When you’ve been in a band with Axl Rose I think it’s safe to say that you’re ready for anything.
Not only did Duff McKagan survive the roller coaster ride that was Guns N Roses, he’s still kicking out the jams as a member of the Scott Weiland fronted Velvet Revolver.
Now, if I’d been in Guns N Roses there’s a good chance I’d have my head up my arse, but Duff was completely cool and seemed genuinely interested in answering our questions, so read on!
Interview w/ Duff McKagan (Bass)
of Velvet Revolver
By Cameron Chambers
Hey Cameron, how are you man?
Great mate, how are you
I’m good man.
Well, we really appreciate
your time so let’s get into it.
Let’s do it.
Velvet Revolver had a pretty
extensive tour from August right through to the
end of October, what’s been keeping you busy for the last month or so?
Let’s see. Well, we were actually
touring since April. The last month… hmm, what have I been doing?
We were supposed to go to Japan but that got ixnayed! They didn’t like
our FBI files this time.
This band has played in Japan
so I don’t really understand it but at least they told us before we
got on the plane, ha ha.
I dunno… I went to Hawaii!
You guys are heading back
to Australia in the next week, are you excited about
a return trip down under?
Yeah, I always loved going
down to Australia! I’m really excited… I’m actually going to be riding
a motorcycle around the country this time round.
It’s been 2 years since
your last visit to Australia, what’s the biggest difference between
Velvet Revolver in 2005 compared to the 2007 model?
We have more songs to play
live! That’s basically about it. Nothing’s changed really although our
live show is probably a bit more involved this time.
The light show is pretty killer…
there’s all kinds of extra stuff coz we’re a live band. It’s a band
that you come out to see us play our instruments and not for a light
show or any of that crap, but it still looks cool! Ha ha
We’ve got some great new songs
to play live along with the songs from “Contraband” so it’s going
to be great!
Now that you guys have 2
full length records to draw from will you still be including any Stone
Temple Pilots or Guns N Roses covers in the set?
We do. We uh… we do a little
bit of everything and we kind of play a long set and it’s sort of a
celebration. We cover songs from both our records as well as the songs
that we were a part of before this band.
Your sophomore record “Libertad”
has been out since July, are you happy with your fans response to the
It’s been amazing! We started
out in South America and that was a great place to start! That area
down there… they are just so into it! I don’t know whether it’s because
not a lot of bands come down there or maybe they’re closer to the equator,
ha ha, but they are just so passionate!
They really hoist you onto
their shoulders and carry you along. So yeah, we started there and it
was amazing. Then we went to Europe and we just got done with the North
American tour as well.
Velvet Revolver were originally
scheduled to record “Libertad” with Rick Rubin but you parted ways
stating “he wasn’t a good fit”. Was it simply a case of Rick not
being the right person for the record or were there some creative clashes
between you guys?
I wish I could say there was
something more substantial like creative differences but there really
wasn’t. When we went to start the record we had a meeting with Rick
and he said that he was ready. Well, we said that we’re ready to go
as well so we’ll start next Monday but to him getting started means
a whole different thing. He was able to start in maybe five or six months.
For us, we really don’t have the luxury of having that much time because
we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves in the interim.
We just decided after a couple
of months of waiting around that we’d look for someone else.
Brendan O’Brien ended up
coming on board to produce the record with you guys. What did he bring
to the band that was missing with Rick?
Well, we never found out what
Rick had because we never got to work with him, so I can’t say anything
bad about him.
Brendan was the first guy I’ve
ever worked with on a record who’s an actual musician. He plays everything…
he’s pretty brilliant! When we did pre-production he’d come in every
and day and play guitar with us… he’d be a third guitar player.
He wouldn’t turn his amp up
loud but he’d stop us and say thing like “I have a great idea for
this bridge”. We were like, “what do you mean”? We’d never had
a producer with musical ideas throughout my whole musical career!
Not that we need them but to
have that sixth person who could say “why don’t you play a B minor
7 here, why not try it”?! It was cool! The album is a well written
record and every song… there’s no waste in this record.
Having previously worked
with Scott on Stone Temple Pilots records, do you
feel that Brendan’s experience had much of an influence in shaping not
only the sound of the album, but the songs themselves?
He had a good relationship
with Scott. When it comes to Slash or myself or Matt or Dave we don’t
really need to have the best relationship with our producer as
long as we know we’re getting good sounds to tape.
We were like, it’s ok dude,
we could like you or hate you and it doesn’t matter, but singer’s, well,
I’ve noticed in my career that they have to have a strong relationship
or friendship with a producer… which is cool because Scott and Brendan
have a really cool relationship and Scott sang his arse off!
When Velvet Revolver was
first unleashed onto the world a lot of critics wrote it off as something
of a novelty and said it wouldn’t last. Do you think “Libertad”
has proven to the world that this is a real band who plan on sticking
I think so but I try not to
think about what people think about us. Before “Contraband” I knew
people out there were saying “what are these guys doing”? There
were lots of naysayers and then the record was successful.
We were asked how does it feel
to prove them wrong and I’m not about that. I’m just here to write great
music and I’ll continue to do it, whether it’s in Velvet Revolver or
on my fifth solo record when I’m 55.
Earlier this year Velvet
Revolver played some shows with the reformed Alice In Chains. What was the crowd’s response to hearing someone
else singing Layne Staley’s songs?
The guy that they have, William
Duvall is so amazing that people lost their shit. They’re such a great
band and they have such great songs and William is maybe the only singer
on the planet that could fill Layne’s shoes.
They found that one dude…
the diamond in the rough!
What do you think of
the fact that Alice In Chains are recording a new record with a different
vocalist? In a situation like this do you it’s best to change the band’s
I don’t see why they should.
Layne unfortunately passed away because he languished for a lot of years
with heroin addition. I don’t think the other three guys should pay
the price of having to change their name.
This was a band they formed
when they were twenty years old, you know? I have actually thought about
this a lot and at the end of the day Layne would want them to keep the
Having been in the game
for a long time are there any bands you’ve heard in 2007 that have been
able to impress you?
We had this band open for us
in the UK for around seven gigs but I forget their name. I was really
impressed with them though… they were really good players!
This band we were out with,
Kill Hannah… they were opening for us and Alice In Chains for the
first half of that tour. Kill Hannah were awesome!
I like The Silversun Pickups
A lot of people think they
sound like The Smashing Pumpkins…
Except there’s something
different about them. They’re more earthy I think.
If you could assemble your
dream tour, who would have on board?
Hmm. Queens Of The Stone Age,
us, the Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin!
And finally, do you think
“Chinese Democracy” will ever see the light of day?
I’m sure it will… sure it
will at some point! Ha ha
That’s all we have time
for Duff, is there anything else you’d like to say?
No no, that’s good man!
Thanks your for
time and I’ll see your show in a couple of weeks.