Duff McKagan: Bringing The Legacy

I Knew At That Point, It Was Rock & Roll Forever...

With a career spanning over twenty years with some of the biggest rock acts the world has ever seen, and bestowing a legacy on the world of music, Duff McKagan is about as big as it gets. During our chat with this luminary it was humbling to hear that the musician still has fears and doubts when entering new areas of his career yet takes every opportunity to the maximum. With a new album out this year, Duff & Loaded are en route to Australia for Soundwave and reveal that the legacy may be joining them…..   

The latest album for Loaded; The Taking – what can you tell us about it? “It’s our hardest record to date; it’s the most abrasive record we’ve made really. It indicates who we are more than any others, the bands journey I guess and it’s a blast to play live! Its great as our following of fans all around the world understand our humour and approach to things, this album is a little different and different is good, it’s being received well, it’s hard, it’s straight up and packs a lot of punch”.

What changes have you incorporated (if any) into the music this time around? “We haven’t changed much to tell you the truth, we are hoping to head to Australia for the first time and play our entire catalogue as is, all three of our records – we’ve been getting letters from fans demanding we come and play in Australia [Laughs] I’m glad we can oblige. We want to celebrate the legacy, feed off the crowd and maybe even switch it up a little if the mood is right, we like being unpredictable”. So what ‘Duff’ trademarks are imminent in the album? “Wow, that’s a good question. Geez, you know what, I don’t know what my trademarks are, maybe I don’t try to figure out my trademark and that’s what my trademarks are [Laughs] I try to invent new things each time, as life is constantly changing, I am constant, maybe that’s it”.

After all you’ve experienced in your career what inspires you to continue writing and creating music? “Oh shit! Um…. I don’t think I have written that perfect song yet you know, not like Prince, Prince has heaps of perfect songs and he sings like a damn angel, it’s not fair! [Laughs] I feel like I haven’t started my career, like this is a phase of my life, I plan to tour Loaded till the day I die, till the day I die, its Loaded you know. Look at the Rolling Stones for instance - I hope to be kicking as much ass as they do, I am a kid in my career compared to the Stones”.

So in creating such a large name for yourself over the past twenty years, with a resume that is to say the least extremely impressive; how has being such a big public figure in the industry impacted on your career and yourself in general? “Yeah, I have been in the game for long enough to know exactly what you’re talking about and I consider myself an intelligent enough guy to give you a straight enough answer. There was a time in my life where I was just like ‘fuck my life’ you know, people didn’t know who I was, where I was going or what I was about and now I just take all the good stuff that has happened and apply it in my life; my music, my wife and family, my daughters you know. It’s all about preserving the good”. Has there been a particular period in your career where you have enjoyed the music the most? “All of it! Absolutely all of it, the good thing about all the bands I’ve been in; that I’m still in is that we write all the material together, everyone is creating their own path. I’m lucky I don’t have to suffer the beginning again, before Guns & Roses it was hard, even starting out it was hard as there were so many awesome punk bands around, I mean it’s all a journey and even in the bad times all my experiences have lead me here”. Speaking of band, and I will get shot if I don’t ask this – what is the status of Velvet Revolver? “I don’t know, we don’t have a singer at the moment, and chemistry is really important in a band, we’ve tried out so many singers, we are just exhausted you know, the whole process is pretty daunting to say the least. We need someone with the right amount of energy”. I have a few friends in mind who would love to jump on board? [Laughs] “Sure, send them over”. [Laughs] “We will get there eventually”.

Your resume doesn’t stop at music; I understand you are also involved with financial planning? What prompted you to start this endeavour? “I woke up in the hospital and thought am I being ripped off? It was in between times of the bands, I think I was thirty two, I got into business school. I was thirty two and I didn’t know what I had earned, where it was, I was pretty fearful you know, I didn’t know what a mortgage was or a stock or a bond or whatever, so when I got sober I looked into it all to keep a track of everything, I was pretty sure I made some money along the way, I can remember a time where Aerosmith were playing stadium gigs and still broke, living in apartments, and this was the case with a lot of bands back in the day. I hooked into school right at the time Velvet Revolver kicked off, during the time I was at school, I would get calls from some pretty big bands and just friends asking my advice on certain bits and pieces of their finances as they also didn’t have any idea about their money. They knew I had some understanding of what happens behind the velvet curtain you know. It is different, I don’t speak to people about money like those Muppets, with their entire mumbo jumbo, I’m not one of them, I’m one of us [Laughs]  

What is next for Duff? The band are enroute to Australia this month for the annual Soundwave Festival, what are the expectations for the tour? “I don’t know, that’s the fun part [Laughs] wow it’s so far away [Laughs] these are the last bastions for a band like us you know, there isn’t a whole lot of mystery for us anymore, we have seen and experienced so many different things. There are always the fears that come with mystery – what if they hate us? What if they really like us? Our expectations are always pretty realistic”. [Laughs] Lastly, the general sentiment of Rock & Roll is enjoyment, empowerment and positivity – what does Rock & Roll mean to you personally? “It means all of it man! Its means being pissed off, it means voicing your opinion, being heard! I can remember going to see The Clash in 1979, there was this kid who had somehow managed to get past the barricade and the security guards broke his nose whilst hurling him back into the audience – it was at that point that Joe Strummer chopped down the barrier with an axe and said there is no difference between us, I knew then that it was Rock & Roll forever… Great gig by the way”.