NEW YORK » Mick Jagger and Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart acknowledge that they took a gamble when they decided to form their all-star band, SuperHeavy. They had no idea if all the group’s members, which include soulful singer-songwriter Joss Stone, Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman and reggae singer Damian Marley, would even have chemistry.
"We were just making music and if we didn’t like it, we wouldn’t use it," Stewart said. "We just did it because we wanted to do an experiment, and that got developed and more and more developed until in the end, this record appeared."
The result is a 12-track, self-titled album with a sound the group’s members say cannot be placed into any specific genre. Jagger’s legend was formed with the Rolling Stones and other successful musical collaborations, but he says none of that can be compared to his experience with SuperHeavy.
"Every time you get into a room even with the same people, it is different because people come up with different things. It was a really interesting collaboration. To be honest it was easy. It was really easy because we got things straight away. You are very soon encouraged," he said.
Jagger, Stewart, Stone and Rahman recently sat down for an interview with The Associated Press, where they discussed everything from writing together to egos and joked about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
AP: What were you looking for in picking members of this group?
Jagger: One thing serious that we did think about, we didn’t want people with loads of entourages and that would have too big of egos. … It is very quickly how human beings sort of adjust to each other’s temperaments and creativity. It is just like being in a cocktail party with a group of people. Either the cocktail party is going to go well or it doesn’t. It depends on the vibe.
Rahman: I don’t know why they called me, first of all. I thought maybe they wanted my piano playing or my keyboard, or a string arrangement.
AP: Musically, you were all pushed, working outside of your usual genres. Mick, you rapped?
Jagger: I was just copying Damian. I do a little bit. I went toasting, we call it, but it is the same thing (as rap). Damian was doing this really good toasting, West Indian rapping, so I thought, "I could do that. It can’t be that difficult." It actually was quite difficult. With a bit of practice, it is all right. It is a laugh.
Stone: It is funny. Sometimes listening to Damian talk would give me a melody. … It helped when I couldn’t come up with anything, I would just listen to Damian and have a little chat in the corner.
AP: What was that first recording session like, getting all of these people together with different sounds from different backgrounds?
Jagger: The night before I said to Dave … "Is this really stupid?" We always have songs going into projects. We make up songs when we are there. That is great, but we always have songs finished going in. I said, "We are going into this thing we have talked about for the last three months or whatever, and we don’t have any finished songs." Dave said, "I know. It is really worrying." But then Dave created this whole raison d’etre why we didn’t have songs. The raison d’etre for why we didn’t have songs was because if we had songs … people would feel that it wasn’t their project as much. People wouldn’t participate and give as much, which is true. So we were all thrown in the deep end.
Stewart: What is unusual is having five writers who are songwriters, known for songwriting, all writing in the same room together at the same time. Writers are often known to be on their own, looking at the sea, out the window, with a pen or playing piano on their own. Then you have five people all staring at each other that are all used to writing songs, but that have to do it in front of each other now.
AP: With all of these people writing, where there any divas? Who wins out?
Jagger: Joss and I did quite a lot of duets, so Joss would have a verse and then we would sing the chorus together and Damian would have a rap and we would come back together for the chorus. This is quite conventional so we followed those — in some places we followed those conventions, or we made up our own conventions.
AP: All these musicians working together — was there sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll?
Jagger: For Joss there was lots of sex (laughs). She is the only woman so she has her pick. That is the sex part. Rock ‘n’ roll, yes. There was definitely rock ‘n’ roll and drugs. I leave that mostly to Dave and A.R. I think.
Stone: A.R. was big on the drugs. Damian was tame. He was in there doing yoga and drinking wheatgrass or whatever it is called (laughs).