Original Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan may now be a financial guru, but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped making music: On April 19 he’ll release The Taking, the third album from his current band Loaded. A vinyl version will precede it by a week, while proceeds from downloads of the track “Fight On” will be donated to the Puget Sound Healthcare System Veterans Administration. He recently talked with Rolling Stone about the new album, his fight against addiction, playing Scrabble on the tour bus and the making of a madcap movie based on the band whose plot involves a kidnapped drummer, a goat and a Ponzi scheme.
Let’s talk about the new Loaded album, The Taking.
It was the first record that Loaded’s ever done coming off a tour. I think a lot of bands, when you go out and tour – at least bands I’ve been in – the songs you just recorded on the record, you always play them heavier. Coming off of that Sick record, we played a shit ton of gigs, and just got heavier and louder. We were writing riffs, and it’s four guys. There’s testosterone, adrenaline, caffeine – all those good things that go towards songwriting. We came off that tour and started demoing the songs in our drummer Isaac’s little Pro Tools studio. He’s got a real drum kit in there, so it wasn’t like we were “drum machining” these songs. It was like, “We’re performing these songs.”
Terry Date served as producer.
He heard a couple of our demos, and he raised his hand up first, and said, “I want to do this record.” We’re not a major label band, and Terry is a forward thinking guy. Less and less bands are on major labels, and he kind of said, “Producers aren’t going to get their big huge fees anymore,” and he offered to be a partner on this record. Which was killer. He just handed us the whole thing on a plate, warmed up.
I heard that there will be a forthcoming film this summer, also called The Taking.
We’re not a band that doesn’t see the humor in the whole thing – that is, being in a rock band. The subject matter of the record is kind of heavy, but we’re a band that has a lot of contrast. We have heavy discussions on the bus about politics and whatever. People always have preconceptions of what musicians are – especially rock musicians. And if you came on our bus, you’d see it’s a real nerd-fest. There’s Scrabble, crosswords, books and discussion. But there’s a lot of humor. We made some webisodes for our Sick record, just these funny little webisodes. When we were in the studio with Terry, we’d drink a lot of coffee, and we’d have these genius ideas at about 9:30 a.m., that luckily, most of them don’t ever get much further than 10:00 a.m. We were like, “This record sounds cinematic…we have to make a movie!” So we thought of this A Hard Day’s Night idea, where the record is the soundtrack – very little dialogue, about our drummer getting absconded by a Soviet state. They have him, and there’s a ransom. He’d done something on tour toward a goat, and it’s illegal in this country. This all happens in one day. We have to raise the ransom, and I’ve been taken in a Ponzi scheme. It’s just this really madcap kind of thing, and there’s some great cameos.
You have a book coming out later this year.
If anybody’s a fan of my columns [on SeattleWeekly.com, Playboy.com, and ESPN.com] more than my rock bands…because it’s not really my story, it’s really not even my autobiography or memoir. I think that term is overused. It is a story of some shit that happened to me, but probably not the typical [things] what people might expect. It’s not my story of Guns N’ Roses or Velvet Revolver. All of those things are sort of in it, because they’re things I bounced through as I was getting deeper and deeper into addiction and finding my way out. It was challenging going through some of these things that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. And writing forces you to take your own part of your life, of what role you actually played – as opposed to the one you make up later on.
What is the book’s title?
It’s called It’s So Easy and Other Lies.
What is the status of Velvet Revolver, and the singer search?
There is no status. I was just in the U.K., so I’m painfully aware of Corey Taylor – I was asked about one thousand times about it [Slipknot’s singer was recently rumored to have tried out]. There is no status – Slash has been on tour, I’m starting a tour. We played with some really good guys, and I do think Corey Taylor is probably the brightest dude that has been in front of a mic for a long time. But saying all that, no, there is no Velvet Revolver singer.
Care to comment on the recent rumor that the original Guns N’ Roses line-up was asked to reunite and perform at next year’s Super Bowl halftime show?
That’s bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit. But it’s a good story. You know, I heard it from my wife! “Hey, you know the Super Bowl is asking you guys…” I’m like, “Honey. Really?” Even in my own house, you can’t differentiate what’s being said on the internet and the real story. I’m like, “Honey…it’s me. You think maybe I’d know about that?”
What would it take for the original Guns N’ Roses line-up to reunite?
We’d need seven gilded doves. I have no answer for that. I’ve got to come up with a good one though. We’d need a secret clubhouse…on an island.