Duff McKagan Defends Controversial Guns N’ Roses Songs: ‘We Were Still Good Dudes’
Rock and roll has always been a culture surrounded by controversy, but it's impossible to deny how much it has changed since the '80s. Guns N' Roses came along midway through the decade and adopted the mantra "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" better than anyone. Bassist Duff McKagan, who is about to venture off on a solo tour in support of his new album Tenderness, looks back on some of GN'R's controversial moments and lyrics in a new interview with Yahoo!, stating that they "were still good dudes."
McKagan's forthcoming solo effort is based on what he observed going on in the world throughout the last few years while he toured with Guns N' Roses. honing in on social issues like the opioid crisis and gun control. Despite his awareness of these issues, he admits he's been called out for being in the band that released songs like "It's So Easy" and "One in a Million."
“I went on BBC's Hard Talk for my first book, right? I did Hard Talk, and it was the woman on there, and she was very nice to me in the green room," McKagan reflects. “And the light goes on the camera, and she goes, ‘So: Turn around, bitch, I've got a use for you. You wrote that lyric. How do you explain that to your daughters?’”
McKagan defends that these songs were not meant to be taken as the band's own beliefs and behaviors. As for situations of men mistreating women, especially sexually, he says, "We hated that! If we saw that stuff going on around us, we didn't allow it to happen around us. We were still good dudes."
Regarding "One in a Million," a controversial acoustic song originally on GN'R Lies, the bassist explains that it was meant to be told from the perspective of a racist and homophobic "character."
“We were supposed to play David Geffen's big AIDS benefit in New York a couple months [after that song’s release]; we got pulled off of that," McKagan says. "I remember getting on a plane flying back to Seattle, and an African American flight attendant came up and sat down next to me and said, ‘Do you really hate black people?’ I'm like, ‘Oh, fuck.’ Part of my family is African American. Slash is half [black]. So, people didn't put that together. Hopefully now, later, people can examine that song.”
“I think ‘P.C.’ is an overused word itself. Just come correct at all times," the bassist says of the current political climate. "Just be a human being. Use common sense. Don't be a dick...I gotta be a man for my daughters and for my wife, and I don't mean a ‘macho’ man — a man of thought, and a man of understanding, and a man of action."
Axl Rose is a man of understanding and a man of action, according to McKagan, even though he was the band's primary lyricist. "He is woke...If you're gonna try to outsmart him, or out-intellectual him, it ain't gonna work. You're gonna be in trouble. When Axl says something, I know how much he thinks about it first and he does research."
McKagan's solo tour begins tomorrow (May 30) in Philadelphia, Pa. See the dates here.
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