|| Time is on their side as Stones rehearse in Hub
by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa
Thursday, August 29, 2002
The Rolling Stones rolled into Boston under cover of darkness the other night and even though It's Only Rock 'n' Roll - and they've been doing it for 40 years - they still gotta rehearse.
So we hear that Mick Jagger & Co. made some noise at the FleetCenter yesterday and will be heading to Gillette Stadium in the next few days as they tune up for their Licks tour that kicks off here Tuesday.
``It's one of the heaviest shows we've ever had - 100,000 pounds of staging and equipment,'' said FleetCenter spokesman Jim Delaney, whose office is just under the stage. Look out below!
Meanwhile, down in Foxboro, an even bigger crew of roadies was doing the heavy lifting for the Stones' show there next Thursday.
``One of the cool things about the new stadium is that we can take a block of seats in the end zone and let them set up and still have the Revolution game (last night),'' said stadium marketing guru Lou Imbriano.
The Stones are ensconced in their favorite Boston beds - at the fab Four Seasons. But please don't say we told you so.
And besides, Mick would just deny it. He also claims to be a virgin, don't cha know. But we digress. . . .
You may recall that the last time Mick, 59, hit town with Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts, his suite was rockin' like the last days of Pompeii!
However, the New York tabs say we're going to see a gentler Jumpin' Jack Flash this tour. OK, that hurts!
Apparently, Mick, who's got some little Jaggers in tow, is trying to be on his best behavior now that he's been dubbed for knighthood by Queen Liz. (Well, it must have been a royal Bitch for the Brit to call fellow music men Paul McCartney and Elton John ``Sir''.)
Still, the Rolling Stone gathered no moss before hooking up with his Boston tour guide, ex-J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf, and hitting the town.
Sources say the boys chowed down at Via Matta, Michael Schlow's hot, hip new Park Square eatery where we hear Chef - despite his denials - personally rattled the pots and pans.
Schlow's partner, Chris Myer, was also on the scene and partied with the pair apres-dinner along with staff and the usual flock of Honky Tonk Women. Or so we're told.
The Stones will be in town until their Sept. 8 Orpheum gig.
We Ain't Too Proud To Beg: Report all sightings to the Track!
||Ok, I officialy miss the old Jagger. I mean, he still had something goin' for him during the '97 tour, as a rockstar and all.
But a gentler version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash"? I thought the "No Security" version was kind of gentle. Why can't the boys realize we want the hard rockin stones from the seventies.
It's not that they can't do it, it's that they don't want to
||August 30, 2002
by Paul Sexton
They've known each other since they were eight, they've shared women, success and excess. Fifty years on, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards tell our correspondent the secrets of their relationship
CHARLIE WATTS is in his hotel room, making sure he has enough silk socks for the week. The newly sober Ronnie Wood sits in catering, tucking into dinner with the blue isotonic drink that has replaced the ever-present Guinness. Mick Jagger sips tea and checks on his kids, and Keith Richards bounds in, fresh from his self-cooked breakfast of bangers and mash.
And these are the satanic majesties who laid waste to the genteel sensibilities of a generation with devil music and degeneracy.
We are in Toronto, in the multi-storey, retooled masonic lodge that they like to commandeer in readiness for the unrivalled pageant that is a Stones world tour. The 40th anniversary Licks tour kicks off next Tuesday in Boston, and in the course of nearly a year will incorporate 100 dates including China and India. Nothing by halves.
Even their rehearsal space and its relaxation lounges are better-appointed than our houses, all lush red velvet, moody lighting, pinball machines and snooker tables. At the core, powering it all, are the magnetic opposites who first met at the age of eight, for heaven’s sake. There’s Keith, wickedly renaming Mick’s poorly-received Goddess In The Doorway album as Dogs**t In The Doorway and ridiculing his knighthood. And there’s Mick, huffing inwardly but publicly turning the other cheek and turning up to work with him every day, no matter what fun the old pirate has at his expense.
