MIAMI — Duff McKagan is best known as the hard-driving bassist for Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver.
His success is about to be rewarded in others ways, including a nomination for GNR into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
And he also has a new mantra — as an author, with two weekly columns on SeattleWeekly.com and ESPN.com as well as his new book It’s So Easy ... and Other Lies. McKagan, 47, unleashes a powerful, raw look into the dark world of addiction and the strength to rise through it to recovery.
This is not a rock ‘n’ roll book by any stretch; it is much more than that. It is a journey to the edge of death (in 1994, his pancreas exploded, causing internal third-degree burns) and then to a place where McKagan has found peace and happiness. Yes, it has rock ‘n’ roll in it, but it is a part of the scenery, not the focal point. We caught up with McKagan from his home in Seattle.
Q. Was writing this book cathartic?
A. I think in ways it was, but now I’m nervous, I wrote the truth, but now I’m worried what people will think, about what my sobriety experts will think. But I know it launches the next step. Maybe that will be my new mantra, let it be cathartic.
Q. What was it like going back to the dark stuff?
A. Not that I live with regret, but if I’m going to write my story about addiction and how I got there and how I got out, I have to be culpable for my actions, or non-actions, and it sort of got dark for a couple of months. My wife asked me at one point, ‘What are you writing about?’ I was like, ‘I’m writing about the darkness.’ She didn’t know me then, at that point of my life.
Q. The amazing thing is, through it all, your work ethic never wavered.
A. You know three of us moved from our hometowns, Indiana or Seattle. We moved chasing this thing. I never thought I would be that guy to be messing up onstage. That’s why I put that in the book, as by that point of the book you get a good picture of who I am and where I came from, and I let it go all the way here.
Q. The physical side of the book is pretty intense ... can you tell us a little about getting yourself to that point of mind over pain?
A. I’m a knucklehead. I would ride my mountain bike those first two months because I didn’t know what else to do. You know I entered a bike race thinking, ‘I’m really out of my league,’ but it was at least a couple weeks away and if I can make that bike race, it’s a couple more weeks sober ... but getting through that race, I saw little tiny steps and getting through the race and hearing mountain bikers cheering other mountain bikers was refreshing and cool. My life’s been blessed. I have met the right people at the right time.
Q. Were you surprised about the Hall of Fame?
A. Yeah, I don’t really know what to make of that yet. That’s quite an honor and we will see what happens. I woke up very early on the West Coast and I got a couple texts from the East Coast ... ‘Congratulations, congratulations.’ I had to get writing and get started for the book release and then go work out with my sensei.
Q. Would you all play live again if inducted?
A. Oh, I don’t know (laughing). I guess I have to start preparing myself for these questions.