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Duff McKagan To Release ‘How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions)’ On May 12th!

Duff McKagan To Release ‘How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions)’ On May 12th!

Duff McKagan

Duff McKagan

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and author DUFF McKAGAN has announced a May 12threlease for HOW TO BE A MAN (and other illusions) (Da Capo Press), the follow-up to his critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling memoir, IT’S SO EASY (and other lies). The book is available for pre-order through Amazon at http://amzn.to/17J7hMa.

In HOW TO BE A MAN, McKagan shares the wisdom he gained on the path to superstardom—from his time with Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver to getting sober after a life of hard living to achieving his personal American Dream of marrying a supermodel, raising a family and experiencing what it’s like to be winked at by Prince.

Among the book’s many highlights:

* McKagan discusses the need for communication in your relationships, especially when you want to see the Buzzcocks in Manchester and your lady has her sights set on Duran Duran in the tropics.

* Together with Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, he solves one of life’s most staggering math problems: if you’ve seen a million faces, is it truly possible to rock them ALL?

* He spills the beans on some of his fellow rock stars (“Gene Simmons is a kick-ass dancer,” “Perry Farrell is an NFL historian and aficionado”).

* Travelers will benefit from his plethora of globe-trotting tips, including what shots to get for malaria, how to pack lightly (“hair conditioner makes for good shaving cream, so no need  to bring both”) and of course, “don’t smoke crack on a leased private jet – the smell gets into everything.”

* McKagan, who still uses a Blackberry (“because loyalty is important”), stresses the importance of not being a d*ck (and don’t be a p*ssy, either). Oh, and get a dog.

* He recalls the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and reuniting with GNR frontman Axl Rose for a handful of South American dates.

* He runs down the list of albums that every man should listen to (from Abba’s Gold to ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres), the books they should read (Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage and Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War are particular favorites) and what they should tell the first dude who shows up at the door to date daddy’s little girl (“you pull him aside and tell him, ‘everything that you do or try with my daughter tonight, I will do to you when you get back to my home’”).

* Of course, no advice book would be complete without tackling the age-old question: when given the choice of taking a private jet to a yacht to hang out with Steven Tyler for a trip to San Juan Islands or going home to stain your deck, what do you do? (Remember, “those boards in the backyard are not going to stain themselves”).

McKagan’s wisdom has been sought out on everything from financial planning and relationships to surviving the summer festival circuit and escaping a military coup. Expanding on his popular weekly columns in Seattle WeeklyPlayboy.com and ESPN.com, McKagan equips readers with the knowledge they need to rock fatherhood, manage their money, and remain a good dude in spite of it all.

Fans can meet Duff during the following book signing events:

5/11 – Ridgewood, NJ – Bookends

5/12 – New York City – The Strand Bookstore

5/13 – Long Island – Book Revue

 

Posted in Blog, Movies, TV and More!, MusicComments (0)

WALKING PAPERS: Jeff Angell Offers An Exclusive Look Inside The Band!

WALKING PAPERS: Jeff Angell Offers An Exclusive Look Inside The Band!

jeff-angell-2103-7

Seattle’s Walking Papers, the much-buzzed-about new band featuring rock luminaries Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season), Jeff Angell and Benjamin Anderson (both of The Missionary Position) have signed with Loud & Proud Records and are gearing up for the August 6th release of their self-titled debut. Recorded in Seattle and mixed by veteran producer Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Mudhoney), Walking Papersfeatures a guest appearance by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who played on lead single “The Whole World’s Watching” and “I’ll Stick Around.” “The Whole World’s Watching”  hit rock and alternative radio in June.

Guitarist/vocalist Jeff Angell and drummer Barrett Martin formed the band last year and played their first shows inSeattle as a duo.  They became a trio with the addition of bassist Duff McKagan and a quartet when keyboardist Benjamin Anderson joined the fray. Angell and Martin also served as the album’s co-producers. Walking Papers show that a great song can be conveyed with thundering drums, rumbling bass, and a howling guitar just as easily as it can with percolating marimbas and shimmering vibraphone. The songs on this album can stand alone as individual stories, but taken together as a whole, they convey a much larger narrative with tales of wandering souls, the collisions of will, and the dark beauty of the American heart.

The band will celebrate the release of Walking Papers with a headlining slot on the second stage of this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. The tour, which features Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, and many more, kicks off August 9th at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA. The band has already received media praise from both sides of the pond, with noted Seattle Times rock critic  Charles R. Cross saying the band’s brightness rivaled the sun’s and, unlike so many supergroups, its future might be even brighter, and UK mag Classic Rock praising the band’s collection of songs as “a masterpiece of mood and tension.” Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Walking Papers frontman Jeff Angell to discuss his musical roots, the formation of Walking Papers, the creation of their powerful debut album and much more!