“Yeah, well, he’s got a big mouth,” says Jagger. We are alone in the room but he shuffles restlessly in his chair, his eyes flitting impatiently. “He likes to make out he’s still a very rebellious 59-year-old. That’s all right, that’s the role you play.” Has the relationship changed? “In the last 100 years?” he deadpans. “We have a pretty good working relationship. If he needs covering, I’ll cover for him, and if he needs to cover me, he will.” “Mick’s got an ego,” says Richards. “I insult the man. But he has the hide of a rhino, and he’s just determined to be who he is. I just try and deal with it. If I see that whatever he’s doing I consider to be not a great help to our enterprise, I’ll stick the boot in. But it don’t matter, he’ll come back, have a bruise the next day, we laugh and say ‘How you doing.’ He’s a pretty canny character to come against. I’m a bit of a moralist when it comes to the Stones, and Mick has been a bit flippant about them. But then, what do you do with lead vocalists? They’re fairies. You’ve got to let them have their head and then rein them in. It’s basically a continual jousting.”
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Mick and Keith’s first meeting, in February 1951 at Maypole County Primary School in Wilmington, Kent, but they became real friends as students at the London School of Economics in 1960. Amid the friction that has sometimes threatened to break them up since, their personal counsellor has been the Herculean momentum of the Rolling Stones itself, a force somehow greater than any of its members, an inviolable institution that neither of them can quite bring themselves to blaspheme against by leaving. It may have become rock’s most indestructible marriage, but Richards knows there were times when his bond with Jagger was frayed almost to breaking point. “Oh yeah, several times, I’ve thought about that in retrospect, how close it was,” he says. “But even while all that was going on, there was something else inside saying ‘No, this is going to go on, we’ve just got to jump this hurdle.’
“Some of them were just my fault entirely, like the bust (when he was arrested in 1977, here in Toronto, for heroin and cocaine possession, resulting in a one-year suspended sentence). It was like, ‘I’m screwing everything up,’ but I skidded round there, skin of the teeth.
“The other dangerous period, probably they’re connected in a way, was while I was conducting my experiment (Richards’s self-mocking phrase for his most avid years of chemical adventures). Mick took a lot of the burden. Well, ‘burden’, a lot of the day-to-day thing about the Stones, and I really wasn’t involved much in day-to-day decisions. Somewhere in there, Mick and a lot of other people got used to the idea that Mick was running the Stones.
“So when my famous experiment finished, I rushed back and said ‘Hey Mick, I got burned, let me share the load a little more,’ and instead I got the cold shoulder. There’s me saying, ‘OK, you picked up my end, I picked up your end sometimes, let’s go,’ but he’d got too used at that time to running it.”
Minutes later, just as on almost every night for the last two months, they’re back together on the rehearsal floor with Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood, knocking seven bells out of Undercover Of The Night like young, auditioning hopefuls. The results are stunning. All around the building, the feeling pervades that if you have to grow old in rock’n’roll, the Rolling Stones are once again writing the manual.
“We’ve been doing this a long time, right?” says Richards in his irresistibly conspiratorial manner, to the chinking of the ice in his vodka and Sunkist orange. “But when you’re starting off on a whole new tour, it’s like the Adventures of William, Chapter 1.”
Three nights earlier, in the traditional warm-up that forms part of what Richards calls “knocking the rust off,” the Stones had played Toronto’s Palais Royale club for a few hundred incredulous admirers, at a cover charge of about £4. An 80-minute show in 35-degree heat ran the gamut from It’s Only Rock’n’Roll to Brown Sugar. “Keith came over to my house yesterday,” says Wood excitedly, “and we read the write-up in the Toronto paper. Instead of ‘wrinkly rockers’ it said ‘these ageless Stones.’ We thought ‘Oh, great.’” Wood, the playful, battle-scarred scarecrow, shadow-boxes skittishly with Richards in catering. Later he jokes that he’s going to sit next to Keith because he’s got cheese on his plate, Richards’ most-hated food. It’s like a school canteen down here, but Wood is fired with a new clarity.
