Interview for Future Sounds • Thursday, November 2, 2023

Interview with BBC Radio 1

Radio interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Future Sounds
Published by:
BBC Radio 1
Interview by:
Clara Amfo
Read interview on BBC Radio 1
Timeline More from year 2023

Album This interview has been made to promote the Now And Then / Love Me Do (Black 7" Vinyl) 7" Single.

Songs mentioned in this interview

Hey Jude

Officially appears on Hey Jude / Revolution

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On November 2, 2023, while Paul McCartney was touring Australia with his “Got Back” tour, The Beatles released their last song, “Now and Then.” As part of the promotion for the new track, Paul was interviewed for BBC Radio 1 from Sydney.

As the world watched the countdown to the official release of ‘Now And Then’, the promo machine was in full effect in preparation, and it was my job to ready Paul for a pre-recorded interview with BBC Radio 1’s Clara Amfo. We’d heard a few days earlier that Radio 1 were going to make ‘Now And Then’ their Hottest Record In The World on the day of release, and while Paul was happy to get involved and chat with Clara, it’s not always the easiest task to pin Paul down on show day.

You see, regular readers of the blog will know that one of Paul’s pre-show chill-out rituals is watching Family Feud. Well, this leg was no different. One of the challenges for us on the road is if we need time with Paul to go through things, we need to try and get to him before Family Feud is switched on. Once it’s on, forget it: he’s hooked! Even if you’re with him and chatting, he still gets drawn in and will actually stop the meeting to follow the action!

Fortunately, despite the usual craziness that goes on backstage, not to mention the time difference between Sydney and London that made finding a mutually suitable time a real headache, we made it happen! Ninety minutes before Paul was due on stage on the 28th – roughly around 8am for poor Clara – the two connected on a great Zoom call that saw him fondly describe the song’s amazing history and creation. The call ended with Paul singing a bit of ‘Arrow Through Me’ to a delighted Clara!

Stuart Bell – Paul’s UK publicist – From Paul McCartney | News | For Whom The Bell Tells: ‘GOT BACK’ Australia Tour 2023, December 20, 2023


Hi there, Clara

So Paul. Macca. I’m going to go in with the over familiarity. Where in the world are you right now?

Actually in Sydney, Australia.

Talk to me about life in Australia, life back on the road.

Well it’s been great you know. The thing is I’ve got this band and they are really playing well, we’re having fun with each other so it seems a shame not to go out on the road. And the crowds have been fantastic actually, really good. So we’ve been having a good time.

That’s incredible. I know the first time you went to Australia was way back in 1964. When you landed there, did you get an an instant flashback, was there an instant familiarity when you landed on the Australian soil again?

Yeah you know it’s always nice to come to Australia because, when you were a kid, there were so many relatives immigrating to Australia, so you kind of knew people who went. It only cost 10 quid in those days…

You’re joking…

No… They were trying to get people to, you know, populate Australia… Anyway, I think that was what the deal was, so you ended up knowing quite a few people. So I like that about it, you know, there’s like a lot of British influences. And you know what else I like? It’s tomorrow for us, so I’m talking to you from tomorrow…

From the future…

Yeah, it’s weird…

But you know what… This is so beautifully timed and I think it’s so, um, I don’t know… It just seems almost… Well, yeah, future I guess is the word, because this song that we need to talk about… Again another sentence I never thought I’d say in 2023 is that the Beatles are back with a brand new song! You’ve taken a song that was started over three decades ago, and it’s ready to be released into the world. So we need to know the story of it, so please take us back.

Before John died, he was working on some songs, and Yoko spoke to George Harrison and said “I’ve got a cassette with some John songs on it, that he never got to finish. Would you be interested in finishing them up?” So we thought about it and we thought “yeah, it’d be great”. Because in a way, we’d be working with John again, you know, which we thought we’d never be able to do. So we worked and finished two of the songs, but we didn’t get to finishing the third one.

And the third one’s called “Now and Then” so it was knocking around for a long time and I kept thinking there’s something here we should finish. So I ended up talking to Ringo and we asked him if he’d fancy putting the drums on again. And then I thought “Well I could up the bass a bit”. So I put the bass on it again. We already had George playing guitar and we had John on vocal.

