There was never a plan to go solo. Grace McKagan was still connected to The Pink Slips, the punk band she had formed when she was 15, but when she wrote “Surrender,” everything shifted. Now 23, McKagan is some place else. Punk is forever her core, but it’s now blossomed around the moody swoon of Nancy Sinatra, some alt-pop bursts of Lesley Gore, and the palpable pits of The Kills.
“Surrender” is smoldering. Written with her guitarist, and boyfriend, Blues Williams and Pink Slips producer and Awolnation drummer Isaac Carpenter, who also played with The Exies and Grace’s father Guns N’ Rose’s Duff McKagan, “Surrender” ultimately maneuvers around finding one’s self through all the messed up moments in life in its anthemic I won’t back down, I won’t surrender. It’s pulsating—the butterfly-filled video, representing McKagan’s metamorphosis into (yes) womanhood and as a solo artist—and pierces through some muddier punk rhythms, addictively played on repeat.
“That song was super personal,” says McKagan. “It was about a really tough time I was going through due to external issues that affected how I was feeling about myself, my self confidence, and my self worth, so that’s why it was super powerful and uplifting for me to write about, lyrically. I was just expressing how I was feeling at the time, and ‘I won’t surrender, slick sweet samurai,’ were affirmations about how I wanted to see myself.”
McKagan also released “So Lucky,” a chunkier rockabilly-fueled romp that finds her playing the sultry flight attendant in its video, directed by Kristen Jan Wong. Both singles open a new chapter for McKagan, now in a space of more introspection, and exploration. Love has also been most inspiring to the Los Angeles-based artist. “I always love writing a love song, because it’s easiest for me right now,” she says. “I think love always inspires people or comforts them, to some degree.”