First, I must say that there is really nothing that I would or could change about my story thus far in the context of the bands I have been in . . . or how I have conducted myself and bandmates' reactions to certain situations. It is what it is (and it has been what it has been).
Duff McKagan, right, is the former bassist for Guns N' Roses. His column runs every Thursday on Reverb. He writes about what music is circulating through his space every Monday.
HOWEVER! Because SW's REVERB Local Music Festival is coming up (Oct. 9, Ballard), it may be helpful if I could perhaps dispense a few dos and don'ts to new and up-and-coming rock bands.
Believe me, I have walked into a few brick walls in my times of rock-and-roll madness. I've matriculated sometimes only because this person or that showed me how to walk AROUND that same virtual brick edifice. On that note, here are 10 tips to muse on, mixed in with time bombs to hopefully avoid!
1. If you are one of those people who got into music for the chicks and drugs and not the passion of a song and the power of musical moments, go home. Wankers.
2. Don't smoke crack on a leased private jet. The smell gets into EVERYTHING!3. Like the people in your band. Or at least use the animosity within your band as a springboard for great fucking art!
4. Have a kick-ass band name. Unless your band is so good that your band name is THAT secondary, choose a name that means something to the band and has some sort of imagery that is a reflection of the music. Let's face it, the band name MUSE is kinda lame. But once you see or hear the band, the name is the last thing you think about.
5. Don't sign a deal that ties you up with one particular manager. There is no real upside for the artist here. If a manager believes in you and can get you good tours and nice licensing deals, etc., well, then just give the manager commissions on that stuff. Trust me. Not signing a deal keeps a manager hustling FOR the artist.
6. Don't get addicted. Drugs and alcohol can seem sexy and fun--for a while . . . until you can't live WITHOUT them. Then it's all dumb and terrifying.
7. Watch how the business works around you. Ask questions constantly and never be embarrassed to do so. "How much does a T-shirt cost to make?" or "What does publishing really mean?" are just two examples.
8. From the start, try to ascertain that you and your bandmates have the same goals. Back when Guns N' Roses first started, there WAS a different lead guitar player and drummer. When Axl, Izzy, and myself booked a punk-rock style tour of the West Coast in 1985, and these two other guys didn't want to leave the comfort of L.A., we went and found guys who DID! Thankfully and serendipitously, we found Slash and Steven Adler!
9. Get used to being away from cozy shit and the safety of home. Bring your teddy bear if you need to. And get Skype.
10. Don't be an asshole to other bands. If you are good and stay around for a while, being an asshole PERIOD is going to make life very hard for you.