Duff McKagan: Fart Tennis


In the last couple of weeks, my blogs have contained some pretty serious subjects that I felt needed addressing. While I love good discourse and intelligent banter, I also love humor, and I believe at times I just take myself too damn seriously. Maybe we all do. I will now step off of the soapbox and unveil another side of what makes my world tick.

If any of you have been reading my last couple of columns, you’ve probably ascertained that I have been traveling a lot. The reason is that I’ve been touring with my most killer band Loaded in Europe. “Most killer band—Loaded?” you might say. Not only do we think we are sexy motherfuckers (um, we may be all around 40 but we do listen to a lot of Prince before we go onstage), but we are great friends and that counts for something even bigger. We are also killer because we have discovered some of the most awesome tour-bus antics and on-board ethics that are second to none.

Touring with nine guys on a bus, playing every night, and booking only two hotels during a 15-day stint could and does wreak havoc on a guy’s personal space. We do our laundry in the sink of the venue after we play and hang it in the bus to dry at night. Personal space gets smaller and smaller. You must be very observant of everyone’s ever-changing mood, in case a possible situation gets blown out of proportion in a hurry. Our way of dealing with these close quarters is humor. A ton of it.

“Ass to ass, dog!” is the saying when two of us approach each other in the claustrophobic aisle between bunks. This saying came a bunch of years back from a huge security guy who got ruffled when a band member (from which band, I do not know) passed him once crotch-to-ass in a space about the same as an aisle on a Southwest flight. This security guy did not exactly dig the fact that his manhood may have been compromised in that flashing instant. He dressed down the young rocker right then and there: “Man, it’s always ass to ass, dog . . . ASS TO ASS!” This incident has become folklore in Loaded-land. On the Loaded bus we practice the ass-to-ass program, unless we might be feeling a bit frisky. One of us might approach with our butt facing in, but with a quick turn at passing, you can surprise your fellow band member with a “junk drag,” that is, crotch-to-ass. It’s really good fun! Hey, I’ve got a college education and I am a responsible father and husband, but hey, you just can’t beat juvenile fun sometimes! My wife joined me in London for a couple of days in the middle of this all-male tour, and I had to quickly break a few bad habits and curb my “F bombs” (although I pleasantly refrained the “junk drag” upon first seeing her!).

The first rule on a bus is, NO POOPING ON BOARD! The toilets on tour buses will not accommodate solids. Well, a tour diet is never very wholesome. In fact, it is downright gross. We eat dinner after we play, and you can only imagine the cornucopia open at midnight or 1 a.m. Pizza? Swarma? We always end up with spicy Indian food (there is always great late-night Indian food in the UK). Remember, nine guys, one bus, few rest stops . . . lots of flatulence. “Evil” Dave is one of our guitar techs, and he is from Sheffield, England. This dude is drop-dead funny. He suggested that we associate a word that sounds like the fart that just happened. Some sound like, say, ”teapot.” The more “throaty” flatus may sound like “HAROLD” or “STREEEETPOST.” This passes time and broadens one’s vocabulary; coming up with new names is almost like playing Scrabble.

This “name the fart” game was challenging enough, when upon reaching London we met Mike. Mike is my wife’s cousin Heidi’s new boyfriend, and I was sort of keen to check him out. Heidi has had a couple of real lulus lately as far as boyfriends go, and Mike was going to get a full going-over by me before I gave my OK. After we played our show in London and the crew had loaded out, we all just kind of kicked back shootin’ the shit (the band, the crew, my wife, Mike, and Heidi). I think that I was trying to see how Mike could “hang with the boys,” so I brought up “name the fart.”

“Oh?” Mike said without the least trace of a flinch, “have you guys tried Fart Tennis?”

“Why, no,” we must have all replied at once, maybe too eager to hear of something more inane than “name the fart” to do with our idle time.

“Service,” Mike said, with a quick burst of brown air; “You must return serve or I win.” Mike became our Fart Sensei at that moment. It was like the world, all at once, had been revealed. Needless to say, I gave Heidi the thumbs up on Mike.

Now that I am back from tour, I don’t have anyone to play Fart Tennis with. My daughters run from me when I suggest we play a few sets. Anyway, my diet is back to normal, so I think my ranking would probably drop like an anchor, as I wouldn’t be as well-armed to return serve. My dog would for sure be our house champion. All I have now is the fond memory of that tour bus and my eight friends, my competitors, and my band, Loaded.

Well, on second thought, we are going to Japan in three weeks. SERVICE!

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