If things are perceived as a power struggle, then (Mick's) automatically gonna go against (anything I propose), 'cause it's my idea. But to me it's no power struggle... But I mean, I'm not fautless either. A lot of this perceived struggle is down to me because of the whole thing I went through in the 70s. Dope and getting busted and all that. Mick took an awful lot on his shoulders. I never realized he actually got used to it. I left him to deal with all the business, where before we used to work very closely together on it. Then, when I cleaned up and said, Hey, I'm ready to help out again, he saw it as if he'd have to give up something that he had actually enjoyed wielding, not seeing that I had only temporarily forfeited the right to get involved. So that's probably the basic of what we're going through.
I managed to make the gigs and write some songs but, yes, Mick took care of everything through most of the 70s. The cat worked his butt off. He covered my ass. I feel I owe Mick. This is why I get mad at him. When I did clean up my act in '77 - OK, now I'm ready to shoulder the burden again. God bless you for taking it all on your shoulders when I was out there playing the freaked out artist and getting busted. He supported me every fucking bit of the way. I ain't knocking the cat at all. But when I came back, I didn't want to believe that Mick was enjoying the burden. He could now control the whole thing; it became a power trip. I've heard the shit from the john, like, I wish he was a junkie again.
Sometimes Keith will argue just to be different than Mick. When Keith's got a point he's very convincing, but sometimes it's just to create a bit of friction. And that friction helps them creatively. It's all done in humour anyway. It's like a childhood joke that nobody takes seriously. They fought a lot during (the making of Emotional Rescue) because Keith thought Mick was getting his way too much, and Keith had to fight for what he believed. Keith fights for his half of the Glimmer Twins.
It was about the time of the album Emotional Rescue (1979-80) when it suddenly became him and me. I don't understand how it got like that. Mick waited until he was 3000 miles away and just sent a telex, saying, I'm not going on the road. I mean, he could have told me this, in person, two days earlier, before he flew away!
There's always been periods (of tension) with Mick and I. But there's always the opposite periods of total cooperation and good will, almost religious fervor as regards one another.
It's a unique and beautiful thing to see people who are associated in a business like THIS remain as close as they are. They're very strong people who have a whole lot of common ground. They're two peas in a pod underneath, which is where it counts.
Living their own lives, the band don't really communicate with each other. Although there's friction between Mick and Keith it never reaches a point where... Friction saves people boiling up into one big explosion, holding a grudge. Everyone airs their views to each other's FACE rather than sending it through someone else. That's pretty uncommon in groups. Usually they don't tell the person they want to speak out.
The only thing Mick and I disagree about IS the band, the music and what we do.
If (Mick) was to(tour) without the Stones. I mean, it would be one thing to say he don't want to go out on the road... But if he was to say he don't want to go out with the Stones and goes out with Schmuck and Ball's band instead?... I'll slit his fuckin' throat.
The trouble is Keith wants to run the band single-handed... Keith and I disagree about almost everything. I could see it ending in a fight between us onstage in front of thousands.
I respect (Keith), and I feel a lot of affection for him, and I feel protective. He's the kind of person who... well, he has a certain vulnerability. He's had a lot of hard times. He's had a lot of GOOD times (laughs). We've had a lot of fun and a lot of heartache together... I think everyone in the Stones is going to benefit from the fact that we're all doing different things for a while. And it won't be quite so insidiously incestuous...
I played (Mick my solo) album, but he talked all the way through it. The only time I got any insight from him was when I went to take a pee. I come out of the john and he's dancing around the room. For a minute I watch him, and he's just enjoying it. So I went back into the john and slammed the door and walked out again, and he's just sitting on the couch. But that's Mick. I know the bloke. I guess I saw him liking it when he didn't know I was looking. So that's cool.
I yelled at Mick a couple weeks ago but I was sick at the time and I did apologize to him. Yelling wasn't necessary. But he still makes me mad, his attitude. The Stones spent a lot of time building up integrity, as much as you can get in the music industry. And I got the very definite impression that the way Mick handled (his solo career) really jeopardized all that. But if the Stones can get back together, I think that can be rectified, for want of a better word. I've known him for 40 years and our fights are on many different levels, not just about who runs the Stones, blah blah blah. It's more to do with knowing somebody for so long, and you get to a point where you think a mate of yours is screwing up and you try to tell him because that's what friends are for. Cause everybody else said, Yes, Mick, yes, Mick, so many times... You think you're semi-divine out there, semi-divine when you come offstage, and in the limousine, and on the plane. Eventually, you think you're semi-devine, period. So that's one of the things we go through.
