Kevin Mazur, WireImage NEW YORK - Mick Jagger will test his comic chops later…
Mick Jagger Talks SuperHeavy 'Egos,' the Rolling Stones' 50th Anniversary and Their Upcoming 'Some Girls' Reissue
- Posted on Sep 12th 2011 3:00PM by Dan Reilly
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Spinner recently caught up with Jagger to discuss both his new band and his slightly more famous one. Check out the exclusive Q&A below to read about the singer's thoughts on the differences between the groups, his joy at not being the sole frontman, how he feels about seeing the Rolling Stones turn 50 and the band's plans for the 'Some Girls' reissue.
The project started with you and Dave Stewart. Why did you decide to bring in Joss, Damian and A.R.?
We were looking to do a record that didn't sound like anything we'd heard before, and we thought we'd do this musical mixture of people that would harmonize together yet bring things from musical places that we knew about and might have even dabbled in, people that specialize in different things and would bring different voices. Joss brings the female voice, obviously, and the English soul thing. We've worked with her before, so we knew her capabilities and that she was very easy to work with, and we knew we wanted to bring in another voice like A.R., who's a very sweet guy, super musical, but added a completely different dimension. The same with Damian.
So, [it was] people coming from different musical places but able to subsume their egos for a while and throw everything into the mix and hope something's gonna come out [laughs] because we didn't know what was going to happen. We didn't know if we would get songs. We wanted to make songs; we weren't interested in jams.
What was the songwriting process like with SuperHeavy compared to the Stones?
Well, songwriting is songwriting, you know what I mean? You can come at it from all different points of view. With the Stones, we do lots of different ways of songwriting. You've got the sort of "hope for the best" songwriting, where you turn up and you've got nothing, and you've got like writing everything completely demoed and then laying it on people, so I'm used to writing in very, very different ways.
I've written a lot of songs with Dave, so I knew that part of it. We purposely didn't write a lot of stuff first to sort of say, "OK, this is how this is gonna go." We wanted people to contribute, we wanted people to write, so we didn't have a lot prepared, which is always sort of worrying, because you may get nothing. But very quickly, on the first day, we got like six things. They weren't all finished, but they were very good ideas, and some of them were sort of finished songs, so we got this real good buzz, where you went from having absolutely nothing one minute and then you've got almost a finished record 15 minutes later. We missed out all these intervening periods of soul-examining lyric writing and demos and "do you like this?" and "should this be faster?" to almost a finished record with the voices on it, with A.R. singing in Hindi and Joss singing harmonies to me and a rap in the middle. So, your idea, or the germ of your idea, was very quickly realized, and that's a very exciting thing, because just writing songs where you've got nothing one minute and then suddenly you've got a song, melody and a lyric is great.
How was it for you not being the sole frontman?
Well, it's a lot easier for me, to be honest [laughs]. That's one of the things Dave sold me on in the beginning. He said, "You know, it won't be so hard for you, because you won't have to do everything all the time," and I said, "Yeah, right." But of course, you're present the whole time. When I wasn't singing I was playing the guitar, and when I wasn't playing the guitar, I was playing harmonica, and when I wasn't doing any of that, I was producing, and when wasn't doing that, I was making the tea.
But you know, I'm not singing all the time, so what I have to do is work out what harmonies I'm going to do and when Joss is going to sing. "OK, it's your turn, sing this, and now we sing the chorus." It's quite easy to do that with Joss, and yeah, it's fun not having to do the whole thing, but you can't abdicate responsibility. You have to be there.
The song 'Never Gonna Change' really stood out as a Stones-like ballad. How did that come about?
Dave starts playing this chord sequence, and I had two lines that I had written the night before as I was going to bed. I was seeing this image in my mind of this girl with very white skin painting her face, and I just wrote it in my book. Dave started playing this descending chord sequence, and I started singing these lines, and we made the song up on the spur of the moment. We did it in like two takes. That sort of things is fun, so I'm glad you liked that one.
In terms of age and success, you're the elder statesman of the group. Did it seem that way, or did the personalities all balance out?
I didn't really feel that, to be honest. The youngest person in the room is Joss, who's a serious soul music student, so it's not like a person I have to explain references to, explain who Aretha Franklin is. She knows it all. If you're working sometimes with very young people, they don't know anything like that, and you do have to explain references, but with Joss, she's not in that tradition. She's completely different, and she's the youngest person in the room. The rest of them, it's not really a generational thing. A.R. had never played in a band since he was at high school, so he found it I think slightly more difficult than anybody, joining in rather than only playing stuff that he created, but he soon quickly got on to it. Damian understands all my ancient reggae references. If I'd refer back to a Jamaican record of the early '70s when his father was even doing ska he would still know what that was.
So now that the record is coming out, have you discussed taking it on tour?
Yeah, we talked about doing some special shows for it. I don't think it's a band you'd want to go out on a 100-city tour with and do theaters, and everyone's very busy and got their own careers, so I think we'd be up for something if it seemed to fit.
What do you have planned with the Stones right now?
I just finished off doing all the outtakes for the 'Some Girls' album we're releasing at Thanksgiving. We did 'Exile,' we did a lot of different takes, a lot of different cuts that hadn't come out before, so we're doing the similar kind of thing with 'Some Girls,' so I've just been doing them because a lot of them weren't complete, so I had to complete them, and then we're gonna mix those and put them out for Thanksgiving. Then we talked about maybe what events are going to be going around for the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones. We don't really know the answer to that, but we talked about it a bit.
Does it blow your mind that the anniversary is coming up?
It sounds a lot of years to me. But you know, you're very lucky to have been doing it that long, so I guess I should be happy [laughs].
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