Music has been one of the biggest parts of your world for many years. Looking back, what are your first memories of music in your life and how did it become a passion of yours?

Jeff Angell

Jeff Angell

I think I was born with the built-in DNA to be into music but at one point, it is actually kinda funny, my Mom was a single mom with two rotten little boys. She had to stoop so low as to date an Elvis impersonator at one time! He brought over the “Heartbreak Hotel” 45. I remember that song with the desk clerks dressed in black and spinning that record. I think that record and Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” because my Dad was a cowboy archetype kinda guy. Those two songs and the imagery they held just fascinated me with songs in general. Really early, even before Kindergarten, I would listen to songs on the radio and I would change the lyrics. I would take something like Barry Manilow’s “Made It Through The Rain” and change it to be about some soldier coming back from Vietnam, who came back and made it through the war. Luckily, I learned that was a way to learn to start writing songs, by imitating the songs you like and moving on from there. It has always been an obsession of mine, songs in general, and how they can say more in three verses with what they leave out than what a novel can say in three hundred pages.

What made you pursue music as a career rather than following a different path?

Kids! [laughs] I mean, I just really liked it. I was fascinated as a career so much as when I first started, it was more of what I wanted to do to kill my time doing, listening to records. Then I got a little starter guitar because my brother had a guitar but he broke it pretending he was in KISS or something! [laughs] I did a lot of begging and pleading to get one and they finally got me one at Christmas when I was in the fifth grade. I don’t know, I without getting too melodramatic, I think I kinda had a troubled childhood and having an instrument where I could see the benefits of putting time into it just made me feel better. Rather than sitting in the living room and fight with everybody, I would just sit in my room and play guitar. It became a really good friend to me and it just seemed like a natural thing to do to put a band together and keep playing like that. I guess I always had aspirations but it is so a part of who I am and who I have always been. I guess I always figured I would grow up and move to LA or something but then I was fortunate enough to live in Seattle. Some girls talked me into going to a show. One of them said “My boyfriend is in a band.” It turned out the boyfriend was Mike Starr from Alice In Chains. One of the first local shows I saw was Alice In Chains and Mother Love Bone at a Kent Skate King. There weren’t a lot of people there but I could tell the bands were just as good, if not better, than the bands I was listening to. Instantly, I was like “I’ve got to put together a band and start playing here!” Before that, I just played by myself and expected to move to the big city when I grew up and graduated high school. I just skipped all that and jumped right in!

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Who would you cite as some of your biggest influences as an artist?

Musically, I think some of that stuff changes through the years as you grow up. At first, it was anything on the radio. Certain bands that stood out to me were The Cure, The Fixx and that sorta pop radio. Where I lived, we didn’t have the best rock radio because we were out in the sticks. Pop radio could get there and I heard some of the early Cure singles, Tom Petty and stuff like that. It had a big influence on me. One of my brother’s older friends brought home an Ozzy [Osbourne] record, “Speak of The Devil, which was the one with all the hits of Black Sabbath on it. When I heard that, I was like “That is my record right there!” It was blues based with the flat five, the devil’s interval and needed that in my music. I think the lyrics to some of those songs, like “War Pigs” and songs like that and how they relate to religion and politics. As young guy, I already had suspicions that a lot of the stuff they were teaching you was bullshit. Finally, there was an adult telling me this and shooting straight — not saying one thing and doing another. So that had a huge influence on me and Black Sabbath had a huge influence on me. Then, as I grew up, watching the Seattle bands really influenced me. I was in my pre-teens and early teens when I was seeing those bands play and watching them evolve into who there would become, with Mother Love Bone into Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains having four originals to writing a couple of records that definitely changed the way music harmonies sound on rock radio forever. They had a big influence. I can’t forget Jane’s Addiction. I was fortunate enough to go on tour with them. Their album “Nothing’s Shocking” was a big influence. I have always loved the Rolling Stones ever since I can remember. I think my Mom was listening to it and it fascinated me early on. Now, they have so many records, you can really dig into the different eras and that is very cool. When I started getting a little bit older and thing “Man, I’m 27 and I don’t think I am going to make it.,” my ex-wife had brought home Tom Waites’ “Big Time,” which is a video of him playing. I saw that and thought “Wait a minute! This guy is forty-something and he is cool! He is like Keith Richards, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and all these other guys put into one dude!” He was an older guy so it kept the whole idea of being obsessed with youth obsolete. I felt I had a lot more time to find my own thing and I could embrace blues, which I fought for a long time. I think in the early 90s, there was a lot of really heavy rock and it was getting really dark there. I still liked country songs and blues songs, so I think what Tom Waites showed me brought me right back to “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Rhinestone Cowboy”.

All those influences and years of experience brought you to the point you are now. Tell us a little about Walking Papers and how it got off the ground initially.

