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The Keith Richards interview
by Dean Goodman

The following interview took place on Saturday, Oct. 17. Keith called me at my place from his Connecticut estate at 3 p.m. EDT sharp, as had been arranged by the band's publicist. Usually when rock stars call, they have assistants to make the initial contact, and then they put the rock star on the line. But Keith is evidently a do-it-yourself type. The interview was scheduled to take 10-15 minutes, but he was still going strong after 45 minutes. He'd had a rough game of dominoes the night before with his father, Bert, and was very relaxed. Usually he's hard to understand and speaks in soundbites, which he repeats to every reporter. Hopefully this interview is a bit more original than most. Unfortunately he didn't know much about the 1999 tour, and he sounded sincere in his ignorance. He was scheduled to fly to Toronto on Monday (19) to talk turkey with Michael Cohl. That portion of the interview -- and lots more juicy stuff -- will feature in the next issue.

Dean: This album seems more a collection of live songs than an actual concert album. Is that a deliberate attempt to escape that concert album rut?

Keith: Well I suppose so. In a way, when you're doing a live album, you kind of have to approach it in the same way that you approach doing a live show. What are you aiming for? With the stage, we've always been trying to figure out new ways to get out ... If you're in a football stadium stuck down one end all the time, it's a little restricting. It's always how to get out there. In a way, having developed a second stage thing, which I think has really given a whole new "spacial" feel to what you can do, then you approach the record in the same way. In actual fact, you look for the best takes of the songs, and get the different feels from different places. I believe it's definitely the best sounding live Stones record there is. People always throw "Ya-Ya's" at you, which was damned good spirit, but sound-wise it was early days. I think with a bit of luck people might agree this is "Ya-Ya's," but better recorded, y'know?

Most of the songs come from Amsterdam. Does that mean the Amsterdam shows were the best for you?

I tell you what, not necessarily, only that it was a controlled atmosphere. It was the first dome in Europe, and so we didn't have to deal with the weather. What happens when you're recording live, everybody gets to know the room over 4 or 5 shows, and you can hone it down. You have virtually a controlled environment. You weren't dealing with the rain or the wind. Sometimes you can get good tracks, but you don't want to chance your luck too much! It was a pretty lousy summer in Europe!

Isn't it weird starting with "You Got Me Rocking", which we all know comes from the B-stage?

We were under certain restrictions from the record company as to what tracks they didn't want -- tracks that had been on the previous 4 or 5 live albums. It made us hop around and bring up a different set list: not another "Jumpin' Jack Flash," as good as it is and I enjoy it on stage. We had to come up with a more eclectic list of songs. "You Got Me Rocking" now is a pretty good statement. What interested me about it is that Mick suddenly loved the song on this tour, and I could barely get him to record it for Voodoo Lounge! He wasn't interested in it at all then. You live and learn.

Do you feel proprietorial toward your own songs? You'll lobby for, say, "You Got Me Rocking" and Mick will say, ok, as long as I can have "Anybody Seen My Baby"?

No, not that way. I really consider them to be all collaborations. The only ones I don't are probably the ones that I do sing myself, and there are others that Mick has written himself as well. But otherwise, I don't really think about it that way. I've considered that my main task is to write things that I know that Mick can really get into, even if he doesn't believe it when I first lay it on him! Sometimes it takes a while. To me, "You Got Me Rocking," it does rock. The band plays so well. It never stopped every night. I was so impressed with everybody.


The rest (and best part!) of this interview is to be read in the real, printed version of IORR 34, and the 2nd part of this interview will be printed in the next issue IORR 35.

Previous page Next page First page IORR home It's Only Rock'n Roll no. 34 - October 1998 - © The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe