VELVET REVOLVER bassist Duff McKagan recently spoke to Dave Hilson of Japan's Daily Yomiuri about nominated for a Grammy and the group's contribution to tsunami-relief cover of ERIC CLAPTON's "Tears in Heaven" (organized by Sharon Osbourne), among other topics. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
On landing several Grammy nominations, including best rock song for "Fall to Pieces", best hard rock performance for "Slither", and best rock album for "Contraband".
Duff McKagan: "What's better than all those awards is playing to full arenas, and people being into your music. I don't know if we'll win. We're up against U2 and GREEN DAY, and even though we've been around the block, we're looked at as the underdogs, the fuck-ups...And the people that are voting for the Grammies are probably going to look at us and go, 'Oh, these guys are a bunch of junkies.'
"But it's nice to be considered."
On a recent conversation he had with Elton John, during a recording session for a tsunami-relief cover of ERIC CLAPTON's "Tears in Heaven" organized by Sharon Osbourne:
Duff McKagan: "He (Elton) said 'Last time I saw you, mate, I was holding you up at the side of the stage at the Freddie Mercury concert.' And I was like 'Oh, really?' because I was so out of it then. And he said, 'It's good to see you alive and well.'
"We'd seen everything. Slash and I took it to the hilt, you know, to the fucking hilt. Slash almost kicked the bucket. Matt overdosed a bunch of times and was actually Scott Weiland's roommate at Impact, a rehab center a bunch of years ago. Dave Kushner was, way before us, really really bad. So, if anything we're a support group for each other.
"We're a family and no family gets along perfectly all the time, but the thing about this band is that if anybody has any problems anywhere, I can call anybody in this band and say 'hey man, I need your help' and they'll be there in a second.
"I've never had that in a band before."
On the songwriting process for the group's new album, which they hope to have out by Christmas:
Duff McKagan: "We've been touring since May and we've grown as a band and as friends and songwriters. We've gotten to know each other as players, so I'm sure this next record is going to be pretty mind-blowing."
On the recently completed video for their third single, "Dirty Little Thing", featuring animation by Japanese artist Rockin' Jellybean, who designed the band's backdrop for their tour and is known for his revealing over-the-top illustrations of sexy women and muscle cars:
Duff McKagan: "The guy is badass. We went through a bunch of different animated stuff people did and this guy is just so inline with how we do things."
On recording an acoustic version of "Fall to Pieces", the idea for which they got while performing an acoustic take on the song for "Access Hollywood" and MSNBC:
Duff McKagan: "Then we decided 'well, let's just do an acoustic version for radio. So we did this really loose, almost Motown-ish version [of the song]."
On filling a musical void just the way GN'R did when they came along in the late '80s and gave the world a slap in the face with their aggressive debut album of searing glam metal, "Appetite for Destruction":
Duff McKagan: "It (our music) is honest, it's raw and it's brutal. I think it just boils down to us being an honest rock 'n' roll band. We don't punch in and out when we play a gig, you know. It's a show and it's real musicians. It's not guys gazing down at their shoes.
"There's too much of that layover from the '90s, that 'Woe is me,' you know, 'I don't really want to be up here playing, I'm just playing because it's my art' type of crap. We just made the record we wanted to make and all of a sudden there's this rather large audience for it — and they're young. You've got the older GNR and STP fans in the back (at live shows) but you look out in the front row and there's a bunch of pimple-faced kids just going for it. It's great to see.
"I grew up seeing bands like BLACK FLAG and the CLASH and IGGY, and I was able to get my aggression out. You don't necessarily get that with NICKELBACK or CREED or GOOD CHARLOTTE."