Walking Papers

Walking Papers

Duff [McKagan] had actually seen a band I was in and asked me to try out for Velvet Revolver before they found the guy who sold 40 million records. [laughs] He took the job but Duff and I remained friends. We recorded some demos and I kept those for myself, I didn’t play them for people to get notoriety or anything. It has been only recently I have been telling people I auditioned for the band. I always kept it a secret out of respect for our friendship, ya know? Duff started talking about it, so I guess it was OK! Since then, we have established a trust and a friendship for around ten years now. I had another band going called The Missionary Position, which I played the keyboard player from Walking Papers, Benjamin Anderson. We have made a couple of records over the last couple of years and gigged really hard. We played a show with a band Barrett [Martin] was in and I think he was looking for some people to play with and get the piano in there and open up some different things besides just a guitar/bass combo. He had him come down and play some percussion stuff on one of The Missionary Position records and we made friends. Then he just called me up and asked me one day if I wanted to do something. I said “Sure! Let’s get in a room and se what happens naturally!” We jammed a little bit and the first guy we called was Duff. The Missionary Position doesn’t have a bass player, so it was kinda nice to start playing with a bass player again. We put it together like that and it all fell together really fast. We actually recorded the record after about eight rehearsals. I had a few songs hanging around and then we did these jams. I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I know I have the best rhythm section I am ever going to play with here, so I worked really hard at making the rehearsal tapes, refining the parts and putting them together to make them full songs. When we did go into the studio, I had worked really hard at home on my own to make sure I knew where the changes were going to be and the structures were complete. I had lyrics for about six of the songs when we went into the studio and the other ones I knew how they were going to go, so I just brought them home and sang them.

How did you guys choose the name Walking Papers for this project?

Originally, we were going to call the band Red Envelopes, which are the bills you get. The first one is a white envelope asking you to pay it nicely. Then you get a yellow one saying “Hey man!” Then you get the red one that says “Listen here! We are going to take your TV back if you don’t pay this thing!” [laughs] Then we found out there was some kind of card company, like a Hallmark type of company, called Red Envelopes. We tried to come up with something like that and came up with Walking Papers. We were kinda surprised there wasn’t a band called that already because it is American slang. The funny thing is though, in the rest of the world, no one knows what Walking Papers are! Even in the United Kingdom, they are like “Walking Papers? You guys are psychedelic with your imagery!” [laughs] We get asked all the time in Europe, “Papers that walk? What is this!” We have to explain it to them! We thought it was good because it is kinda catchy with everything that was going on with all the Occupy Wall Street protests and things like that going on.

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What can you tell us about the writing process for the album and how it all came together?

I had a few songs I had ideas for already but a lot of the stuff, Barrett would just jam a drum beat and I would play over the top of it. We would record everything. I think the key to a lot of stuff in writing is to make sure you listen, so you are not just feeling but listening to it. We would listen to those ideas and go down and jam for a couple of hours and develop eight or nine ideas. We would make little MP3’s of each one and talk about which ones we wanted to pursue. After four or five times jamming, we would have enough ideas. Then, with the couple of songs I had, I would say “Oh, I have this thing. Do you want to try it?” He would play along to it. Then, Barrett had some studio time and then we got in there and did the last three rehearsals, really worked and took the ideas we were trying to play, listen to the adjustments we made at home and tried to solidify them. We had the basics in about three days. As a writer, writing becomes more of a lifestyle. To be any good at writing, you don’t sit down and say “I am going to write a song today.” It is more like you put our antenna on and a filter in front of your life where you are constantly looking for new ideas all of the time. You might write them in a journal, scribble them on a napkin or sing it into your voice recorder. You compile those ideas and then when you don’t have any ideas, reviewing all of these things you have come up with, find a good one and put some sweat into it. Whether I am reading, watching something on TV or having a conversation with a friend, I am always looking for a lyric or a concept for a song. It’s the same thing with music. Ideas might jump into my head or if I am in the rehearsal room where two bands are practicing on opposite sides of the room and there becomes one song together, I am always listening to that.

You are working alongside some very talented musicians on this record. Is there anything you picked up along the way from this great musical collaboration?

