Duff McKagan says that Axl Rose is "a super-smart guy" who is "concerned about his country."
The GUNS N' ROSES bassist made his comment while speaking to Rolling Stone magazine about Rose's support of a number of left-wing causes on Twitter, where the singer has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump's policies.
"If he says something on Twitter, he's thought about it," Duff said of Axl. "He knows the backup stories from every angle, and if somebody chose to debate him, I don't care who it is, you're going to be fucked. He's a well-spoken and well-read dude who has experienced a lot. I believe he's concerned about his country."
McKagan also defended Rose over GUNS N' ROSES' 1988 song "One In A Million", which was controversial at the time for lyrics containing racial and homophobic slurs. The track contained the words "n***a" and "f****t" as well as anti-immigrant sentiments. Rose said three decades ago that he based the lyrics on his first impressions of Los Angeles when he arrived from small-town Indiana. In a 1989 Rolling Stone interview, he described "black men selling stolen jewelry, crack, heroin and pot," as well as having "very bad experiences with homosexuals," including an attempted rape.
"We got kicked off an AIDS benefit," Duff recalled to Rolling Stone about the song's fallout. "I remember taking a plane and an African American flight attendant sees the seat next to me was open, so she sat down. 'Are you with GUNS N' ROSES? Are you really racist about black people?' And then there's what Slash [who is biracial] went through, and part of my family is African American. I had to explain it to them.
"One thing about Axl is if you're going to try to compete with him intellectually, you've lost, because he's a super-smart guy," Duff continued. "He's a super-sensitive dude who does his studies. When we did that song, I was still drinking but he was way ahead of us with his vision of, 'Something's gotta be said.' That was the most hardcore way to say it."
Slash later admitted he had mixed emotions about recording the song, telling Rolling Stone in 1991: "I didn't think it was very cool, but Axl gets very adamant about expressing himself." He added: "I don't regret doing 'One In A Million', I just regret what we've been through because of it and the way people have perceived our personal feelings."
McKagan kicked off a two-week North American solo tour on May 30 in Philadelphia. He is touring in support of his newly released solo album, "Tenderness", which sees him reflecting on his experiences traveling the globe over two and a half years on GUNS N' ROSES' "Not In This Lifetime" tour. Backing McKagan on the trek is Shooter Jennings, who produced the LP, and members of Shooter's band.