DUFF MCKAGAN Looks Back On Making Of 'Appetite For Destruction': 'We Wanted It To Sound Like We Sounded In Rehearsal'

February 13, 2024

During an appearance on the latest episode of the "Broken Record" podcast, GUNS N' ROSES bassist Duff McKagan reflected on the making of the band's classic debut album, 1987's "Appetite For Destruction". Speaking about the songwriting process in GUNS N' ROSES' early days and the band's search for the right producer to oversee the "Appetite" recording sessions, Duff said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Coming up with the music and then finding a producer later, that's two different things.

"We were done [writing the songs for] 'Appetite', plus [we had other] other songs, by the time we started looking for a producer.

"We knew our songs well enough that we didn't want a producer who would get into the songs," he explained. "We didn't want somebody touching a note. 'You're not gonna touch a note.' We wanted it to sound like we sound in our little rehearsal, because it sounded fucking great. But we went to… There was like [Robert John] 'Mutt' Lange who'd done [AC/DC's] 'Back In Black' and stuff. And that's a great dry-sounding record. But to get him, he was more than — just to walk in the room was more than… We got 250 grand to make our first record, and that would have to pay for — including an advance to us so we could live, stop our jobs. But we'd written songs. A lot of times we wrote on acoustic guitars, 'cause that's all we had. 'Nightrain' was written on acoustic guitar."

Elaborating on how "Nightrain" came together, Duff said: "We'd drink the Night Train, this cheap booze. It was — I don't know — a dollar 27 cents a bottle. And we were gonna go out and flyer for a gig that night, which is something we would go out and do together. At least a couple of us would go. This night we were going out as a band. We were gonna cover a whole area. And you walk. You got your bucket of paste and you got flyers in there. And we just kept singing the chorus for 'Nightrain'. 'Cause we'd kind of written — we all got together, I think, at Izzy's [Stradlin, GN'R guitarist] apartment beforehand and came up with the genesis of that, and we were singing it. Because we didn't have phones and shit to record stuff. So you'd have to remember what you wrote. So a lot of times you'd just go around singing it. But we landed on some really cool shit. I remember landing on the notes for '[My] Michelle'. We just played that riff for hours. And then you have to come up with other bits."

In June 2018, GUNS N' ROSES reissued "Appetite For Destruction" in a "Locked N' Loaded" box via Universal Music Group. The collection included four CDs, 49 previously unreleased recordings, videos, vinyl, skull-face rings, a turntable mat, collectable coins, replicas of early concert flyers, temporary tattoos and a dozen lithographs visualizing each song, as well as a 96-page hardcover book filled with some personal photos supplied by frontman Axl Rose.

Following the group's 1985 formation, GUNS N' ROSES injected unbridled attitude into the burgeoning Los Angeles rock scene. They went on to captivate the entire world with the July 21, 1987 release of "Appetite For Destruction", which remains the best-selling U.S. debut album ever, moving over 30 million copies globally. "Appetite" features such indelible tracks such as the No. 1 single "Sweet Child O' Mine", "Welcome To The Jungle", the aforementioned "Nightrain" and "Paradise City".

In August 1987, "Appetite For Destruction" debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 182 and eventually reached No. 1 nearly a year later. The set spent five nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 and finished 1988 as the No. 6 biggest album on the Billboard 200.

In July 2018, after the "Locked N' Loaded" box was released, "Appetite For Destruction" returned to the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart.

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