Interview for WXPN • Thursday, August 29, 2013

Interview with WXPN

Radio interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
Interview by:
Helen Leicht
Read interview on WXPN
Timeline More from year 2013

Album This interview has been made to promote the New Single.

Master release

Songs mentioned in this interview


Officially appears on New

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From Wikipedia:

WXPN (88.5 FM) is a non-commercial, public FM radio station licensed to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that broadcasts an adult album alternative (AAA) radio format, along with many other format shows. WXPN produces World Cafe, a music program distributed by NPR to many non-commercial stations in the United States. The station’s call sign, which is often abbreviated to XPN, stands for “Experimental Pennsylvania Network”.

From, September 17, 2013:

With the announcement [of the “New” single] came a fairly impromptu radio interview schedule for Paul, who was actually still on his holiday in the US. From my desk in London I called into Paul at the Hamptons and spent an hour or so patching him through to some radio stations in the UK and US. Paul was happy to chat away whilst, unbeknownst to the DJs, still enjoying his morning breakfast cereal. ‘I’m living on the edge!’, he joked whilst waiting to join a US morning show!

These interviews gave Paul the chance to finally start really talking about the album publicly. He discussed working with the various producers, the style of the album and why his job still excites him so much.

Stuart Bell, Paul McCartney’s publicist

Interviewer: I think we have someone with us. I’m so thrilled to have a guest in the studio. And welcome to Paul McCartney. […] Thank you for checking in. I’m thrilled that you’re able to be with me this morning to kind of celebrate the release of some new music.

Paul: Oh, my pleasure.

Interviewer: We’ve grown up together, Paul, in different homes. And there’s so many people that are thrilled to hear your voice on XPN. And I want to welcome you. You have a new CD coming out on October 15. The new album and I just got one song this morning to check out. You want to tell me a little bit about making the new CD?

Paul: Yeah. It’s great fun. I love getting in the studio. I love writing the songs. What happened was a little while ago, about a year and a half ago, I had so many songs that I’d written that it was time to do something with them and get in the studio. So I was looking around for producers. And I had a few names of people whose work I liked. Paul Epworth, because he’d done all the Adele recordings, which I loved. Ethan Johns who’d done Kings of Leon. Mark Ronson, who much earlier had done Amy Winehouse. And Giles Martin, who did the Beatles Love show. Sothe idea was to just go and do maybe one track with each one, and then decide who I thought would be the best for the album. I ended up falling for them all, I just thought we just had such a good time. In kind of different ways. You know, Ethan would be a little bit more acoustically leaning. So Mark would be a little bit more… I don’t know what you’d call it really… a little bit more r&b. But anyway, they each had a different sort of approach. So I ended up working with them all. And that’s what’s happened, really, we’ve now finished it, it’s going to be out in October, as you say. And it’s called “New”.

Interviewer: So you have new music coming, you’re continuing with your touring, which is very exciting. And I was just wondering, you know, what motivates you, because you are always doing a new project or out there on the road and new people are getting to find out about you. And it’s generational at this point. And I’m curious. You don’t need to do it for any particular reason, but you must just love it.

Paul: It really is just down to the fact that I love it. When I was a kid, I started getting into music and I got a guitar. When I got into a group, with John, which is our first little group was called The Quarry Men, I just was fascinated by the whole thing, this idea of trying to make music, and later trying to write songs. And it’s just become something that is like an eternal fascination. I just love the idea. If you said to me now, “okay, this afternoon, you’re just going to sit down, and you’re going to write a song”, that wouldn’t depress me or frighten me. That would really excite me. I go “Oh, yeah, great, great”. I just love delving into that area, in trying to write something. It’s just a great excitement for me. So, going and taking that into a recording studio is again another kind of excitement. Because then you’re really playing around with it and trying to figure out “why should we do this? Let’s try that. That’s completely something we’ve never done before. Let’s do this”. And then eventually, you take it out on the road, and you play it for real people. And that is the ultimate excitement. So if you look at that whole line of stuff, it’s pretty cool. And that’s why I do it. You know, anyone who says to me “why do you do it”… People say to me “Why do you bother? If you prove yourself?”… I say “look, just come along to one of my shows, and just stand in the wings and just look at the faces and look at the reaction, look at the interplay between me and the audience in the band. If you don’t believe we’re having a good time, I don’t know what’s wrong with you”. And so, everyone always says, “Oh, I get it now”. So it’s really just because I love the whole process.

Interviewer: It’s always very exciting to see you in concert, and to have been a fan of The Beatles for so many years and hear those songs in your concerts is exciting, because some bands get tired of playing those songs. They will actually say, “I don’t do that album anymore”. And I’m thinking you go see Paul McCartney, and he still gets behind this music, because he knows that, really, we want to hear some of that stuff. You know, we really want to hear those, those Beatles songs, McCartney songs, Wing songs, and as well as the new music.

