Jagger and Richards on their new DVD. They tell EW.com about their first foray in the digital revolution

By Chris Willman
Updated November 26, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Keith Richards and Mick Jagger: Kevin Mazur/Contour Photos

Making up for the paucity of Rolling Stones concerts on DVD, the new four-disc set, ”Four Flicks,” includes several separate performances from the group’s 2002-03 tour. Overkill, you say? Not for fans who know that the tour in question had a three-tier structure with separate stadium, arena, and theater shows in select cities, and relatively little overlapping material between the different set lists. (The fourth disc includes two backstage documentaries and other bonus material.) Just don’t look for this collection at your friendly neighborhood record store; for now, the boxed set is only available at Best Buy, a move that’s been more than a little controversial among other retailers, who have to wait till next spring to put it out on shelves.

Here’s what Mick Jagger and Keith Richards told EW.com about the DVD collection — and their new oral-history coffee table book, ”According to the Rolling Stones” (Chronicle Books).

Was it part of the plan all along, that all the different kinds of shows you did on the tour would eventually come out as multiple DVD package?

KEITH RICHARDS I don’t think it was ”Oh we’re gonna do a tour and we’re gonna do a DVD.” I mean, there’s just some cameramen, and you interact and you let ’em film it. But then I started to realize, ”Oh, that’s the thing — DVD, the options and amazing flexibility of it”… In actual fact, I’m just sort of learning about DVD myself. I got more and more into what it was after the shooting of it, and I saw the possibilities of what you could do. It’s still a bit of a mystery to me in a way, because I haven’t really had the time to suss it all out. [laughs] I mean, I’m just a guitar player, man.

The DVD includes features like Select-a-Stone during certain numbers. Is it fun, having those things on there, or is it just necessary, in this day and age, to have value-added extras?

MICK JAGGER I have friends that go in, they buy movies, and they watch the special features first. Some people really adore that. And some people like to just sit back and watch linear programming and let it wash over them. I think it’s a good format for a show, though. It’s much easier than the old tape format… And you don’t have to watch the whole thing, you know. I mean, I don’t think you would. You can go in and out and go wherever you want.

When you were putting the three set lists together…

JAGGER The math! [laughs] I know, that was really tricky… It was a case of getting as many different songs going as possible, really. But we still had to do certain numbers we felt were a bit obligatory, especially in the stadium. And I did a few edits and cut some songs [from the final DVDs], so we don’t get TOO much overlapping material.

We got a lot of songs in those [small] theater shows that had been really good in rehearsal that we wouldn’t normally have done very often if we had just been doing arenas and stadiums. I mean, you do them once and then you say ”Oh, that was nice, but no one really liked it,” and then you never do it again. [But] you have to keep doing these. You can’t just do them one-off… Some of those theater shows did get very intense. They’re very hot and very smelly and very intimate. So it’s a completely different animal.

RICHARDS We found smaller shows being so much freer because you’re not tied into lighting stuff. The bigger the show gets, the less freedom you have… or the less spontaneity, let’s put it, is available. What we found is that if we try something out on a small level, you can just call out ”Oh, let’s do that” — and in several cases the songs moved up into the auditoriums, and some of ’em even made it into the stadiums. Which really makes it interesting for the band, to have things sort of different and try to keep everybody interested. Because if you can keep the band interested, then you should be able to keep the audience interested.

I pulled one out that I never thought we’d pull off on stage, which was ”Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.” It turned out to be a really nice, stretched-out piece of music. We’d tried it in the distant past, and some disaster always overtook it, so it was really nice to finally be able to master it on stage. It’s been only 30 years.