DUFF MC KAGAN interview

duffmckagansloadedsickIn march 2009 I did an interview with Duff Mc Kagan for his record company Century Media.

Here it is!

D.M.K.: Hey man, how are you?

Q.: Hey Duff! Thanks I’m doing fine. How about you?

D.M.K.: I’m tired.

Q.: Okay… so you’re back in LA right now and I guess quite busy with promoting your new record ‘Sick’ of your band ‘LOADED’.

D.M.K.: Yeah, I’ve been out travelling all across America. Then I got back a couple of days ago and I climbed a mountain.

Q.: Cool!

Let’s talk a bit about your new record, first. How are people reacting on ‘Sick’?

D.M.K.: You know the only people who’ve just heard it, really like magazines and radio… it’s been pretty great!

Q.: Good to hear. What can you tell about the recording and how much time did you guys spent in the studio?

D.M.K.: Well, you know we decided to find to make a second record because the last record was in 2002 or something. We always planned to make another record and it took seven or eight years. At the end of the last VELVET REVOLVER tour, last spring I knew we’re gonna be parting ways with Scott (Weiland). So I started talking to the guys of LOADED and we thought it’s time to make that second record. Sometime in July we got into a room and everybody brought their ideas in. We were sitting on some very good songs and we booked some studio time with Martin (Feveyear, producer) in April.

LOADED doesn’t have a lot of money as a band. We kind of pulled our resources and had to do the record quick. We recorded the whole thing in nine days. That’s mixed and mastered.

Q.: That’s quick!

D.M.K.: It is quick. We had everything together. You know, we really knew what we were doing. Everybody is a really good player in this band. We have a really great drummer and Jeff Rouse is probably a better bass player than I am.

Q.: Is that true?

D.M.K: Absolutely! I think in the time between these records, Jeff Rouse was concentrated the most of getting better. You know, practised all the time in Seattle. I think he probably knows everybody is looking at my bass playing since, playing with a man who’s famous for being a bass player. You know… pressure. He blew me away.
Mike Squires is a great lead player. Just good player in the band. We were ready and went into the studio and just did our thing.

Q.: I listened to the record several times. To me, the sound of the guitars is very aggressive and unique. What guitars and amps did you use for this recording?

D.M.K.: Yeah, Marshall. It’s a modified old 800 or something. But basically I play Marshall 2000. And Squires, he used a Bogner Amp and he uses a lot of Dunlop effects.

Q.: I’ve read that you an endorser for Dunlop?

D.M.K.: Yeah, MXR and Dunlop. I didn’t use any of these effects but Mike and Jeff. You know cool of that! They usually effect for the effect of the effect. Like, oh cool I got a new pedal! I’m gonna use it. (laughs)


Q.: I like the song “Mother’s Day”. It kind of reminds me a little bit of a David Bowie song. I don’t know.. ‘Thursday’s Child’, maybe. Who’s that song about?

D.M.K.: Well, it’s not about anybody in particular. It’s about three different friends of mine who died. I combined all three stories and instead of making it about a guy, I made it about a girl. She is a mother and she is addicted to crack. You know, she dies and the child grows up motherless. You know all is quit on Mother’s day.

The lyrics kind of wrote themselves. You know sometimes you got to get out of a song and let the song write itself.

Jeff Rouse and I were in the rehearsal room early one day and we both played bass. We were just sitting and riffing around. There are two basses you hear in that recording. Two basses and one guitar. The working title of this song at first was ‘Two Basses’. (laughs)

The lyrics just came on Monday. For some reason I thought I should name every day in the week and then what happened on Monday. It’s a melancholic miner song.

Q.: I like the background chorus at the end of the song. To me that would be a perfect single to put out. What do you think?

D.M.K.: I don’t know. A lot of people like that song. Probably in the states it wouldn’t work because the ear in the States is defined. I think European listeners are more refined. So maybe in Europe, yeah!

Q.: Let’s talk about your upcoming shows. You play some gigs in Germany, including THE ROCK AM RING Festival. What can people expect from the setlist?

D.M.K.: It depends on how much time we are given. I’m not sure where we’ll be playing on that bill. Obviously we are not a big band. We are the first time in Germany. They might give us thirty minutes, or forty. I don’t know. We will play stuff from both records. We will play “Dust and bones” from Guns. “It’s so easy” We’ll do “Rain” by Prince.

Q.: That’s cool! In a whole different version?

D.M.K.: No man! We do the version and we suck at it but we do it.

Q.: Looking forward to listen the solo guitar.

D.M.K.: I play it. Really badly (laughs)

Q.: Well, I saw an interview on youtube where your engineer Mc Bob shows your DUSENBERG bass guitar. How did you got in contact with this German company?

D.M.K.: Through GALLIEN KRUGER, my amp company. I was doing a photo shooting for them and the guys of Duesenberg came down and said: ‘you wanna try one of our basses?’
And it really became the bass for VELVET REVOLVER. I play that bass on all of our slower and mellower songs. Really nice bass.

Q.: What effects do you play onstage?

D.M.K.: I use distortion and SPX-90 for chorus a little bit.

Q.: Who influenced your bass playing?

