Interview: Duff McKagen Walks Into Adulthood With Walking Papers

by (@BHSmithNYC)

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I think sometimes people assume that musicians who play a very codified style of music, like metal or punk, only listen to that same type  of music where in actuality the best bands always listen to a diverse variety of music.

J: And made diversified records. I’m a Stones fanatic and Led Zeppelin too. They’re breaking out dulcimers and mandolins and getting nutty with tunings. If you’re an artist, it’s not really creative to do the same thing over and over.

D: When we were making Appetite for Destruction my two records of that year that I listened to non-stop were (U2’s) The Joshua Tree and Power by Ice-T. Right now the band I’m all into is Purity Ring. My daughter turned me onto them. They’re ultra-hip.

What are the advantages and disadvantages you encounter when you start a new project since fans often come with preconceptions about the music based on the members older bands?

D: I think if you go into sort of middle America – and maybe that’s over generalizing – but you get “Dude, it doesn’t sound like Guns N’ Roses.” OK, and? But I don’t know if there’s been a disadvantage thus far with this band. Maybe some people who are fans of my past bands will come to our gigs but I think we’re really winning fans just by the weight of this thing now. It’s 2013 and this thing is happening now. People get that almost instantly from the first four bars of the first song of the set. People are hearing the record and they’re coming and they’re singing the words that he wrote that are hard won words, stories that were truly lived and seen. I think they’re really effective. There hasn’t been this struggle to overcome.

J: The cool thing about playing with Barrett and Duff, and the cool thing with the way culture has changed due to the internet, is people no longer go to the same sources. They need someone they trust to introduce them to something. So by playing with Duff, who has incredible credibility with where he came from and what he brought to Guns N’ Roses and with Barrett and what he’s played on, people trust them to not play in something that sucks. Now, it’s kind of funny when you’re sitting in a signing tent and they see Duff and get their picture taken with him and walk right past us (laughter) but we see those same people after the show at the merch booth buying two t-shirts and a CD and they want their picture taken with the rest of us. It’s good for me because it keeps me humble. There are people who are going to come see these guys because they’re made phenomenal records. They don’t know me or what I’ve done but it’s nice to know at the end of the show they like what we did and they didn’t just come to get Appetite for Destruction signed. It’s like having a friend and he introduces you to new people and now they get a new record that they can enjoy and hopefully get nostalgic about it and this time in their life the same way everybody is nostalgic about (The Screaming Tree’s) Sweet Oblivion or (Guns N’ Roses) Use Your Illusion. It’s really cool.

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