Duff McKagan says that musicians and athletes should have the right to speak out on political or social issues, adding that they are perfectly justified in using their platform to voice their opinions on things they feel passionate about.
The GUNS N' ROSES bassist made his comments while speaking to SiriusXM's "Debatable" about the inspiration for some of the lyrics on his upcoming solo album, "Tenderness", which is due at the end of next month.
Duff said: "When I was in the Twittersphere, [NBA superstar] LeBron [James] came out and said something [that was of a political nature]. He's a smart guy and he's an activist and he does stuff with his money and he's an American citizen. And it is 'we the people' — last I checked. And him saying, him voicing his opinion is what we're supposed to do, I thought. And I saw [some people responding to him on social media and telling him to] 'shut up and play basketball.' And I was, like, 'Oh, wow! Where have we gone?'"
McKagan, who calls himself "an armchair historian," continued: "The first newspapers that we had in America, it was in the Northeast. The printing press, they could print, like, six newspapers per town. This is 1620, let's say. And the back page was blank. They would have the articles, and then 'John Smith' could write his commentary on whatever article. He'd put his commentary, his address, his name and he passed it around. The next person would either comment to 'John Smith'… But you had to put your name and your address. This is before America was even born. But this is what we were trying to form a country around — everybody having a voice. And somewhere along the way… Yeah, 'shut up and sing,' 'shut up and play basketball,' and even saying 'shut up'… This is America. Speak out."
Due May 31, "Tenderness" sees McKagan reflecting on his experiences traveling the globe over two and a half years on GUNS N' ROSES' "Not In This Lifetime" tour. Encountering heartbreak, anger, fear, confusion and divide on his travels during this tumultuous time in our world history, McKagan channeled a collective hurt into songs of monolithic power.
McKagan and producer Shooter Jennings began recording "Tenderness" a year ago, working out of Station House studios in Echo Park, California, where they wrote and recorded in between McKagan's tour with GUNS N' ROSES and the release of Jennings's eponymous album, "Shooter". "Tenderness" features Jennings and his band along with appearances by The Waters and The Suicide Horn Section (which features Duff's brother Matt McKagan on trombone), among others.
McKagan will kick off a North American tour in support of "Tenderness" — during which he'll be backed by Jennings and Jennings's band — on May 30 at TLA in Philadelphia.