Duff McKagan on How Slash + Axl Rose’s Musicianship Inspires Him
Highlighting each performer's talent, Guns N' Roses bassist and solo artist Duff McKagan said his GNR bandmates Axl Rose and Slash inspire him to be a better musician. The rocker revealed as much during a recent interview with Mistress Carrie on WAAF Boston. Listen to the talk down toward the bottom of this post.
Focusing on Rose's intense pre- and post-concert routine, and zeroing in on Slash's ability to get lost shredding in a song, the bassist who released his Shooter Jennings-produced solo album Tenderness last Friday (May 31) told the radio host the respective Guns N' Roses singer and guitarist's musical abilities embolden him.
"I don't know if I'm as talented as those guys, so I have to work," McKagan relayed. "I feel like I always have to work twice as hard. And I love that. So I go in my basement, and my wife knows I go to the basement. I'm down there for six hours or seven hours, it's just where I go to do my thing. Sometimes she'll come down and I'll play for her, and then she'll go back. But she knows … I gotta put in my work, my hours. And I love putting in my hours."
What drives the musician to hole up underground working on his craft? Specifically, McKagan pinpointed attributes of both Rose and Slash's onstage prowess as his motivating factors for getting better on bass.
On "watching Axl prepare for a show," McKagan commended the singer's preparation: "Hour-and-a-half vocal warm-ups. Then when he goes onstage, just the thing that comes over him… that guy couldn't phone in a gig, he couldn't do it. He would die first, I think. You'd have to shoot him in the head. And then the hour-and-a-half warm-downs."
He continued his respectful admiration with an observation about Guns N' Roses' famed guitarist. "Watching Slash play guitar all day long, and then lose himself when we play the shows," McKagan described. "Sometimes he's just gone when he's in a solo. I have to sometimes actually tap him on the foot, like, 'Dude, come back to the song.'"
Elsewhere in the interview, McKagan discussed his love of dogs, and the musician even touched on the time he owned a pet pig. But the performer doubled down on his first love, the bass, reiterating his dedication to it.
"I'm just so enamored with the bass guitar," the musician said. "I've been playing it for a long time. And I just got into this thing where I was taking a bunch of lessons, and talking to other bass players is really amazing."
Last month, McKagan defended a controversial Guns N' Roses song.
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