- Published by:
- Disc And Music Echo
- Interview by:
- Gavin Petrie
- Timeline More from year 1971
- Album This interview has been made to promote the Wild Life LP.
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ONE of the members of Wings has been through the hassle of being in a media group and all that goes with it: flash bulbs and interviews, screamers and critics, the trouble, the strife, the lack of privacy.
That was Paul McCartney, of course, and the band were the Beatles.
Now McCartney has successfully gained a new band. Wings, as well as gaining privacy and freedom, both for himself and the group. His only hang-up now revolves round the band he loved – the Beatles.
Wings have successfully and quite deliberately manipulated publicity that any band needs, to work just the way they want to. At the “do” for Wings in London’s Majestic Ballroom last week, security was so tight that guests carrying bags big enough to carry even a box Brownie camera had them confiscated until after the ball.
So when a call comes through from the McCartney Press Office that Paul and Wings would like you to listen to their new album and will be available for interviews afterwards at EMI Abbey Road Studios, probably the best known recording studios in world it sounds, it sounds like a Royal Command.
However, that feeling was dispelled when meeting Paul and the rest of Wings: Denny Seiwell (drums, vocals), Denny Laine (guitar, bass, vocals), Linda McCartney (keyboards, vocals), not to mention P. McCartney (bass, guitar, repeat bass, guitar and vocals). They’re obviously a band pleased to be working together and who give a friendly welcome to
After listening to the album, Paul sits on the control board of Studio 2, Abbey Road, wearing baggy trousers, baseball boots, Fair Isle sweater tucked into the top of his trousers with braces over the top and says: “Ask questions.“
You know you are there to talk about the album but the questions the world has been desperate to get answers to keep springing to mind. But you keep on the track. I mention that there is a distinct Reggae beat to “Love Is Strange”.
Linda gets in first:
“It didn’t start out to be ‘Love Is Strange.’ It started as an instrumental and when we listened to it that song came to mind.”
Paul adds that they love Reggae and I suggest it might be a bit limiting to a band adopting that beat. There is mild uproar amongst the band and Paul protests:
“Of course not. Reggae is the newest and best beat around. There are more possibilities with Reggae than anything at the moment.”
He leaps off the control table and does a quick demonstration of alternative beats.
“Just ask any band to play you a Reggae tune and that really sorts out the musicians.”
Side one of the album is all rocking tracks while side two contains the slower melodic McCartney.
“That’s right,” he says. “When people put on an album at a dance or a party, they’re just getting into the mood with a rocking track then on the second the violins creep in and… (he does a short, horrific version of ‘Yesterday’)… it ruins the mood. So we’ve kept the moods separate.
“l wanted the whole album to be loose and free so that everyone could get into it. Things like ‘Mumbo’ which scream a bit and have only ‘Mumbo’ as lyrics may offend a few old ladies, but generally it’s got something for everyone.”
The looseness is confirmed by Tony Clark, who worked as balance engineer on the sessions. He says:
“The album was done over two weeks with most of the songs being done on first and second takes. The whole idea was to get a live feel.”
“After the criticism of ‘McCartney’ I put so much into ‘Ram’ to try and please myself and the critics. With ‘Wings’ I don’t care if people don’t like it. I like it,” says Paul. “I’ve got an awful lot to live up to that’s the problem. But I know I’m good. If I’m in the right mood I can write a solid gold hit.”
The subject of John’s “Imagine” is broatched: “I liked the ‘Imagine’ track very much.” And the rest of the album? “Oh, I listened to it,” he smiles, “just to see if there’s anything I can pinch.” Then seriously Paul adds: “The album was John doing what he does best.“
But what about “How Do You Sleep?”
“If he was going to do me, he should have done me properly. I mean in ‘How Do You Sleep’ he says ‘You live with straights who tell you you was king.’ Of course, I live with straights, half the world is straight. I don’t want my kids be surrounded by hobnail boots.”
I venture to ask if “Some People Never Know”, the first track on side two of the album, was not a reply to John’s track.
“The album was completed before John’s album came out,” he says with an air of finality that should end speculation on the subject before it begins.
Are there any songs which reply to John?
“I don’t write anything consciously. Sometimes when I’m pissed off with John over the Apple business a line might creep in. I suppose when I wrote ‘Too many people preaching practices/Don’t let them tell you what you want to be’ was at him. If there’s anything on this album ‘Dear Friend’ is the nearest thing to that.”
How did the band get together?
“I had the idea for forming a band after John left the Beatles and formed the Plastic Ono Band. Even if it was a country-n-western band, I just wanted a band so I could get out there and sing.”
“When we were in New York to do ‘Ram’ I held auditions for a drummer. It was embarrassing. I’ve never auditioned anyone before. I hired a depressing basement with a tatty drum-kit in it. I’d auditioned quite a few drummers, then Denny walked in.”
He looks at Denny Seiwell and smiles.
“Apart from anything else he was a lot younger than the others. Some drummers just couldn’t play in there.” He puts on a hip voice, ‘Sorry man I can’t get it on!’ I asked them all to do simple rock-n-roll beat. Most of the drummers would reach for the high-hat when I led them in. Denny unlike the others, went straight for the tom-toms and within seconds the room began to throb. I was sold. He’s also technically a good drummer, and has a bass voice.”
And Denny Laine?
“I loved Denny Laine’s voice on ‘Go Now’ and I admire his guitar playing, so I asked him if he’d care to join us. He said ‘yes’.”
Denny Laine: “l loved it because it was all so simple.“
Paul: “Then we went into the studios and asked Tony Clark (the engineer) to keep it flat and funky.“
Will Wings be going on the road?
“Yes we’ll go on the road, it may be next year, it may be two years time, but it could be next week… But we’d just do it if and when we feel like it. There would be no tour. No announcement that Wings would be starting a tour at Slough Civic Hall on such and such a date. I’d just like to turn up and play unannounced. I’d even like to bill ourselves as something else like ‘Ricky and the Redstreaks.’ We don’t want to be a media group, we don’t want our faces turning up on posters, papers or knickers.
“Like if we were billed as Wings, we’d have to play to million-seater halls.” He looks at me coyly! “Paul McCartney is quite a popular name!”
“l don’t want to hire something like the Albert Hall and all the ‘business’ means sitting like rows of penguins judging me. I don’t want to be like John who swallowed his nerves and was sick before appearing at the Toronto festival.
“I want the band to be loose. I have some money now so I’d like to sit back and enjoy it. And if we want, it would be nice to indulge ourselves and take an evening off if we wanted to. There are bands who talk of freedom and peace, but they don’t give it to themselves. I’m just a guy who bought a guitar and learned to play it. I enjoyed walking down the street, drunk, early in the morning just ‘singing the blues'”