Duff McKagan Talks Walking Papers, Heavy Metal, What's Next for Loaded, and More
Fri, 23 Aug 2013 09:37:00
Elton John Photos
Duff McKagan always delivers. No matter what he does, he's one of the most consistently powerful musicians in rock 'n' roll. Moreover, on every single record that he lends his signature bass style, you'll know it's him instantly. The same can be said for Walking Papers—his phenomenal collaboration with singer and guitarist Jeff Angell, drummer Barrett Martin [Screaming Trees, Mad Season], and keyboardist Benjamin Anderson. It's a decidedly bluesy affair that's instantly unforgettable.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Duff McKagan talks Walking Papers, heavy metal he's digging, what's next for Loaded, and more.
Walking Papers' self-titled debut album is out now, and you can see the band all summer on the Rockstar Energy UPROAR Festival!
What's your take on the Walking Papers album as a whole? Is there one thread that ties it together?
It's funny. On the tour bus the other night, we were doing this thing where we're listening to classic records as an experiment that envelopes the band in music we grew up to or classic records more recent than that. We had Elton John's Yellow Brick Road on, and that's a complete body of work. I grew up in the seventies so that record was the soundtrack to my life when I was in fourth grade. I listened to it from beginning to end. I'd look at the double foldout album cover. It's not something you would just listen to one song off of. Fast forward to now, we're guys who grew up on records. Even OK Computer is a full album. That's something you listen to from beginning to end. Even my fifteen-year-old daughter goes back and listens to OK Computer from beginning to end, and that's a new thing for her [Laughs]. She grew up listen to one song by this band and one by that band. I've realized this Walking Papers record is the result of being "album guys".
Every element stands out on the record.
I got to come into this thing a little bit after it originated. Barrett Martin and Jeff Angell were the instigators. They had started playing together with just drums and guitar. Barrett plays everything—marimba, standup bass, and anything else you can imagine. There's a lot of space. When there's not, it's intended to be filled up.
If the Walking Papers album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
It's film noir or some Alfred Hitchcock movie with something pretty sexy. It's record you listen to as a whole because these stories of Jeff's are actual factual things that have happened to him. The record as a whole is a story of hard-won knowledge and learning the hard way. You're walking through a brick wall a hundred times before finally figuring out you can walk around the wall. That's a great question. I wouldn't know which movie to actually attach to this record. It's dark and twisted and there is light. It is cinematic.
What's the story behind "Independence Day"?
The chorus reminds me of some sort of eighties Duran Duran-ish song. I don't know why. Or, it's like a post-punk Gang of Four-ish chorus. It came together. We were in "Drop-D". Since this record has come out, Barrett will start playing a groove at soundcheck or rehearsal, and something will happen. We have thirty new things—if not whole songs because of these rhythms Barrett instigates. "Independence Day" came about because of some groove Barrett started playing and we were in "Drop-D". Voila, there's "Independence Day".
What heavy bands have you been listening to?
I just like heavy shit. I grew up a punk rock kid, and that was suddenly my thing. It was anything that passion that spoke to me. Whether it's heavy metal or disco, I love ABBA, and I love Slipknot. I can listen to those two bands back-to-back. Then, I can listen to The Refused and Siouxsie and the Banshees. To me, these things all have the same intent. For heavy music, it's certainly nothing new, but every year, I get more amazed by Motörhead and how they forge ahead. I love this new Queens of the Stone Age Record. Alice in Chains made a great record. Philip Anselmo's new album is great too. That's heavy. It's got the spirit of old hardcore punk rock. I like anything Phil does because it's honest. He'll tear himself off a piece and go for it. I love that shit.
What's next for Loaded?
I can really only do one thing at a time because I try to put everything into it. Loaded is something I love. It's tough because it's such an underground band. People want us to come play everywhere, but we can't. We can play where we know where we can draw. America is tough for that band. We can play Seattle. We can play New York and Los Angeles. I don't know what the deal is [Laughs]. Right now, I'm doing Walking Papers. Loaded will always be a part of my life. We'll always make records—just not right now.
What's your favorite Duff song?