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February 5, 2012 / Brittany Hendrick

How I blew it with Duff McKagan, Part 1

I’ve never really liked meeting touring musicians– whether they’re famous, on the up-and-up, or otherwise. It’s a painful, puke-inducing process. Sure, I’ve met a lot of “rock stars” per se– some via planned SonyBMG occasions, some on accident. But the reason the dog-and-pony show proves unenjoyable for me is not because I’m star-struck– it’s because most musicians are dumb. And by “dumb” I mean D-U-M, dumb– either socially, intellectually or, in most cases, both! Why would I want to suffer through moments of pretending I’m so interested in Rock Star A professionally or otherwise, when a.) I don’t like your music, b.) you’re hitting on me and I find you repulsive and c.) I’d have more fun talking to a brick wall.

It doesn’t matter how big the band is. I think back to when a bunch of us from SonyBMG helped support one of our developing artists at the EARL, a band called The Giraffes.

Me to guitarist, shaking his hand: Nice to meet you!
Guitarist to me, lasciviously raising his eyebrows: Heeeeeyyyy!
Me to self: Ick.

Or the time when a little-known mid-level band called Kings of Leon played the Roxy in 2005, and the band’s label promotions guy gathered all of us together at Andrews Upstairs after the show. I found myself having the misfortune of being surrounded by three Followills at the table: Cousin at the head, Drummer directly across from me, Singer diagonally across. The two brothers looked like scared deer in headlights, and barely spoke (LSD? ‘Shrooms?). At some point, while talking about our ages, Cousin puffed out his chest, beer in hand, and proudly announced, “I’ll be 20 in September!”

Y… yaaaayyy(?)

A minute later, he stood up– presumably to use the bathroom– and left the table. As he walked behind my chair, he reached down and pinched my forearm.

Did he…? Am I supposed to…? Mmm. Yeah. I’ll turn you into a man. Come to Mama. Let’s go, big boy.

I ignored him– didn’t even turn around to look from my seat– leaving him to piss (or whatever he ended up doing) in solitude, while I laughed a thousand LOLs on the inside. Afterwards, our group went to a night club, ordered a bottle of champagne, and everyone just sat there, on a bench against the wall. I got bored and left without saying goodbye to anyone.

We won’t even talk about a musician who greeted me by shoving his hands down the front of my pants uninvited and unprovoked. Classy.

Few famous musicians master the art of acting like they passed Kindergarten. However, I have been surprised. Tori Amos spoke with such directness and clarity, I chided myself over the preconception that she’d be fairy-like. Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), though I never doubted his intelligence but rather his social aptitude, is indeed on Planet Earth when you speak to him in person. Judging by the number of times I wished my mouth had a  << button (I tend to speak with a tad too much casualness), I’d say Gruff’s more practiced at small-talk than I am. Yes, the story about the “surprise” item you found alongside an empty Fuzzy Logic cassette case in a desk at Sony is hilarious to no one but you, Brittany.

Conversely, Tom Morello was everything I expected, punctuating his thoughts by tapping his fingers on my knee every so often. Dave Hawes (Catherine Wheel) is a plain saint. Adult, normal conversation with a musician?! It is possible. Sometimes.

Yet there is a common thread between these musicians both good and bad: I didn’t want to meet any of these people! (Hawes is Grandfathered as an exception) Moreover, pictures and autographs– though meaningful to some fans, which is OK– are meaningless to me. Yet often, after prodding by my peers, I’d give in to a meet-and-greet just to see what trainwreck would result. But never am I on an “Omigod, I HAVE to meet Rock Star A!” mission.

Well… there is one…

And I wouldn’t even say that I really want to meet him. No! No! I do want to meet him! But I always put it this way: If I ever met him, I wouldn’t know what to say and piss all over myself instead– so maybe I shouldn’t bother meeting him. Of course, I exaggerate.

Wow, that’s awesome, Brittany. Who’s the lucky guy?

It’s Duff McKagan, former bassist for Guns n’ Roses, Esq.

HAHAHA! Really. Duff McKagan.

Yeah! But it’s not what you think. I mean, yes, I always thought he was kee-yoot, but it has nothing to do with what I’m about to explain. Duff’s influence sent my life on a trajectory that I hadn’t considered, until those Use Your Illusion albums came out. I went from wanting to be a doctor to hellbent on working in the music industry– in particular, as a recording studio producer/engineer. How would I pay for med school, anyway?

Once I heard the opening lines to “Right Next Door to Hell”– low, mean and snarly, and that growled, “I’ll fuck a bitch up!”– I’d made up my mind. I had to be in the middle of that, behind the scenes, rock n’ roll! You know, minus the dick in the ear.

Duff’s “YEEAAHH!” at the :20 mark in “Next Door” did for me what his count-off at the beginning of “Patience” did for suburban housewives. I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was 12 years old.

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