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Mick Jagger and Keith Richards perform May 10 at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.
TODAY
updated 5/16/2005 10:33:09 AM ET 2005-05-16T14:33:09

They've been called the world's greatest rock and roll band. Now, after 40 years of performing around the world, the legendary Rolling Stones are hitting the road again for their 31st tour. “Today” host Matt Lauer talked with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards — both 61 years old and friends since they were 4 — for an exclusive interview.

Rolling out their unmistakable logo and the familiar riff of one of their all-time classic songs, the Rolling Stones offered up a raucous rock and roll invitation to fans everywhere: come along on a new world tour. They kicked it off with a surprise outdoor concert Tuesday at the Julliard School in New York City.

Matt Lauer: What got you back? Last time we talked, you said when a Rolling Stones tour ends, it's the last thing you want to talk about.

Video: Stones on why they tour

Mick Jagger: It sort of runs in a pretty good cycle.

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Keith Richards: I wait for a phone call from Mick saying, “I’m getting a bit antsy. You wanna go on a show and…”

Lauer: Is that how it happens?

Richards: Kind of.

Jagger: Well, don't forget you gotta be a bit hard-headed. There is sort of a supply and demand thing here. If no one called up and said, “We think you should go on tour” — because there's good times and bad times to do tours.

Richards: In a way, Mick and I got the same feeling just around the same time. And then it's, as Mick was just saying, does all of the rest of it fall into place. You know, the business and the supply and demand of it and all of that. But as you say, we're ready. If the demand's there, we'll supply.

Lauer: Inevitably, when you guys announce a tour, a couple of questions come off right off the bat. One is why? I read something you said in an interview that I thought was fascinating. You said, “Why don't people ask that of a John Lee Hooker or someone like B.B. King or someone like that.” That you almost think there's an inverse racism here.

Richards: In a way … I did imply that

Lauer: That when the old white guys go out on tour, people say, “Why are they going out on tour?” The jazz and blues guys go out on tour no matter what age they are.

Richards: You croak on stage, you know? I mean we’re not really different, you know. We're just musicians. It's other people's bags that we get put in and because we're white or you made a lot of money, why the hell would you want to do that? Because we love it — it's as simple as that.

Jagger: We are musicians and we play — that's what we do. okay. That’s your job. So you want to do [the] job that you enjoy doing. But, the other thing is that the difference perhaps between us and these other people is that we make a big noise about it.

Lauer: When you talk about the dynamic that exists between you two, and I watch you two sitting side by side — I think, Keith, you said something to the effect of, you guys like to antagonize each other.

Richards: Sometimes.

Jagger: But not too much.

Lauer: To get the blood flowing?

Richards: Yeah, but not flowing that much. Just to get it rising.

Jagger: You get to the point where you can go negative on that.

Lauer: Because it sounds like the married couple that fights so they can have great sex after they make up?

Richards: Could be.

Jagger: I don't remember.

Lauer: You think you would have remembered that.

Richards: You know it seems to work like that. Sometimes Mick's temperament is very different than mine. But when we start to work together, we suddenly seem to have the same.

Jagger: I think we're both very passionate about what we do. We have different ways of working — I think everyone does.

Richards: You're probably right there. I mean, if we didn't care, we'd just say, “Oh, just fling a couple of songs, throw them against the wall,” you know?

Jagger says talk that this is some sort of farewell tour is simply not true. The Rolling Stones are taking it one tour at a time — promising to give each show all they’ve got.

Jagger: You go out there and put yourself on the line and you make sure you're as good as you can possibly be. You don't (expletive deleted) about, and you don't rest on your laurels. You just give the best show you can — even if you feel terrible, you've got a cold, your back's aching and all that crap. You do it because you are putting yourself on the line and those people have paid good money to see you, and you better be bloody good.

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Video: Stones on upcoming tour

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