Ron Wood Discusses Getting Sober and His New Solo Album
GW Your personal life has been in the news lately. Your stints in rehab have been no secret. Are you currently sober?
WOOD Yes, I am. I’m going on seven months now. I’m really feeling comfortable with it. It feels really good. In the early days I went to the meetings, AA and all that. I did that very intensely. I haven’t been to one for a while now because I’ve been so busy. But I’m due. I think I’ll go to one tomorrow.
GW Last year, stories were floating around that you might be kicked out of the Stones because of your drinking. That’s a little bizarre, given that Keith certainly likes his spirits. But was there any truth to it all?
WOOD Well, they’ve seen it and done it, of course, the guys in the band. They were just trying to help, really. Mick’s been very helpful and supportive. It’s been hard to come through this whole period unscathed, but I’ve managed to do it, more or less. Thanks to the band’s support, we’ll be back to business as usual.
GW How do you feel your work with the Jeff Beck Group, the Small Faces, the Faces and Rod Stewart prepared you for your career with the Rolling Stones?
WOOD It was all good groundwork, those years. Playing bass guitar in the Jeff Beck Group gave me a melodic sense that most guitarists don’t get a chance to develop. And then when I was the only guitar player in the Faces, I had to play both lead and rhythm, which came in very useful with the weaving I do with the Stones.
GW It’s interesting you use the word “weaving,” because Keith always described that as a secret to the Stones’ guitar sound, even back in the early days with Brian Jones. “Guitar weaving,” he called it.
WOOD Well, that’s exactly what it is—the two guitars going in and out and back and forth. It’s like we have an interchange, or a conversation, with each other, but we don’t have to say a word. One guitar talks to the other, and the other answers it. It’s a very magical thing, really. I’ve had that kind of rapport whenever I’ve played with people like Keith and Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, and I have the same sort of thing with Slash and Billy Gibbons on my new record.
GW You participated in something of a Faces reunion last year. Was there any point at which Rod Stewart was going to be involved?
WOOD Truthfully, probably not. We did have one rehearsal with him, which went great. But because of all the red tape with all of Rod’s activities, it was just too much to get it on with him. He’s still a great friend, and we had his blessing to go out there as the Faces, so it was very wonderful, indeed.
GW So let’s talk about the new record. The first thing that comes to mind is, Wow, too bad you couldn’t get any famous names to help you out!
WOOD [laughs] Yeah, it’s too bad. I need to get out more, don’t I? What’s funny was, all these people and friends were floating around in studies nearby where I was working, and they all contacted me and said, “Hey, Ronnie, can I come by and play on your album?” And invariably, I’d tell them, “Funny you should ask. I’ve got a part that’s just perfect for you. Come on down!” The whole record was a lot of old pals coming together. Old pals and new pals, really, with people like Flea, who I bonded with right away. That’s what I like about the album: it’s a bunch of friends playing, rather than me and some hired band.
GW Slash is on a lot of the record. How did your collaboration come about?
WOOD Well, we go back as friends for years, way before Guns N’ Roses. As guitarists, he and I speak the same language. It’s like the relationship I have with Keith. Slash and I finish each other’s sentences, but we do it with guitars. That makes it nice, because we don’t have to waste a lot of time figuring out who’s gonna do what. We already know.
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