Rolling Stones go back in time with 'Exile'
NEW YORK – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards aren't interested in repeating the past.
The legends say if given the chance, they wouldn't try and relive their wild days with the Rolling Stones.
"We have done it once, don't want to do it again," Jagger says.
But that doesn't mean that they wouldn't re-watch it — and they've done plenty of that lately with the Stones-produced documentary, "Stones in Exile," chronicling the making of their iconic 1972 album, "Exile on Main Street."
"It was kind of odd at the beginning, but you get used to it," Jagger said last week. "It is always fun piecing together what actually happened because your memory of that is so long ago, you don't really remember what went on because it is such a long period of time."
The movie is also being paired with the rerelease of the album, with 10 new tracks.
Jagger and Richards — in separate interviews — talked about their trip down memory lane, trying to improve upon perfection in "Exile on Main Street," and, of
course, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll
AP: How hands on were you with the project?
Jagger: The film was my baby because I thought it was the best kind of thing to do — evoking a period, to make a film about the making of the record. Normally, these kinds of films are corny and they are painted by numbers. ... What I wanted to do is, I want the viewer to feel like they are really in the period, like they are really stuck in the period. I think in the end we achieved that.
AP: "Exile on Main Street" is considered to be one of the best rock albums of all time. Why add extra tracks and mess with what some think is perfection?
Richards: We had guys searching around in the can, and all of this other stuff came out. We realized we would have finished if we had the time. We were going to put out 18 tracks on "Exile," so we couldn't force the record company to put out anymore at gunpoint. They either got left behind because they were not quite finished, so we finished them after 40 years.
Jagger: Four of them are alternate takes of the ones that are already on there. The most hard work for me was finding the six new tracks and finishing them because they were not finished. The were raw and had never been touched, whereas the tracks that were out on "Exile," we took them to L.A. We did vocals. We put other things on them and mixed them. These had not gone through that process. I had to take that 40 years later and do the process. It was fun because after a while, I just said, "If this was done yesterday, what would you do now?" Don't treat it like it is 40 years ago, the process of it.
AP: Does it trip you out that you are still doing this nearly 40 years later?
Richards: It is weird. You go check out what you have done in the past. You try it. You don't want to go there.
Jagger: It is weird, really. When you do these kinds of things, especially when you are younger, you don't really think of them as a piece for prosperity. You are just doing it for that year because next year there will be another record, so, you don't really think at the time, "This will hold up, or I'm so proud of it. This will be something I will be looking back on in 40 years." You don't think of it. I don't think people in rock music, especially at that time, ever thought like that.
AP: There are so many myths about the time you spent making this album. Was it all sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll?
Jagger: It was very familial because we hadn't had a lot of children around before. We were just starting to have children. I didn't have any children at that point, but we started to have children around. Keith had his first son, and some of the other people around us, not necessarily the band, but people who were working on the record, so it is always good to have a few children. If you have one, it is not much fun for that child. It is nice to have a gang. That was really nice. Of course, there was sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, but there was also a good family atmosphere.
Richards: I have been thinking about that. We were on a schedule where I had to write two songs a day, every afternoon. Then I had to get it down to the basement and get it to the guys to play who would hopefully come back with two tracks in the morning. I couldn't find any time to do porridge (drugs). There were parties going on, but no more than anywhere else. The baby went to bed at the right time. It was the south of France in the summer. There were a lot of people drifting in and out.
AP: Do you think the Stones have another iconic album in them?
Jagger: Well, you always hope so. You are always proud of the new things you do. You always think, "What I wrote last week is just as good as anything on 'Exile on
Main Street.'" That is what I think. The thing about records like "Exile" is that they require a big pattern, like an old English table. It requires some time.
AP: Knowing what you now know, what advice would you give to the young you of 40 years ago?
Richards: Don't do this at home.