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Topic: SYMPHONY OF THE DEVIL - Jagger Interview Return to archive
10-25-01 01:00 AM
VoodooChileInWOnderl Mick Jagger has been speaking exclusively to dotmusic about his forthcoming solo record and the future of rock's living legends, The Rolling Stones.

Jagger, who releases 'Goddess In The Doorway' on November 19, gave us the lowdown on the new record in a full-length interview, explaining why he didn't work with Missy Elliot but did record with Bono.

On the subject of the U2 frontman, Jagger explained the difficulties of laying down a track with a musician with such a massive reputation, particularly if the collaboration is a let-down.

He said: "I've done duets at parties with Bono. Old Stones songs mainly. And when I was doing 'Joy' I thought it would be the kind of song he would like to do.

"You never know if those things are going to work and the embarrassing thing of course is when they do it and you don't like what they do. That's like the dreaded moment and you have to go, 'erm, I don't think it really worked out …But fortunately it did," said a relieved Jagger.

Speaking about the liklehood of a Stones reformation, which looks set to take place next year, Jagger commented: "We had a couple of talks about it and meetings and on the phone and stuff, so we'll be doing something next year, I don't quite know what."

Earlier in the month we got the lowdown on the new Sir Paul McCartney album from the man himself and now we've got the definitive interview with another living legend, Rolling Stones icon Mick Jagger.

Poised to release his new solo album 'Goddess In The Doorway' (out Nov 19), Jagger spoke to us about the freedom of recording a solo album without the Stones, the three things that need to be accomplished to make him happy, the non appearance of Missy Elliott, hooking up with Bono and his apathy towards compiling a Stones Anthology series.

Check out the full interview transcript below

The press release says it's a personal album…

"They always say that. I didn't like the press release. They always say it's personal."

…personally will you take it if the record isn't a success?

"Well, I'm not going to live or die by the record sales, hopefully. But I mean, you want three things when you do something you want to be pleased with the result. You don't want to put out something you're not happy with which can happen. You want critics and friends to like it people that actually listen and take it in. And thirdly you want some kind of commercial success.

"I'm quite pleased with the record I'm not saying I wouldn't have changed a single note of it but I'm quite pleased with it, so I've done one-third of it already. So now I'm going to the second stage, and people seem to like it. It's really hard to gauge whether they like it or whether they just say they like it. So you have to pierce that little bubble."

Why make a solo album rather than a Rolling Stones one?

"It's a lot easier [laughs]. Without the so-called democracy. Democracy in music is not always a good thing."

Do you do it because you feel under-rated as a songwriter?

"I don't know whether I'm overrated or under-rated. Maybe I'm over-rated."

Depends who you ask, I suspect…

"Well, exactly. But the thing with a solo record is that, one, it's a lot easier to do you don't have to be beholden to the committee. Quite often in a band people just want to be heard for the sake of being heard, you know.

"Also a band like the Rolling Stones which has been around for so long has quite a sort of collective identity which you're stuck with. Which is a good thing to establish an identity as a band it's what you're searching for but in some ways you're quite restricted. You can't imagine a Rolling Stones record without it being a rock record it's not possible. It's just nice to change musical gear for a minute, really. It's just a different kind of experience, making a record like this."

You've worked with different producers on all four solo albums are you looking for the right one, or is it just another way of keeping things fresh?

"Well yes, unless you've got a producer that you just love so much that you always want to use them. Doing a solo album is a kind of way of working with just new people because it's very difficult being stuck with the same musicians. And so you want to work with different musicians; it's also a lot more on your own. I mean, I play guitar on every track which I never get to do with the Rolling Stones. I get to play guitar on two songs every three years, which is not very much, you know? So you want to stretch a little bit, you know.

"A lot of the production was on my own with assists from other people, like Chris Potter I've worked with before. That's more of a kind of English way of production where you all just get in the studio and more or less do it yourselves, kind of thing.

"Whereas with Marti (Frederiksen) it was very song-focused at the beginning, where you're working out songs and doing arrangements. There's a great talent which some producers have of being able to take your song and say, That's great, but let's forget about that bit and let's just focus in on this bit, because this is the bit that I really like."

