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Duff McKagan ponders marriage, friendship & life with acoustic-driven solo album, ‘Lighthouse’

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The World Is Flat

Considering he’s a member of one of the biggest hard rock bands in the world, you might find Duff McKagan‘s new solo album, Lighthouse, to be a surprisingly quieter affair.

Lighthouse, which is out now, continues down the acoustic-paved road of the Guns N’ Roses bassist’s last solo effort, 2019’s Tenderness. While it’s a sound he’s not particularly known for, McKagan tells ABC Audio that the acoustic guitar is the root of his whole musical journey.

“I remember a band I was in, all we had was one Spanish guitar, acoustic guitar,” McKagan recalls. “It was somebody’s dad’s, and that was our guitar, and that’s how we wrote all of our songs.”

“When I moved to LA and we formed Guns, we wrote a lot of those songs on acoustic guitar,” he continues. “So the genesis of a lot of the stuff I’ve done throughout all these years is that.”

Even if the music on Lighthouse isn’t as heavy, the emotions sure are. A number of songs, including the title track, were inspired by McKagan’s wife, Susan; the cut “I Just Don’t Know,” which features Alice of Chains‘ Jerry Cantrell, is very personal, as well.

“We’re the same age, we’ve been through a lot of the same stuff,” McKagan says of Cantrell, his longtime friend. “The song is about life. And it’s about what’s next, and who better to do that with than your buddy? We’re both survivors, in our way.”

McKagan also dedicates Lighthouse to a pair of artistic heroes who’ve passed recently: author Cormac McCarthy and Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan.

“[Lanegan’s] got one of the greatest American voices, greatest singing voices ever, if you ask me. Ever,” McKagan says. “I can never be Mark Lanegan, but I can learn from that.”

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