“I’m always confident, but this time I’m even more confident because I’m looking at life through a straight viewpoint now,” he opens up, before I even mention it. “That was my first gig the other night that I’d done straight, and it was a real eye-opener. I noticed the lack of anxiousness, having to have another drink before I go on to bury the butterflies. And I was noticing things in the audience for a change, instead of just blindly playing away.
“I’m still struggling after six months, but I just take it a day at a time. None of us is getting any younger, and I thought, I’ve had a damn good innings at burning the candle at both ends, I’ll just try doing what’s good for me and seeing what a natural high is like. It’s unbeatable really, if you can hold it down. It takes a lot of courage and commitment.”
“He’s a totally different person,” says Jagger, “and I think it’s great. I hope he manages to keep it going, it’s not easy on the road. You play a lot better if you’re not drunk or out of your mind all the time.”
The respect is mutual. “Mick is singing his brains out,” says Wood. “Even at rehearsals, he’s singing full pelt, his voice is very strong, his harmonica playing is incredible. Keith and I are very pleased with the guitars, and the whole thing is rocking.”
Yes, of course they make millions. Yes, the band’s last three tours are the biggest in history, generating $750 million in ticket sales in the 1990s. But this is uncommonly hard work. Bands a third their age just wouldn’t bother to put the hours in.
The Licks tour, accompanied by the Forty Licks compilation album at the end of September, marks another plateau of ambition, taking in up to three different shows — stadium, arena and club — in each city. Some shows will be themed blues or soul nights, and some will feature an entire album, such as Exile On Main Street or Some Girls.
“I think it was Mick’s idea as a way to make it a bit different, which I suppose is all right,” says Watts, as ever exuding both super-chilled aloofness and working-class directness. “If we can ’ear ourselves.”
As I enter Watts’s room, Miles Davis fills the suite, from a well-stocked travelling CD case of jazz albums open by the stereo. His physical slightness belies the taut power that steams from his drumming. In rehearsal, the other Stones all look to him for approbation. “I couldn’t do my stuff if I didn’t have Charlie Watts,” says Richards. “I don’t always realise how blessed I’ve been to work with a drummer like that for 40 years.”
Charlie chats affably, with unintentionally hilarious antipathy for modern life. He berates the Labour tax reforms that required the Stones, controversially, to postpone the UK shows on the Bridges To Babylon tour, extending it to just short of two years. “That was thanks to Gordon Brown. I suppose I should thank him, but I could have murdered him at the time, greasy looking sod.”
More than a decade ago, Watts was telling me how much he hates long tours, how he dreads staring at the open suitcase before he goes away. “It always amazes me, a) that people want to go and b) that we’re bothered to do it,” he says now. “But for me it is my living.” Jagger will be 60 next July, as this tour reaches Europe, with Richards five months behind. Watts is already 61. For all the financial reward, why on earth put yourself to the trouble? “I think we just want to see how far it can go,” says Richards, who behind the raddled caricature is deceptively romantic. “There’s a great feeling in the band that we ain’t really found all that the Rolling Stones can do yet. I’ve no doubt Townshend and Daltrey are feeling the same way, and no doubt the Ox (John Entwistle) was until the unfortunate occurrence. But I was glad they carried on. It’s real showbiz, like a vaudeville tradition. I find it intriguing that old ‘trousers’ Townshend and Daltrey still have a certain desire to get out there and do it. And good f***ing luck, they’re not shabby at what they do.”
The 40th anniversary tour will smack of a nostalgia turn to some, especially without a new studio album in tow. But in May, the band booked a Paris studio for a month to record new material for Forty Licks. Watts, Wood and, later, Richards all tell me proudly that they worked up a massive 28 new songs.
