Duff McKagan: Midwest Rock and Saying Good-Bye

Deanne Deesay
Duff McKagan, left, and Mike Squires during Loadeds's set, April 9, 2009, at The Crocodile. McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. Follow him on Twitter @Duff64.
The ongoing saga of Loaded's tour continues for me and the fellas for now and the foreseeable future. This week we were included on the bills of some of the bigger rock festivals in the Midwest. They do summer rock festivals like they do college football: BIG. Slipknot and Korn have been the staple headliners for most of these gigs, and while both these acts are definitely a sight to watch, it is often a surprise opener you've never heard of who steals the day (at least for me).

Because I was leaving for Europe after this last weekend and therefore would not be seeing my family until June 14, I pre-investigated if I could bring my family to these Midwest festivals. (Touring for me is mostly a test of rub-raw heartbreak and longing for my family. Make no mistake, I'm a big boy and no sobbing wimp, but I realize that, well, touring IS our livelihood. It just sucks being so far from my people.)

My daughter Grace was going to be having her half birthday; a thing both of my kids have come up with so that they can celebrate their summer birthdays in the spring with their school friends. (We've found that summer birthdays wreak havoc on kid attendance, as everyone is off gallivanting somewhere or other. Besides, the makeup melts off the clown we hire every year because of the all-day sun exposure that our house endures.) Back on topic... Since Grace was having her party last weekend, it would be a perfect opportunity to bring Mae, my youngest, with me. At 8 years old, Mae is a cagey veteran of plane travel and tour-bus smarts.

Now when you have eight males traveling together, a sort of dumbing-down phenomenon happens. It seems that instead of using well-thought-out and articulate adjectives, guys stuck together for a length of time will ALWAYS resort to "fucking," "fucked," "fucked up," "fuck yeah," or simply just "fuck." It usually takes a couple of days for me to curb this habit whenever I get home. And here I am bringing my sweet 8-year-old girl into the eye of the hurricane, if you will. I'll just say this: If we had a swear jar, Mae would have come out of this weekend flush with dough. Instead, she will just look at the person swearing and kind of give them a look, as if to say "Really?"

To my kids, by far the coolest thing about touring is the bus. Every bunk has its own little TV, and all buses these days have Direct TV. They couldn't really give a crap that I might be playing in front of 20,000 people--they've seen that a million times. No, EVERYTHING about the tour bus is cool to them. Even doing their homework on the bus is cool. After our shows, Mae and I played hide-and-seek and a new game she invented with a hacky-sack. Our nights were spent cuddled up in the back lounge watching a family movie together. She sleeps in the bunk above mine, and likes it when I reach my hand up to hold hers so that she feels secure and thus falls asleep knowing I am right there. I had to say good-bye to her at the airport in Des Moines, Iowa, as she flew back to L.A. with a trusted friend and I off to Finland. She wanted to come with me and not go back home (and back to school). We really had a great daddy-daughter bonding, and I miss her as I write this....

I've got to say that I saw a few outstanding bands on this little Midwest swing. At the top of the list was Corey Taylor, doing solo gigs with some friends he grew up with. You may know Corey as the lead singer from Slipknot and Stone Sour, but I know him as a guy who just likes to rock and have fun doing it. His band out-Loaded Loaded as they came on stage to the Magnum P.I. theme song doing a choreographed dance, and then proceeded to play "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince. They CRUSHED it! The heavy-metal crowd was further bewildered when they saw their Slipknot hero go from the theme song from Cheers into "Pig" by Nine Inch Nails. It was absolutely superb. To me, when you can flat-out rock and also take the piss out of yourself...then you are doing something right. Another band you all should check out is Parlor Mob--a sort of MC5-ish band that gets the fuck down!

As I write, I am somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean heading to Helsinki. The flight crew is a bit surly, it seems. I must have slept through an incident or something, but when I just asked for a cup of coffee, the flight attendant snapped at me that "Patience is a virtue!" Uh...OK. Flight attending is one of those professions where they can treat you like crap and there is no real recourse for the customer. So you just kind of sit back and take it. I could sure as fuck use a cup of fucking coffee, though! FUCK! Sorry, Mae...

As a killer side note: I got published in The New York Times this past Tuesday. The only bummer is that it went in as "by Michael McKagan." I really am not sure why. Heck, my own mom never called me Michael. Oh well...The Times is definitely a bucket-list item I can now cross off.

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