SuperHeavy – Listening Party Los Angeles – Interview
Mick Jagger: Hi everybody, we’re very pleased to be here, we had a bit of a late night last night doing our video in the Paramount lot and that was really fun, we were up there till, well quite late…
Joss Stone: Too late…
Mick Jagger: Well it was a long day, but we just about made it here for lunch. The songs we picked out for you we thought were sort of representative of the record, and it was a lot of fun to make wasn’t it, Dave?
Dave Stewart: Yeah, it was an interesting process, that involved several countries but started actually in this room, which I think you sort of feel. I was halfway up a hill in Jamaica and I called Mick and what happens in Jamaica as Damian well knows, that as the sun goes down various sound-systems start. I live in a place just above St. Anne, the Limehall. I have a house there and you can hear one village, playing something that might be a bass sound, but at the other village you can hear something that might be cutting through like somebody’s voice toasting, but quite trebly and sometimes there’s three or four going on at once, and at this one particular moment, I don’t think it was anything to do with any herb or anything like that, it just all started to fuse together and make sense and this incredible sort of sound and I was like, “wow, that would be interesting” . Then I chatted to Mick about it and he said “Yeah, that’d be interesting” and he said “I never thought it’d fucking happen!”, but anyway, the journey between that and getting here and the experiments and the jamming, and the fun and meeting everybody and learning from everybody and working together has been brilliant.
So maybe Damian can tell us a little bit about how he got involved?
Damian Marley: Well I got involved, when my manager called me and told me that Dave wanted to get together and experiment on some music with a bunch of other musicians you know. For me it’s just been a great learning experience you know, I wasn’t really familiar with a lot of everyone else’s music before coming into the project so I’ve been exposed to a lot of great music; and even just observing how everyone works and the different approaches to making music you know what I mean, it’s been a great experience.
Joss Stone: It’s funny ‘cause I never thought that we’d sit here like making the music, then you guys would turn up, it’s quite funny really. Yeah I got a call from Dave, which randomly I do every now and then, he had some kind of crazy idea and I, pretty much every time say “yeah alright, that sounds fun!”, and that was as simple as that; “Hey Joss, you wanna do something fun I’ve got this idea, Mick and I are going to make this band, do ya wanna come? Um, yeah ok, of course I wanna come!” And now look what’s happened, it’s quite funny and now we’ve made this crazy music that doesn’t sound like anything at all; It just is its own thing and I like that, it’s nice to work with different styles and working with you was really cool as well, ’cause obviously you know, I’ve never touched upon any kind of Indian-styles stuff so it’s really really great to work with all these different sounds, its lovely.
Dave Stewart: A.R was a bit taken aback when I called. I first met him about 12 years ago through a close friend of mine Shekhar Kapur the film director. I called A.R and said “Look I’m forming this group and you know, there’s me and Mick and Joss and Damian” and he went “Really?”
A.R Rahman: Yeah I was personally going through a lot of loss at that time, my close friend had died, it was very depressing, coming here and working on this project was a kind of redemption for me, going to a completely new space helped me forget the stuff, so it was a great experience working with all you guys, and last night was probably the first audience thing, of course they were all extras, but they loved the music and it was made for real, apart from the playback stuff, so that was great.
Could you talk a little bit about what the writing process was like, in the songs did you all write together, how did it work?
Dave Stewart: That was a funny thing, I am a little bit ADD and have sort of like, spontaneous moments and then I get really excited about it, all organised and then Mick goes as we’re nearly walking into the studio, “But we haven’t got any songs” and I’m going, “It’ll be alright!”
Mick Jagger: Because Dave and I and everyone I’ve ever worked with usually has something. You always want to leave room for some improvisation in the studio, which is great but it’s much better if you have something as well to play then you can improvise and you have everything going for you. We’d been spending so much time organising this project that we forgot about the guitar riffs and some of the lyrics, and then we were sat there in the studio and I’m looking at Dave and going, “How’s this going to be?” But fortunately we just evolved this way of working very quickly, getting the grooves going, people coming up with lyric ideas and melodies and everyone threw things together and Joss and I got our little pads going, “Oh that line’s not going to work, oh it’s too feminine, I can’t deal with anymore of that, no!”. And then you know, Damian would be looking in and thinking and I can see his brain turning and he’s coming up with his toasting fix in the middle and so it was very exciting doing it like that, and I was very surprised that we managed it. We wrote the songs very, very quickly, so in ten days we had how many in the first, twenty?
Dave Stewart: Twenty-nine in the first ten days?
Joss Stone: Did we?!
