Ian McLagan Talks Reuniting the Faces Without Rod Stewart

"I want to play some music and not wait another two years," says McLagan

May 27, 2010 2:58 PM ET

After playing a one-off show with Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall last year, The Faces are gearing up for their first tour since breaking up in 1975. Their only gig on the books now is for August 18th in England, but Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan tells Rolling Stone many more are coming that month followed by a longer run from December to March. "And then we should play the world for fucks sake," he says. "I’ve been trying to make this happen since 1975!"

The main reason the reunion has taken so long was Rod Stewart’s reluctance to take a break from his solo career. In October 2008, he agreed to rehearse for one day with McLagan, drummer Kenny Jones and guitarist Ron Wood. "The bunch of us rehearsed for a few days — but we only had one day with Rod," says McLagan. "He came on the last day and played a bunch of songs. I was very pleasantly surprised by how great it went. He talked about doing one charity gig. I thought 'That’s nice. The Faces get back together to do a charity commitment for Rod? That ain’t right!' I have nothing against charity gigs, but I wanna make some money! I want to play some music and get out there and not wait another two years. We sent him a very friendly note and he declined. He’s busy doing his stuff and doesn’t want to do it. But Mick wants to do it. Ron, Kenny and I want to do it and we will!"

Last September, The Faces recruited Mick Hucknall to perform "Stay With Me" at a charity gig at London's Royal Albert Hall. "He knocked me out," says McLagan. "I turned to him and said 'nice job.' He said 'I can’t imagine doing that every night. I said 'Be careful what you wish for — or what you don’t wish for.'" The band rehearsed for a few days and also recruited Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock to sub in for the late Ronnie Lane. "He respect Ronnie’s lines," McLagan says. "It’s almost like having Ronnie there."

Booking a tour poses logistical problems for the group because of Wood’s commitments to the Rolling Stones and Hucknall’s commitments to Simply Red. But McLagan is sure they can pull off a tour of the states — including gigs in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles — and possibly write and record some new Faces material. "I think that would come as a natural progression," says McLagan. "I got loads of songs and they’d be very suited for The Faces. (Don't expect new songs to be performed live, however; "We're mostly going to do old rockers like 'Miss Judy's Farm and 'Stay with Me," McLagan says.)

McLagan also confirms Ron Wood’s recent claims in the UK press that he’s been sober for sixty days. "Ronnie had been struggling and quite frankly I think he was with the wrong girl for a while," says McLagan. "His girlfriend now is so encouraging and helpful to him and she’s right for him. I’m a drinker and after rehearsals me and Ronnie went out and I thought he was going to weaken. He said 'You can have a drink' and I said 'Not if you aren't.' He used the expression 'I think I’ve found my grace,' which I think says it all. We were drinking partners and now that’s gone, but he’s just as much fun without a drink."

The band is under no illusion that the fans aren’t going to miss Rod Stewart. "Yeah they’ll miss him — but he ain’t going to be there!" says McLagan. "It’s still The Faces. I just hope that people come with an open mind because one way or another they’re going to be surprised."

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