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- Posted on Jun 1st 2011 1:00PM by Theo Bark
Collin Erie for AOL
With his latest effort, 'Stone Rollin',' Saadiq has piloted his '60s-style band concept down a Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley-influenced rock-'n'-roll path, appeasing longtime fans with sweet soul jams like 'Movin' Down the Line' and riling up the youth with retro-rock numbers like 'Heart Attack' and 'Go to Hell.'
As part of Black Voices' Black Music Month, Saadiq recently stopped by AOL's L.A. studios to play a few tunes from 'Stone Rollin'' and discuss the new album's inspirations and his show-stopping Grammy performance with Mick Jagger.
Tell us a little bit about your new album. What inspired it?
I was on the road after the last record, 'The Way I See It,' for about two years, and from playing for so many different audiences, I was inspired to go back and make an album right away and come back. That was really it: playing a lot of festivals, playing a lot of shows. I wanted to make the record a little different. I didn't want to do a Motown thing again. I just wanted to invite a little different energy to it, and that's where it led me. I didn't really think about it too much.
Do you feel like continuing further with the rock theme?
I'll probably continue with what I'm doing a little further. I may add different textures to it. I always add some, because I get bored really fast. Sometimes it's a blessing and a curse a little bit, because people get used to you doing one thing, and then you change. There's no telling, but I think that as long as there's a guitar involved, there will always be some funky, rock-soul to it.
Watch Raphael Saadiq's Full Performance
'The Way I See It' was so different from your previous work. Why did you decide to go in that direction?
When I started working on 'The Way I See It,' I started maybe several different styles of music just by chance. It's just what happened. You don't go in saying "I want to do this type of song and this type of song." Some people do, but I don't. Once I heard myself doing three or four songs that sounded like the Motown era, which I love more than anything, I just said, "This is what I'm going to do." I went and sang a Marvin Gaye song before the record was even done at the House of Blues in L.A., and I did a show in Oakland and this photographer from the Bay Area took this picture of me, and it was the first time I wore a suit and a tie. We put the picture in black and white, and I sort of hung that picture in front of me and said, "OK, now I have to make the music to that suit and tie and glasses," and it kind of went from there after that.
Recording these albums must have been a big change of pace for you.
Right. It's a lot different recording my last two records. Looking back at my first solo record, which would have been 'Instant Vintage,' you're just really trying to figure it out. You're recording some songs, and you go out there and perform, and you're shaking, because you're a little nervous. The second album, which would have been a live record, I did 'Live at the House of Blues,' and I called all my friends. Then I did 'Ray Ray,' when I did all this creative stuff with the artwork. Then it was 'The Way I See It,' and I think, at that point I was sort of fed up with everything, with how music was. I wasn't mad or bitter or anything, like that's why I came up with the title, 'The Way I See It,' like, "This is it. I'm going to stop playing. I'm going to stop acting like I want to be this and I want to sample this. I don't want to do any of that. This is how I hear music: my bass, my guitar, my drums, me singing, me singing these harmonies, that's it." So that was the most different thing about 'The Way I See It.' Going forward, it was definitely a shift because, like I said, I was just fed up. I'm about to be me now, and that's what seems to work the best.
Are you still planning on working with Q-Tip and D'Angelo on the Lynwood Rose Project?
We haven't really spoken about that. I doubt it. That was a great idea. We're really good friends, but everyone's way too busy. Most groups like that just don't happen, but as far as working together, doing music, we'll always do that. Q-Tip and D, if we're around each other, we're going to play music. We play music off the cuff, you know? We play music people never really hear. That's not fair, but it's just how it happens. Sometimes friends just get together and record music and don't think anything of it.
What was it like getting the call from Mick Jagger to play at the Grammys?
When Mick Jagger called me, it was just kind of funny -- because it's Mick Jagger. You wake up and the phone's ringing and he's like, "It's Mick." You just jump right in and act like it's nothing, like, "What's up, Mick?" He's a blues guy, that's what I grew up playing, so it was kind of surreal because he's such a regular guy. Even though he's like the Holy Grail to what he does, he doesn't come off like that. That's why he's so dope, because he just walks in, hops out the car, says "what up" to the whole band real cool, picks up a harmonica and starts blowin' some Howlin' Wolf. It don't get no better than that. So, getting the phone call is funny, because it takes a British guy to come all the way to America to find me and say "let's do the Grammys," when I wouldn't have got that call from the Grammys to say "come play with Mick." Mick called me and said, "Let's go to the Grammys" and didn't tell the Grammys, just said, "I'm taking you, let's roll." So, it was kind of funny, in a way. That's how it works, but those British cats really know what the real deal is. Over here, we're kind of blind, a little bit.
That's pretty funny. Do you have a favorite Grammy moment besides that one?
No, that's probably it [laughs]. I'm playing with one of the Rolling Stones and singing a Solomon Burke song. I mean, it don't get no better than that. That was it. That was the moment, unless I go back and say Michael Jackson, Motown 25. Watching it from home was probably one of the biggest things, because I grew up watching the Jackson 5, so to watch Michael Jackson with the Jackson 5 was chilling. That was a real moment in my life.
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