Interview for Record Mirror • Saturday, July 21, 1973

Paul's Wings find their identity on stage

Press interview • Interview of Paul McCartney
Published by:
Record Mirror
Interview by:
Peter Harvey
Timeline More from year 1973

Related tour

Songs mentioned in this interview

Long Tall Sally

Officially appears on Long Tall Sally

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Some punk once wrote that the Beatles were just a rip-off band who kept their show on the road by liberally borrowing from all the new sounds around. True. But not so much of the ripoff please, that sounds irreverent and besides any band that knows where it’s at is going to utilize the forces most prevalent at any given time. Now all this may seem to have little to do with Paul McCartney, but hold onto your cornflake bowl my friends, the man of whom it was at least once said “Who?” is back in business in more than just the usual nostalgia-plus-ex-Beatle syndrome. He’s very much a man keeping up with the times. And because of that, he’s very much a NEW rather than an OLD force to be reckoned with.

Wings’ British tour is now completely over. The dice are rolled and the numbers showing, so bet your last Woodbine. that what Paul learnt in those 17 gigs will have more effect on him than anything since the FabFour split.


First you can forget those needling tales of Paul selling out to the showbiz machine. It’s the band that he wants and only now is it getting into a new stage; its own stage.

More and more Paul looks towards merging his identity with the rest of Wings. It may take quite a time, but the days of ex-Beatledom and ex-Moody (Denny Laine) are numbered while the advent of Wings is only just beginning to show. That’s what Paul says anyway.


You see yer McCartney, who’s always been an easy-going bloke I’m told, is now sufficiently into the music-biz scene again to talk to the papers. So at not little more than a moment’s notice we set off to Leicester for the last but one gig of the tour. Sounds easy doesn’t it? But the “we” in question happened to include Wings’ publicist Tony Brainsby, a total fireball of boundless energy who courts disaster wherever he goes.


This time the car blew up on the M1, the tickets were left in London, and the jobsworth backstage at Leicester Odeon said we couldn’t get to see Paul ’cause it was… more than his jobs worth?

Oh dear, yes and Good Morning Lord, we finally got through and into the next part of the movie which is: The Stairs.

There we are, microphone Michaels all, waiting to be ushered in from those cold echoey stairs you only find at the back of cinemas. And meanwhile, a man is trying to press this huge tape recorder plus tapes into the hands of Paul’s manager, Vince Romeo. Not just the tape you see (which contains the man’s songs) but the whole caboodle. Cute hugh?

The choir

But down to the business in hand. 

From the dressing room comes this strange singing. Sounds like, God it is… When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, and it’s the band. They’re all at it. Did I also hear Old Mill By The Stream? Ah gee, even the local was never like this.

After we’d followed Paul, Linda and Denny, up to a tiny room at the top of the building, I asked him about the singing.

You’ve heard of a warm up?” he sits himself down on a spartan chair and drags on the butt of a cigar, “well that’s the cool down. Period. It’s actually all in honor of my Uncle Harry who’s down to visit us this evening.

‘I quit’

It’s probably very much an end of the tour feeling as well, so what about that?

“Certainly. Tomorrow night is the last British date for a while and then I’ll do ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’, this is it, the last show, I quit. I’m quitting tomorrow night at Newcastle. I have my jacket ripped off and I’m quitting and I eat Henry’s guitar. Don’t tell anyone though it’s a surprise,” he adds, slyly talking behind his hand.


There you are a bit of McCartney humor, and there’s more.

Paul, I ask vainly, was it hard to take this tour on the road? Linda: “The car wouldn’t start.” Paul:

“No not really, we got the car together and… No. 

“Actually I’ll tell you the truth, the way we’ve done it, it’s turned out quite easy. You know, now is the only tour where people are looking critically at us, as a first time, and almost managed to get away with it kind of in Europe and our university tour. Early on there were one or two dodgy nights but that was the idea of doing it the way we did it. If we’d have gone straight on to do Earls Court you can imagine, you know, bands that have been together a few years have problems there and we didn’t fancy that, we just fancied playing around, and we managed to pretend that we were a small time group.”

Deep end

Was that easy?