D.M.K.: Probably it’s just a mixture. I didn’t grow up being a bass player. I was playing drums I was playing bass and guitar. And by the time with Guns I was like, okay I guess I’m a bass player. That’s when I started to listen to Motown. But I also listened to The Clash and I’m also a U2 fan and Led Zeppelin, of course. But I would never play on anything. And Prince, really simple effects of bass lines. Probably early Prince influenced my bass playing more than anything else. And just recently I’ve gotten into playing along to John Paul Jones and taking lessons and getting more serious about bass playing.

Q.: What music are you listening to at the moment? What’s your highway companion?

D.M.K.: Well, I drove last night back from the mountains, 20 miles. I listened to Johnny Cash.

Q.: The latest records?

D.M.K.: Yeah, The Rick Rubin records. The Nine Inch Nails Cover, the Beatles cover. It is just called Cash.

Q.: U2’s One came out pretty good.

D.M.K.: Yeah I’m with you. I listen to the Best of Badfinger and Abbey Road. There’s a band called Shiny Toy Guns that I really like.

Q.: Are you also listening or supporting younger bands?
I mean there are a lot of really good bands out there and it’s quite difficult for them to make a living out of it. They might have become famous in the nineties, these days they kind of have to live like… from hand to mouth.

D.M.K.: Yeah, You know, I mean even for LOADED it’s tough. We are signed to a little Label, CENTURY MEDIA. We did the UK Tour last fall and we lived on the bus. We had a bus, which is great but instead of getting hotel rooms and that kind of thing we lived on the bus.

I like living on the bus and touring. You know I live in a house of women. My wife and two girls. So once in a while it’s good for me to get out with the boys (laughs)

Q.: If you’re thinking about the next two years, what future plans do you have?

D.M.K.: I don’t know man. I know I can’t really predict my future because my past has told me that. You never know what’s gonna happen next. It’s exciting for me. I don’t know what’s around the corner. I write for a couple of different magazines right now. I write for the PLAYBOY and the SEATTLE WEEKLY. You know a local weekly paper. And it’s really fun. If you would have told me eight month ago I would have not one but two weekly columns… I would have said, you’re nuts! You know life’s a funny thing, man.

Q.: How did it come to that collaboration?

D.M.K.: For the ‘WEEKLY’ I’ve written an article a couple of years ago. They asked me to write an article about my experience going to school. You know, what it was like going to Seattle university. So I wrote an article about it. It was a funny situation.

Last summer they said: ‘Would you be interested in trying to write a weekly column?’ And I said: ‘Yeah, I’ll try it!’ Because I have a financial degree and Playboy tries to get a young sort of following. I try to write in a real simple way so that anybody can understand. Try to demystify the economy so that everybody can understand.

Q.: Getting back to one of your songs from ‘SICK’. In the song ‘The Slide’ you say:
’70s gave us punk rock 80s gave us crap 90s junkie chic so cool – I don’t remember much of that.’ If you would add another phrase that describes our time what would it be?

D.M.K.: A question mark, I guess. I mean 70s I’m talking about music, 80s I’m talking about music, 90s I’m talking about music and lifestyle and right now in music we could be right on the dawn of something really cool. You know when things get confusing is when something great comes out of it.

Q.: What are you doing to keep yourself in shape? Are you into any kind of sport?

D.M.K.: Yeah, two days ago I climbed a mountain. It’s called Peak Mountain. It’s about 11.500 feet.

Q.: Cool! I think it’s hard to breathe up there…

D.M.K.: You know because I’m down in LA so much and the air is so polluted down here. I get headaches but I can breathe okay. And I kick box. That’s my main thing for the last fifteen years.

Q.: It’s been fifteen years ago since Cobain committed suicide. I’ve read you’ve been one of the last who saw him alive…

D.M.K.: Yeah, we were on the same plane coming back from LA to Seattle. You know but I think a lot more is made out of it than the real situation is. We were just on the same plane. A lot of people make a big deal out of it but it’s not that big of a deal. We were just talking to each other.

Q.: You played with a lot of great musicians. What was your best experience onstage?

D.M.K.: Iggy Pop.

Q.: Iggy Pop?

Iggy Pop. He’s a major influence and to play on his record in 1990 was life changing for me. You know I got to play with my fucking idol!

Q.:Talking a bit about politics…How did you react when Barack Obama became president?

D.M.K.: I was really proud you know I’ve been travelling the world since 1987. And my kids grew up travelling the world. They know how to say ‘Good Morning’ in every language and they know how to say `Thank You´ in every language. You know my kids grew up on tour with me. I’m a world citizen and I don’t think in terms, okay man I’m from America, I think american. It’s just not the way it is. You know, our country voted this guy Bush twice and I’m just like screaming No! And I know the rest of the world was like, what the fuck! So I was really proud of my country men. We voted the smartest guy. He is fucking smart. He is smarter than you and me together, you know.

Q.: Absolutely! What do you think of Bands like Pearl Jam, Springsteen or REM who supported Obama?

D.M.K.: You know Pearl Jam made no secret about their politics and I think it’s okay. I think at this time it’s okay if anybody says that. You know, we needed strong voices.

Q.: Duff, it’s the end of the interview.
Thank you very much for your time. Nice talking to you!

D.M.K.:You too, man!


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