Interview for New Musical Express • Saturday, November 20, 1971

Paul McCartney is like a man who has dodged the death sentence

Press interview • Interview of Wings
Published by:
New Musical Express
Interview by:
Richard Green
Timeline More from year 1971

Album This interview has been made to promote the Wild Life LP.

Master release


Songs mentioned in this interview


Love Is Strange

Officially appears on Wild Life


Mumbo

Officially appears on Wild Life

Other interviews of Wings


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Jun 16, 1979 • From Melody Maker


Wings Flying Hi, Hi, Hi!

Dec 02, 1972 • From Record Mirror


Wings First Flight

May / June 1972 ? • From McCartney Productions


Interview for Radio Leeds

Feb 16, 1972 • From Radio Leeds


Paul On The Wing

Feb 12, 1972 • From Disc and Music Echo


Interview with WRKO

Jan 13, 1972 • From WRKO


Interview with WCBS-FM

Dec 15, 1971 • From WCBS-FM


The Heart Of McCartney

Dec 04, 1971 • From Record Mirror


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The Trial of James Paul McCartney

Apr 29, 1978 • From New Musical Express


The raps of wacky Macca

Jul 26, 1975 • From New Musical Express


Hi times

Dec 16, 1972 • From New Musical Express


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Jan 29, 1972 • From New Musical Express


Paul McCartney: My New LP Is Sweaty Rock!

May 08, 1971 • From New Musical Express


Paul recalls inspirations of LP

Nov 30, 1968 • From New Musical Express


Interview for New Musical Express

Aug 17, 1968 • From New Musical Express


Andy Gray talks to the Beatles, 1968

Jul 13, 1968 • From New Musical Express


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Interview

PAUL McCARTNEY behaves like a man who has just had the death sentence commuted to life imprisonment — there’s a lot of relief, but the freedom to live that he has gained is still restricted by the walls. In Paul’s case, his freedom is Wings and the group’s album, but the walls are represented by his clinging associations with Apple.

Paul and Linda McCartney and the other members Of Wings, Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell, were at EMI’s Abbey Road studios the other day playing the new “Wild Life” album to visiting journalists. Despite the associations that Abbey Road has with the Beatles, Paul still prefers to use those facilities and he recorded his album in Studio Number Two.

Listening to the album (see review P17) I spotted several similarities to the music of Little Richard, Carl Perkins and the Everly Brothers and when I mentioned this to Paul, who was sartorially elegant in bumpers, red mottled shirt, Fair Isle pullover and red braces over the top, he replied:

“Yeah, I’ve drawn on my influences, I could never stop drawing on my rock and roll influences. I’m drawing from all my influences since my ears started functioning.”

But there’s also Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange” in reggae style and a collection of romantic numbers. so I asked Paul why he had included reggae and what his reason was for making the numbers so varied.

“Reggae because I love it,” he explained simply. “It interests me musically, and apart from that it’s great, just great. We had never played in that rhythm — we dug it like mad. The way we think of the album is, a more hard side and then a romantic side, so if you’re at a party and dancing you don’t want to have to sit down because a slow number comes on in the middle of the fast ones. So you can just put one side on and dance to it all.”

With Paul sitting on the console in front of me, Linda on a chair on his left, Denny Seiwell on her left and Denny Laine on the floor behind Paul and Linda, it could have turned into an “all have your say” session, but the others seemed content to let Paul do all the talking. Only Linda joined in now and then and Mr Laine made one comment.

My next question to Paul was: This album has swung quite a long way from ‘Ram’, was this intentional? He replied:

“It was done intentionally, but not very. The thing is, having a new group and it being a new set-up, it came very naturally. Denny (Laine) got about three days of rehearsal on some stuff, but that’s the way I wanted it. I’m sure a lot of the music I like was put together that way — it’s the immediacy.”

While Paul snatched occasional glances at my notebook to see what I was writing down, I asked him how he had decided on the members of the band.

“I worked with Denny (Seiwell) on ‘Ram’ and tried out various drummers in New York and…”

Linda came in with: “He was just loose, everyone else’s playing was uptight because they thought they were auditioning.” And from Paul: “Which they were, but not obviously.

He continued:

“Denny (Laine) I just knew vaguely from the Moody Blues’ early days. I just knew he was a good singer, so I rang him up and he said ‘I’ve got some session work to finish’ and played hard to get.”

Denny, treating Paul’s last remark as the joke it was intended to be, chipped in with: “Actually, I’d just finished it.” A bout of laughter and then Paul was off again saying:

“The band just came together. I’d never rehearsed ‘Mumbo.’ It was just something I’d done on piano and they just fell in.”

