GUNS N' ROSES bassist Duff McKagan says that his upcoming solo album will consist of "observational songs" that find him "pointing out out some things" that he has noticed over the course of the last few years of touring.
McKagan began recording the album back in March 2018 with producer Shooter Jennings. The two worked out of Station House studios, located in Echo Park, California, writing and recording in between McKagan's tour with seminal rock band GUNS N' ROSES and the release of Jennings's eponymous album, "Shooter".
The album will be McKagan's musical follow-up to 2015's best-selling book, "How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions)".
Speaking to Thomann Music at this year's NAMM show in Anaheim, California, Duff said about the genesis of his new solo record: "I've written a couple of books. And this last tour that I was just on was two and a half years [long], and we traveled around the world, like, four times. And it was a very interesting time. The last two and a half years has been interesting in England, interesting in America [and] interesting in the rest of the rest of the world as well. And I'm a history reader. All I do, really, is just read every night. I like being informed, I like traveling, talking to people and knowing what the lay of the land is wherever I go. And it's evolved over the 30 years that I've been traveling. It interests me. Instead of writing a book about that, which is what I was thinking of doing, especially the climate that we've evolved into — sort of more divided… This has happened many times before. History repeats itself, but people get pretty [worked] up not realizing this has happened before.
"So I wrote these little vignettes that were gonna be starts of stories I was gonna write about, but they became songs," he continued. "[They're] kind of observational songs… And I'm really proud of it. It's like another book for me. It's a launching of a book as opposed to… It's not a rock record, so I don't know if people will be surprised or not. But I thought it was important for me now as a father and a citizen…
"I've read so many goddamn books on history, and I still do, that I thought maybe it's time for me to just point out some things that I've observed," Duff added. "Not pointing fingers at anybody, 'cause that does no good. I feel like I have a voice that I can kind of say, 'This has happened before. Here's what happened then. It's happening again. Let's not fall for it again.'"
McKagan went on to say that he played acoustic guitar and bass on the record, with accompaniment from Shooter's band.
As for his touring plans in support of the solo album, Duff said: "I think I'm gonna do some festivals this summer — in June… It's all getting laid out. I think I'm gonna start in Washington D.C. I'm gonna play particular shows that mean something — or hope to. But the festivals we're working on right now."
When Duff's new solo album was first announced last month, Jennings said that he "felt it was a really important record that had to be heard. The songs have so much heart and are so musical that I could just hear all the arrangements immediately and I could really feel them," he said.
About his connection to McKagan, Jennings said: "I met Duff right after I moved to Los Angeles nearly twenty years ago. I was such a massive GUNS N' ROSES fan when I was younger. I'd say that they had a lot to do with me even moving to L.A. But there was some kind of magnetic force I guess that kept us orbiting each other over the years. When the idea of collaborating with him on this album came up, I was very eager to get the job as producer. I felt like the music this man made was part of the fabric of my own musical identity and that I would really love building a record with him. Once we sat down and started going over the songs he had, I instantly knew that the two of us were going to be a great fit together."
McKagan's last solo album, "Believe In Me", arrived in 1993. His LOADED outfit released "The Taking" in 2011.
Three-fifths of the classic GUNS lineup reunited in 2016 after last performing together more than two decades earlier. The "Not In This Lifetime" tour, which is now one of the highest-grossing in music history, launched in April of that year with a nightclub gig in Los Angeles.
Joining McKagan, singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash on the "Not In This Lifetime" trek are drummer Frank Ferrer, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, guitarist Richard Fortus and second keyboardist Melissa Reese.
Top photo credit: Katarina Benzova