You don't think (our relationship) puzzles me? Our difference is that we can't get divorced. Even if Mick and I never did another stroke of work together in our lives, we'd still have to live with each other just on a business level, we'd still have to face each other... I'll always be his friend... but to me... You see, Michael, he doesn't put as much store by friendship and loyalty as I do. To me, one of the best things you can get out of life is to have friends. If you can count more friends than you've got fingers, then you're really lucky. Luckily, I can start on my toes. And I don't know if Mick can. I don't know if Mick can fill a hand.
I just ignored all that crap (we said about each other in the papers). I didn't see any point in rehashing it. I thought we should just get on with it. You know, English people are like that. They carry on, stiff upper lip.
The biggest problem I have with Mick is, I say, I'm the only one who will scream at you and get emotional, and that's what puts you off me.
In retrospect now... Mick and I and the rest of the Stones had been in that pressure cooker too long. The fight, whatever it was about, was almost inconsequential. We'd just been in that thing too long. If you're working with the Stones (points to a world map dotted with dozens of locations of Stones shows) - well, that's a year. And then it stops and then you do nothing. And that's what the Stones had to live with from the early 70s until the middle 80s: constant work for a year and a half, and then nothing for two years. And that stopping and starting was fraying. That was the underlying force of what all of that shit was about. It could have been about women or solo records or quitting smoking or any other thing, but it had to happen... It's never pleasant. It's like a family - it's Mick and me have a row, except it's on the front pages. It's like you have an argument with your old lady, and the next day you read about it. And then the press are winding you up - guys going, Well, he said that, so you're like conducting this fight publicly, and it should be a private little matter. In any other circumstances it would be. It's just a family squabble, not soap opera shit. Forget about it. It's not really that important. It's bullshit, except that we have to do it in the full glare of publicity, which turns it into another thing. Because then you've got to take your stance because they've forced you into corners.
(To say I'm the heart of the band and Mick is the calculating businessman is) as much a simplification of our relationship as saying he writes the lyrics and I write the music. It's a handy pigeonhole, and from the outside, it would seem that way. And Mick is very calculating - he is very much into business. He doesn't have to be. He just likes to be... In actual fact, we work very well together on a business level, because he's on it day by day. If anything comes up and a decision has to be made, that's when we come together. And usually we're very quick, when it's obvious what has to be done... I like to take care of business quickly. Mick likes to get involved. That's the big difference. When it comes to business, Mick and I are probably more in agreement than on most other subjects.
(When it comes to business, i)t's a mom-and-pop operation. (laughs) Mick is the mom and I'm the pop, and then we have these offspring that need feeding.
Mick doesn't like the idea of a gang. He always likes to feel that he's independent. But he's one of us. And he's never going to escape. Mick and I couldn't even get divorced if we wanted to. We could shed our old ladies - maybe. But Mick and I would still have to meet each other.
(Writing s)ongs induce friendship, because when you're working on something, you're just into that. And that brings you closer together. Mick and I are still getting used to actually enjoying working together again... He's starting to appreciate the basic comforts of comradeship again, and that's great. I mean, it's a good feeling right now.
(We've never come to blows but) we've got other ways to fuck each other up. Mind games. Evil shit. I'm not sure that in a band, the physical solves problems. The band don't last long like that.
(Working on songs together does create a spirit of friendship.) When you work with someone, you have a relationship with WORKING with them, which is different than the people you might go out with, hang out with. You know, people who are just there for a good time. It's a different relationship, because there's to be an end to it. There's some reason for it. And that creates a different camaraderie than just going out to a bar, which has no real end apart from having a good time until you say goodnight, and so on. So at the end of the working relationship, there's something to show for it.
They're as close now as they were when they were kids.
Keith and I are very good friends. Not only friends, but we WORK together as well. We may have arguments, but our friendship continues.
We have a very good relationship at the moment. But it's a different relationship to what we had when we were 5 and different to what we had when we were 20 and a different relationship than when we were 30. We see each other every day, talk to each other every day, play every day. But it's not the same as when we were 20 and shared rooms.
