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Q&A WITH KEITH RICHARDS : A Legend of Rock Confronts His 'Demon'

October 15, 1992|CHRIS WILLMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A: Well, you grow up, you know what I mean? Yeah, I was rowdy at the rowdy stage in life. And he's still there in me. I've learned how to control him, I guess, and that's what "Demon" is about, too. You've got to come to terms with it and call a truce--uneasy truce, but a truce nevertheless.

Q: Making Keith Richards albums, most people would assume, is a lot easier than making Rolling Stones albums--the single-boss factor and all that. Is that true?

A: I suppose that would be the impression. But I've never been happy working from that perspective. If I throw myself into a band, I throw myself in as just another member, and they yell at me. One of the great things about the Winos from the word go was that these guys weren't scared to kick me up the ass. You can either go, "Ouch, nobody kicks me up the butt" and then get high-handed, so that they go, "Oh, we'll never do that again" and you break contact, or you go, "God, yeah, I really need that. That felt good!"

Q: How's that different from working with the Stones, where most people also assume you're the musical leader?

A: If I'm playing a track with the Stones and I stop in the middle as we're running it through and say, "Oh, I don't know what to do with the bridge," everything stops. The room is now filled with silence. And the thing that really turned me on about working with (Winos member and co-producer) Steve Jordan was, if I stopped, he'd just keep going and look at me: "Hey, come on, Richards, you can do better than that. Push it, find the bridge." And it's been a long time since anybody had felt they could do that.

Q: Are you looking forward to getting back into the studio with the Stones? Is there anything left to do there?

A: Oh yeah. The Stones interest me a lot still. No other band's been around together consistently that long. So you're out there in a place where nobody's been before, exploring and finding out where you can take it. And you can't chicken out, because if you did, you'd be kicking yourself forever . . . wondering where it would've gone. So you've got to say, "Let's go all the way."

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