Keith Richards interview on the Old Grey Whistle Test Show in 1974 with Bob Harris talks about touring, upcoming music and what goes into making their music.
Interviewer: Well I’m sure I don’t have to talk again of my respect for the Rolling Stones and some of the things that they do but it’s always a pleasure to welcome them to the studio. Bill Wyman joined towards the end of the last series and tonight just a couple of weeks before the release of the Stone’s new album ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll’. It really is good to be able to welcome Keith Richards. How are you? Are you all right?
Keith: I’m good.
Interviewer: Keith, let’s talk about the album to start off with. When did you record it? When was it finished?
Keith: Well, we started before Christmas. Actually, about three weeks after we finished European tour and we had Billy Preston, recorded in Munich. Very good to see you here and the band was very hot coming off the road and so it was very fast and we cut half the album in two weeks and then everybody split for Christmas and then gorged and everything. After that in a February we came back to Munich again with Nicky Hopkins on keyboards we did another two weeks and that was basically it. We’ve cut enough tracks from that, the album and some left over you know? And after that we left it until April, I think, when he came to London, Nick and I started doing the road tours that’s the really hard work; the mixing.
Interviewer: How long did the mixing take this time, Keith?
Keith: The next thing you talk about six weeks, two months all together.
Interviewer: The team on the album really is very much the same isn’t it, Nikki and Billy Preston?
Keith: Yeah, yeah keyboard’s of course Stuart’s is on one, our favorite pianist, our resident people.
Interviewer: How does the production stand out from there, Keith? Is it basically really you had Mick?
Keith: Well this time it was because this is the first one we’ve done without Jimmy Miller he did take us back he was the first one 02:00 and that’s when we decided. We’ve got to have a go again ourselves. The last time the Satanic Majesty received mixed reviews but it’s funny. It’s actually quite easy to do it once you get into the or maybe because the band had come off the road he was so much easier as everybody was in the playing.
Interviewer: Are all the band involved all the time with the recording of this latest albums?
Keith: Basically everybody is together to cut the tracks. After that everybody sort of disappears and leave the music to Mick and I because they get confused after a while and everybody sits in the studio saying,”This should be that and this should be” So, we end up usually Nick and I struggling along with ourselves.
Interviewer: Because you yourself lately have been working with Ronnie, Ronnie Wood.
Keith: Yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: How did that go about Keith?
Keith: Well, that came about when Mick was doing a few difficult vocals on his own for our album. And I was sort of just hanging around with nothing to do particularly. One night Ronnie called me up and said, “Come down. I’ve got this fantastic rhythm section -, Willie Weeks, Andy Newmark with Sly on a fresh album”. And Willie Weeks is known for his stuff with Donny Hathaway and also I think he’s taken sort of over Chuck Willis position at Atlantic doing Aretha’s sessions. He’s like New York’s hot bass player and I went down there just one night to see what was happening and I got roped into doing a guitar over dub. And after that, I lived there for a month. I didn’t see daylight again, And I got involved after writing a couple of songs and I got to the point I think where we were Ronnie was halfway through the album and I said, “I think it would be a good idea to do a couple of oldies you know?”, I like doing oldies myself, it’s a bit selfish and so he hunted around the old singles pile and we found “Am I Grooving You“, Freddie Scott 04:26 and the old James Ray number “If You’ve Got To Make A Fool Of Somebody” which was made famous by an English leaping Gentleman. And it turned very nice, it was a very nice balance of material. I thought it turned out great and to play with the rhythm section was enough of a turn on to do those gigs over there, killed them 04:50. And all in all, very enjoyable for me.
Interviewer: As that really motivated you to do more things outside the stands, Keith?
Keith: Well, one little thing I want to do in Jamaica with some Rastafarians who I don’t know if we should explain the way that Rastafarians are living; heavy, happy dudes and they play with drums and they chant and they’ve got some amazing songs and it is sort of roped me playing guitar because I’ve never heard them. I never had a guitar around before so they dragged me in it and I got into it and I got my reggae chops together. And so when I go back there I’d like to sort of put it down on tape properly you know.
Interviewer: Because do you get to see many bands yourself that maybe you would like to record? Really what I’m saying is frankly are you thinking about making the Rolling Stones label more active in that sense?
Keith: I loved to, the idea is great but by the time we’ve done our things there never seems to be time to really sort of go out and find a band that nobody’s heard. I’d love to. I mean there’s a lot of things that I’d like to record, just for the fun of it and it would just be a guess just to do that. Well, that’s another story but I’d like to do it if there is any bands around.
Interviewer: What’s happening in the future with the stands, Keith? Are you planning a tour?
Keith: Yeah, I think that we should probably be going to the states in the spring. Instead, we were supposed to originally going this year. It was the inevitable thing- once every two years but suddenly everybody is up and said, “Oh no we can’t make it this year”. We want to finish the record and get that done and so we put it off until the spring. Although, maybe a few gigs around Christmas would be nice. I’d like to get on the stage again.
Interviewer: Because we’re talking earlier know about the kind of venues that you’re doing Keith and really there are enormous venues.
Keith: Yeah, and they get bigger and bigger every time.
Interviewer: Are you wanting really to do smaller things now?
Keith: Well, you know, it’s kind of selfish to sort of go into a city and let’s see 60,000 people want to see you and say oh we want to play in a 3000 seat hold you know because the other 57,000 have to just lump it you know. So, the thing to do I think is to do the big ballpark and then do the small theater as well and see 63,000 people get through.
Interviewer: How many people are involved now in getting a stance tour on the road?
Keith: It’s innumerably made up of 40 or 50 people cared about on American, instead of less from a European gig, I think. But it’s a lot of people and it takes a lot of time to set the tours up. I mean if you’re thinking of a tour in the spring I guess they are starting to sort of get the venues together now you know, or very shortly anyway.
Interviewer: Do you enjoy touring and stuff?
Keith: I love it, it’s the lifeblood for me, for any band I think. Any band that doesn’t play live is only half a band as far as I’m concerned because that is very tall comes from and I think with this new album I sort of feel that just because we’d come offstage just three weeks before and we’ve been playing for two months solid and you can feel it. It’s well odd.
Interviewer: So just finally, really Keith, Britain; are there any problems now to play? I mean, aside from Christmas, you thinking about a tour ready for Britain?
Keith: I’d like to play in England. We always have a good time touring and if it hasn’t sunk before Christmas I wouldn’t mind doing a few gigs.
Interviewer: Keith, thanks for coming in to see us.
Keith: Okay, thank you; it was nice to talk to you.
Interviewer: And don’t forget that the new song ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll’ gets it’s release on October 18th, right. Johnny Rivers and the excellent Andy Fairweather-low here on next.