Keith Richards Says Digital Recording Is a "One-Way Toilet"

"The only way to cut a band is to put the boys in a room and play and look in each other's eyeballs"

Photo: Raph_PH

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Oct 24, 2023

The Rolling Stones recently released Hackney Diamonds, their first album of new material in 18 years, and it mostly sounds like a regular old Rolling Stones record. Good for them!

Again, it's not exactly surprising that they would remain steadfast to their process, since it's no secret that guitar hero Keith Richards is not the biggest fan of "modern" popular music — your hyperpop stars and your SoundCloud rappers and what have you — and now he's revealed what is perhaps the root cause of his disdain: digital recording.

In a new interview with The Independent, this old man once again yelled at the cloud of anti-analogue digital synthesis of much of today's pop. "The only way to cut a band is to put the boys in a room and play, and look in each other's eyeballs," Richards told journalist Paul Sexton, reportedly glaring at him. "Don't get me going on modern-day music. Push-button drums and everything synthesized. Digital recording is a one-way toilet."

To break down what we just read, first (and perhaps foremost), according to the musician, a band is what happens when dudes rock. And they rock together. In the same room. Bros chillin' in a hot tub, five feet apart.

The second bit that really stands out is this designation of digital recording — which was allegedly first used for a popular music album (Ry Cooder's Bop Till You Drop) in the US in 1979 via a 1978 3M 32-track digital audio mastering system — as a "one-way toilet." Isn't "one-way" a little redundant? Are there two-way toilets, aside from maybe the human digestive tract?

Anyway, this is all well-trodden territory for Richards, who said as recently as last month that pop music is "rubbish." He explained, "They make it as cheap and as easy as possible and therefore it always sounds the same; there's very little feel in it."

As most are aware, GarageBand is a program that you can now download for free, and use to record pretty quality demos, on any Apple product. An actual garage? In this housing-crisis economy?

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