Interview for Digital Spy • Friday, December 5, 2014

Sir Paul McCartney interview: 'New song is a manifesto for the future'

Interview of Paul McCartney • Recorded Dec 01, 2014
Published by:
Digital Spy
Interview by:
Lewis Corner
Read interview on Digital Spy
Timeline More from year 2014

Album This interview has been made to promote the Hope For The Future (Digital EP) EP.

Songs mentioned in this interview

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On December 1, 2014, Paul McCartney was in London, at the Jam Yard Hotel, for a series of interviews to promote his single “Hope For The Future”. He talked to:

From Wikipedia:

Digital Spy is a British-based entertainment, television and film website and brand and is the largest digital property at Hearst UK. Since its launch in 1999, ‘DS’ has focused on entertainment news related to television programmes, films, music and show business to a global audience. As well as breaking news, in-depth features, reviews and authoritative editorial explainers, the site also features the DS Forum.

Q: What appealed to you most about writing music for a video game like Destiny?

A: The idea that people who wouldn’t normally hear my music might hear it, so that was a fascination once I was asked to get involved with a video game. Then the fact that a lot of kids I see in my own family play games. I don’t really myself, because I don’t have much time for it. So I never really had the luxury of sitting down for an afternoon and playing a game. Also the fact that it was something different. I’ve never been asked to do that and so I wondered if it would be interesting and fun. So I had a meeting with the people and what they were showing me – all these backgrounds and animation in concept drawings – it was all very epic. The composer who did the soundtrack to Halo, Marty O’Donnell, is a very nice guy and I could see he wanted me to do some stuff. Basically I said to them: ‘What do you want me to do?’ They said: ‘Anything you like.’ That’s not what I want to hear. That’s too wide a brief and I want to be pinned down. So I had to fish a little bit more and in the end I worked out that what I would do is get some musical phrases and things that I thought could be epic’d up for this big sci-fi blockbuster game. I would send very simple versions – just four little notes – to Many and he orchestrated it and played it in the spirit of the game and then sent it back. So we started a process.

Q: What did that process involve?

A: I was frying to turn him on to things like tape-loops by saying, ‘The one thing about this that occurs to me is that everyone has synths’. So if you’re doing film music, everyone has pretty much got access to the same set of sounds. Someone like Hans Zimmer has got his own library – he’s something else – but basically they’ve all still got the same orchestral sounds. So I was saying, ‘If this is to be of the future, why not get some sort of quirky sounds that none of those people would have?’ So I sent him some tape-loop ideas, which he used in the soundtrack just a little bit. I probably would’ve liked him to use them more, but then that’s because it’s my idea! So he fed all of these things into the music he was writing and used my themes. He either decorated them, stripped them back, took them into other areas or did variations on them. It was great for me. I didn’t feel like I was doing that much – just having ideas – but the way he was pleased with them and treating them, it felt like it was kind of central to him.

Q: How did the idea to record Hope for The Future come about?

A: Towards the end of the process, Marty said, ‘It would be great if we had a song’. How could you use that in the game? He said, ‘Well maybe it could go over the end credits?’ I started talking to him about that and what would be required, and at the time, he was planning to release his stuff as a CD. That hasn’t happened yet, but I said, ‘Well where would my song come in the CD?’ So we were at the piano and he said: ‘Well I’m sort of here’ and he gave me the musical world he was in and the little set of notes for this movement. I remembered what he played and I knew immediately that it suggested a guitar chord of E or C, so a lot of the song goes between those two. I had my basis and could write a song in the manner to which I was accustomed. I wrote this track that would be hopeful because the idea of the game is to save mankind. The song would be, ‘What are we going to achieve? What are we going to do in the future that’s out there?’ I wanted it to be anthemic and our manifesto for the future.

Q: Was Marty happy with the first cut?

A: He sent it back with some suggestions. You know, because I was working as a team member, I was open to suggestions. Some composers are like, ‘You’re not touching mine, man! This is my song!’ But I was happy to work with him, because that’s the way we had been doing it all along. So he made a few suggestions, some of which I took on board and changed them around a little bit, and so then suddenly we had it.

Q: Did you revisit any of post work for inspiration?

A: The only song that was like a reference was Live And Let Die, because that was for an epic movie. It was big. It had to be Bond-ish, so there was a requirement in writing that for the film. There was that same kind of requirement in this. Again, some people don’t like having those boundaries, but I quite like it. I don’t normally have them, so I don’t mind them being imposed on me for a project. I always vary it a little bit, but it’s nice to have parameters.

Q: Considering the music industry isn’t in a great place, do you think more and more acts will tum to video games as an option to get their music out here?

A: I think it’s a possibility, yeah. It really depends on whether the people making the games think it’s appropriate. I mean Prodigy did that thing years ago, “Firestarter”, and that was for a video game. It was for a very early PlayStation thing, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s cool’ because that’s how I would hear that song. People have done it since, so I’m not the first to do it. But what I’ve done is a straight forward song rather than a digital one, which you can do for computer games. With this game being big and epic, it was more like writing a film soundtrack. I wonder that it well might happen that people start to ring up the video game developers… ‘Hey, I’ve got a song!’

Q: Would you write music for a video game again?

A: Possibly. The thing is, if it’s intriguing I would do it. That’s why I did this – there was a certain thing that was exciting to try. It would have to have that same excitement, but if someone… I mean, I couldn’t do it at the moment because I’m getting involved in an animated feature film. That’s my focus at the moment. It’s the same kind of thing, and again I get to write to some sort of specification in my own mind. One of the first things in this film is a female rock star who runs this animal city – it sounds crazy – so I have to write her number. It had to be one in which she gets everyone in her power, so it needed to be a good soul number. I had fun doing that and I’ll be recording that next year with a female singer.

Q: Do you have a say in who you want to sing that song?

A: Yeah, I’ve actually already said and it has been agreed. Unfonunately I can’t tell you at the moment. It’s pretty exciting. I was talking with the director and was saying, ‘Well who might do it? Have you got any ideas’ He was like, ‘Well you mentioned so and so’, I said, ‘Yeah’ and he was like, ‘I think that’s a great idea.’ So I rang her up.

Q: The new Bond film “Spectre” has been announced and as always there’s speculation around the next theme song. Would you ever consider writing another Bond theme and if not, who could you see doing it instead?

A: Somebody mentioned Sam Smith singing it. I could see that working. Who might write it? I don’t know. There are a lot of good people around. As to whether it would be me, I’m not sure. I think you have to leave them laughing. Once you’ve written one people like, maybe don’t try it again. Leave it there!

Q: And it’s only the most memorable one as well…

A: Well at the time, because I’d been brought up on From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, I thought ‘Oh I’ll have a go, but mine will never be as good as theirs.’ But that spurs you on to working a bit harder at it. I didn’t think that much of it when we first released it. Apparently George Martin took out an ASA tape and a little record player on the beach where they were filming and told Cubby Broccoli, who was one of the producers on the Bond films, ‘Here Cubby. Here it is.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty good. When are you going to make the proper record?’ It’s like, ‘That is it…’ So he was slightly underwhelmed by the whole thing. So I liked it, but never had the feeling that a lot of people have, even now, saying, ‘Oh it’s my favourite Bond song’. That’s great, but I say nothing. I keep quiet and let people talk and love it.


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