“I like everything I have done — more or less,” says Rod Stewart over the phone from his estate in Essex, England. The 70-year-old icon doesn’t waver, however, in his pride over his 29th solo album, Another Country, released Oct. 23 on Capitol. He co-produced with Kevin Savigar, his collaborator since 1978, but they switched things up by recording at Stewart’s Los Angeles home, feeling it would have a more intimate vibe than a studio. “I try to write as personal and honest as I can,” says Stewart. “The listener can certainly feel that.”
You sing “If I die, I’m going to die laughing” on your LP. Why do you think you have this outlook?
I’m a carefree guy; it’s just a line in a frivolous, make-you-smile song. Don’t take everything so literally!
How do you balance your career with being a father to eight?
When I was building my career in my 20s and 30s, it was difficult to be with my kids all the time. Now I shape my tours around the children’s holidays. We are a little clan. We see a great deal of each other.
Some of your kids were on a recently canceled E! reality show, Stewarts & Hamiltons, about your ex-wife Alana’s blended family with husband George Hamilton. Did you watch any episodes?
Yeah, I’ve seen five or six episodes. It’s weird. I have a different outlook on reality shows, and they are not my favorite thing. It’s not my age group.
Was it ever awkward between you and George?
Never. George and I have always been friends since the first time I met him 40 years ago.
In “The Drinking Song,” you describe a time you were running naked through a hotel in Paris drunk. Do you think you ever had a problem with alcohol?
No more than anyone else! I had some fun. I was young and carefree, but I don’t think I had a problem with it.
Was it liberating running around naked?
Yeah, but I can probably do that without alcohol.
“Another Country” is about being in the armed forces. What inspired you to make that song?
I have always had great admiration for those who serve their country and wondered what it would be like to be away from your loved ones. In this song, his wife is expecting a baby. He has two sons already, and he’s asking if it’s a boy or a girl. I sing, “Are the boys still calling out my name?” It’s something that is near and dear to my heart.
How do you feel about the U.S. presidential campaign? What do you think of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
What the f— does that have to do with my album? I have strong political beliefs, and I don’t want to get into it. Donald Trump happens to be a friend of mine.
OK. Do you have a retirement date in mind when it comes to recording and touring, or are you planning to do it until you die?
It’s not really up to me. It’s up to the great, marvelous public to decide if they don’t want to pay tickets to see my concerts or buy my albums. If they decide that, then I will quietly disappear over the horizon.
Listen to Rod Stewart and other artists featured in this week’s issue of Billboard.This story originally appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of Billboard.