Walking Papers

Walking Papers

I learned some things when it comes to being in studio. Those guys are from the tape days. I was a Pro Tools guy, really early! I had a record deal before it was Interscope and the first thing I did with my money was go and buy Pro Tools. I understand how to use that as a tool and this and that. Through that process, it took me ten years to learn all the punching in and how this crap with editing just ruins your songs more than it makes them good. When I went in with them, to see that they don’t even look at the computer screen, they just have their head between the speakers and play things like performances — you start, play the whole song through and if there is a nip or tuck it is a minor little thing. There are no quick tracks or anything like that. Through that process with them, watching the way they recorded, sometimes I don’t know if Pro Tools has made anything better! It allowed people to make records but as far as the process, it seems like it kills more productivity than it helps it, unless you are dealing with musicians who can’t play. Those guys are from the era where you played it through and you played it right! You didn’t keep punching in parts, ya know what I mean? I learned that from those guys. I have a great relationship with Barrett because he really sees the whole forest but then I am really into staring at the bark on the tree! [laughs] We meet somewhere in the middle and then we are able to put together the whole thing. I think it is a good relationship like that! Playing live with the guys is a whole different thing! Duff is so relaxed in that situation because he has played to so many people and do done so many things. I am still going out there like it is hand-to-hand combat! He is just kinda like “Hey! Settle down. Just take a minute to get your guitar tuned, buddy!” [laughs] The first time I had a guitar tech, he brought a guitar tech with him and we played this show and there were a lot of people there. It was one of our first shows. I had broken a string and I was going to fix it myself, pull it off and finish the song without it or whatever. He comes up to while he is playing the bass part and says “Ok. Settle down. You’ve got a guy over there. Hand it to him over there and he will fix it for you and you will be right back to it! He is going to hand you another one.” It’s so funny to me that we are right in the middle of the show and I have all this panic and Duff is so cool about it! [laughs] I think he gets a kick out of exposing me to these bigger audiences. I mean, in the last European tour, I probably played to more people in a few weeks than I have in the last ten years in clubs! And that isn’t because I wasn’t playing a lot! All of a sudden you are playing to ten, twelve, twenty-four thousand people in a shot. It takes a lot of 100 people club shows to make up to that kind of thing!

You have been at it in the music business for quite a while now. What is your advice to aspiring musicians?

My personal opinion is that anyone who is playing for some type of financial reward — the jokes on them! Even if you are successful, it is still a lot harder than people think. You have tour buses, managers, t-shirt costs, hotels and planes. There are a lot of expenses going on and even when you get to that level it gets hard to rub two pennies together. If people start out with the wrong intentions, it can really screw things up. Just making good music and good records is key. If they keep their eye on that, good things will happen to them. Of better or worse, something good will happen to them. Everybody I know, all of my friends and even work I get outside of music is all based around my drive as a musician and music fans that I know.

What are your long term plans for Walking Papers?

We are going to move forward to make another record. We are already working on new songs but we are going to push this record as far as we can and get it into as many hands as we can. Hopefully, when that cycle ends, we will start recording the next one! We have already been playing new songs live but we are not passing out those cigars until the baby is born! [laughs]

Looking back on your journey as a musician so far, how do you feel you have evolved along the way?

Walking Paper's Jeff Angell

Walking Paper’s Jeff Angell

I think in some ways you evolve and then you devolve again. You start out by learning a couple people’s songs and then you start writing songs and get delusions of grandeur that you are actually inventing it and writing these songs, when it is the universe that is handing them to you, if you are smart enough to pay attention. Then I have been in these bands and in The Missionary Position, a lot of times we would have to all-night shows to make enough money to get to the next town, so we would be playing three to four hour sets. Then you go amazing Prince song with one repetitive lick or Rolling Stones song with two chords and you realize how great those songs are in their simplicity. I think the biggest evolution for my has been to keep it simple, not try to take myself too seriously and be humble in the way I go about it because the songs are all there if you tap into them. I think that is proof there is a higher power at work or something, the way chords resonate with each other and create emotions through the science of those waves going through the air and entering peoples ears. If a person can use that to communicate a lyric or an idea, the ability to touch people through that is way bigger than any human being or some guy with a notebook and a guitar. I think it comes down to communication and keeping your eye on that. That is the biggest evolution — realizing you ain’t all that special! [laughs] That is my biggest evolution! I just work hard and am grateful for the people who take care of us!

I want to thank you for your time today, Jeff! I has been a pleasure and I can’t wait to catch Walking Papers on tour! We will be spreading the word!

Thanks so much, Jason! I am grateful for your time! Thanks for you enthusiasm! Take care!

Don’t miss your chance to catch Walking Papers live. Uproar tour dates are as follows:

AUGUST

9 – Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion At Montage Mountain

10 – Hartford, CT – The Comcast Theatre

11 – Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center

13 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center

14 – Mansfield, MA – Comcast Center

16 – Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live

17 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center

18 – Wantagh, NY – Nikon At Jones Beach Theater

20 – Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre

22 – Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

23 – Nobleville, IN – Klipsch Music Center

24 – Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theater

27 – Oklahoma City, OK – Zoo Amphitheater

28 – Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavilion

29 – Woodlands, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

31 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheatre

SEPTEMBER

1 – Englewood, CO – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre

2 – Salt Lake City, UT – USANA Amphitheatre

5 – Nampa, ID – Idaho Center Amphitheater

8 – Ridgefield, WA – Sleep Country Amphitheater

11 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre

13 – Phoenix, AZ – Desert Sky Pavilion

14 – Chula Vista, CA – Sleep Train Amphitheatre

15 – Irvine, CA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

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Duff McKagan, Barrett Martin Form Walking Papers; New Track Debuts Featuring Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready

Duff McKagan, Barrett Martin Form Walking Papers; New Track Debuts Featuring Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready

Walking Papers

Walking Papers

Seattle’s Walking Papers, the much-buzzed-about new band featuring rock luminaries Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season), Jeff Angell and Benjamin Anderson (both of The Missionary Position) have signed with Loud & Proud Records and are gearing up for the August 6th release of their self-titled debut.