(Laughs) Well, it depends what you mean by slept together. I should imagine we've crashed out together on many occasions... No, we've never had sex with each other. (Laughs) I never fancied bum. At least not male bum. I might have accidentally slipped into a couple of females... Second hole down from the back of the neck, son. That's the one you want.
It's a true friendship when you can bash somebody over the head and not be told, You're not my friend anymore. That's a true friendship. You put up with each other's bitching. People will think we're having these huge arguments and say, Oh, will they split up? He's my wife. And he'll say the same thing about me: Yeah, he's my wife.
You're not trapped. We were friends before we were in a band, so it's more complicated, but I don't see it as a marriage. They're quite different, a band and a marriage.
I don't know if it's some sort of inner competition, maybe that's the chemistry that keeps us going. The fact is we're totally different people, but we're attracted to each other at the same time, and there's also the recognition that we can't get divorced. Even if we said I never want to see you again, we'd be meeting in an office somewhere to divide up the babies. That would be really lousy, and who would want to do that?
They're like brothers: always opposite, always agreeing. But you better not get between them. Because they'll agree with each other, and you'll be left on your own (laughs).
Absolutely. It's a very deep one. The fact that we squabble is proof of it. It goes back to the fact that I'm an only child. He's one of the few people I know from my childhood. He is a brother. And you know what brothers are like, especially ones who work together. In a way, we need to provoke each other, to find out the gaps and see if we're onboard together.
No, (we're not brothers). Keith's an only child so he would gravitate to having that kind of relationship with people, with many other people. I think he has other friends that - also Ronnie he looks upon... I think that when you're an only child you tend to search for your sibling that you didn't have. Well I have a younger brother so I don't really - I know what it's like (laughs) to have a brother, so I don't really need to look for substitutes... I think that when you've known people for a very, very long time you don't really have a lot to hide from them... You can't hide your feelings and so on, you can't try and change the way - you just are what you are and they know you very well.
Keith has his own personality and he likes to make his own noise. I think Keith feels it's mandatory to keep his image by doing that. We have a pretty mature relationship. Otherwise we wouldn't be working almost every day together. We agree on just about everything.
Many times we wanted to kill each other, or at least cause some serious damage. But it's always about details, never about fundamentals. An album cover - You can't do that! It's quite silly, really. I've known the man since he as 4... and I was 3! Our kids have all grown up around each other - the Jaggers and the Richards. All of that has made us patriarchs.
It's kind of weird. If you're working with Mick in a room, it's great fun. It's just getting to those moments when it IS cool. We're like quarrelsome brothers. It's sibling rivalry, without having the same parents. Mick and I spent so many years living in the same room.And you have all the baggage that goes with life: women and babies. It's amazing that we're still working togeher and liking it, that we can still put up with each other.
Keith and I have a very complicated relationship. I don't pretend to understand it. I find it quite tricky. He is a very inward person and he was always a very quiet and meditative type of person, so to bring out what he really wants to say is, I think, quite a problem for him sometimes. I'm a very outgoing person and very gregarious. Keith isn't, really, although he's learned to be somewhat more gregarious than he used to be.
There's this perception that Mick and I are always fighting. Most of it is very smooth sailing. Every time we stumble across the odd spat, everyone hears about it.
The vibe is a lot better. Mick and I are looking at each other and going Oh, come on. I'm not going to argue about this. There are too many pluses for an odd minus to get in the way. Maybe it's called growing up?
(O)nce Mick and I get into making a record, we get very into it. We forget who we are, even. When Mick and I work, we really do work, and all the personality shit sort of goes out the window.
All of this Richards and Jagger fighting stuff; sure we have some spats, but who hasn't? Have you had a brother that long? So of course we're gonna have fights, but they get blown out of all proportion. I think we're over all that sort of shit right now. Michael is a very, very closed chapter and I let him keep the book closed unless he wants to open up. I love to work with him whenever he wants to work. I'd never provoke him, but at the same time... what are you going to do with a guy like that? I guess the secret is that we all leave each other a certain amount of space. We're used to each other's foibles, and we can live with them.
No (the relationship hasn't gotten easier). Well, all long relationships
have their ups and downs. The thing is not to exaggerate the down times
too much. We haven't really had any arguments lately. I could dig some
up from the past, but that's a bit boring, really.