It was kind of magical doing it so we ended up making it into a real record and that’s what’s being released.

I tell you what. For somebody that’s never listened to the Beatles before, what would you want somebody to take away from this song “Now and Then”?

Just a loving feeling, because that’s often what we were trying to do with our records. We were trying to spread love, you know, and in this one, it is very poignant. John talking about “I miss you” and stuff like that, you know, so I think emotion, that would be the key word for people to take away from it, emotion.

I’ve been lucky enough to watch the short film that goes into the making of the record and the one thing that I loved watching was the joy on your and Ringo’s face. It seemed like it’s been a really, I dare say, healing experience for you, to be able to revisit this song and to complete it. Would you say that’s accurate?

Yeah, that’s true. When we were in the studio, we had John’s voice in our ears, so you could imagine that he was just in the Next Room in a vocal booth or something and we were just working with him again. So it was joyful, it was really lovely… We hadn’t experienced that for a long time obviously and then suddenly here we were working with old Johnny…

It really is such a beautiful way just to celebrate your friend’s legacy, just having that closeness again. It feels genuinely just really really special.

Yeah it was lovely.

We must salute Peter Jackson because what he’s been able to do with the technology to make this song is incredible, because, in music at the moment, there is a lot of discussion about AI. Some of it can be like very negative but I think this is a great example of how positive it is. And when it comes to technological innovation, you know, this feels something The Beatles would have been into anyway, no?

Yeah I think you’re right. When there was something a little bit offbeat technological things, like for the first time we heard a tape go backwards by mistake, we went “oh what’s that?” and we wanted to put that on our record whereas other people would just go “oh come on, get the tape on the right way and let’s get on with it” but we always grabbed little things like that. And so Peter Jackson has organized it so it’s magic, it’s very special for me to be singing with John again, you know…

Well, I think that’s the beautiful thing about how you’re using this technology. It’s very well intentioned, it’s been made with a lot of love…

You know, there’s all sorts of things on YouTube, on the internet, where I’m singing songs that I’ve never sung before. That side of it is a little bit sort of creepy but what we were doing was just cleaning up John’s voice.

So Paul McCartney, it would be a miss for me not to mention your last appearance at Glastonbury, because it was incredible. I was exhausted by the end of it, just on your behalf. Just the amount of songs, it was just bang bang bang bang bang…

Well, you know, Glastonbury is special. When you know you’re going to be playing Glastonbury, you really want to pull it off. Specifically for that, we’d done an American tour so to get up to speed with the band. We were excited to do Glastonbury, just because it’s Glastonbury, you know. And then you get that many people singing something like “Hey Jude”… And, you know, in this world today when the news is so often bad, it’s just so great to see all these humans with such a loving vibe that you get at Glastonbury. It was great to do and I’m glad we pulled it off.

I think you more than pulled it off. I think one of my favorite memories from it was you and Dave. There are so many artists who really fully happily credit you with the reason why they picked up a guitar or got into making beautiful
melodies or became great lyricists and watching Dave Grohl, who was like an adult man looking at you like a 11 year old boy full of wonder, was really beautiful to witness… Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi, Frank Ocean, Arctic Monkeys, Harry Syles, Taylor Swift, like the list goes on…

Lke you say, it’s a great thing because, in speaking to people like Dave and other people like that, they say we didn’t know what was coming. It’s like us, we were listening to early rock and roll records and it had so much influence on us, you know, just inspired us. So it’s lovely to think millions of people that you just mentioned like Billie Eilish and Arctic Monkeys… It’s so great that the Next Generation got inspired by The Beatles. I can’t blame them, mind you.

Neither can I, neither can I. Thank you so much.

What a special release to have new Beatles music out in the world. I shot this interview with Paul, to hear him talk about this is so special. It’s a privilege to be able to capture these moments, amazing getting to work with macca, love the track

Charlie Lightening – From Instagram, November 3, 2023

Last updated on December 21, 2023


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