Why is Missy Elliott's name repeatedly associated with the record when she isn't actually on it?

"Faaaack knows! They won't leave it alone. Missy Elliott almost did a rap on it, but a lot of people almost turned up."

So it was never going to be an R&B record with Timbaland beats and so on?

"Not really. I've never met with Timbaland. I mean I like his beats and all that, but I never met with him about it. I do know Missy Elliott, and I did ask her if she wanted to do a rap, but she never showed up. That's what Missy's like…"

I could quite see you doing an R&B record in the original rhythm & blues sense, like Bob Dylan has just done. But I suppose Bill Wyman has done that...

"I would love to do a blues record, and I think a blues record would be very good to do with the Rolling Stones. But I'd also like to do a blues record on my own. The songwriting limitations upon the blues are rather too much of a structure, you know, and that's a real forced-into-a-corner kind of style.

"It's difficult to be forward-looking in that genre, and that's a really tough one. I like to be a little bit contemporary. I'm not a slave to it, but I like to be a little bit contemporary."

What about the guests on the record?

"People, when they know you're doing a solo record say, Can I be on it? They wouldn't say that if it was a Stones record…"

How do you say no?

"You don't! So you try and frigging juggle them..."

So, Pete Townshend you live next door to. How did Bono come into it?

"I've done duets at parties with Bono. Old Stones songs mainly. And when I was doing 'Joy' I thought it would be the kind of song he would like to do. You never know if those things are going to work, and the embarrassing thing of course is when they do it and you don't like what they do. That's like the dreaded moment, and you have to go, [adopts tone of uncharacteristic Jagger sheepishness] 'Erm, I don't think it really worked out…But fortunately it did."

Are you ever tempted to make an album of devil songs and cocaine ballads, just to get everyone back on-side?

"Not really. I seem to have gone in another direction. I did those and I think they were really good at the time, but you've got to find slightly different ways of expressing yourself. But it's not that calculated.

"Songwriting for me is a very uncalculated business. I think it is for most writers in rock music. Very few writers set out to write a particular song. Hardly anyone writes to order. I have writing periods, but during the non-writing periods you accumulate ideas, and then you go into periods where you don't do much else and it just seems to happen, and the more you do it, the more it comes.

"But you're not thinking, today I'm going to write this beautiful love ballad. Whatever happens that morning you're grateful for, whether it's a rock song or a more dance-orientated thing or whatever."

When should we expect the Rolling Stones to return? How long does it take to mobilise the Stones these days?

"We had a couple of talks about it and meetings and on the phone and stuff, so we'll be doing something next year, I don't quite know what."

Are you still up for touring?

"Well yeah, I…, yeah, I'll touring. I don't want to do quite as long as Bridges To Babylon which seemed to go on forever. It was like two years for the whole project."

You don't seem to be very backward-looking, in the sense that you don't seem to hold your past in quite such high esteem as a lot of other people do. I read an interview where you couldn't remember which album 'Just Want To See His Face' was on [it was on Exile On Main Street]…

"[Laughs] Well, how would I? I'm not a librarian."

No, it's fair enough. But can we expect a Rolling Stones equivalent of the Beatles' Anthology collections? There's a lot of unreleased material out there…

"I think that would be interesting for some people. For others it would be the ultimate in boredom."

Is it just something you never get round to?

"I don't want to do that job. I'm not really that interested in it. I mean I'm interested in hearing the result, but sifting through the tapes? I mean, nooo! Please! Show me your favourites at the end…"

Is that the kind of thing Keith takes more if an interest in?

"I don't think he does either. I mean he wouldn't actually want to do it. He wouldn't mind listening to it when it's done, but none of the Rolling Stones are all that interested. The only one who liked that kind of stuff was Bill, who is no longer in the Stones, but he had that librarian sort of mentality. He's the diary-keeper."

'Goddess In The Doorway' is released on November 19.

Adam Woods
Dot Music

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