Yet another reason Duff McKagan is one of the coolest people in the world

The scenario: Kurt Cobain conspiracy theorist Richard Lee accosts Duff at a book signing, looking for comment on the flight Duff shared with Cobain shortly before the latter’s 1994 suicide. Lee gets pretty aggressive and a bunch of well-meaning folks try to herd him out of the building.

Duff to the rescue! Watch at 0:57 as Duff says what we’re all thinking.


Read my interview with Duff about the album The Taking by his band Loaded here (it’s totally one of my favourite albums of the year – some dudes go a whole career without writing one song as good as “Indian Summer,” “Dead Skin,” “Executioner’s Song,” “We Win,” “Easier Lying” or “Wrecking Ball” but Duff has the audacity to write all of them for one album! Seriously, check it out).

And you can get Duff’s book from Amazon.com here.
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INTERVIEW: Duff McKagan

Duff McKagan was always one of the most proactive Guns N’ Roses members. While Slash almost seemed to drop out of the mainstream for a couple of years at a time and Axl pulled off a pretty impressive disappearing act for a while there, Duff was putting out albums like his own solo CD Believe In Me as well as releases with Neurotic Outsiders, his pre-G’n’R Seattle band Ten Minute Warning, and Loaded. During downtime with Velvet Revolver he hooked up with Jane’s Addiction (for a while), and now he’s back in full Loaded mode with the release of The Taking, an often dark and heavy collection of tracks which knit together to form a concept album based on the fracturing of a relationship. McKagan is front and centre in Loaded, singing and playing rhythm guitar, and it seems he couldn’t be happier.

 

I bought the album off iTunes yesterday…

…Oh wow, you have the record before I do! Awesome!

Yeah! It’s great. You worked with Terry Date this time around.

He’s awesome. We recorded at Studio X where he’s done Soundgarden, Deftones, Pantera, all those records. I love that studio, and he knows that room so well. We brought in our gear and he said “You know what the most important thing to me is? I’m not a music guy. I don’t play guitar, I don’t know anything, but I want you guys to do all of my playing for me. I want you guys to really perform and be a fucking gnarly rock band.” He mic’d the cabinets up and mic’d the room up, the drums, and just got the best performance possible from us. There’s no trickery, nothing, just this guy who knows that room and how to mic it, and how a song should feel. And that’s it!

Speaking of how a song should feel, track two, “Executioner’s Song,” I’ve been trying to write that riff for years and you beat me to it!

Yeah! That’s one of those songs that feels just… once in a while you hit it and it’s just right. It’s like, “Who did we steal that riff from? It sounds so familiar!” But it’s not, y’know? We racked our brains. “We must have stole that. It is a Black Sabbath song we just listened to on the tour bus?” It’s just one of those things that happens once in a while, once in a blue moon.

Another monster song is “Indian Summer.”

I don’t write all the songs but I’ll take the credit on that one more than the rest. It’s a song I’ve had since Sick (2009). It was on my Garageband, just me playing acoustic guitar. I had a melody but I didn’t have words for it. I’d kinda forgotten about it then Isaac Carpenter, our drummer, heard it on my Garageband while he was going through my songs, and was like, “What the fuck is that?” and I said “It’s …something I’d forgotten about!” and we worked it out from that. We recorded it once with Terry and I said “I don’t like it. It’s too light.” But Terry was like, “No! This is great!”

How do you divide up the guitar parts with Mike Squires?