Dave Stewart: Well you see some of them were like an hour and ten minutes long and some of them were forty two minutes long. See the first part of the process really was just completely mad jamming, and everybody left and I was with my engineer just listening back and I was like, “Fucking shit…” Thirty-seven hours of music and it’s all over the place. But then there were suddenly little bits that went “boom!” and then we reconvened and we went, “Oh these bits are quite good, let’s fiddle about with that.” and we kept making it into a shape and over the last year really it started to fall into place. But we did end up all over the place, putting on odd bits with A.R. One time, it was really funny, I was in a studio in Miami with Damian and A.R was in Chennai. We had him singing from his place in Chennai and that was one of the easier moments.
It’s been a strange and interesting process but the end result, we love it. I think its created a powerful new music, what I always say is, “I love musicians from all different parts of the world though I’ve never been a great fan of ”world music“ (in inverted commas, you know), to me it sounds like people knitting yoghurt sweaters”, if you know what I mean.
Mick Jagger: But that’s people think this was going to be like but it’s not really like that at all, there’s no knitting, you weren’t knitting for a moment I seem to remember…
Joss Stone: Knitting, but not with yoghurts.
Dave Stewart: But I think we’ve actually managed to capture some kind of, you know, rocking, dancing, fusion of music that could fit in anywhere, from radio stations, to arenas, to my pocket. I don’t know how the hell they’re going to programme something like this…
Mick Jagger: Where does it go on iTunes? Which bit of iTunes genre does it go on? The “unknowable”, “unclassifiable” I think it’s called!
Dave Stewart: I remember years ago when there was record shops we used to go in and there’d be like, labels like saying, “rock”, “country”, “hip hop”, there was only about seven labels and then there became about 137 different labels and now there’s no record stores, hardly at all. Never mind that, but can you imagine the normal radio programmer in American radio, “Here you go!”, yeah, it’s going to be interesting to see what’s going to develop.
Mick Jagger: Yeah, great…
Mick Jagger: What will develop, we hope something.
Is there anything anybody would like them in particular to talk about?
Journalist: How different was it from your normal, ‘cause you were all very busy with you own individual projects that you’re working on all the time, did this give you something special that made it particularly fun?
Mick Jagger: Well for me, it was working with four other vocalists and that was kind of interesting because I’d never actually done that before. Normally I have to do nearly everything, which I’m quite happy to do so don’t worry, but it was kind of fun because when we came to finish it off I realized that we all had a part to play and you had to pick your part, have your rests and you get to do harmonies. I would get to reply to Joss, she would get to reply to me, we’d do a harmony together, A.R would then do his thing then there would be Damian doing his toasting thing in the middle or coming in doing something else so it a very interesting process vocally. It’s more than just a vocal group but it is a vocal group so I never really worked with a vocal group before so for me that was a completely new experience, I mean, it wasn’t like The Andrew Sisters but it was a vocal group…
Dave Stewart: Well we do have one bit like The Andrews Sisters, because we did this song called “Common Ground” and I actually, I played Joss on YouTube The Andrews Sisters and she was like going, “Wow!, I’ve never heard anything like it”.
Damian, how was it different for you?
Damian Marley: Well I mean I think a lot of what Mick said really covers how it was different for me usually when I do my stuff, it’s just me alone, from the concept of the song, the whole melody, everything that you do and put to all the song is usually individual. This is the first time I’ve really worked with such a vast group of people in that kind of space. I do a lot of work with my brothers, so I do have experience of collaboration in song-writing and stuff like that, but you know, this is completely different in terms of the respective genres that everyone comes from.
Dave Stewart: For me it was easy because I’ve already been through the hardest thing that anybody sitting here could ever go through, which is to live with somebody for five years.
Mick Jagger: Who was that, not me?
Dave Stewart: In a duo, I once had…
Mick Jagger: A male-female duo?
Dave Stewart: But you know, we lived together for five years as a couple and didn’t write one song, then we broke up and wrote ten albums about it, and that is pretty tough, when every interview you do it’s like, “So you used to live together, what happened?” for ten years, so I’ve been through all the therapy you could possibly go through with any kind of altercation that might happen in a writing process or a studio so I was just laughing all the time ’cause it seemed so easy.
Is there any possibility; is there any talk that you might perform live?
Joss Stone: I hope so!
Mick Jagger: It was fun doing the miming last night, can’t we just do miming?
Joss Stone: Let’s do it, no!
Dave Stewart: Well In think if we get a lot of dancers, we could get away with it.
Mick Jagger: It actually was a lot of fun, you know if there’s people who want to hear it then I’m sure, I would love to do it, but if everyone goes, “Oh, well I’m not sure about this” I’m not sure I want to foist it on everybody, but it was great fun doing it and I love being up there, doing my part.
Dave Stewart: We’ll probably end up playing on the “unclassified gig” section…
Mick Jagger: In that tent at Glastonbury for unclassifiable people, anyway good, thanks so much guys!