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Duff McKagan

Duff McKagan Gets Asked a Lot of Stupid Questions

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Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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Duff McKagan is the founding bassist of Guns N' Roses and the leader of the band Loaded. His column runs every Thursday on our sister blog Reverb.

Today and tomorrow at the Viper Room in L.A. he'll be reading from his book, It's So Easy: and Other Lies. These will be no ordinary readings: today's will be backed by Loaded performing acoustically, and tomorrow will include a full-blown electric show from the band.

With a couple of tours coming up, and the inevitable round of interviews, I know I'll be asked a lot about what my "rock-and-roll lifestyle" is like.

I tend to take a breath at this line of questioning. I could just make some shit up (I HAVE done that), or get kind of pissed off about the laziness of the question (yes, I have unfortunately done THAT too). I like to talk about music to a knowledgeable questioner, but sometimes . . . you've got to put up with some malarkey (and there ARE plenty of good music journalists out there).

What does that term actually mean? What IS a rock-and-roll lifestyle? Is it simply listening to loud rock, getting tattoos and a leather jacket, drinking Jack, and spitting every so often? Riding a Harley? Limos and a pimp cup?

The use of well-placed terminology does help us all to identify certain things, of course.

See also: Excerpt From Duff McKagan's New Memoir: Guns N' Roses Finds Their Identity, Somewhere Between Metal And "Cow-Punk"

I DO love the term "ROCKER." The word itself imbues a ton of imagery and romance. But I don't think a rocker needs to have AC/DC and Metallica and the Black Keys rumbling through their car speakers speeding headlong into the night.

Words and titles can be used as dictums and guides for all of us. A certain word can suddenly snap us back to a good place. "Rocker" works for me.

Prince is a rocker.

Upton Sinclair is a rocker. He exposed all kinds of wrong in the American workplace 100 years ago.

That person who stops a blind person from crossing the street into traffic is a rocker.

That single mother of a child with special needs who works hard to make ends meet is a fucking rocker.

Yes, for sure, there are rockers like Jack White and the Refused who embody more of the pigeonholed idea of what we think rockers are. But after living and observing this rock world, I think the ethos of rock is so much more far-reaching than guitars and Marshall stacks.

Have you ever observed those people who seem to strive to be truthful and honest more often than the norm? Or someone who seems to be searching for the "truth" in life? Those people who are more calm, and are not racing to some sort of nonexistent finish line?

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