During an April 4 appearance at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, GUNS N' ROSES bassist Duff McKagan explained that "Feeling" — a song from his upcoming Shooter Jennings-produced solo album, "Tenderness" — was inspired by the deaths of several of his rock peers.
"When I met Shooter," Duff said, "I had these chords, and I all I had was 'Feel. When the lights go down, you are still here. All you hoped here remains.' It was coming from Scott Weiland, who I worked with and really tried to help a few times — intensely, one time; like, going to the Cascade Mountains for a month, intensely — and saw that it just took him over...
"[GN'R] were on the road, and if anybody has their 'thing,' my thing is Prince," Duff continued. "He's this magical entity to me. Everybody has that record that 'saved your life,' and '1999' gave me the impetus to get out of a heroin-infested Seattle in 1983 and move to L.A. I was in Mexico City — we were playing — and Axl [Rose] texted me, 'I'm really sorry. Turn on the news.' Because they know, like, my lifelong [fandom]. I actually cried...
"Then Chris [Cornell]. Susan [Holmes McKagan, Duff's wife] and Susan Silver [Cornell's first wife] were pregnant at the same time. They had [their daughters] two weeks apart, and we hung out with them and our babies. That's just real-life shit, and then Chris going... the fucking weird thing about that is, that night, about 8 o'clock at night, Axl came into rehearsal and said, 'Let's do 'Black Hole Sun'. Let's try that song.' We rehearsed until 12:30 that night. I got home, and [GN'R guitarist] Richard Fortus texted me — 'Chris is dead.'
"And then Chester [Bennington], who's a friend of ours, and we're friends with his family. These are just my friends... I don't name them in the song, and I gathered up the energy of those four — of the loss, the sense of loss — and it's just a song of... there is a little hope, like, we're going to remember you, and you're still here – these four in particular, and so many more before that. It's been tragic, but the celebration is, I get to work with Shooter now, and do something really fucking bad-ass and cool. I celebrate every fucking day."
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 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.