Recorded in Seattle and mixed by veteran producer Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Mudhoney), Walking Papersfeatures a guest appearance by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who played on lead single “The Whole World’s Watching” and “I’ll Stick Around.” Rolling Stone spotlighted the latter, praising it as a “slow, grinding blues pace that combines elements of Morphine and Tom Waits.” The song can be heard here: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/duff-mckagan-on-his-sensual-sinister-new-band-walking-papers-20130516

“The Whole World’s Watching” will hit rock and alternative radio in June.

Guitarist/vocalist Jeff Angell and drummer Barrett Martin formed the band last year and played their first shows inSeattle as a duo.  They became a trio with the addition of bassist Duff McKagan and a quartet when keyboardist Benjamin Anderson joined the fray. Angell and Martin also served as the album’s co-producers.

Walking Papers show that a great song can be conveyed with thundering drums, rumbling bass, and a howling guitar just as easily as it can with percolating marimbas and shimmering vibraphone. The songs on this album can stand alone as individual stories, but taken together as a whole, they convey a much larger narrative with tales of wandering souls, the collisions of will, and the dark beauty of the American heart.

The band has already received media praise from both sides of the pond, with noted Seattle Times rock critic  Charles R. Cross saying the band’s brightness rivaled the sun’s and, unlike so many supergroups, its future might be even brighter, and UK mag Classic Rock praising the band’s collection of songs as “a masterpiece of mood and tension.”

The band will celebrate the release of Walking Papers with a headlining slot on the second stage of this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. The tour, which features Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, and many more, kicks off August 9th at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA.

About signing Walking Papers, Loud & Proud Owner and President Tom Lipsky said, “Members of Walking Papers have earned critical acclaim and success throughout their respective careers. What impresses me most about them however is that they continue to invest their creativity and energy in breaking new ground and in taking their music directly to the fans. I am excited that they chose Loud & Proud as their label and I look forward to a successful partnership.”

“Walking Papers is thrilled to be holding the nail while Loud & Proud swings the hammer,” said vocalist/guitarist Jeff Angell. “It is with great confidence that we put our songs in Tom Lipsky’s very capable hands.”

About Loud & Proud Records:

Loud & Proud Records was founded in 2007 by Tom Lipsky, and is currently in an exclusive distribution, marketing and label services agreement with RED Distribution, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. The label’s mission is to provide a true and transparent partnership between artists and their record label.  Loud & Proud aims to establish and proliferate a new business model which will appeal to both veteran and emerging artists of all levels and status.  Labels under Lipsky’s direction in the past (CMC International, Sanctuary) have been among the market leaders in the veteran artist space, delivering Gold and Platinum albums and DVDs for Neil Young, Lynyrd Skynyrd, KISS, The Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, Iron Maiden, Styx, Megadeth, Bad Company, REO Speedwagon and more. In a previous joint-venture with Roadrunner Records, Loud & Proud was responsible for new albums by Rush, Rob Zombie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, KISS, Lenny Kravitz, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Steve Miller Band, Collective Soul, Meat Loaf and Ratt.  Loud & Proud Records is a registered trademark of Lipsky Music, LLC.

Don’t miss your chance to catch Walking Papers live. Uproar tour dates are as follows:

AUGUST

9 – Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion At Montage Mountain

10 – Hartford, CT – The Comcast Theatre

11 – Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center

13 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center

14        Mansfield, MA – Comcast Center

16        Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live

17        Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center

18 – Wantagh, NY – Nikon At Jones Beach Theater

20 – Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre

22 – Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

23 – Nobleville, IN – Klipsch Music Center

24 – Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theater

27 – Oklahoma City, OK – Zoo Amphitheater

28 – Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavilion

29 – Woodlands, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

31 – Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheatre

SEPTEMBER

1 – Englewood, CO – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre

2 – Salt Lake City, UT – USANA Amphitheatre

5 – Nampa, ID – Idaho Center Amphitheater

8 – Ridgefield, WA – Sleep Country Amphitheater

11 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre

13 – Phoenix, AZ – Desert Sky Pavilion

14 – Chula Vista, CA – Sleep Train Amphitheatre

15 – Irvine, CA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

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Rock Legend Duff McKagan Talks ‘The Taking’ and ‘It’s So Easy (and Other Lies)’

