Duff McKagan of Guns N Roses: Advice on Songwriting with Bands

Duff McKagan was a founding member of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver. He co-wrote the GnR staples “Paradise City,” “Civil War,” and “Welcome to the Jungle.” And he’s written songs for rock legends Ozzy Osbourne and Iggy Pop. 

Videos by American Songwriter

His latest solo album “Lighthouse” was produced by Brandi Carlile’s producer Martin Feveyea and features americana sensibilties with a punk rock attitude.

Duff joined us in the American Songwriter Membership area for a Q&A Workshop where he shared tips on what it takes to co-write and collaborate in a band. (Transcript below)

“The great thing about being in a band…a good band, is where people are open to suggestion. And also, you don’t get butt-hurt when your suggestion gets “Eh..How about we go this way?”

“A good band, you can function like that. And you all want just to serve the song. And like, let’s all collectively get the best song out of this.”

“And that was so true with Guns N Roses. We just wanted to write the best songs we could. And we all pushed each other.”

“Writing as a band, you need that. You need to push each other. You got to be motivated. And be really open.”

About the Author

Dean Fields is a singer, and songwriter, as well as a mentor at American Songwriter. His songs have been No. 1 on the Texas radio charts, featured in film/tv and commercials, recorded by Lori McKenna, and produced by Garth Brooks. 

He is also director of American Songwriter’s dynamic Membership Hub where members get access to exclusive content, a community of songwriters, and the tools to take their songwriting to the next level.


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