Paul: Yeah… I remember being a full time audience member, when I was a kid. I would go to concerts and still do, but particularly the early memories, where I’d saved up my money, and gone down to the ticket office and personally bought my ticket… It meant so much to me. And then if I went to the show, and the people playing didn’t play the stuff I wanted him to play, the stuff that I loved them doing… And if they got all sorts of clever on me and did stuff that I didn’t know, stuff I didn’t particularly want to hear, I was disappointed. So that’s where I always start off when I’m writing, or doing a show. I try and think of what my audience is going to like, because I remember clearly when I was a kid, sitting in the sitting room, our house with an Elvis Presley record on me, my ear glued right next to the speaker, thinking I’m with Elvis… I felt like I was in the same room as him. It was such a special feeling, being a big fan of his, that I can now sort of translate that into people who like what I do. And I think “they’re going to be in the same room, I’m going to actually be in their heads with headphones, I’m actually going to be in people’s heads. So let’s try and get it right”. And that is a big thrill for me to try and do that. An interesting science… So for me, what I try and do, when it comes to the show, is do a lot of stuff that pleases me that I wanted to, but also remember if I was in that audience, what I’d like him to play. And so,we do a lot of Beatles stuff, a lot of Wing stuff. And for me, even though I thought I’m going to get bored with this stuff, it’s strange, because I don’t find myself getting bored with it. In fact, well, my position now is, I’m like this guy who’s sort of reviewing this young man’s work. I’m like listening to myself, as a 24 year old. And as I’m singing the songs, I’m reviewing the lyrics and thinking “this kid wasn’t bad”. So, it’s a very fascinating thing that happens when you get involved with this. But it does end up that I actually do like playing stuff that the audience will like. And I’ll try and do something that keeps it fresh for us. In fact, it’s not a list, but we’re doing “Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite!”, which was one of the songs on Sergeant Pepper, and that’s really not only fascinating, that’s challenging, because I challenge your listeners to try and learn that one, think the vocal, remember the words and play the bass line at the same time. Because somebody who read it, a friend of mine I was talking about a concert in Bonnaroo, and he’s talking about his contrapuntal man… The baseline does not go anywhere that where the near where the vocal goes. So it’s really challenging but once you’ve got it down it’s very satisfying. So all those little things, trying to please the audience, trying to please yourself for the challenge, all adds up to something that’s a lot of fun.

Interviewer: I know you don’t pay attention to dates because I read something that said you don’t need to document day by day because everyone has done it for you. But on this day back in 1966 was the The Beatles final concert, Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Do you remember that?

Paul: Yeah, a little bit, you know, we’d been on a long, grinding tour. The thing is, conditions weren’t as nice as they are now. We’ve got it down, we’ve realized how to do it now, and the people around us realize how to do it. So it’s actually not as hard. But then we sort of scampering from city to city. Playing, not necessarily being able to hear what we were doing. It was hectic. So by the time we got to Candlestick Park, we were all pretty much fed up with the whole thing. “Wait a minute, we got into this to play music, now we’re at a stage, we can’t even hear ourselves”. This is crazy. And so the show itself was really sort of another show, it didn’t stand out for us as a show. Except that we all suddenly, after that show, realized… We all kind of looked at each other and sort of said, “look, it’s come too far, we’ve got to change what we do”. So actually, we figured out that instead of touring, we would record. And we’d once heard this legendary story about Elvis Presley, who’d sent his gold plated Cadillac out on tour. And we love that. We thought that is so cool, you know, you don’t go out, you just send your Cadillac out. And everyone comes and sees your Cadillac. So we took that as a kind of symbolic thing, like a statement. And we said, what we should do, we’ll get in the studio, and we’ll make incredible record, really concentrating on it. And then we’ll send the record out on tour. And that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and that’s why we kind of put so much into that and so much thought into it. Because this is going to be the record that will go out on tour. And we wouldn’t. But actually, as far as the show, at Candlestick Park, is concerned, I probably remember it through old newsreels, just seeing these little matchstick figures playing on the stage and loads of people screaming, and nobody could hear anything.

Interviewer: We could only hear the screaming, I was in the audience for the first one of those. I was at JFK Stadium, and I was much younger. And also I didn’t hear anything, but I saw little match figures running across the lawn. And it was a memory that’s there and the screaming is there. But I honestly I don’t think I heard much.

Paul: I tell you, it is great to look at the old newsreels, and you go, “oh my god, is that really me”. But obviously, it was another time and yes, we were younger. But it was very exciting in its own way. You know, the 60s were very exciting times, and I meet a lot of younger people, “I wish I’d been there”, you know. I said, “No, don’t wish that, just be here now, and just enjoy this one because there’s plenty of cool stuff going on now”. But yeah, it was great. So you’re one of those screamers we got to blame for I couldn’t hear myself.

Interviewer: I’m sorry, Paul. I’ve been screaming, I started breakfast with the Beatles. So I’ve been screaming for a long, long time at you and the music. So I really appreciate you calling in today and talking about the fact that you’re making new music, you’re in the studio and we have a new album coming out October 15. So congratulations. And I want to wrap up our interview and I do again want to thank you for checking in with us here at XPN.

Paul: Hi to all your listeners and hope you’re enjoying these days and hopefully go enjoy the next album. You know, I’m very pleased with it. I’ve had a lot of fun, it has been very exciting to make it, so there’s certainly some stuff in there to listen to.

Interviewer: And this song is produced by Mark Ronson. This first song I’m getting to play is “New”.

Paul: Yeah, this song called is “New”. And that’s the sort of single and that’s produced by Mark. And you know why it’s being released now? To me, it’s a little bit of a summer song, sort of very happy, positive and a love song. And to me, I can imagine sort of driving across America in an old caddy listening to this song… It’s got a joy to it, it’s got a sort of summery thing. So I wanted to release it now so that hopefully people will think of the sunshine when they hear it, and when they get back into the autumn, they’ll give us a little summer memories.

Interviewer: Well thank you Paul McCartney with me this morning. Here on 88 5 XPN. Come back to Philadelphia soon. Stop in any time and all the best.

Paul: Lots of love to all your listeners.

Last updated on February 5, 2021


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