Rock Legend Duff McKagan Talks ‘The Taking’ and ‘It’s So Easy (and Other Lies)’

Duff McKagan was just a fresh faced kid from Seattle, Washington when he started out on his musical journey. Little did he know when striking out on his journey to Los Angeles in the early eighties that it would be a ride that would propel him to superstardom. It was in Los Angeles where the stars would align and Duff, along with his band mates, would spawn the world’s most notorious rock ‘n’ roll band, Guns N’ Roses. The rise and fall of Guns N’ Roses is well documented but its members have carried on and continue to leave their marks on the music scene. McKagan is no exception to this rule and his formation of Velvet Revolver with GNR pal, Slash, certainly proved that lightning can strike twice! At 47 years old, he is experiencing one of his most creative periods as an artist and shows no signs of slowing down. With their third release, Duff McKagan’s LOADED is ready to solidify a powerful third act to his already legendary career! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with the infamous bassist to discuss his band’s latest album ‘The Taking,’ his thoughts on his longevity, his upcoming autobiography ‘It’s So East (And Other Lies)’ and much more!

You have influenced so many with your musical projects. I was curious about how music first came into your life?

Really it was just being the last of eight kids! There was a record player in the living room. There were records at my disposal and I was not discouraged from playing them. I think that FM radio had just hit, so it was ‘68 or ‘69, those are my first memories of music, being around 5 or 6. The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Sly and The Family Stone are the bands that I really have such great memories of being in the house. There were also guitars around the house. So, for me, I don’t think that there was one ultimate moment, music was just always there and it was a part of growing up. Then of course, I wanted to break apart from my older sisters and brothers music. When I was about 12 or 13 rock hit, at least up in Seattle. It hit in a very small way but, being the last of eight kids, you grow up a little faster. I identified right away with punk being something that could be my own. I heard a Dead Boys record, The Stooges and a Sex Pistols record, all in about the same week! Suddenly, I was completely charmed!

With so many years under your belt in the music industry and so many iconic projects, to what do you owe your longevity?

Well, you just can’t do the same old thing. I think, being a punk rock kid, I have my basic roots, like Sly and The Family Stone, Led Zeppelin, and punk rock. I don’t want to say all punk rock but bands like The Germs and The Stooges, if you call The Stooges punk rock, and The Dead Boys and whatever else. I could go on forever! Motorhead was a new twist on all of that. It was a twist on metal and The Damned. I listen to new music, I suppose, and I don’t sit static and think that my way is the best way. I think that Guns N’ Roses and that first record, ‘Appetite For Destruction,’ was ahead of its time. People really didn’t get us at first, for that first year the album just sat there and people scratched their heads like, “What the fuck are these guys?” Then suddenly, the thing took off. Velvet Revolver was kind of re-inventing the thing. I am sure Slash and I were looked at in certain circles as “really old school” but were only 39 years old at the time and were thinking, “I don’t feel really old school!” Ya know what I mean? Even now, I am 47 and I feel younger and fresher musically than I ever have.

What keeps you inspired musically?

Everything! Ya know, sometimes it is an amp or a different room that I am playing in or how that amp and everything sounds through it. Sometimes it is going and playing with somebody different. It might be a new record. I just heard the Foo Fighters new album, I downloaded it on the plane when I was coming up to Seattle a few days ago. It is just a great record. I saw them play on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and thought that “Rope” is the best song I have heard in a couple of years. So, that will keep me going for a little while! So, it can be a new record by an old artist like Dave Grohl or it can be the newest thing that my 13 year old daughter turns me on to.

You have a new album titled ‘The Taking.’ What can you tell us about the writing process of this record?

We wrote a lot of the record on tour for our last record ‘Sick’. We kinda knew that we were going to go almost straight into the studio with it. We didn’t go straight into the studio but we went in and made the demos for this record in our drummer Isaac Carpenter’s garage. You know, a lot of those licks and those lyrics still have a lot of that testosterone, adrenaline and caffeine hangover from the tour. Coming in and doing the record with Terry Date, he really gave us a brutal, dry and great perspective on our thing. This is our third record and we have been together on and off for 10 years. It’s the same guys. It just feels like we are really moving forward, especially in regard to songwriting. I just really like some of the clever changes from a verse to a chorus into a bridge or whatever. I am very satisfied with this record. We are a band that has done well in the UK, Europe and South America. In the United States, we are a little left of center. I don’t know if this record is going to help us do anything more there but we are going to try more this time. We are going to tour the States and see what happens.

What was the biggest challenge for you in making the new album?

I don’t know if there was a challenge. I always try to be a better singer than I was on my previous records. I learn a lot along the way. I go out and tour and learn a ton about my own voice, my range, keys that I sing well in and different vowels that I sing well or should not use. I think that being a singer that it is as important to know what you shouldn’t do as it is to know what you can do. That is really what I have been learning, the areas not to get into where my voice will sound too thin or coming off of a high note into long vowel sounds. These are things that you only know if you go out and do it!

