Duff McKagen Talks Libertad And Axl Rose
Band Photo: Guns N Roses (?)
Nick Snelling of Australia's Beat magazine recently conducted an interview with VELVET REVOLVER/ex-GUNS N' ROSES bassist Duff McKagan. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
On his statement after the release of "Contraband" that VELVET REVOLVER was the kind of act that would be releasing an album every year:
"Did I actually say that… oh. Well, I probably didn't mean every year, you know? I also didn't foresee things taking so long – we ended up touring a lot longer that any of us really expected, by the time we'd finished we'd been touring 18 months.
"The downside is that you're standing in line every fucking day, sitting in aeroplanes, checking into hotels and literally living out of each other's pockets everyday. There was never really a break, and any breaks that we did have just got filled in, simply because the record was so successful. And I don't care what five people you do that to, you're gonna get sick of each other."
"I think we planned at taking about three weeks, because we're all such A-type personalities who are all used to constantly working – but after a week, it became clear how exhausted we actually were and none of us were really ready to get back into a room."
On whether he's happy with the new album "Libertad":
"You know, I really, really am. Musically, we kind of drew a line in the sand and said, 'We have to move past this.' We really pushed ourselves and the 'Contraband' tour allowed to know what boundaries we didn't have. We knew what we were capable of. I mean, I loved 'Contraband'. It was a big 'fuck you,' it was aggressive and it was really the perfect first album for us, but knew with a bit of downtime we could really go and explore some new musical stuff and make a really organic rock 'n' roll record without tons of guitar overdubs."
On the reasoning behind covering an old ELO song by Jeff Lynne, "Can't Get It Out Of My Head":
"Ahh, that was really Brendan O'Brien (producer). He came up with the idea, and he was so into it. Even though the band really wasn't, we knew Scott could probably sing the crap out of it. I mean, Slash really was not into it. But somehow managed to get us to try it. And that really was Brendan's thing on this album, he'd come in, pick up a guitar and say, 'Hey guys, have you thought about doing this? You might think it sucks, but just humour me, OK?' He tried everything in order to make it sound great to us. By the time Slash put a solo on it, it came out great and I think it's OK that we have a cover on the record. It's kinda tongue-in-cheek, and I'm happy made the record….although, I don't think we'll ever do it live. Jeff Lynne has heard it and he loves it, so that's cool in of itself."
On whether he ever wishes that he had the same understanding of personal problems that individuals struggle with a little earlier so that maybe other, more well-documented estrangements (i.e. GUNS N' ROSES singer Axl Rose), could have possibly been avoided:
"Umm, I know what you're getting at. I just think that that experience is where I earned my understanding, you know? I mean I was fucked up then, and so a lot of all that shit kind of fed each other. The machine was just so big. There was no way out, and there were just so many yes-men, and there's a myriad of reasons. Mostly it's because it was out of control. I know I self-medicated my way through the entire 'Use Your Illusion' tours. It wasn't til it was done did I know I had a health problem, and I got sober. That's where I got a lot of experience in dealing with people and strange situations — I got a crash course from '86 through '93, an expert education. There was a time where if it were up to me, I would have salvaged things, and even Slash tried many times. We all wanted to save it, it's not like we all walked up one day and said 'fuck you!'
"You see, he (Axl) was a singer in this meteoric rock band that sort of captured the imagination and hit some sort of nerve with a whole reputation, and while every member of than band was important to making that happen, he was the singer. The focal point. I know that more yes-men came his way, and I think that soon your sense of reality gets a little eschewed, and that the real friends you have either change on you or those other people close them out. I can't speak for Axl now, and I haven't hung out with him for a real long time now, but a lot of this happened to me… but I wasn't the singer. So I was able to escape it. So yeah, it's sad, man."
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