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DUFF MCKAGAN: “there is new GUNS N' ROSES material in the works”


During an appearance on the June 12 episode of SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”, Duff McKagan was asked if he thinks GUNS N’ ROSES will ever release more “newly written music” again as opposed to continuing to rework and put out previously composed songs. The GN’R bassist responded: “Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. There’s new material. I don’t know how we’re gona put it out. I think that’s a question too. Like, do you put out a record? Do you just keep putting out singles? I don’t know what the right answer is there in this day and age.”

The legendary hard rock outfit has not released a full-length effort since 2008’s “Chinese Democracy”, which included only singer Axl Rose from the band’s classic lineup. McKagan and guitarist Slash reunited with Axl in 2016 and have since released several standalone singles — “Absurd” (stylized as “ABSUЯD”),“Hard Skool”“Perhaps” and “The General” — but have not made any announcements about another LP.

In a recent interview with the Daily StarSlash, who is promoting “Orgy Of The Damned”, a record of mostly blues tracks featuring a string of guest vocalists, was asked why Axl and Slash‘s THE CONSPIRATORS collaborator Myles Kennedy aren’t featured on his new album. The 58-year-old guitarist replied: “It was my own side thing, so I wasn’t dragging my own guys in.

GUNS N’ ROSES are trying to make their own record and I’m working with them in that capacity but this didn’t involve anyone else,” he explained.

In Janary GUNS N’ ROSES unveiled the music video for their latest single “The General”. The cinematic clip notably stands out as the band’s first-ever artificial intelligence-powered music video.

The video for “The General” intercuts 20 live vignettes with an A.I.-animated psychedelic visual trip. Between the concert footage, it dives into the subconscious of a young boy who stares down the monsters of dark childhood memories, blurring worlds in the process. The result is unlike anything the band has done before and continues a longstanding historic tradition of bold visuals from GUNS N’ ROSES.

To bring this vision to life, GUNS N’ ROSES collaborated with Dan Potter — creative director of London-based creative studio Creative Works. This was a collaboration between real designers and artificial designers, and the inspiration came from within the band.

Watch the official video for “The General” in part below.

GUNS N’ ROSES performed “The General” live for the first time on November 2 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The track was introduced by singer Axl Rose as a song they hadn’t played before and that “it could be very interesting.”

Like “Perhaps”“The General” was written during the sessions for GUNS N’ ROSES‘ “Chinese Democracy” album. It was previously talked about by ex-GN’R drummer Bryan “Brain” Mantia, who reportedly wrote some of the song’s music and gave it its title, and former SKID ROW singer Sebastian Bach.

In a 2008 interview with Rolling StoneSebastian said that Axl told him that “The General”, which was described as “a slow, grinding track,” is the sequel to “Use Your Illusion II”‘s “Estranged”, that goes to the parable that Del James wrote of the trilogy. (James penned the short story that inspired the “November Rain” video).

Bach told Metal Edge magazine back in 2007: “One of my favorite songs is this song called ‘The General’, which is so… it’s by far the heaviest metal tune I think I’ve ever heard Axl do, this slow, grinding riff with these high, piercing vocals, screaming vocals.”

Watch the official video for  the shelved “Chinese Democracy”-era song “Perhaps” in part below.

GUNS N’ ROSES reportedly soundchecked “Perhaps” ahead of the band’s concert in Tel Aviv, Israel on June 5 but ended up not performing it at the gig. However, astute fans who stood outside the venue during soundcheck were quick to bust out their phones and record the rehearsal, with low-quality clips surfacing online immediately thereafter.

Like GUNS N’ ROSES‘ 2021 single “Hard Skool”“Perhaps” was originally written and recorded during the sessions for “Chinese Democracy”, and a rough demo version of the song had previously been leaked and uploaded to YouTube.

Last month, GUNS N’ ROSES‘ longtime production manager Tom Mayhue confirmed that a new single from the band was coming soon.

Mayhue discussed the Axl Rose-fronted outfit’s future plans while speaking to the media ahead of GUNS N’ ROSES‘ July 13 concert in Paris, France. Noting that GN’R will finish the North American leg of its tour in mid-October, he added: “And I know that the band’s gonna start working on new music. They’ve got a bunch of stuff recorded already. So there will be new GUNS N’ ROSES music very soon. In fact, I think they’re trying to get a single out any day now, so you may hear something very, very soon.”

Regarding what the new GUNS N’ ROSES material sounds like, Mayhue said: “It sounds great. It’s a lot more kind of ‘Appetite (For Destruction)’-orientated. They had a lot of songs. When the band went in originally and recorded ‘Appetite For Destruction’, I think they recorded, like, 29 songs. So there’s a bunch of other music that was left over that didn’t make the first record. I think there’s only 11 songs on the first record.”