Did it take a while to write the songs on the album?

We wrote them during the summer in Scotland,” Paul revealed.

Linda added: “They were quite easy songs to write.

And Paul said: “‘Ram’ was a little more difficult for me — I tried a lot on that.

And back to Linda for: “It’s all gotten so serious. We just love music of the fifties.

Paul admitted: “I learned a lot doing these two solo burns because just doing it without the Beatles is quite a lesson.

Not having to work as part of the Beatles but having his own governorship has made a lot of difference to Paul. He told me:

“I feel a lot more free and easy. I certainly prefer it very much from the last bit of the Beatles, with all the criticism of ‘Let It Be’ and people saying ‘He’s bossing them all’… I just felt that was my role – when everybody gets stoned it needs somebody to pull it together.

“I felt the pressure of that, and they (Wings) don’t mind me telling them what to do. It’s very nice for me. If I have an idea I can just throw it out, and if it’s dug, it’s dug, if it’s not it’s not . I’m not offended.

“As Linda was saying about the fifties music, it’s all harking back to that. John’s using it a lot. The music business is a very freaky scene compared to what people are when you get to know them. I like the idea of just getting my music back to the rock and roll style. I like the new thing being superimposed on it, but I like the fun, the ease of rock and roll.”

There’s gotta be a lot of attention focused upon what Wings does now, so just how does Paul see the band developing?

“Just freely, that’s the idea,” was Paul’s explanation. “I wouldn’t enjoy the idea at the moment of going before millions of people. Too much would be expected, then the fun would disappear for me. I don’t think it’s necessary to be as heavy as people keep saying. We haven’t gone beyond the point of no return… it’s not necessary for people not to enjoy themselves.”

At this point, Linda made a remark which resulted in Paul going on at some lengths about the Beatles and Apple and all. As I was about to sit down, at the beginning of the interview, Linda had asked me: “Are you going to ask about the Beatles or the album?” And my reply “The album” — won a burst of applause.

So read on and see how a casual remark from Mrs. McCartney led her hubbie on. Linda said: “We don’t want to be a media group, politicians. The people are always being put down, in everything.

Without giving any sign that he was going to get what he wanted to get off his chest, Paul began:

“It bugs me that the common horse sense of people is so often ignored. You’ve got this one life and most people spend it doing what other people want them to do and that’s one reason I’m going to get out of Apple. I’ve not got to go down, as Klein said recently,” he adopted a send-up of an officialdom voice and went on: “I won’t tolerate it!” Applause from the assembled company.

He embarked upon a long bit about the Common Market and the unwillingness of the average person to get into it, stating (quite rightly, in my view) that if there had been a referendum Britain would never have gone in. The point he was making was that it’s hard to find a real democracy in anything, and to this end he went on:

“Apple isn’t a democracy, it’s way out of line with what I thought was going to happen.

“None of the Beatles have, to this day, seen any of that money. As far as the money off the Beatles’ records is concerned, the Beatles still haven’t got it. I’d like to see the four Beatles split up whatever’s left of whatever the Beatles made. George calls it throwing a tantrum when I say things like that, but I want what I earned. That’s all I want. I’m not asking for a lollipop.

“I’ve tried to say nothing about it but I’ve got Press by default that way, I’ve just been trying to keep cool. But the Beatles are the people who did it all, we’re the ones who made it all. Ringo still gets 50 quid a week in his pocket”

Linda: “Ringo charges everything up to Apple – he has to.

Paul: “What can’t we get what we’re entitled to? It’s not good enough, it’s a swizz, it bloody is, it’s a swizz.”


McCARTNEY’S SESSION, BY HIS ENGINEER

The engineer on “Wild Life” was Tony Clark – no relation to the Moody Blues’ producer. He first worked with Paul McCartney on Badfinger’s “Come And Get It” and has also been involved on sessions with the Pretty Things, Mike McGear (Paul’s brother), the Harry Roach Constellation and Fela Ransome-Kuti with Ginger Baker.

“Paul asked for me to be present on the sessions for the album and the feeling has been very relaxed, marvellous, very enjoyable,” he told me: “We did the initial tracks in one week and it took two weeks in all, plus a bit of mixing time.”

I asked Tony if Wings had been very critical of individual tracks during the sessions and he replied:

“No, there wasn’t too much criticism of the tracks as we did them. There are a couple of tracks that are first-time takes, ‘Mumbo’ in particular. The whole essence of the feeling that was going on was to get it as ‘live’ as we possibly could in the studios.”


Last updated on August 23, 2022

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