Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Chat With Duff McKagan

On 1/3/2011, I got the chance to interview the one and only Duff McKagan for Powerplay Magazine, as he was in London following the Birmingham Guitar Show. As it's for the mag, the bulk of the interview can't be reproduced here so you should definitely pick up the next issue and give it a read. Here are a few little snippets that I couldn't fit in the proper article though. They're a bit weird out of context, so consider this a rather incoherent taster for the real piece.

On the feature film accompanying the new Loaded album, The Taking...
"We're not actually done [filming] it. We're probably about 70% done with all the filming. It's been filmed in Seattle so far, so we're gonna film some more in LA. We still have to figure out why we're all in LA in the same day... or maybe we'll disguise that it's LA. Thing is, we film for three days and then we don't film for two weeks, which gives Jamie [Chamberlain, film director] a chance to edit. It's not a high-falutin' movie but the stuff he's edited is just fucking amazing. Really, it's just another 'why not?'"

On "joining" Jane's Addiction last year...
"I was not in Jane's Addiction, just to clarify. I went in to help. Eric Avery had left and Perry [Farrell, singer] approached me about writing a new record - they're really a bass driven band. And I was like 'Oh, cool! I'm honoured.' The band started basically the same month as Guns did and I've known them since them - good guys. We were first in Perry's garage and that was great, but as soon as we went to a rehearsal place, the rumour got out that I had actually joined the band. It was a rumour gone amok. I played a couple of gigs with them, but those gigs were already booked, you know?"

On guesting on the most recent Manic Street Preacher's album, Postcards From A Young Man...
"Somehow, I was in London again and the band knew I was there. It was the Mojo awards I believe, and they had won an award and asked if I would present it them. Mojo said, 'The Manics requested you,' and I was like, 'Really? Fuck!' So I went and presented it. They're really sweet, good guys and I'm a fan of the band. Then Loaded were playing Hammersmith here and I called James and said, 'Hey, are you in town? Would you come and play 'It's So Easy' with us?' and he brought his tech, his amp - the whole deal! We thought he'd just come and play Squiers' [Loaded guitarist] amp, but it was really sweet of him. He really went all out with that fuckin' sound. And then to return the favour, he asked if I'd play on that song ['A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun'] and they just sent the file over to LA. I asked, 'What do you want me to do to this song?' and they just said, 'Just do the thing you do'. So, that was it. I sent the file back to them and it came out on the record.

On moving from Seattle's punk rock scene to California...
"[The scene] was great. Small, but mighty. However, the heroine infested Seattle I saw was laying waste to all of my friends and band-mates. I was 19 and it was time to go. I made that spur of the moment decision - 'Go now, or you may never go.'"

On the definition of 'ton'...
"We got back home and demoed all the songs we had... I don't know how many songs we had, we had a ton. 'Ton' is not a technical term. Maybe I should make it a technical term. It's like 18 and a half. The half is where the arrangement wasn't quite done. So from now on, 'a ton' is that."

The real meat of the interview is of course in the next issue of Powerplay, which should be out at the end of this month. Give it a read. Go on.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Chris Singleton & The Distractions - Lady Gasoline

Perhaps the first thing that becomes abundantly clear when listening to Lady Gasoline is Irish-born Chris Singleton’s penchant for writing catchy melodies. The album primarily consists of eclectic power-pop, with influences fleeting between genres as diverse as classic rock and roll and 1980s new wave (sometimes in the same song, as with the title track), mixing the styles effortlessly without ever sounding out of place. Chris’ slightly nasally voice has a warming smoothness that softly carries the vocal lines and ensures that their melodies remain the album’s primary hook. That’s not to say the music is un-engaging, because it certainly isn’t. ‘Lose It’ is supplemented by brilliant Cake-esque guitar lines and enigmatic percussion, whereas the impeccable bass intro of ‘Bad Ambitions’ moves from the spotlight to allow for a horn-led mix of light Hammonds and flickering funk guitar.

However, it is the utterly contagious lyrical melodies that keep the listener entranced. Cuts like ‘Sold The World’ consist of those charming vocal patterns that are scarcely found outside of George Harrison penned Beatles tracks and ‘Moma Miss Americana’ boasts Dylan-styled intonations.

At the crux of it, Lady Gasoline is an erudite composition of uplifting pop rock that knows not only how to be hugely catchy, but also how to keep the music involving. By throwing in some meticulously crafted pop-rock numbers oozing with emotion, Singleton and his Distractions are on to a clear winner.

You can stream a good portion of Lady Gasoline at Chris' site.