'We don't want it to sound like 40 years ago': Mick Jagger on the Rolling Stones' new album
The frontman discusses Hackney Diamonds, ‘staying abreast’ of the changing music industry and more
Earlier this month, the Rolling Stones announced the band's first album of original material in 18 years, Hackney Diamonds, which will be released on Oct. 20.
And though the legendary rock group has been active since forming in 1962, frontman Mick Jagger, 80, doesn't want their new music to be thought of as retro.
"I said [to producer Andrew Watt], 'Andy, I want it to be true to the school, you know. I want it to be like a Rolling Stones record, but it's got to sound like it was recorded this year,'" Jagger recalls in a Canadian exclusive interview with Q's Tom Power.
"We don't want it to sound like 40 years ago, and of course it doesn't. It sounds like now — the clarity of it, you know, and fidelity of it. And if you listen to it — compare it to an old Rolling Stones record — it's very, very different."
Unlike some artists of his generation, Jagger isn't mired in nostalgia. Reflecting on the last 61 years with the Stones, he believes he's been able to lead the band to success "by staying abreast of what's going on."
"I'm not saying I'm slavishly trying to be at the cutting edge of everything, but you have to understand how things work, you know, in the current world," he says. "And that doesn't just apply to the music industry, it applies to lots of things.
"I mean, you know, driving a car is a different experience than driving a car in 1960. And the record business, like all businesses, it changes a lot. I mean, the record business being a business of technology, it never stays the same. It never stayed the same ever."
I don't want to just hang out with younger people, but I mean, a lot of the people in my generation are no longer here to hang out with.- Mick Jagger
Over the decades, Jagger has witnessed first-hand the transition from vinyl to eight-track to cassettes, CDs and now streaming and digital distribution. When the Stones first got their start, he says, it was only about singles.
"Albums by pop acts did not sell," the Stones frontman tells Power. "What did sell was show albums like South Pacific.… Frank Sinatra might sell albums.… And then suddenly, the Beatles came along, and they started selling pop albums. So it was a huge change."
When it comes to the state of the music industry in 2023, Jagger has a lot to say about the advantages of streaming, which he's a fan of.
"Streaming, you know, is … much maligned, but the interesting thing about it is that people of all generations can access music from all periods," he says. "Before, if I wanted to, you know, buy an old blues record from 1955, that was really difficult. I had to do a mail order; I had to go into a specialist's shop, even though I had plenty of money. To go and buy it now, I can just — there it is. It's right there."
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'As you get older, you lose a lot of friends'
Hackney Diamonds is not only the Stones' first offering of original music since the release of A Bigger Bang in 2005, but also the first since drummer Charlie Watts died in 2021. It's the band's final album to feature Watts, using recordings from 2019.
"I knew him since I was 19," Jagger says about his late friend and bandmate.
"Charlie and I had a lot of interests outside of just playing in a band, you know. We love sport, you know, football and cricket. Charlie and I used to go to cricket together a lot. We would talk about football. He's a big Tottenham fan; I'm an Arsenal fan. It's like a big competition.… Charlie loved … beautiful objects. You know, he liked antiques; he liked furniture. So we talked a lot about things like that, you know. So we had a lot of interests in common apart from just being a band."
Now in his 80s, Jagger has found it hard not only losing friends, but also finding friends who are around the same age as him.
"As you get older, you lose a lot of friends," he tells Power. "I don't want to just hang out with younger people, but I mean, a lot of the people in my generation are no longer here to hang out with, so what am I going to do?…
"It's very sad. Of course, you know, you think about your own mortality, but people think about that from much earlier ages than mine.… But these things, I mean, it's a part of life, you know? We had a lot of sadness — [former bandmate] Brian Jones died, you know. A lot of young people died in their 20s … and famous musicians that we admired, you know, Jimi Hendrix. People I loved really dearly, you know, died early, and it's very sad. But there you are. It's a part of life. Can't make this all about death."
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Interview with Mick Jagger produced by Vanessa Nigro.