] - version of the interview with more Stones-parts:Keith Richards on Covid-19, the Next Rolling Stones Album and His Solo CareerThe 76-year-old guitarist expects to return to the road, but older bands like the Stones could ‘throw in the towel’ if concerts don’t resume in coming yearsBy Neil Shah · Nov. 11, 2020 10:16 am ET
How does an inveterate rock ‘n’ roller like Keith Richards deal with a pandemic thwarting his touring plans? He dusts off and re-releases a live album.
This Friday, the Rolling Stone puts out a deluxe version of “Live at the Hollywood Palladium,” which documents a 1988 concert by his solo band, the X-Pensive Winos.
Released in 1991, “Live at the Hollywood Palladium” captures the ragged, rollicking sound of the Winos, a band that provided Mr. Richards with a creative outlet during a stand-off with Mick Jagger in the 1980s and has since amassed a cult following. Joining Mr. Richards in the Winos are guitarist Waddy Wachtel, keyboardist Ivan Neville and drummer Steve Jordan. Mr. Jordan is something of a foil for Mr. Richards: He co-writes and co-produces Mr. Richards’ solo music, including 1988’s beloved album “Talk Is Cheap.” The expanded live album includes three previously unreleased tracks, including “You Don’t Move Me.”
Mr. Richards, 76, spoke with the Journal about quarantining, the latest on the Stones’ album and touring plans and his memories of his first solo tour in 1988. Edited from an interview:Since you’re Keith Richards, I have to ask: Are you taking special precautions to stay safe?
I’m at home in Connecticut, doing what everybody else is doing—trying to avoid this thing. I’ve got family with me, so it’s kind of a bubble. I wash my hands; if I go out, I wear a mask. Laying low—is the way you’d put it. If there’s anything else you can do, let me know!What about staying in shape? Do you have a regime for exercising or practicing guitar?
I hate regimes. Usually, my exercise is working with the Stones. But I’ve got a treadmill downstairs, which I reluctantly plod around on for half an hour. During the summer, we take walks. But I do have to think about this winter—until I get down on the islands. My escape route is going south for the winter.
When it comes to performing, I’ve no doubt—I feel a bit rusty, having not done it for over a year now. But I don’t feel physically less capable than I did two years ago. I certainly have a lot more enthusiasm. I’d love to get onstage now, you know? I’d go for nothing.Realistically, when do you think the Stones will get back on the road?
We’re all hoping that in the coming year there’s some positive relief. At the moment, everything’s just pure speculation. Given the opportunity, we’ll be back.The halting of big concerts raises a question: Do you think an older generation of rock acts could just stop touring?
Yeah, it’s a viable question. It depends on how long this drags on. If there’s relief next year or even 2022, I’d say probably most of those people, including us, would pick up where we left off. But if you can’t pull crowds together soon, in another 18 months or two years, it’s quite possible everybody would throw in the towel.Do the Stones plan to tell fans when it’s going to be their last tour?
We tell them every time that it’s the last tour! [laughs]The Stones have been making a new album for several years. What’s the status?
That’s on hold as well. Mick and I fling a few ideas across the Atlantic, occasionally. Apart from that, I did get one session in with [producer] Don Was to do some overdubs about three weeks ago. It was a daring adventure, going into the city. But we’re stuck halfway through. We’ve got maybe five, six tracks. One of which was “Living in a Ghost Town” [which was released in April]. We put that out immediately because it was so appropriate—because of the images coming off of the TV in March. I was listening to it, saying, this is the soundtrack to this thing—we’ve got to put it out now. Otherwise, we would’ve kept it for later.Any more songs you can tell me about?
I can’t give you any previews because the songs are in various states of composition—or decomposition, depending on the case! [laughs]Let’s talk about your 1988 tour with the Winos. What do you remember?
Well, I’d never been a front-man before. I mean, I do my one or two songs live, within the context of the Stones. But it was the other guys in the Winos, and “Talk Is Cheap,” that gave me the feeling that, yes, I’d like to tour. At first, we were just going to make a record. By the time we were finishing, we had the feeling we were an actual band. This band was made to play live. I’ve enjoyed myself so much. Although I must say, I did learn an awful lot about Mick’s job—being the front-man. That’s a non-stop task.I’m guessing it was a change to sing for a whole show instead of just a couple songs a night.
We took quite a while rehearsing, just to get road-worthy, in that respect. During rehearsals, I got over the main hump of my voice going away and disappearing—though I did lose my voice later at one show in Las Vegas [in 1993]. It’s amazing, the human voice. It’s like a muscle, it gets stronger with use.A highlight of “Live at the Hollywood Palladium” is the two-guitar interplay between you and Waddy Wachtel. Historically, why haven’t more rock bands had two guitarists, apart from the additional costs?
One of the answers would be too much ego. Guitar players are famous for it. A lot of them, especially rock guitar players, think very selfishly. One guitar by itself, I can listen to for, like, I don’t know, depending on the virtuosity, five or six minutes. But the complexity of adding one more guitar has always fascinated me. Even, at times, three. But that has to be a special occasion [laughs]. Little Walter and his Jukes [the blues musicians]—they showed me the possibilities of two guitars.Your last solo album, 2015’s “Crosseyed Heart,” was warmly received. Do you want to make another?
Yeah, I do. At the moment, of course, I also would love to make a Rolling Stones album [laughs]. But yeah, I look back at the Winos fondly, as a great experience, as a widening experience. Because I had only ever worked with the Rolling Stones, you know? The Winos are a real feather in my cap. If it were my resume, I’d put it at the top of the list.