Velvet Revolver: Interview with Duff McKagan

—by , May 18, 2005

Velvet RevolverWhile Alan Greenspan wouldn’t release the exact figures at press time, professional estimates indicate that hard rockers Velvet Revolver now comprise no less than 27 percent of the United States’ GDP. This should surprise no one familiar with the band, which is comprised of former members of such relative unknowns as Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots.

The members’ ability to rise above their relatively obscure pasts notwithstanding, Velvet Revolver owe much of their success to an old school work ethic and the complicated formula of hard rock minus shtick. Now, as the military strategy for global dominance comes to its long-awaited fruition, Velvet Revolver sit mightily like tunic-clad Zeus upon a throne atop Olympus, drinking wine with a leg draped over the arm of the chair in true relaxation form.

Duff McKagan, Finance major and father of two, called The Aquarian office the other day by mistake, trying to order a pizza. All bow and kneel before opportunity. He wanted pepperoni, but the rock press would not be abated. Curiosity would not be quashed. And as it turns out, he’s just too cool a guy to say no to an interview, even when hungry.

How’s the tour going?

It’s been great. Wicked shows. Every night is different and last night was just a fucking great show. We haven’t had a shitty show, or a shitty audience, knock on wood. I hope it stays that way. Did you ever feel any apprehension going into it?

When Slash and Matt and I got together and did that benefit show, it was just so powerful.We hadn’t played together in earnest for live seven years. And we all had our own bands, and I was going to school.

We did this benefit because this friend of ours died, and we weren’t waiting around for the right time to come to get back together and play or anything like that, it just happened.We did the benefit show, and the chemistry and the power was just too much for us to just walk away and go ‘Oh well, that was great.’

The next day, Slash and I talked, ‘Well maybe we should start writing some songs, see what happens.’ One thing led to another, we got Dave in the band, he was in my band Loaded, and he was just the perfect guy, perfect muse for the way Slash plays guitar.

He added a lot to the whole sound, and eventually we got these two movie soundtrack offers and Scott, you know, Stone Temple Pilots had come to their end, and Scott came in to sing these two soundtracks. He was friends with us, and the chemistry was just perfect.

Trepidations, I didn’t really have any because I was playing music, I’ll always be playing music. I had my band Loaded, I was happy doing that. I was happy going to school, I was happy having kids. I’ve got a good life, a good wife, and everything’s cool. It wasn’t like I was afraid of anything.

I could’ve walked away at any time, but that wasn’t even a thought. Everything just went together so well. Like, ‘Well, okay, fate had this in my path for me.’ So I’ll just follow it.

Sounds like a very organic process.

It was very organic. People call it ‘supergroup,’ and you know, it’s not. You had to be there. Supergroup is something a record label puts together.We didn’t have a record label.We didn’t have anything.

We recorded ‘Set Me Free’ for the Hulk soundtrack and radio grabbed it and played it as a single. They basically downloaded it, stole it (laughs), and it became a top single in the modern rock format. We didn’t even have a record label.

It was very organic, we did it ourselves, and all the record labels came out and started wining and dining us. We were really in the mindset of just putting out our own record and just licensing it out to somebody, but Clive Davis came around, and you know, he’s the man.

He’s a music guy—he’s a business man, but music comes first. Look at his track record; Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, up to now and what he’s done. He made us, financially, an offer that was acceptable.

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