“Who told you that?” snorts Jagger. “28 bits: 28 songs is pushing it, wouldn’t that be nice? But there’s a lot of great ideas, we’ve got a lot of stuff for an album that could come afterwards. Maybe with technology we could finish it on the road, like we did with Stripped.” He leaps up to play me Don’t Stop, an archetypal piece of latter-day Stones, hardly revolutionary but possessed of his impassioned lead vocals and Richards’s robust lead guitar lines. “My priorities were to do two new songs, that was my minimum,” says Jagger. “The fact that we got four is great.”
“I said I’d really like the guys to work on new stuff before we come to Toronto,” adds Richards, “otherwise that would mean we really hadn’t done anything new in between, and I hate that feeling of regurgitating, like the Beach Boys or something. It worked beyond our wildest expectations.”
JAGGER rails at the idea that the Stones still represent some sort of rebellious rock battalion refusing to recognise the end of the war. “I don’t think everyone who buys Rolling Stones records or comes to the shows thinks that at all, I think that’s a total journalistic misconception.
“Loads of people saw the Rolling Stones for the first time in 1989. I don’t think those people thought of it as a rebellious 1960s rock band. They don’t even know we’re English. A lot of Americans think we’re American, that’s how detailed they are.”
Richards cannot begin to figure the formula of their relationship, but for all his facetiousness, there is a carefully-disguised love bound up in there.
“I don’t know if it’s some sort of inner competition, maybe that’s the chemistry that keeps us going,” he says. “The fact is we’re totally different people, but we’re attracted to each other at the same time, and there’s also the recognition that we can’t get divorced.
“Even if we said ‘I never want to see you again,’ we’d be meeting in an office somewhere to divide up the babies. That would be really lousy, and who would want to do that?”
The Rolling Stones’ Licks tour opens at the Fleet Centre, Boston, on September 3. The album Forty Licks is released by Virgin on September 30.
The Decca Years: Iconic Photographs of the Rolling Stones opens at the Atlas Gallery, 49 Dorset St, London W1 on Monday, and the remastered series of 22 original albums is released by Decca/Universal on October 21.
He likes to make out he’s still a very rebellious 59-year-old. That’s all right, that’s the role you play
Jagger on Richards
We can’t get divorced
Richards on Jagger
What do you do with lead vocalists? They’re fairies. You’ve got to let them have their head and then rein them in
Richards on Jagger
I thought I’d try seeing what a natural high is like. It’s unbeatable really, if you can hold it down
Wood on giving up alcohol
He’s a totally different person. You play a lot better if you’re not drunk or out of your mind all the time
Jagger on Ronnie Wood since giving up alcohol
Charlie Watts on Gordon Brown
We ain’t really found all that the Rolling Stones can do yet
Keith Richards on the band
||That is friggin excellent!!!!!
||This is why I love this band, ladies and gentlemen... they're all big kids, Charlie the scowling serious politician of the band that no one says much to but holds them together, Ronnie the younger kid who has to be everybody's friend - and so adhering you really take to him. Mick jitters, flips back and forth, hides the fact that he's really happy under that mock adult seriousness that parents find so amusing in their kids. Keith, of course, is completely straight.
I can just see Ronnie running up to Keith with the newspaper... "They called us timeless, Keith! Timeless!"
Go Stones go! You guys are without question the greatest existing band ever, and now, with poor John gone, hold the post unrivaled! Let's see what you've got!
-tSYX --- The baby's dead, my lady said, you schmucks all work for me!
||Savage yells "Go Stones, Go" as the football is passed to Keith Richards. Richards is running.............and.........touchdown!
||Well that is the best interview I read in a few years. Remember that Paul sexton did al the great interviews after voodoo lounge, the stones like him, and you can see that in this interview!! OHHHHHHHHHHHHHhh I have to wait 11 months to see the guys, it is slowly killing me, maybe when I have new boots of the tour it will go better but until then.......
||That was an awesome interview. It sounds like Keith and Mick have really come to terms with their differences. Ronnie sounds like he's pulled it together -- let's hope he can hang on. Charlie, as always, remains the man.
I cannot wait til Tuesday!!!!