This past June, Oslo’s Urban Sound Studios shared a new photo of Rose and GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist Slash, apparently taken the day after the band’s performance at the Tons Of Rock festival in Norway’s capital city. The picture was posted on the Urban Sound Studios Instagram account along with the following message: “We got to hang out with these 2 rock legends in the studio today. Really cool guys! The two in the middle…. The band wanted a nice studio with a variety of speakers and headphones to listen to new mixes before they head  for Glastonbury. It sounds awesome!”

During an October 2022 appearance on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” show, Slash was asked about GUNS N’ ROSES‘ plans for new music in the coming months. He said: “I wanna go in and cut a whole brand new record at some point, probably sooner than later. But other than that, we have stuff that we’ve still got to come out. So that’s gonna be coming out piecemeal over the next — I don’t know — over the next few months or something like that. So that’s basically it. We have one more tour left to do next summer, and then that’ll free us up to be able to go in and work on a new record.”

GUNS N’ ROSES‘ most recent release was a four-song EP, “Hard Skool”, which came out in February 2022. The effort, which was exclusive to the GUNS N’ ROSES‘ official store, contained the two new songs the band released in 2021 — the title track and “Absurd” (stylized as “ABSUЯD”) — as well as live versions of “Don’t Cry” and “You’re Crazy”.

In September 2021, the guitarist and his bandmates dropped “Hard Skool”, which came more than a month after their performance and subsequent official release of “Absurd”, a reworking of GUNS N’ ROSES previously unreleased “Silkworms”.

According to Slash, several other older GUNS N’ ROSES tracks have also been reworked during the pandemic. “There’s a handful of those songs that we actually fixed up and did when we were in lockdown,” he explained to “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”. “So those have yet to be released. So those are gonna come out. They’re really good, too. So I’m excited for those. We’re just gonna put out like one or two songs, and another one or two songs. And I think that’s gonna be pretty much all of ’em. I’m not sure exactly how many we did in total.”

When host Eddie Trunk noted that “Hard Skool” in particular was a strong cut, Slash said: “These other ones, they don’t have the same kind of amount of history, ’cause I know ‘Hard Skool’ seriously has… it goes way back. But there’s a couple of epic ones coming out, so I’m excited about that.”

If and when it happens, the new GUNS N’ ROSES studio album will be the first under the GUNS banner since “Chinese Democracy” and the first to feature Slash, singer Axl Rose and bassist Duff McKagan since 1993.

Slash previously spoke about “Hard Skool”, one of the first two songs he recorded with GUNS N’ ROSES in more than 25 years, this past February in an interview with Rolling Stone. At the time he said: “‘Hard Skool’, in essence, was a completed song when I was first introduced to it. And Duff and I went in and redid the bass and the guitars. It’s a simple song, so it didn’t take a hell of a lot of thought and analysis. I think it was a lot of fun just because it was part and parcel of a bunch of stuff that we were working on that was all sort of new — at least to Duff and I — so we had a good time.”

In October 2021, Slash told Audacy Check In host Remy Maxwell that GUNS N’ ROSES had yet to begin writing new material after releasing the two reworked songs from the “Chinese Democracy”-era sessions.

“As far as new GUNS is concerned, we haven’t even gotten to that point of really in earnest sitting down and writing,” Slash said. “We’ve been doing a lot of material that’s been sort of sitting around for a while. So that will be a whole focused endeavor unto itself.”

As for how “Hard Skool” and “Absurd” came about, Slash said: “They both have a lot of history. What happened was Axl has all these songs that he recorded at some point along the way. And so Duff and I went in and re-did them, basically… Like, I wrote my own kind of parts to what else is going on, and we just sort of took the drums and re-did everything else.”

Written by Rose and co-produced by Rose and Caram Costanzo“Hard Skool”, which had the working title “Jackie Chan”, was originally recorded during GN’R‘s “Chinese Democracy” era but was eventually omitted from that album. Short clips of the song were later posted online and a full version was leaked in August 2019.

On “Hard Skool”Axl sings: “But you had to play it cool, had to do it your way/Had to be a fool, had to throw it all away/Too hard school and you thought you were here to stay/ If that were true, it wouldn’t matter anyway.”

“Absurd” came out on August 6, 2021, three days after GUNS N’ ROSES performed the tune live for the first time during its concert at Boston’s Fenway Park.

GUNS N’ ROSES last performed “Silkworms”, which was also reportedly written during the “Chinese Democracy” sessions, in 2001.

Photo courtesy of The Oriel Company