7 Things We Learned From The Rolling Stones' Hackney Diamonds Press Conference

The rock group are back with a new album, new single Angry and a new music video – featuring an A-list cameo.
The Rolling Stones outside the Hackney Empire on Wednesday
The Rolling Stones outside the Hackney Empire on Wednesday
Jo Hale via Getty Images

After keeping fans waiting for almost two decades, the Rolling Stones have confirmed they have new original music on the way.

Last month, speculation began about a potential musical comeback for the iconic rock group, after a cryptic advert was posted in the Hackney Gazette for a mysterious company named Hackney Diamonds, which was full of Stones references.

It’s now been confirmed that Hackney Diamonds refers to the band’s new album – their first of original material in 18 years, as well as first since the death of drummer Charlie Watts in 2021 – as was confirmed at a press event held on Wednesday in the East London borough.

The event was hosted by US comedian and talk show host Jimmy Fallon, and saw remaining members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood discussing their decision to head back into the studio.

Here’s what went down at the press event…

First of all, as we already know, the Rolling Stones have confirmed not just a new album, but a brand new single, Angry

The Rolling Stones on stage last year
The Rolling Stones on stage last year
INA FASSBENDER via Getty Images

“We’re here to present our new single,” Mick teased at the beginning of the Q&A, before confirming Angry would be the lead single from Hackney Diamonds, which is out on 20 October.

Over the process of putting Hackney Diamonds together, the group created around 22 tracks, with Keith saying that Angry was the “first one to stick out”.

What else do we know about the Rolling Stones’ new album Hackney Diamonds?

Well, it consists of 12 songs, the names of which are as follows:

  • Angry
  • Get Close
  • Depending On You
  • Bite My Head Off
  • Whole Wide World
  • Dreamy Skies
  • Mess It Up
  • Live By The Sword
  • Driving Me Too Hard
  • Tell Me Straight
  • Sweet Sound Of Heaven
  • Rolling Stone Blues

As the song titles suggest, Mick said the album features a “mixture” of “anger and disgust”, but also “love songs”, “ballads” and some country-inspired tracks.

During the conversation, Keith highlighted the “funky riffs” on Angry and Whole Wide World, while Mick hinted that Sweet Sound Of Heaven was inspired by gospel music.

“You’ve never been to church in your life,” Keith then retorted.

It was also revealed that Keith performs lead vocals on Tell Me Straight (even if he had no clue what the song was about, but joke that Mick “tried to steal it so I said it must be good”).

Meanwhile, Ronnie said that Dreamy Skies was about Mick “trying to get away from it all”. “It happened in lockdown, and that was enough,” the frontman teased.

Oh yeah, and there’s a very special guest on one track

Lady Gaga with the Rolling Stones in 2012
Lady Gaga with the Rolling Stones in 2012
Larry Busacca via Getty Images

It was revealed that none other than Lady Gaga lends her voice to Sweet Sound Of Heaven, with Jimmy saying the Oscar winner sounds “gorgeous” and “unbelievable” on the track.

The recording of the Rolling Stones’ new album was actually “pretty quick”

Ronnie, Keith and Mick outside the launch of their new album Hackney Diamonds
Ronnie, Keith and Mick outside the launch of their new album Hackney Diamonds
Stuart C. Wilson via Getty Images

“There were lots of ideas floating around, and we gathered them all together just before Christmas last year, and made a go of it,” Ronnie said. “And we cut [all the songs] very quickly.”

“We’ve been very lazy,” Mick joked. “We have done some things, but we’ve been on the road most of the time. Maybe we were a bit too kind of lazy, and suddenly we said, ‘why don’t we give it a go? Let’s make a record and put a deadline [on it]’.

“So, Keith, Ronnie and I had this chat and we said, ‘let’s make this record at Christmas, and we’ll finish it by Valentine’s Day’. We went into the studio in December, and we cut 23 tracks very quickly, and finished them off in January, and mixed them in February.”

The songwriting and recording initially took place between Mick and Keith at a studio in Jamaica, after which they were joined by Ronnie on both the East and West Coast of the USA.

What does Hackney Diamonds actually mean?

The Rolling Stones on stage in 2021
The Rolling Stones on stage in 2021

Keith began: “We were flinging ideas around for titles, and we went from Hit And Run, Smash And Grab and somehow between that we came up with Hackney Diamonds, which is like a variation on them both.”

“And also, we’re a London band,” he added, to cheers from the Hackney ground.

Explaining the true meaning of Hackney Diamonds, Mick added: “It’s like when you get your windscreen broken on a Saturday night in Hackney. And all the bits go on the street. That’s Hackney Diamonds.”

Two tracks feature the Rolling Stones’ late drummer Charlie Watts

Charlie Watts on stage with the rest of the Rolling Stones in 2019
Charlie Watts on stage with the rest of the Rolling Stones in 2019

“It’s ever so sad he’s gone, it’s different,” Keith explained. “I mean, he’s number four. Of course he’s missed, incredibly.

“But thanks to Charlie Watts, also, we have Steve Jordan, who was Charlie’s recommendation for if anything should happen to him… way, way, way back. And Steve has been a friend of ours, so it was a kind of natural progression.

“It would have been a lot harder without Charlie’s blessing on that. But at the same time it’s a hard thing.”

The tracks Mess It Up and Live By The Sword feature drumming from Charlie that was recorded in 2019, while original Rolling Stones member Bill Wyman also features on the latter.

The press conference ended with the unveiling of the music video for Angry

And yes, that’s Sydney Sweeney of Euphoria and The White Lotus fame lip syncing along to Mick’s vocals. Give it a watch for yourself below:


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