- Published by:
- Liverpool Echo
- Interview by:
- Jade Wright
- Timeline More from year 2015
More from year 2015
Songs mentioned in this interview
Officially appears on FourFiveSeconds
Officially appears on Let It Be / You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
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When Paul McCartney brings his Out There world tour to Liverpool this week, it’ll be a homecoming that will start as soon as he lands at John Lennon Airport.
“I love that journey,” he says. “The thing I always do is give whoever I’m with the tour. I go along and I say ‘this is where we played our first gig’ and ‘that’s where John’s mum lived’ or ‘that’s the old Garston gas works’. We always go down Forthlin Road and I’ll see if there’s anyone outside. Last time there was a fella there saying I didn’t really live there. I wound the window down and said hello… Growing up in Speke I have so many memories of that area. All the old stories come out. I remember John and I going up to the airport on our bikes to watch the planes. It makes me smile to think that named the airport after him.”
What do you think he would have thought?
Paul McCartney: I think he would have been well chuffed. He wouldn’t have believed it when we were kids on our bikes. In later life he would have been chuffed.
Is it strange to think how much has changed since those days with the two of you on your bikes?
Paul McCartney: Yeah, it’s been a weird old ride. On one hand, you have to keep yourself grounded by taking the micky out of yourself. But the minute you think about it all it’s unbelievable. I’ve got so many vivid memories of being a kid in Liverpool on my bike or on the bus to school. Like everyone I suppose, I have millions of memories of those days. It’s as though the memories are sharper when you’re a kid. So I think back to getting the bus with George, going to school. And then the memories go beyond that to getting the bus to The Cavern or the Grosvenor Ballroom. And then the memories go beyond that and beyond that. And I have to remember that I was one of the guys that all that was happening to. You have to pinch yourself and say ‘did that really happen?’. Did I really meet Elvis?”
What was Elvis like?
Paul McCartney: Great. A lovely man. That was before he went to Vegas with all the rhinestones. He was so talented, so charismatic. A real star, you know. Just like you’d hope he’d be.
Talking of stars, you’ve been working with some big names recently – Kanye West, Rihanna, Lady Gaga. How did that come about?
Paul McCartney: I’m really lucky because people ring up and they say they want to work with me. I got a call saying Kanye wants to work with you. I said wow. And then I said yes. Because I’m from Liverpool and that’s what we do. Name me one person from Liverpool who would have said no to working with Kanye! So I went and it was completely different from how I usually work. We just jammed and recorded everything that was going on. We did that for a couple of days. He’s a good fun guy to be around. A bit eccentric, but I like that. I had to wait for a couple of months before anything happened. I sent him a couple of texts saying how I’d enjoyed working with him, but I couldn’t really ask what was going on. Then out of the blue he sent me “Only One” and he told me how he’d been inspired by “Let It Be”. I found it very moving, because “Let It Be” was about my mother. After she had died she came to me in a dream. the last words I remembered as I woke up were her telling me to let it be. I told Kanye that, and having lost his own mother, the song came from there.
Then he sent me FourFiveSeconds with Rihanna’s vocals. I didn’t know what it was but my daughter said ‘there, that’s your guitar part’, and it was, played at a different speed. So basically I gave him a ballpark and then he went off and worked his magic. Before I knew it we were playing at the Grammy’s with him and Rihanna and I was nervous as hell.
Do you get nervous?
Paul McCartney: Yeah, a little bit. Not as much as I used to, but it’s still there. Less so when it’s ‘our crowd’ as we call it. If it’s our fans and they have come to see our show I feel more like I’m with friends. But when it’s an awards thing or a charity show you feel you have to win them over a bit more. I’m lucky, when I go on in front of our fans they are into it right from the start, but when it’s not our crowd I do feel a bit nervous before I go on.
Do you have a routine before you go onstage?
Paul McCartney: It’s kind of evolved over the years. We do our soundcheck in the afternoon. I go to my dressing room and then an hour before we go on a guy knocks on my door and I get ready. I do a steam thing with a bit of Olbas Oil in hot water. It’s probably completely useless but it makes me feel like I’m doing something to help my voice. Then I choose what to wear, get dressed and go and see the band. We get together and sing a bit and then we go to the side of the stage. We have a little ritual, a bit of a huddle and then we go on. I’m very lucky. I’ve been with the band and most of the crew for a long time. We’ve all been friends for years. This is our other family and it’s a great group of people. I have a lot of respect for them. I think of it like Formula One. I may be the driver but I couldn’t get anywhere without the team. They are the best band and crew on the planet.
How do you go about choosing a set list?
Paul McCartney: I start off thinking if I was in the audience what would I want to see myself do?. You know, if you just came along, what would you hope he does? Then we look at the songs we want to play as a band. Often those co-incide. Then someone might ask for a certain song, a friend or family member might suggest it and we try it. If it works we chuck it in. I try to do a couple of songs most people might not know for the ones that have seen us a few times. It’s all about the mix really. I hope it’s a good mix. You’ve got to be aware that there will be people who only see you once and they want to hear certain songs. Then there are people that come again and again and you want to make it different for them.”
So that’s how you end up with an average of almost 40 songs a night. How does you cope with such a gruelling tour regime?
Paul McCartney: You get knackered at the end of each night! We have a rule now, it’s a bit of a luxury really, but we’re lucky enough to be able to do it. If I do one night I have one night off. If I do two in a row I have two nights off. It just lets your voice recover. The fear is that you push it for too many nights in a row and then you ruin the whole tour. But two in a row can be good. That’s probably my favourite. So when I come to Liverpool I’ll be able to really give it everything.
Last updated on March 4, 2021
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