Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan has released his first solo music in four years in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month. McKagan’s three-track This Is the Song EP includes the title cut as well as “Pass You By” and “It Can’t Come Too Soon.”
McKagan, 59, completed his own recording studio before the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing him to work much more quickly on ideas both old and new. However, he found his mental health suffering after months in isolation, and those themes are prominent on the new Martin Feveyear-produced EP.
“‘This Is the Song’ was written in the middle of a panic attack,” he says. “I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t see straight, and lately, I have thankfully found my acoustic guitar as a refuge. If I just hold on to that guitar, play chords, and hum melodies, I can start to climb my way out of that hole. For those of you who have never experienced something like this, count yourselves blessed. To those of you who recognize what I am talking about: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!”
“It Can’t Come Too Soon” was inspired by McKagan’s prior work on a Sam Cooke cover by vocalist Shaina Sheperd, while “Pass You By” was penned after McKagan and a friend had a disturbing encounter with a gun-toting woman on horseback in the hills outside Seattle. The latter story is told in more detail on McKagan’s website.
McKagan’s last solo album was 2019’s Tenderness, which was produced by Shooter Jennings. “Getting Shooter to produce this was a godsend,” he told SPIN at the time. “I’ve known him for a long time. He loves Guns N’ Roses. Part of the reason he moved to L.A. was because Use Your Illusion I and II are his two favorite records.”
Speaking of Guns, McKagan and company will be back on the road this summer for dates in the Middle East and Europe, and will return for a North American leg beginning Aug. 5 in Moncton, N.B. The group is also one of the six hard rock heavyweights performing at the Power Trip festival in early October on the Coachella grounds at Empire Polo Field in Indio, Ca.