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Keith Richards and Johnny Depp: Blood Brothers

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Do you still play at all, and write?
Depp: Yeah, yeah, I still play. I play in the house or around town, play on house records, play on pals' records. Sometimes I play with meself.

Richards: There's always that.

Keith, it took you forever to make a solo record. Johnny, would you do a record?
Depp: No. I think it's one thing when musicians take a turn as an actor, do a cameo in a film. But actors doing records . . .

Richards: You can do any fucking thing you want. You shouldn't be chicken.

Keith, did you contribute any music to this movie?
Richards: It is all a bit "yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" for me. Johnny had this beautiful guitar made in a week, which looks like it's 300 years old. And so I just did my little warm-up pieces. And they said they liked that.

But you did play a little in the movie?
Richards: Yeah. A lovely piece of music. You're all going to love it.

You both are like pirates — old salty dogs.
Richards: He's been licking me off for years now.

Has doing this movie been a bonding experience?
Richards: Obviously we got to learn a bit more about each other. I mean, he's just a mate of mine. Like, "Do you want to do this?" "Yeah. Why not? I can only fall flat on me face, right?"

Depp: You didn't. You haven't.

But in rock & roll terms, aren't you setting a new precedent for longevity?
Richards: There are no such thing as rock & roll terms. Who can say how long somebody can go on and do this? Croak around nineteen or twenty, that's when you're fine. Two years on the charts.

Well, is it a point of pride that you now stand as a symbol of . . . 
Richards: It's not a matter of pride. It's that we just kept doing it. And you can keep on doing it if you got a good band. Why not? There's how many millions out there who want to see it? Shit, who am I to argue? I am going to have absolute fun with these people. Rock & roll has got to be fun. Really, I need the adrenaline. There is an exchange of energy.

Has Keith inspired you in your career?
Depp: He's uncompromising.

Richards: Probably thought that before he met me.

Depp: He was one of the people I admired for what he's done and how he's handled it. Forty-whatever years of being this god. And he's just cool.

Keith, from the time you started doing press, you were unusually blunt and honest.
Richards: After what I've been through, fuck it. You want to know what it's like, it's like this. I'm no angel.

But now you're an actor. What have you learned from Johnny?
Richards: Before he has to do a take, his eyes change, and he goes into Jack.

Depp: Really? I'm not aware of the change.

Richards: You put yourself in Jack mode — like that.

Depp: Fuck, I had no idea.

Were you a particularly charismatic musician when you were onstage, Johnny?
Depp: Not at all. I was trying to stay out of the lights.

Richards: Tough shit. Didn't work.

Keith, how do you put yourself in the mode for a Stones concert?
Richards: [Laughs] That's a dangerous question. I get a ten-minute call. You never know with Mick, because if you're late for Mick, hey, the singer is the singer, right? And if he's not prepared, then fine. The band usually hangs in my room. And do what we do [laughs]. It's really a suppressed energy, you know, and you are just waiting for them to open the gates and let's get out there.

In terms of Jack Sparrow, Johnny, what did you get from Keith besides the look?
Richards: The look, yes, elegantly wasted.

Depp: I wasn't trying to do an imitation of Keith, but there was something of his that I thought would fit the character.

Richards: Well, you're back to your original thing of rock stars and pirates. I mean, this rig we're wearing is taken from engravings of pirates looking as they want to be seen. You don't think they stood on the fucking deck wearing this crap, do you? It was like the videos for them. This was postcards. This was the cover of Rolling Stone. This is how they wish to be presented, as they wish to be perceived. In actual day-to-day work, they would be wearing a pair of drawers, and that's about it.

What do you two pirates know about cool that the rest of us don't?
Richards: If you're cool, you don't know nothing about it. It just is, or you ain't.

This story is from the May 31, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone.


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