- Published by:
- New Musical Express
- Interview by:
- Andy Gray
- Timeline More from year 1966
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Interview reproduced from My Things – Music history for those who are able to read. (wordpress.com)
Andy Gray finds out the answers the pop world seeks as Paul and Ringo talk about the Beatles
“One reason we don`t want to tour any more is that when we`re on stage nobody can hear us or listen to us,” Paul McCartney told me.
He was referring to the screamers who drown out all hope of hearing the Beatles in person.
“And another reason is that our stage act hasn’t improved one bit since we started touring four years ago. The days when three guitarists and a drummer can stand up and sing and do nothing else on stage must be over.
“Stage performance as an art is going out anyway. I think the Rolling Stones had a shock when they didn’t do a bomb on their last tour. I think Mick was worried.
“Many of our tracks nowadays have big backings. We couldn’t produce the sound on stage without an orchestra. And if we were to do ourselves justice on stage now, we’d have to have at least three months to produce a brand new act. And it would probably be very unlike what you’d expect from the Beatles,” went on Paul.
This was Paul’s answer to my query about their future touring. Of their forthcoming recordings, he said: “We feel that only through recording do people listen to us, so that is our most important form of communication. We have never thought of ourselves as one sound . . . Merseybeat wasn’t our invention. We have always changed our style as we went along and we’ve never been frightened to develop and change.
“I think this has been the reason for our continued success. We could have stopped thinking up new things and brought out ‘The Son Of Please Please Me” or ‘The Son Of Love Me Do,’ but that was not on.
“We work on one song and record it and then get tired of it. So we think up something very different. The strength of any act is doing something that you wouldn’t associate with them.
“For instance I feel that the Supremes are too alike with most of their discs. If they did something good and you said: ‘Who’s that ?’ and were told ‘The Supremes’ and you hadn’t identified it with them, you’d be pleasantly surprised. That would add strength to their appeal.
“So we keep on doing tracks which can be any style at all. We’re not limited that way, or with time any more. We take as much time as we want on a track, until we get it to our satisfaction. Before, we had a set time in the recording studio, and that was that. If it wasn`t exactly as we wanted that was too bad.
“Now we take time because we haven’t any pressing engagements like tours to limit us. All we want is to make one track better than the last. We make all ‘A’ sides and never go into the studio thinking ‘This will be our next single.’ We just make tracks, then listen to them and decide from what we have what will be a single, what will go on to an LP.”
Paul went on to give me an insight into their formula for writing hits.
“The words are written down, but the music is never, because we can’t write music. We play it to each other and soon pick it up, and fool around with it a bit. George suggests something extra, then John adds a new idea and so on until we have the music the way we want it. Then we record. Then we forget about it and get on with the next track.”
On the subject of jealousy within the group, Paul was most emphatic. “There isn’t any. Jealousy doesn’t exist. When John wanted to do a film on his own, we were all happy for him. Now that he’s done it, he has passed on to us information about all sorts of things he has learned. That way as Beatles we become richer in experience. George went to India and told us what he had learned. I wrote film music and found out other things, which I’ve passed on.
On our own
“This rumour we were splitting up was rubbish, too. One would think it is the first time any of us had done anything on his own. John wrote books on his own all along, and we all have side-lines we get on with as individuals.
“Besides, we’re all great friends and we don’t want to split up. There’s never been any talk or sign of it . . . except in the minds of others.”
Paul also let off steam about those who think they have gone “big time.”
“In ourselves we don’t feel big time at all. It`s only when people keep telling us we are big time that we even think of it. But what angers me is when some journalists say I’ve said something I haven’t and describe me as talking in my ‘natural zany beat style.’ I don’t talk in any ‘zany beat style’ . . . it’s the writer thinking that I should. They give us images and those images are usually very inaccurate.”
But Paul admitted that they had changed over the years. We had to. If you’ve got the money you don’t buy a £3 camera if you would rather have a £50 one. Our whole outlook on life is changing because our ‘circumstances have changed our surroundings. But this hasn’t done anything to disunite the Beatles. We are going to keep on making better tracks and become better entertainers – as the Beatles.”
RINGO STARR confirmed, a few hours after I spoke to Paul, that the Beatles are very much united and in no way thinking of splitting. “This idea of jealousy is in other people’s brains. We didn’t mind John doing a film on his own. We were glad he wanted to. And when the time comes, if it does, that I get a role on my own, the others will say `Good luck.’
“That’s how we are. We all work for each other’s success.”
I asked Ringo if he was going to do a film. “Nothing definite at the moment. We get scripts sent in every day, but most of them are so bad. We all get offers of parts, but until something is very good, we’re not interested.
“Same with the film we’ll do together. Until the script is to all our likings we won’t do it”
As far as live performances are concerned, Ringo’s feelings were: ” We can’t do the same act, with a couple of numbers and a couple of jokes. And on tours we’re not playing properly but nobody hears, anyway. We’d have to rehearse something new.”
Ringo also made the first reference to the fact that the Beach Boys had come out on top in the World Vocal Group section of the NME Poll.
“Good luck to them,” he said. ” I think the Poll was fine. We haven’t been doing much and it was run just at a time when the Beach Boys had something good out.
“We’re all four fans of the Beach Boys . . maybe we voted for them,” he concluded.