Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver alumnus Duff McKagan wasn’t necessarily looking to join another band when he signed on to be part of Seattle’s Walking Papers last year. But the prospect of working with the Missionary Position’s Jeff Angell and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin was too attractive to turn down.
“Jeff is a guy I’ve known since about ’99; he’s a guy that everybody in Seattle knows about and has thought should be the next big whatever,” McKagan tells Billboard. “He came and tried out for Velvet Revolver before Scott (Weiland) so I’ve been close to him for awhile. When Jeff and Barrett started putting some of these (Walking Papers) songs together, Jeff called me and said ‘Would you come up and play bass on some songs’ and one thing led to another after that. It happened in kind of a right way; it wasn’t like a pre-planned, ‘We’re gonna put a group together’ thing.”
McKagan, who plays guitar in his own band, Loaded, adds that it was nice to strap on the bass again for this new endeavor. “I hadn’t played bass, really, in a band for a little while,” he says, “so I loved the idea of me playing bass with Barrett playing drums and being in a really fiery rhythm section. WE have this really cool, perfect restraint, which is sort of cool. I think you know Barrett’s capable of going off at any second on his drums, but he doesn’t — although live we go for it quite a bit more than on the record. It’s a much more thunderous band live. I’m really excited about the prospects for this band.”
Walking Papers, which also includes Missionary Position guitarist Benjamin Anderson,- releases its self-titled, Jack Endino-produced debut on Aug. 6 and will be part of this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival starting Aug. 9 in Scranton, Pa. The group has also continued writing and has more than 20 new songs, according to McKagan, some of which Walking Papers is playing live.
“The songs are a little bigger I suppose, because when you write with a band it’s always bigger than if one guy sits down and writes a song,” he says. “It’s just progressing.”
McKagan — who continues to write a column for the Seattle Weekly and has a weekly radio show in England — says he plans to continue working with Loaded, though that group is on hold while he concentrates on Walking Papers. And, he adds, Velvet Revolver is not a dead issue.
“We talk about it every now and again. Slash and Matt (Sorum) and Dave (Kushner) and I played in South Africa at the beginning of June…and of course we talked about it. We’ve tried out a bunch of singers, but I think we’re just waiting for the right person to come along. It’ll just happen. But the chemistry of Matt and Slash and Dave and I is really good, so you don’t want to let that just go away.”
As for former VR frontman Scott Weiland’s current dust-up with Stone Temple Pilots, meanwhile, McKagan simply notes that, “You could kind of see it coming, I suppose. It’s a sad situation any way you look at it. That guy…You hope (Weiland) pulls it together; I shared enough good times with that guy that I wish him nothing but the best.”