Interview for paulmccartney.com • Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Paul McCartney in Casual Conversation from LIPA

Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
paulmccartney.com
Interview by:
Jarvis Cocker
Read interview on paulmccartney.com
Timeline More from year 2018

Album This interview has been made to promote the Egypt Station Official album.

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Interview

On July 25, 2018, Paul McCartney was at LIPA (The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) in Liverpool, for a Q&A session with Jarvis Cocker, from the band Pulp. The interview was followed by Paul performing an acoustic set in front of around 450 people. Two days after, on July 27, Paul was again at LIPA for the yearly graduation ceremony, like he does every year.

From paulmccartney.com, July 20, 2018:

Paul will be returning to his old school in Liverpool, now LIPA (The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts), on Wednesday 25th July for an intimate hour long Q & A and conversation session with LIPA students. The event will be streamed live on Facebook allowing fans from all over the world to tune in and watch Paul talk about his career and his forthcoming new album Egypt Station which will be released on September 7.

For those watching the event on Facebook they too have the opportunity to join in. Paul would like to ask fans from around the world to submit questions to his Facebook page in advance. A select few will be chosen to be answered as part of the event. 

LIPA was co-founded by Paul in 1996 and he remains their Lead Patron.

At the end of the Q&A, Paul McCartney announced a surprise show the next day somewhere in Liverpool.

From Twitter
From paulmccartney.com – Jarvis Cocker hosted a live Facebook Q&A with Paul at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. July 2018.

I think [technology] has [affected] it actually and it’s maybe affected it adversely because you can record anything, anytime – just reach your phone and ‘bang!’ So I find myself with like thousands of sketches…I’ve got thousands of things to finish and I don’t think that’s a great thing. When you didn’t have that, you tended to have to finish it.

The process that John and I used…was just basically to sit down, to come up with a bit of an idea of a song, and finish it and keep doing it and doing it until you got to the end, and then you’d written a [whole] song which I think was good rather than having a little fragment, a little sketch that maybe months later and you’ll be trying to recapture the vibe that you did listening to it. I don’t think it’s a good a system…it’s too easy to put ideas down now.

Quite a few tracks on the album we just did with the band…old school. Then we maybe overdubbed and did this and that but there is something that comes through, the spontaneity. And how I remembered why I must do that was by listening to old Beatles records. If you hear them they are fresh and right in your face…it was just the spirit that got onto the record. We didn’t mess around.

We first came down from Liverpool, got our first recording contract with Sir George Martin…and we were told what they wanted us to do because they were the grown ups and we 20-something and we didn’t know.

[We] had no idea what you did in a recording studio…between 10 and 10:30 we got ready, tuned up…and then at 10:30, the producer would come in and you’d start the session. And from there, you had one and half hours to finish that song completely. We never thought it was a pressure because we didn’t know anything else…You did it and then you had to do another song.

[We] learned everything by ear. We hadn’t learned how to write anything down. We didn’t really do much recording but…we had to write songs you could remember…we ended up saying that if we can’t remember it, how can we expect other people to?

None of the groups – The British Invasion – didn’t know how to read or write music – we sort of didn’t need to.

I would go somewhere very quiet, like a faraway toilet or cupboard, because it’s embarrassing writing songs. You don’t want to do it in public because you want to make your mistakes in private.

Just start noodling around on whatever cords you fancy…and just select a rhythm or tempo that feels okay and then just start singing over it and just see what comes out. I think the main thing is to stick with it because often the second verse or the chorus can get great and you can sort of go back and fix the beginning of it…I just write the words down as I go. Sometimes the second verse is better and I switch that to the first verse and keep going.

There’s one out at the moment that I think is very catchy which is Christine and the Queens record…it is like totally [a] Michael Jackson rip off but we don’t mind because it’s so catchy.

These days, you’ve got the big stars like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Kendrick…their songs are in a way [particularly the first two] a collection of singles. They are all great commercial tracks but it doesn’t roll through like a Pink Floyd album used to or a Beatles album.

So I thought well, I can’t compete with that Taylor Swift thing. She’s got better legs than me, marginally. So I thought maybe what I can do is just to do what used to called a concept album so it’s an album that if you want to, you can listen all the way and it should roll through and take you somewhere so that’s what I’ve done with this new one.

My dad was a good amateur pianist…he would play the piano and I think…[I sponged] all of it in. Later, when he couldn’t play the piano, he got arthritis, so I ended up as the guy who played all these old songs…that’s one way I learned music. The other thing was he given me a trumpet for my birthday…he didn’t want to teach me. He thought I should “learn properly” and so I tried a few times to learn properly but I hated it.

The guitar craze came along, like skiffle, like a folk thing, and we all were very into it so a lot of people got guitars so I asked my dad if I could trade the trumpet in for a guitar…then I had a guitar and you met a lot of friends that had guitars who would just talk. It’s where I met George, who went to this school…we learned chords off each other and then the same thing happened with John.

The great thing was, a few years later, if John and I was showing the guys a song, George automatically knew anything we knew…and he would know the song. I think that’s really where our music took off.

I remember sitting back there with a copy of a music newspaper, the NME, and seeing a picture of Elvis Presley and it was like…wow! We were just enthralled with this guy and when we heard his records, that was it.

Last updated on April 19, 2021

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