The Saturday Interview

The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards: ‘Don’t get me going on modern-day music. It’s a one-way toilet’

Mick wanted the new record done quick – and cracked the whip to get the boys to knuckle down, as the ghost of Charlie Watts hovered ‘right there, over our shoulder’ during recording. And Keith? Well, he’s still on crackling street-fighting form (and full of fire and fury about digital music) as he and the rest of The Rolling Stones tell Paul Sexton about the making of ‘Hackney Diamonds’

Saturday 21 October 2023 06:30 BST
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<p>The Rolling Stones: ‘Charlie Watts is right there, over the shoulder, and all I know is that he’s very happy that the band’s still going’</p>

The Rolling Stones: ‘Charlie Watts is right there, over the shoulder, and all I know is that he’s very happy that the band’s still going’

The only way to cut a band is to put the boys in a room and play, and look in each other’s eyeballs,” says Keith Richards, fixing me with a glare. “Don’t get me going on modern-day music. Push-button drums and everything synthesised. Digital recording is a one-way toilet.”

The Human Riff is, like his bandmates, feeling decidedly bullish about the Stones’ first album of original material in 18 years, Hackney Diamonds, and rightly so. This is the record their fans have wanted them to make for decades, deftly correcting any suggestion of their becoming little more than a heritage act or a money-printing corporation.

In the second half of the band’s discography, there are plenty of undervalued gems, but there has sometimes been a nagging feeling that they were gradually turning into the world’s best Rolling Stones tribute act. This time, as Mark Beaumont puts it in his four-star review in The Independent, Mick Jagger delights in conjuring “their bed-hopping mid-Sixties days as rock’n’roll reprobates drenched in ‘the smell of sex and gas’ at ‘the filthy flat in Fulham’”, then “bawls and yowls about blurry nights, media intrusion and relationship ructions like an eternal A-list twentysomething”.

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