Keith Richards is actually a sea creature

Last week you might recall Metal Hammer yabbering on about The Rolling Stones in a news story, which was met on Facebook with the usual moans and derision. For once, this wasn’t because they’re not metal, but because of what their guitarist said.

Keith Richards (a man with a face like Jack Sparrow’s wizened ballbag) was delivering his oh-so eloquent thoughts on Metallica and Black Sabbath being “great jokes”. Cheers Keith. Glad to have you here with your pearls of wisdom. That’s Keith Richards, a 71 year old human being, casting scorn on bands that on the surface are the exact same as The Stones – but heavier.

Obviously he’s only saying this because he was being interviewed and wanted to seem relevant in the age of Spotify and Apple Music (and Tidal… not that anyone on the planet actually uses it). But what have these bands ever done to you, Keith? They’re not threatening your career of perpetual rent-a-headliner status.

Perhaps the answer is that this guitarist simply hadn’t experienced Sabbath or Metallica before. But how could he have missed them… unless the bus pass holder has been living in a box for the past 30 years.

Think about it: when was the last time you saw Keith Richards not on stage? No, I can’t remember either. He’s never down the precinct any more. Never hanging round the arcade. Doesn’t catch the 27 bus home any more, does he? Maybe because he’s not actually allowed to be here with us, the public. We’re just drones who’d happily pay hundreds of quid per ticket to see a band with a combined age of 286 stumble through songs they appear to hate.

Contact with the real world could kill poor Keith, he needs to be kept in his rock ‘n’ roll bubble filled with bandanas, hairspray and groupies. The only world he’s ever truly loved. 2015 is a scary place for Keith, it’s filled with new Google logos, Caitlyn Jenners and poo emojis. It doesn’t matter that he looks like Dorian Grey with guyliner, because the Keith Bubble 2000™ contains no mirrors. It’s just a cube of memories that Keith can enjoy while wheeled around the planet to different, faceless arenas so he can plod through the same songs night after night ad infinitum. Is that not the dream the Stones all shared back in the ‘60s?

Surely this can be the only reason for Keith’s recent comments about two of the biggest and best-selling heavy metal bands on the planet? Actually, perhaps not. His wrinkly skin may not be a symptom of the ageing process, but he could live in the depths of the Mariana Trench? Only in his recording studio at 6.8 miles below sea level, surrounded by translucent otherworldly finned bastards and phlegm creatures does Keith truly feel at home. It’ll take him back to the tour bus days, waking up next to Mick’s deflated skinflaps hanging off his saggy eye sockets.

But that wouldn’t work. Stop being silly, Luke. Keith would’ve heard the vibrations from Metallica through the water when they played Antarctica wouldn’t he? The only possible explanation is that he does, indeed, live inside a portable cube.

Perhaps at the last Stones concert, as the Keith Bubble 2000™ was being carefully carried off the truck alongside crates of leather trousers, one of the roadies accidentally pressed the release mechanism and the faint sounds of Fade To Black wafted over from a nearby dressing room causing Richards to leap out of his cocoon in a fit of rage that another band may exist on this earth that also play guitars. “I must tell the New York Daily News!” he bellows as he stands there, naked, at the end of a production truck, like a life-size Ken doll someone left in the sun.

Of course he doesn’t stop there does he, Keith, with his rants about bands. It’s not just two of the biggest bands on the planet this possible ocean-dweller has a problem with, it’s the whole sphere of rock music. The entire notion that a whole scene emerged from ripping off the blues, y’know Keith, like you did.

“It sounds like a dull thud to me,” he says, longing for his box. “For most bands, getting the syncopation is beyond them. It’s endless thudding away, with no bounce, no lift.”

Just let that phrase sink in and remember that this man, the man who co-wrote Wild fucking Horses is claiming rock music has no bounce. Wild Horses, the dreary mess of cliche bollocks that acts as a vacuum for love songs. Married couples actually divorced after listening to that song. If you’ve been to a wedding that plays Wild Horses, their relationship is a sham. If your loved one has included Wild Horses on a mixtape for you, they don’t really love you, they just don’t know how else to express their feelings of ambivalence towards your very form. The sheer fucking gall of writing such dross and calling it music, making it part of the zeitgeist forever and always will be the Stones’ eternal middle finger to the beauty of music. The dicks.

But anyway, back to Keith. If you think about he’s “dull thud” criticisms, it kind of makes sense. If I only ever heard music from the confines of a box, it would all sound like dull thudding. I had a mate who used to live next door to a nightclub and no matter what the DJ played at 3am, through those walls it all sounded like thudding. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Dillinger Escape Plan or the Cocteau Twins, through the titanium surroundings of the Keith Bubble 2000™ it all sounds the same to him. Which may be the real issue here, it’s not rock music Keith doesn’t understand, it’s all music, because these days he only hears two hours of it a day and it’s the same two hours day after day because he’s sodding playing it. Well, attempting to play it if their recent shows are anything to go on. Which could mean he’s a slobbering, geriatric sea creature after all. He’s struggling to breathe on land let alone play Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It might not be the dull thudding of Metallica he’s hearing at all, it’s his heart fighting to pump the dust-filled blood around this missing link of a man and the Keith Bubble 2000™ is an aquarium.

Glad we got that sorted out and it’s not something ludicrous like he’s out of touch or something.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.