While on the Guns’n’Roses “Not In This Lifetime” tour, which lasted two and a half years and saw the band travel around the world, Duff mcKagan somehow found time to write an album. Apparently he was writing for a book he had planned, but the notes he made ended up becoming a new album.
I was lucky enough to hear some of the tracks from the album a few weeks ago and to hear Duff talk about the album. My thoughts then were that this is going to be one hell of an album and now I’m able to listen to it on repeat then that opinion is confirmed – this is something very special. One thing Duff talked about was that between tour dates he liked to travel around and found that while the TV and newspapers talk about what divides us, in practice he found that far more unites us
What would it sound like if David Bowie were still alive and recorded an album of Americana? Well I think it would sound very similar to this album. Recorded with Shooter Jennings, the album really is a fantastic piece of work. You’ve got intelligent and thoughtful lyrics covering important topics and these lyrics are set against some lovely music which is mainly acoustic guitar and drums but with other instruments added to round out the sound or to highlight particular parts – it’s often quite subtly done but the overall result is simply fantastic.
“Parkland” is about not just Parkland but all the school shootings that have happened. Lines like “Another school, another fucking heartache” and “do we have to watch another mother cry” are interspersed with the names of some of the school attacks – Parkland, Sandy hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech and more. Sadly there have been far too many school shootings in recent years and yet nothing seems to change.
“Don’t look behind you” seems to bring together all the previous songs and is a fantastic track to end the album. The song features The Suicide Horn Section, featuring Duff’s brother Matt McKagan on trombone, Chuck Findlay on trumpet, and Brian Scanlon on saxophone – the first time they’d worked together since they played on the “Use your illusion” albums. Their contribution really does add a lot to the song which is a real highlight of the album
“We’re becoming divided at a time when we need each other most,” says McKagan. “When huge industries get replaced because of modernization, it’s time to retrain and bolster up those who get swept aside. Homelessness and drug addiction are avoidable in this country if we come together and get private and public cogs turning together in a positive direction. We can at least try to tackle mental illness while we’re at it. But alas, we stump and lie, point fingers and divide. We’re way better than this.”
With that in mind, McKagan has created a campaign that puts the album’s themes into action and he’s inviting fans to join him in an effort to give support to organizations doing great work. Those include Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, 320 Changes Direction, and To Write Love on Her Arms, among others. With his wife he visited homeless people with a charity he supports and spoke to one man who had had his eyelids chewed off by rats – the song “Cold outside” is about the homelessness issue. For more information, please visit propeller.la/duff
I have to be honest – this isn’t what I’d expected from Duff McKagan as most of his work whether it’s with Guns’n’Roses, Velvet revolver or Loaded is more Hard Rock, whereas this is Americana, so very different musically. Having said that, the album is far better than I’d expected – this is no run of the mill hard rock album, this is a masterpiece.
“Tenderness” will be released on 31st May 2019
2. It’s not too late
3. Wasted heart
4. Falling down
5. Last September
6. Chip away
7. Cold outside
9. Breaking rocks
11. Don’t look behind you
Duff McKagan plays three dates in the UK and Ireland later this year..
Thursday 29th August 2019Islington Assembly Hall, London UK
Saturday 31st August 2019Electric Picnic Festival, Dublin EIRE
Sunday 1st September 2019Manchester Academy3, Manchester UK