Interview for Something Else! • Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Laurence Juber, formerly of Wings: Something Else! Interview

Interview of Laurence Juber
Published by:
Something Else!
Interview by:
Nick Deriso
Read interview on Something Else!
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Interview

[…] NICK DERISO: Fast forward a few years, and you find yourself playing alongside Paul McCartney. In your opinion, why was the final incarnation of Wings so overlooked?

LAURENCE JUBER: I like to think of our version of Wings as an Indian summer. There was a kind of late blooming, though it took a long time for people to even realize. Back to the Egg went from being a two-star album to a four-star album over the course of a generation. It’s a very, very eclectic album – so, perhaps not so consistent and coherent as would be typical of an American rock record from that era. But the English have always been able to be somewhat more eccentric. Also, Columbia Records was struggling at that point. There was a recession hitting. The timing of Back to the Egg was not great. The economy was starting to go downhill at that time. There was also the fact that the record industry had become accustomed to an album selling 10, 15 million copies. You look at Rumours, and Saturday Night Fever from that era – and it was like, ‘Oh, everything is going to sell like this.’ And then along comes Back to the Egg, which goes platinum, selling a normal number of albums – and somehow that didn’t fit the new business paradigm. Then over the course of the next few years, they realized: Actually, it did fit the new business paradigm. But by then, it was just too late to recognize the album.

NICK DERISO: I always thought your work on Back the Egg helped give the album an energy, an edgy definition, that makes it stand out amongst Wings projects.

LAURENCE JUBER: I appreciate your comments about it. I think part of it was just our age, where we were in the progression of English rock music by that point in the ’70s. We were past that first blush of the British Invasion, and really looking toward a later era. It helped having Chris Thomas co-producing because Chris, I think, was generally more adventurous in where he would want to go on the rock end of the spectrum. Paul can always strap on the Epiphone Casino and come up with some kind of guitar part. But we wanted to take it out of that zone and get into some new stuff. I continue to get compliments on my contributions to that record. And I think it’s not insignificant that Chris Thomas did Back to the Egg between the Sex Pistols and the Pretenders. That’s why he was there. Paul wanted to have a more progressive kind of production, and also because Chris had such a history with the Beatles – going back to the White Album. There was a certain comfort zone in that.

NICK DERISO: Then comes Paul’s drug bust in Japan, on the eve of a series of tour dates. Then John Lennon was murdered. Most people mark that as the symbolic – if not the actual – end of things for Wings.

LAURENCE JUBER: The Japanese bust was a lot of pressure on the family. There was kind of sense that ‘we can’t keep doing what we were doing in the ‘70s.’ He didn’t tour again until ’89, and John Lennon’s death had a lot of do with it too – not wanting to get put in that vulnerable position. But that kind of goes against Paul’s nature, not to tour. You look at now: He doesn’t have to tour but he loves to. It was a different era. When you have young kids, you don’t want to be taking them out of school nor do you want to be going away and not being home for three months – especially because Paul had positioned Linda as being an essential ingredient. (Linda McCartney had given birth to son James during the sessions for 1978’s London Town.) So what are you going to do? Go off and leave the kids with a housekeeper? It didn’t make sense, in terms of the family. As far as I am concerned, it was a fantastic period, a fantastic experience. I got my master’s degree from McCartney University, in a metaphorical sense.

NICK DERISO: Did you have a sense that things were coming to a conclusion, or were you surprised when McCartney began work on 1982’s Tug of War as a solo project?

LAURENCE JUBER: I think Paul had created this really cool rock band, and then realized he didn’t need it – or didn’t want it, because where he was going as a family man was not in the same direction. His creative impetus was changing. Still, we were able to establish something that has some enduring qualities. You can certainly go back and listen to Back to the Egg, and find some amazing things on it. He had put together this killer rock band, and it’s hard to avoid the fact that if you listen to the live Glasgow stuff, by that point we had really started to earn our stripes. Unfortunately, Kampuchea has become the video evidence of that era and we had already had Christmas and we were a little too full of turkey and stuffing. (Laughs.) We rehearsed a lot of the Tug of War stuff and it just didn’t need to be in that rock band context. He made the right choice, as far as going with George Martin and producing something that was in a different realm – kind of more of a pop hit record. He got together with Stevie Wonder, and with Michael Jackson. It was a different direction. […]

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