Sticky Fingers - Rolling Stones tribute show
Glen Carroll [Mick] and Kevin Gleeson [Keith] Interview (12-3-04)
By Ronnie

Right: 'Mick', Ronnie, and 'Keef' backstage at The Tabernacle 12-3-04

I really shouldn't be surprised at how well Glen Carroll does Mick Jagger because Sticky Fingers has been at it since 1978! With more than a quarter century of gigs, no wonder they are considered the leading international Rolling Stones tribute show. But what really amazed me was how effortlessly Glen could jump into the 'Mick' character at a moments notice; During the interview there were visitors coming in and out of the dressing room and Glen would "be Mick" and say hello to a visitor, then return to the interview like nothing had happened.

Although he let 'Mick' do most of the talking, Kevin Gleeson as Keith Richards was also present. Come to find out, this will be Kevin's very first gig with Sticky Fingers! He also plays Keith in Beggars Banquet, another Rolling Stones tribute band.

At one point during the interview, Glen played me two tracks off his upcoming "TRAVELIN' MAN" CD. As I listened to the tracks I was thinking, "Now why can't the Rolling Stones themselves record songs as good as this?" Glen sounds more like "classic Stones" than the actual Rolling Stones have since 1981 and he should pitch these songs to the Stones themselves. When Cheap Trick hit a lull in sales, they were forced to get outside writers (instead of just Rick Neilson) to put them back on the charts with "The Flame". Maybe the Stones could use a little "infusion"? But then again, I don't want to steal the thunder from what sounds like a great CD. Perhaps it will be good to show the Stones what they should sound like?

E.C.: I saw your set list on your internet site and it pretty much covers songs through the Rolling Stones whole career. What about stage presentation? Do you the classic early '70s look?

Glen: As the Stones do today, you can hear "Not Fade Away"…you might hear "Round and Round", things they were doing in '63 and '64. We do things right up to the current things like "Don't Stop". And just as the Stones would tell you, you could do a brand new tune, but they're not gonna enjoy it like something they've heard on the radio a million times. Basically, you've got dozens of tunes that you've got to do every gig…"Honky Tonk", "Start Me Up", "Miss You", "Jumpin Jack Flash", "Brown Sugar"…the list goes on.

In this costume I wouldn't feel comfortable doing "Miss You" because this is like what Mick was doing in '69. I tend to see myself, I feel myself…I look at that and I don't feel as comfortable doing the newer tunes in that. Now where I wear a football jersey, you can come out and do "Shattered". So there are occasions where we do shows where we can't do costume changes, we just go out in one outfit.

Kevin: [deadpans] And we've actually learned to dance better…

Glen: [joins in with a classic Mick imitation] Yes, we've gotten better at better at dancin'…

Sticky Fingers was a group that was first going out…Bobby Keys, Ian Stewart…a lot of the same members that were doin' a Stones tour, minus Mick & Keith. And one of the finest things was…

[Somebody walks in]

Glen: Sorry, band members only! O.K., you can stay…

E.C.: Who's this guy?

Glen: He's 'Woody' tonight…I slipped a viagra in his vodka.

Kevin: When the Stones released "40 Licks", the kids today expect the hits now.

E.C.: Have you been with the band since the beginning?

Kevin: I've been playing with Beggars Banquet in Chicago. I saw Sticky Fingers years ago as a kid in the '70s. That would be the original Sticky Fingers and being a very big Stones fan from New York - that's where I grew up.

E.C.: You really have the whole Keith Richards thing going…

Kevin: I mean, I've been playing thirty-three years; I'm playing Rolling Stones songs all these years. I was with a couple of blues bands. I spent about 10 years in Chicago playing on the South side with Elmore James Jr. honing my blues craft. And everywhere I went people were saying, "Dude, you gotta do a Stones tribute".

E.C.: I know you've been doing this since '78, how did you first come into it?

Glen: I came in as a drummer. At the time I just got out of the military, I was flying helicopters in the Army and had really short hair. So I was doing Charlie [Watts]. All of the sudden our Mick started getting into David Bowie and he wanted to open up a hair salon [everyone laughs]. So we started trying out a few new singers and one of the guys said, "Man, why don't you do it". We would get to gigs and people would say, "You must be the Mick", because I had started growing out my hair. And I'd say, "No, no, I'm just the drummer". So we finally cut Larry [played Mick] loose and the guys said, "Come on, lets do this gig". And it was like, "Ahh, you were the best Mick we've ever had!" This was in the '80s and I just kept doing it.

E.C.: When you were younger, did you have a resemblance to Mick?

Glen: No, no, I was just a big Mick fan.

E.C.: So you do all the classic 'Mick moves' on stage?

Glen: You'll just have to see!

Kevin: He's got it down…the best 'Mick' in the United States.

Glen: [corrects him] In the world!

E.C.: I imagine that you've studied all the films…

Glen: I've got ever video and bootleg.

Kevin: It's like an underground culture.

[At this point Glen starts to talk about his solo record]

Glen: I've basically written a record - we've got Max Weinberg on it. It's on our website. Capitol Records, CBS Records, Atlantic Records - they've all got the thing right there, right now. It's like whose giving you the best deal. I'm not looking for 3 records, a $100,000 advance or anything. I'm looking for promotion and distribution.

