Duff McKagan has shared his thoughts on the use of AI in songwriting, revealing that he has no plans to let the technology “affect my creativity”.
The Guns N’ Roses bassist was speaking as part of an In Conversation livestream with author Dan Jones last week (October 4), when he opened up about the inspiration behind his new solo album ‘Lighthouse’, his ongoing struggle with panic attacks, and thoughts on the use of artificial intelligence in songwriting.
Discussing how his personal life and long-running interest in history acted as inspiration for the upcoming LP, the musician and songwriter also shared his thoughts on the increasing use of AI in the industry, and confirmed he has no plans to be experimenting with the technology any time soon.
“You’re gonna always have guys like me who [have] just got their middle finger up. They’re gonna just keep creating and not even pay attention to it, really,” he began. “I don’t pay attention to it. I’m not worried about it. It’s not gonna affect my creativity.”
He continued, saying he instead opts to draw inspiration from the support he has from his family. “I’ve got a really good situation at home… having that kind of ease at home and that support has really done wonders for me.
“That tenderness and that passion and that sense of roundedness and love and harmony, allied with that deep sort of punk rock sensibility [has] created this incredible, unique sound on ‘Lighthouse’.”
He joins the growing number of artists who have spoken out against the use of AI in recent months, including Brian May, Ed Sheeran and John Lydon. One of the most prolific instances of an artist speaking out, however, came from Bad Seeds frontman Nick Cave, who described the concept as “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”, and later said he wanted AI platforms like ChatGPT to “fuck off and leave songwriting alone”.
Elsewhere in the In Conversation livestream, the bassist also shared insight into his mental health struggles, and revealed that his long-running battle with panic attacks is part of the inspiration to continue writing solo material.
“I got my first panic attack when I was 16 in my mum’s shower getting ready for school. The floor drops three feet and I thought there was an earthquake,” he explained. “I thought I was really alone, so for the next couple years I just had these panic attacks and I’d be alone. It was fucking terrifying.”
“I didn’t do a good job of dealing with panic attacks throughout my 20s. I self-medicated, and my history of drinking and drug taking, that was to battle [them]. Half a bottle of vodka will kill a panic attack,” he added, going on to detail how he later began using songwriting as a way of coping with the attacks.
“I found this new tool, my acoustic guitar. Man. Fuck. You are the truth-teller and panic attack saver, you know?
“If you get panic attacks, if you get depression, it’s not your fault. I can have a depression attack in the middle of things going amazingly well and it has nothing to do with what’s going on in your life. In my case, I discovered maybe I get these things so I can help my kids and help others. I have to look at it this way.”
In other Duff McKagan news, later this month Guns N’ Roses are set to drop a new single titled ‘The General’. First teased back in August, the track is set to feature as a B-side on a 7-inch vinyl version of their new single ‘Perhaps’ and is due for release on October 27.
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