Duff McKagan Discusses Lemmy Kilmister’s Tactic To Sound ‘Like A Mess’

GNR’s Duff McKagan recently sat down with Bass Player for a conversation, where he revealed Lemmy Kilmister’s method for sounding ‘like a mess.’

When McKagan listed seven bassists who have influenced his musical style, Lemmy was also one of those names. He said the following about what Kilmister taught him about playing bass:

“Lemmy’s bass playing reminded me that you can still be punk as f*ck on bass. But the thing with that is you have to hit the notes, you know? You’ve got to hit the notes; you can’t go out there and be a sloppy motherf*cker. Lemmy showed me the importance of being aggressive and that when you play with a pick, you can jump, but don’t be playing two notes at once.”

Duff continued, detailing why he thinks Lemmy was such a good bass player:

“It’s so important to hit your notes, and that guy was so f*cking good at doing that. His sound was massive; it sounded like it was just a mess of bass, but he was f*cking hitting all the notes. If you ever saw Mötorhead live, you’ll know he knew what he was doing; it was obvious. But also, come on, man, Lemmy was an amalgamation of all the best things within punk and metal. He didn’t take any bullsh*t, and I loved that.”

In a 2021 chat with Classic Rock, the bassist also reflected on how Motörhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ had been influential on him musically, explaining:

“I was a Seattle punker, and we all listened to AC/DC and Cheap Trick and The Sweet and Montrose, anything that rocked we were down with. But when ‘Ace Of Spades ‘came out on seven inch, it was like, ‘Holy f*ck!’ It showed us that there was a whole new direction we could go in. I don’t know any rocker for whom this song didn’t change their trajectory and perspective.”

In the same interview, he also recalled attending an awards show in London with his wife Susan, who was wearing a revealing dress. However, Lemmy was present, and Duff wanted to pay his respects to the rock legend by showing him the dress. Only Kilmister got to see it fully because, in McKagan’s view, Lemmy was like a godfather in the music world.