Interview for Melody Maker • Saturday, October 28, 1972

Wings And Things

Press interview • Interview of Denny Laine
Published by:
Melody Maker
Interview by:
Mark Plummer
Timeline More from year 1972

Songs mentioned in this interview

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“WHEN you start a new thing it’s always difficult, no matter who you are. That’s the time you’re going to get all these weird questions asked you, and all those doubtful looks. People are to see what you’re going to do, criticising the bad things and patting you on the back every time you do something good like you’re a little kid. But we’re coming through that now. We don’t want false encouragement. We’re an honest band. I’ll tell you, this is one of the nicest things I’ve come across in my group life.”

Since their formation around one of a generation’s greatest super-stars, Wings have had little encouragement. The “Wildlife” album received lukewarm reviews, and their European tour earlier this year, received notices that a semi-pro band would not be too pleased with.

But McCartney and Wings could expect little else, and Denny Laine was ready and waiting for the events that were bound to happen.

Denny sat in a PR man’s chic West London mews apartment, shaking the sleep out of his eyes and talking about the band. And it is a band he emphasises, not McCartney’s backing group.

At the moment they have to rely on McCartney a lot more than they will do after they have been playing together for a while and ironed out contractual problems. They are writing together and getting arrangements worked out between them, but for the moment that has to remain underground.

“One day it’ll all be above board that we are doing things together. But as far as management, songwriting and stuff, we haven’t got ourselves clear of that yet. I’ve got opportunities in other directions, and I’ve got an album I made which is full of rock numbers, but that is tied up in other directions. Eventually, I might use some of those ideas and work them into the band but not at the moment. I haven’t had time to finish the album yet. It’s recorded but I haven’t touched the mixing. See, we’re working all the time. We’re not one of your stoned out bands. We don’t just get together when all the vibes are right. We know all about that this band is a work thing.”

Just now Wings are in the studios doing an album, following their European tour. Denny wants it to be absolutely perfect before it is released to the public. Now they have come to the point where they cannot afford for records to be inferior and not match the undoubted potential in the band. That was the point of the European tour. “Wildlife” and “Mary Had A Little Lamb” were both recorded before they had toured together, and when he looks back on it things could have been better. But they were not in the position to know that until they had been on stage as a band.

“The tour was to get the cobwebs out. The new album we started at Olympic with Glyn Johns before we went on tour. The tracks were good, but as far as the group was concerned we had to get on the road. So you can imagine what it’s like now; we’ve come back completely different. Coupled with the things we are doing now, it’ll be a great album. We might use some of the old things, but we’re much better now.

“Remember when the ‘Wildlife’ album was made we had only been together for three days. Now we can sit down with a song and after the first play it’s there, but it’s never as good as the tenth time you play it together.

“As a song, I was happy with ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb,’ but as a single, I don’t know. Personally, I would have preferred to have started off with something a bit more rocking. But we had to do what we could at the time, you can’t just be a rock band no matter what your potential is. You have to be on stage before you realise you are a rock band. And we were.

“The slow things like a song you’ve probably not heard ‘1882’ went down incredibly well and ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ was the best of the lot. But at the end of the show when we started doing a couple of rock songs, rockers, well you know – forget it! That made us realise if we had started off like that then… but you can’t just change a show like that.”

A large part of the criticism Wings received from their European tour centered around Linda McCartney.

“Linda is a valid part of Wings”, Denny insists. “It’s like her being so close to Paul she can pick up on things faster than the rest of us, just by listening to his songs and knowing little harmonies that will fit, and watching him playing piano and knowing what to play. That is a darn sight more important than a pianist that is going to sit there and just say ‘this is the way I play and this is what you’re going to get’. She’s more sympathetic than anybody up to now.”

Wing’s next plan is to find themselves a little theatre or club where they can play once a week on a regular basis. They want to build up a regular rapport with a group of people and be able to move outside the context of turning up and playing a set show. This would get them out of the set routine of this number after that, and help them to become more flexible on stage in much the same way as the Cavern and the Star Club in Hamburg did for the Beatles twelve years ago.

“I can’t see the point of your superstars using their money to build their own studios in a country house where they can do it privately. That to me is a bit of a joke. There’s nothing like going into the studio where there are people you don’t know and having to be professional and doing it. There’s nothing like playing in a little club where you don’t know people and having to get through to them. Otherwise, it gets to be a closed circle. We don’t want that. People create that with us. They think it’s there but actually, we’re the ones trying to get out. We’re still trying to be one step ahead of everybody all the time, and anybody who isn’t, ain’t anywhere.”

Last updated on June 5, 2022


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