[At this point Glen leaves the room]

Right: The 'Glimmer Twins' of Sticky Fingers live on stage at The Tabernacle 12-3-04

E.C.: How did you get into Keith's character?

Kevin: There's viewing and watching and going to the shows. And the other end is you develop a discipline to learn how to play. Because once you start to understand Keith Richards, it's like a cobweb. It only gets thicker as you get closer to learning it.

E.C.: Did you start with the early blues stuff like Keith did?

Kevin: I had a hankering for "Love In Vain" and the original Robert Johnson open Delta blues tunings and I even studied a lot of Ry Cooder. So Keith Richards came only natural from that, sort of an extension. Even Elmore James Jr. called me his "slide bitch" - I played with him on the South sides of Chicago. But the only thing I'll take a bow for is I'm a lethal slide player. Keith Richards' tunings come natural to me. I've been doing it for 30 years now…it's just a gift to me. Even Mick Taylor, all his slide playing with the Stones was standard tuning.

E.C.: What about Woody?

Kevin: Ron Wood tries a lot of open tunings.

E.C.: Is this like a dream gig for you? Getting to travel and play cool tunes?

Kevin: It doesn't show all the hard work that gone on beforehand though. All the years of learning how to play the stuff - cause the Stones play simple things…but they are actually pretty complicated. They make it look easy.

But yeah, playing with tribute bands…Sticky Fingers was the first I ever saw. I've been with Beggar's Banquet in Chicago and we're doing pretty well. I kinda got pushed from Chicago to contact Glen…Glen and I are very excited cause we think we're finally getting one of the best Keith Richards with actually the best Mick.

E.C.: Gotta have the "Glimmer Twins"! Gotta have both of them to be authentic.

Kevin: This is the best tribute band in the United States.

E.C.: What makes Sticky Fingers the 'best'?

Kevin: Number one, you're a fan. Number two; you have a deep, deep respect and admiration for your character. It goes beyond just putting on the record. Studying every little nuance.

E.C.: So, it is a constant learning experience?

Kevin: Never ending.

As a teenager, people would stop me on the street and say, "Kevin, the Stones are on tonight". Before long, there was an entire network of people all over the country - like, I haven't bought clothes in over 10 years. Everything I've got is given to me.

[Glen re-enters the room]

E.C.: There is another band that calls themselves 'Sticky Fingers'…tell me about it.

Glen: I worked for Wolfman Jack Entertainment. Wolfman Jack died and his son took over. And he hired my former manger, Wayne Honeycutt…Wayne 'Honey-cut-your-throat'. I played for him for two years and he said, "Glen, I want you to do these gigs in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and then at Washington D.C. - that's one that we can make five grand. It's gonna pay for all your expenses, cause I know you are paying thousands on your gas card." We get to the last show and it's like "oh, they cancelled". I lost thousands. I fired the guy, said, "two years, contracts up…fuck you, I get better gigs off the website". So he gets this call, "we need Sticky Fingers to come down to Central America to play." He calls the Rolling Clones who were looking for a drummer. "If I find you a drummer, would you do a gig in Central America? But the thing is, we need you to call yourselves 'Sticky Fingers'…could you just go by it?" That's how 'Sticky Fingers LA' came about.

E.C.: Have you gotten any input from the actual Rolling Stones?

Glen: Mick Jagger knows about me. When he went out on the VOODOO LOUNGE tour, he said, "We want to send something to every town two weeks before we get there with rides, lithographs, tickets, albums, CDs…" Someone from Landmark Entertainment said, "We should have a band". Mick asked, "What should they play?" getting the response, "Well, Stones…which band?" Mick said, "I was just reading Details Magazine and we outta hire Sticky Fingers". He got our video…but he scrapped the whole thing. Actually, Jagged Films that he's doing - I got a call from one of his producers saying, "If we do this biography thing on Mick Jagger, would you be interested in portraying him because you can sing!" If the Glen Carroll's records out happening, I'll do it like Val Kilmer did the Doors thing.

But most importantly right now, I'm putting my record out. Every song…I only use Rolling Stones song titles. [sings] "Paint it black not fade away".

E.C.: Some times the Stones are notoriously sloppy live. Do you put an emphasis on the musicianship of the studio recordings?

Glen: We do the songs that the people recognize, the studio versions of. The live versions, we do some things like "Criss Cross Man"…the out-takes. We can play 4 fucking hours like Bruce Springsteen.

[Pointing to Kevin] You know how many gigs me and this man has done? Never, none. This is his first gig. A lot of guys can talk the talk, but this man, he doesn't walk the walk, he runs it! He's the best Keith I've ever had.

E.C.: Do you do any of the different 'periods' of the Stones career, such as the Brian Jones period?

Kevin: We don't really get caught up in all that stuff about going through 'eras' and all that.

E.C.: One more question. I've already asked Kevin this, but what makes Sticky Fingers, YOUR version of Sticky Fingers, the number one Rolling Stones tribute band?

Glen: Attention to detail. Continuous improvement. Because we go out and try to play rock 'n roll by the Rolling Stones…we go out and we ARE rock 'n roll from the Rolling Stones.

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