Jagger scoffed at the idea of the Rolling Stones as an institution. “It’s only a band,” he said.
But Ronnie Wood, the guitarist who joined in 1975, cherishes the band’s six decades of continuity. “That has been my thing all these years, to keep my institution going,” he said in a video interview from his apartment in Barcelona. “When Mick and Keith fell out, I’d do my best to get them together again — at least get them talking and start the engines roaring again.”
The album’s title comes from London slang. Hackney is a borough in East London that had long held a rough reputation, though it has lately gone more upscale. Wood explained that “Hackney diamonds” are bits of broken glass from car windshields after break-ins leave them, in a word, shattered.
“A lot of the tracks on the album have that explosion,” Wood said. “This is a really in-your-face album.”
Making the new LP, the band regained “a sense of urgency,” Jagger said via video from Paris, with paintings of elegant French gentry on the wall behind him. Of course, the longtime members of the Rolling Stones — Jagger, 80, Richards, 79, and Wood, 76 — weren’t getting any younger.
“I said to Keith, ‘If we don’t have a deadline, we’re never going to finish this record,’” Jagger said. “So I said, ‘The deadline is Valentine’s Day 2023. And then we’re going to go out and tour it.’ That’s what we used to have to do. You know, you’ve got to finish ‘Exile on Main Street’ because you’ve got a tour booked.”
Even without new albums, the Stones kept touring in the 2010s and 2020s. The band had gone to studios occasionally to get started on songs, but never got around to finishing them. Meanwhile, Jagger and Richards had each amassed a backlog of new material in various stages, written separately but awaiting the band’s collaborative touches.