I play all the good parts on the record. That’s me. The other parts that are sort of pedestrian, that’s Mike. Haha. No, he does all the killer shit, all the leads. I don’t want people to say “Oh, he’s dissin’ Slash,” but Mike has become my favourite guitar player, besides Slash, on this planet. This guy fights his guitar, he bends a lot of strings – heavy gauge strings – he plays leads, he almost looks like he’s uncomfortable in his stance, and I think he likes that. He’s always kinda tortured himself. he’s had a tortured sort of life. He put himself into the Marine Corps to escape this life by putting himself into this even gnarlier thing where they scream at ya and beat the shit outta ya. He’s a really interesting character. He’s tattooed from head to toe and he looks like the meanest guy you’ve ever seen but he’s just the nicest guy you’ve ever met. And he’s just gifted. He picked up the guitar and played when you and I were like 14 and fuckin’ struggling. It’s like Slash: when I met Slash when I was 19, he was like an old blues guy. It’s like, “You’re 19… what the fuck?” But how do we split it up? We just know. I think I’m a really good rhythm guitar player. Rhythm is where I excel, when I’m playing drums or bass or rhythm guitar. I just know. It’s my little wheelhouse. I’m not technically the best guitar player – I’m technically a way better bass player – but I’ve got a good feel with my right hand for rhythm guitar. That has a lot more weight in a rock band like ours.

What gear did you use on the album? I understand you have a pretty special modified Marshall?

Yeah! I have a JCM800 that was modded out by Mike Soldano. That’s been my head, y’know? It’s been my head since then. I think I got it from Slash. I also use ENGL Fireball heads too – I tour with that – and ENGL cabinets. I have an old Marshall cabinet here in town too. Either one of them’s great for me. I don’t use any effects. I use my volume knob as my effect.

I was really psyched to hear you’ve got a book coming out. I’ve been reading your Seattle Weekly columns for ages.

Oh cool!

What can we expect from the book?

Okay, so you know my column voice, right? I just kinda figured out that I can express myself more clearly writing than I can talking, and I can kinda tell people who I am, or about a situation, or whatever: be funny, or write about dark shit, whatever. I was approached about doing a book because of my columns. It’s a rock book, sure, because I play in rock bands, but if you know my column voice you know it’s not going to be the typical stuff. It’s not the typical rock fare, but I do tell way more in depth than I ever have about my life in playing rock music, from punk rock to the present. But I talk about my addition and how I got into that. How’s a kid who’s 13 get all the way into the point where it’s like, “I’m gonna die by the time I’m 30!” and I was fine with that! How do you get from that point A to that point B? And then a lot of people ask me how I got sober. So I wrote about getting sober, but going into the complete spiral down that was my 20s, addition-wise. It was really interesting to write that. I let the narrative fall apart. I read a lot and I get inspired by really great writers. I did my best. It’s my first book, y’know, the true story of me. It’s my truth, anyhow. I didn’t throw any of my friends under the bus, old bandmates or anything. I think that’s a little tacky to do that kinda shit. But I tell the story, and my part in the story. I think it’s good – I don’t know. I wrote for 14 months, so you get so locked into it. It’s like writing a song: “Goddammit, is this good any more?” But I wrote it, I’m done and it’s coming out October 4th.

The Taking is out now. There was more to this interview, which you can read at Gibson.com.

My Duff McKagan interview on Gibson.com

Hey folks. On the weekend I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr Duff McKagan about The Taking, the new album by his band, Duff McKagan’s Loaded. You can read part of the interview here at Gibson.com. We covered a lot of ground in the interview so there will be a separate – and entirely different – interview on I Heart Guitar soon too. Duff was really great to interview and it was an honour to get to talk one-on-one with such a goddamn legend of rock!

Check out Duff’s site here.

NEWS: Duff McKagen’s Loaded readies new album

Can’t wait to hear this. I loved the last CD, Sick – good music to drive to, walk briskly too, or just crank up and scream along to.

Here’s Dead Skin for your listening pleasure!

Duff McKagan’s Loaded – Dead Skin by Eagle Rock Entertainment

PRESS RELEASE:

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release The Taking, a brand new studio album from Duff McKagan’s Loaded on vinyl (April 12) and CD (April 19).

McKagan once again takes front and center on lead vocals and guitars. Long time Loaded members Jeff Rouse (bassist) and Mike Squires (guitar) return along with drummer Isaac Carpenter who joined in late 2009.

Recorded by Terry Date (Soundgarden, Avenged Sevenfold), the album follows the band’s 2009 debut Sick. A feature-length film, The Taking (in the style of A Hard Day’s Night crossed withThe Song Remains The Same), is due this summer.

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