ is sort of this reaching out. This divide that they’ve been telling us about? Let’s just let it go. Because we’re all in this together,” implored McKagan. “I get to see it! I really go out to these places. And we’re all in it together.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimryan1/2023/12/21/duff-mckagan-on-new-album-lighthouse-lessons-learned-from-the-clash/
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