In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Keith Richards discussed everything from the upcoming Rolling Stones album and his relationship with Mick Jagger, to the music he listens to, or more specifically, the music he doesn’t.
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This October, The Rolling Stones are set to add on to their lengthy career with their 32nd studio album, Hackney Diamonds. Yet, in an interview with The Telegraph, guitarist and songwriter Keith Richards revealed he’s all but given up the rock and roll lifestyle he led for nearly six decades. “The cigarettes I gave up in 2019,” he told the magazine. “I haven’t touched them since. I gave up heroin in 1978. I gave up cocaine in 2006. I still like a drink occasionally – because I’m not going to heaven any time soon – but apart from that, I’m trying to enjoy being straight. It’s a unique experience for me.” His switch to (relatively) clean living, at least compared to years prior, came with age and his own self-awareness. “I’m not cut out to be a pop star,” Richards reflected, “and I have to deal with it, but it is a pain in the ass sometimes, quite honestly. And so, now and again during the day, I just retreat into books.”
Books and music of course. Richards has remained an avid fan of blues and jazz, and less so a fan of Pop and Rap. “I don’t want to start complaining about pop music,” he began. “[But] It’s always been rubbish. I mean, that’s the point of it. They make it as cheap and as easy as possible and therefore it always sounds the same; there’s very little feel in it.”
He continued, “I like to hear music by people playing instruments. That is, I don’t like to hear plastic synthesized muzak, as it used to be known, what you hear in elevators, which is now the par for the course.” And Rap doesn’t strike a chord with Richards either. “I don’t really like to hear people yelling at me and telling me it’s music, aka rap. I can get enough of that without leaving my house.”
And while Richards admitted that he might sound, “like a grumpy old man”, he expressed a sense of gratitude to be an old man in the first place. “I’m blessed, maybe, that physically this thing just keeps going,” he chuckled, referring to his rock n’ roll worn body. “So far, I have no real problem with getting old. There are some horrific things that you can see in the future, but you’ve got to get there. I’m getting along with the idea of being 80, and still walking, still talking. I find [aging] a fascinating process.”
As for the new album, Richards said Hackney Diamonds was prompted by him and bandmate Mick Jagger, “sitting around during COVID, doing nothing.” He recalled, “Mick stocked up a lot of lyrics and ideas. He said: ‘Let’s make a record, find a deadline, take it from A to B.’ Which is very un-Stones like. I was a little skeptical, but I said, ‘OK, if you think you have enough stuff, I’m with you all the way.’” And yes, while he admitted to The Telegraph that the two had their feuds, Richards said that he and Jagger would always be brothers. “The thing with Mick and me is that people only hear about the squabbles, and they forget there’s like 15 years between one squabble and another,” he explained. “We’re sewn together at the hip. And now and again, you know, we try to break the stitches. But we love each other.”
Hackney Diamonds is set for full release on October 20, with the single “Angry” featuring actress Sydney Sweeney in its music video. The album, and corresponding merch, is available for preorder via the Rolling Stones website now.