Rock Cellar Magazine : Exile is a masterpiece work.
Andy Johns: Yes. I’m still really, really proud of it. Yes, it was a really traumatic thing. I was just a kid. I was maybe 21. And it took 11 months. We spent six months in France, as you know, at Keith’s house in Nellcote.RCM: I know it was a crazy time, with the lack of electric power, people hanging out, and all of that there.
AJ: It was pretty bizarre. It was right on the Mediterranean. I had never seen anywhere else. I was just a kid. We worked in the basement. It was a real struggle getting a sound. Everything took so long. Getting there at six n the morning every day – we were supposed to start working at six.
Keith (Richards) would quite often show up playing, and everyone else would show up, maybe at 10, 11 or 12. Sometimes, we would do a basic track for like a week. Three or four hundred takes.
It was pretty bizarre stuff. Weird people hanging around. Very weird people hanging around. Then we came over to America, and finished it at Sunset Sound. I had only been over here a couple of times before. Then I moved here to Los Angeles in ’75. Been here ever since.RCM: What do you remember when you listen to Exile on Main Street?
AJ: I do remember one very specific circumstance. My favorite song on the album is Rocks Off. I’ll never forget. Keith would sort of go to sleep…Put it like that.
It was about six in the morning. Me and Jim Pierce had this huge villa in Monte Carlo, and Keith would just…go to sleep. You know what it was like.
And I was like, I’m on the phone, “Where’s Keith? Where the @#$%& are you?”
I’d say, “Keith, man, we’re with Mick. Come back here immediately.”
After 10 or 20 minutes, he came back, and put on this straight-ahead rhythm part, so the song went from working really well, to being for me. Out of all the rock and roll songs I’ve ever done, just the time and the feeling is comfortable. And I’ve been searching for that feel again, if that is possible. The way it came out just blew me away ………………
I think of all the people I’ve worked with, all the heroes, you know, they’re all just people, but Keith. Keith’s still @#$%& Keith. Keith is still like…Keith Richards. It’s weird.Rock Cellar speaks with Andy Johns …..