You have been working with filmmaker Jamie Burton Chamberlin on a film that focuses on “The Taking”. What can you tell us about how it came about and what we can expect?

We hooked up through our management, who manages ZZ Top. Jamie did their recent DVD. He also lives in Seattle. We aren’t a band with deep pockets by any means, so what it really came down to is getting very inventive. We have a really keen and different sense of humor. Jamie seemed to get the whole thing! That made it quite easy for us to work with him. We filmed some really funny shit and some dark stuff too. The movie is really a mad-capped situation. It is one day, 24 hours, where our drummer has been kidnapped and we are raising a ransom to get him back. It turned out very cool.

You are sharing the proceeds from two of LOADED’s new songs, “Fight On” and “We Win”, to benefit the general patient fund at the addiction treatment center Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Healthcare System. How did that relationship come about? It seems like a cause that is close to your heart.

Yeah, thanks! It is kind of a long story. I have written a column for Seattle Weekly for about two-and-a-half years. I also climb. I climb with a guy by the name of Tim Medvetz who was on the show called ‘Everest’ on the Discovery Channel. The show follows a team as they take on Mount Everest. He got into a really bad motorcycle accident back in 2001. The doctors told him that he would lose his foot and that physical activity was a thing of the past. He is a big guy and he told the surgeon to not remove his foot. He said, “If you remove my foot, I will remove your foot!” So they kept the foot on and Tim sat in the hospital bed for quite a few months. One of the things that he did while he was there was read ‘Into Thin Air’ about the Mount Everest tragedy. He said, “I am going to climb Mount Everest!” So he did it! He fucking climbed Mount Everest! He has climbed a bunch of other big mountains since then. On his way back from Europe, he met a kid who is a veteran when he was coming back from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Germany. The kid was missing a leg and Tim talked to him the whole flight home on the way to the Walter Reed in Washington, D.C. This meeting really inspired him. Tim is one of my really good friends and we climb together all the time. He has been taking these veterans up the mountain and telling me all about these kids. They leave home after high school and go to boot camp, straight from their Mom’s living room and end up in Iraq or someplace like that. One week into it, Boom! They lose a leg and their lives have been changed. They end up in Walter Reed, they give them a prosthetic and they end up back in their Mom’s living room saying, “What the fuck just happened?” They are probably sitting there thinking, “My life is over. No one cares.” Tim, through his stories, got me to think about it and care about the cause. We went down to the VA in Seattle as a band. One of the guys in LOADED, the lead guitar player, Mike Squires, was a Marine. I had written about Tim and this story in the Seattle Weekly. Ken LeBlond, who is basically public relations for the VA, got a hold of me through the column. We went out there and ended up playing the Veteran’s Appreciation Day at Qwest Field in October. We have been up to the VA a few times and made the song “Fight On.” That song was inspired by Tim’s story. I made it so the proceeds for that song would go to the VA, the Puget Sound Healthcare System and that’s it! We are tied in!

You mentioned your column. Most people are familiar with Duff the musician. You’re an accomplished writer and even writing an autobiography at this point …

I finished it!

What spawned your literary side and if it is something that you have always been drawn to?

I wasn’t always drawn to writing. It just kinda came out of nowhere! Someone from Men’s Italian Vogue asked me to write an article for them about three years ago. One thing lead to another. I wrote another article for Playboy and then they asked me to write a weekly column at the same time that Seattle Weekly asked me. So it was a trial by fire! I just started there and now I am also writing for ESPN. I feel like I have found my voice in writing and I am very comfortable writing. I can express myself much better writing than I can by talking. The book deal basically came from my Seattle Weekly column.

As for the autobiography, I kinda write in my column voice. It is my story as I would tell it in my writing, not as I would sit down and tell you my story because I wouldn’t really know how to tell you my story. I can write it and get into the bleaker, darker things a lot easier and the more joyful things that have happened, especially after I got sober.

It is basically a story of “How did a guy like me get from Seattle to addiction, totally, fully addicted — How did that happen?” Because the most common question that I get asked in private is “How did you get sober?” I get asked that a ton by people that are still out there using. So, I wrote about it. I wrote about how I got into that place. [laughs] It is also my story of playing in punk rock bands up here and going down to L.A. and the first band that formed was Guns N’ Roses. That band wasn’t the reason that I got addicted. It was just the situation that I was in. Drinking, drugs and whatnot was completely condoned, especially by our band. I am not blaming anyone else. I take my part in my life. I take accountability for myself. I think that too often we go through life and if something like that happens in your life, you are quick to point a finger and say, “Well those motherfuckers …” or “That guy …” or “Us going on late was that guys fault …” or “it was management.”

I just took accountability for things that I probably could have done differently. Going all the way into the addiction part was gnarly to write about. I really hadn’t figured that to happen but I went through a couple of months of really saying, “Whoa! Fuck! I never even thought about this stuff. It is in my past.” I think it is a good book [pauses] because I wrote it! [laughs] I am editing it so I have written and read the words, different edits, about eight to 10 times! I think it is good, I can’t tell anymore!

Was there something in particular that made you say, “OK, now it is time to sit down and chronicle my journey?”

No. Just because I am writing so much and I was offered a book deal from my columns, which interested me more. I have no burning need to tell my Guns N’ Roses story. Ya know, book deals are not that lucrative after you split off money from your agent, pay your taxes and all that kind of stuff. It’s not like it is going to change the way I live. It is not a case of “OK, great! I will cash in on my writing!” It is just a challenge. That is the way that I look at life. I try to challenge myself and it keeps life pretty fun and exciting for me! It was really a challenge to write a book. It is not like a thousand word column. I wrote 130,000 words! [laughs] That is a lot more than a fuckin’ column! I wrote it in thousand word spurts because I am comfortable doing that. Piecing it all together was a challenge as well. I brought in the Senior Editor to help me do that.

Did you have any reservations about telling your story?

Well, here’s the deal. I wrote the book myself. You write alone. You don’t write with someone else sitting there. I was sitting there like, “I’m not going to sit here and throw someone under the bus.” No one else that is part of my story asked me to write about them here, ya know? In making that sort of my mantra, I started to discover my part in things.

I had reservations about confidences of old band mates and friends. If you are a band mate or a friend of someone, you don’t  leave that band or friendship and start telling everyone things. That is sorta like gossiping! Kinda like “chick shit.” But whatever, that isn’t the point. I wouldn’t do that. I think that my story is interesting enough and will have relevance to the people. I think that “rock people” will like the book. You know, I’m a dad and I think that parents will like the book. The book starts off at my daughter’s 13th birthday and then unravels to the past and comes forward again. I don’t know if you have read any of my Seattle Weekly columns but, like I said, it is told in that voice, from now.

My reservations were, “What does the book company want? Do they want a Guns N’ Roses book?” because if they want that, there are enough of those out there. I don’t need to write another one of those and I don’t have a burning desire to unleash and I don’t have some burning secret that I need to tell.

Obviously, you are part of some of the most iconic musical projects in rock history. Does your past success in band’s like Guns N’ Roses or Velvet Revolver ever become a bit of a burden when you are trying to move forward with some of your other musical endeavors?

No! Not at all. I totally understand the question. I know that if Guns N’ Roses wouldn’t have happened, I would have done something else. I know that. I would have been just as happy as I am now had I done something else. I know that about myself. But as far a music career, I can go ahead and have a band called LOADED in 2011 and be able to go and play. I can reach a wider audience than some band that might be rehearsing next door to us here in Seattle. So that is great! If there was no Guns N’ Roses, there would have been no Velvet Revolver. Same thing applies. Slash is out touring right now. He is “Slash from Guns N’ Roses” and he probably has to put up with that every day but he is out playing and doing what he loves. People love him and come to see him because he is that guy, “Slash from Guns N’ Roses” or “Slash from Velvet Revolver.” You are always “from” something! [laughs] You’re one of us now! [laughs] There’s a quote!

Any regrets?

No, I don’t! Especially after looking back during the process of writing this book. My career or in being a father, which is the more important one to me. But in regard to my career, no I don’t have any regrets. Do I wish I wasn’t as fucked up during ‘91 to ‘93? Yeah, but I think I probably became a stronger person because of it. I wouldn’t have learned the hard lessons that I did and probably wouldn’t be as clear as I am now.

What is the best piece of advice that you would give to an individual or young band that are looking to make their mark in today’s music industry?

Just be smart about the whole business of the thing and be wary. Know what your deals are if you are doing deals. Cut your deals up front and know what is in the contracts. It is kinda the same as it ever was. But if you have a choice of a “career” and a “music career” as your money maker, I don’t know if music is as lucrative as something else. Ya know, maybe just play music for fun! [laughs]

Where should we be on the lookout for you in the near future?

We are playing the Golden God Awards, which will be on VH1. Then we are headed back to Seattle to play our Seattle record release at a place called Neumos. Then we go off to Europe to play a shit-ton of the huge festivals like Download, Rock AM Ring, Sweden Rock and Hellfest in France. Then we are coming back to the States. We will probably tour the states in August and September. Those dates will be on www.duff-loaded.com when they are confirmed.

We certainly encourage everyone to check out all of your work. A lot of us here have been fans since you first hit the scene and you can really feel the momentum with each project you are a part of.

Yeah, thanks! That is the key! If it stops having that momentum, I should probably do something else!

Thanks for your time, Duff!

Cheers! Thanks you!

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