In celebration of the The Rolling Stones’ ‘Zip Code’ tour, Pandora has launched a new station packed with handpicked track selections and exclusive commentary directly from the band. The interviews were conducted by award-winning author and journalist Anthony DeCurtis. In the special guest blog post below DeCurtis recounts his conversations with Mick, Keith and Ronnie in anticipation of their stateside tour. Listen to Zip Code Radio here.
A door opens in a hotel suite on Manhattan’s upper east side, and out steps Mick Jagger, characteristically full of energy. A few days before, I’d journeyed down to Soho to meet with Keith Richards, who strolled into the offices of his manager Jane Rose in an excellent mood, having just come from a long, celebratory lunch with his daughter Theodora, who turned thirty that day. Between those events, the genetically cheerful Ron Wood checked in by phone from London. All of this can mean only one thing: The Rolling Stones are going on the road again!
More than fifty years ago, the Stones earned their reputation as “the greatest rock & roll band in the world,” and they still play with a ferocity that bands a third their age would envy. They’re booked stadiums for what they’re calling the Zip Code tour, but when the Stones take the stage, the bigger the venue, the bigger the impact.
“I’m hoping to turn every stadium into a club,” Keith says. “Thank God, we have Mick who can cover all the spectaculars, and the band, once we’re on stage, we feel like, ‘This is our club for the night – it’s just a big one!’”
Jagger believes that getting the audience involved is his job – one he learned from greats like Little Richard and James Brown when the Stones were starting out. “We went on tour with Little Richard, and I would assiduously watch him every night,” he says. “His work ethic was incredible. If the audience wasn’t totally up for it, he would get them up for it, and after half an hour they’d be going nuts. He danced, he sang, he took his shirt off – he just rocked it! James Brown did that too – he wouldn’t let the audience be. He’d push them, and that’s what you have to do. That’s what they taught me.”
Ronnie describes that moment when the Stones come back together in rehearsals, and begin to conjure their magic. “We catch up at rehearsals and have a good old hug, get back together,” he says. “The key is the camaraderie and the bonding of making the music again. We go, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I remembered that song!’ It’s such a huge repertoire that we all secretly take pride in remembering the special little licks that make the songs happen.”
The Stones will be releasing an elaborate reissue of their 1970 classic album Sticky Fingers in June, which includes such songs as “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Bitch” and “Sway.” The album’s original cover – a photo of a man’s jeans-clad crotch with an actual zipper that could be pulled up and down – was designed by Andy Warhol and inspired the Zip Code tour’s name. “Naming tours is the bane of my life,” Mick says, laughing. “Because of Sticky Fingers, we were playing around with zips, and every town has a zip code, so that’s an allusion to where we’re going. It’s sexy, and it sounds fun!”
After all these years, the Stones still thrive on the response of their fans to their music in performance. “It’s like a gift that can’t be bought,” Ronnie says. “It’s an amazing feeling. We’re all equally surprised at how great the vibe is, because we love to make people happy with our music, and it seems to work. The give and take is wonderful.”
“Every night is a different night,” Mick says. “My role is, I’m the cheerleader. I’ve got to sing, but I’ve to get the audience involved. That’s my thing – I want them involved. I want them emotionally involved. I want them physically involved. I want them to have the greatest time in those two hours and to really have fun and while they’re there to be living in the moment. And if I’m doing that, obviously I’m having a great time too.”
As for Keith, he makes no bones that, given the life he’s led, every moment is a gift. “I was top of the charts, baby, as the most likely to die,” he says, laughing. “I held that spot longer than anybody – until they got bored waiting!”
But when he talks about the Stones and their fans, you realize what’s kept him alive. “It’s an indescribable feeling to get out there and whack into ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ for starters,” he says. “That rapport between the band and the fans, that feedback of energy – it’s like you’ve got these millions of friends. And as you get off the stage and you’re sweating and they’re trundling you back home, you can still hear in the background the crowd yelling, “More, more, more!” A guy can’t ask for anything much more than that. All those people are happy. I’m happy. The world’s okay tonight.”
– Anthony DeCurtis