“It was easy for us. But it was great because it meant we really were at the deep end and we had to kinda solve everything for ourselves.”

But was there ever a point where you felt it wasn’t going to work?

“Once or twice, you know we had a few kinda arguments and stuff like ‘I don’t like the way you do that’ and oogh friction,” he looks alarmed.

Do you lay the law down or is it democratic? 

“Well, it’s a bit democratic but if we’re looking for a decision, I’ll just make it. But if someone disagrees, it’s just ugh ugh, you’ve got to have disagreements. It’s not a living thing unless it’s disagreeing.” 

The talk switches to the development of the band.

“Hopefully,” says Paul, “as we go on we’re going to take the center of the attraction off me and let Denny come through more, like on the next album. We’ll start working on new material but because we are not drawing on any Beatles stuff, except Long Tall Sally which isn’t really, we’re a bit limited and..

No numbers

Denny breaks in to say: “It’s just that we haven’t got any numbers.”

Paul: “When Denny’s album takes off and there’s a few tracks on that people might dig, then he’ll get to do them. We don’t want to push Denny just for the sake of saying ‘Hello folks it’s not just me’ you know we’re trying to keep it on what they want.”


How about working together on songs? “Yeah that’s what we want.” And you won’t do Beatles songs:

“No, we made a conscious decision not to do Beatles songs and that in a way is a kind of difficulty because we could go on and do a lot of them. I mean at the moment we are playing quite a few songs that either they don’t know, or they don’t know so well, but eventually I think it will get so that it will be numbers they know. A few more rockers, we need some more rockers towards the end because we run out on Long Tall Sally. But these things we’ll let come naturally.”


All that talk about the Beatles getting back together, did it mean hang-ups for the rest of the band, or was it Something you know will happen all the time? 

“Exactly (We just look forward to a holiday – Denny) we all know the scene you know, and it’s difficult ’cause everyone’s going to say this.”

It reaches a point where the national dailies are virtually saying, yes, the Beatles will get back together.


“But they won’t,” says Paul. “It’s pretty certain they won’t so it’s really a question of what are you going to do. Are you going to wait round for years while the Beatles sew it up and get together, then when they get together, is it going to work? And have they done it in fact. Have the Beatles actually done all there was to be done. Pretty much they have.”

You feel like that? 

“Yes, I mean we probably could have gone on like years and years but really it’s a pretty fair record the whole scene as it was and I personally would just rather go onto something new. It’s a bit boring to tell you the truth, the Beatles. It would just kinda bore me a bit because it’s all something I know. At least Wings is new. You know, we’ve got Denny Laine and it’s a new band.”


But you’re the only one who is touring, was that something you always wanted to get back to? 

“Mmm. I’m pretty kind of ordinary like in my thoughts and being a musician band member, when you get off the road and you start becoming like almost a business person. Like, recording and going into the office each day, it’s a different thing. But to me it wasn’t interesting. I remember finding myself one day on the phone and suddenly thinking ‘Jesus Christ I’ve been on this phone all day, and I was getting off on it, So you know I thought, I’m either gonna do this forever, or something else. So I rang the Laine up.”

Right notes

He’d known Denny from touring in the past and thought of him as someone who would be able to sing “the right notes.”

Did he see himself now more as a performer than a creator of music?

“No, I think it’s about 50/50. I think it would be dead easy for us now to think OK lads we proved our little performing thing, we’ve gone down quite well, and do a Bowie, you know.

“I mean I don’t know if he’s seriously done it by the way, but we could do the bit and say OK man cool it man, go to Marakesh to record. You know it would be real cool.

‘To play’

“But the gig for us is to play to people you know. Some nights you don’t get good audiences. But on the nights you do, I mean most nights we have had like a fair audience and there’s nothing to match that. When you’ve got a good audience. It’s very, you know, if you’re a performer it’s in your blood.” He says it in mock camp style but you know what he means.


How much does performing stimulate the songwriting?

“I think it will be a great help. We just had a little layoff for two weeks and I think I’ve written a couple of good-uns in the meantime and I tend to write them now to perform them.

“And if you check it out, a lot of the kinda hits with Geordie and Slade and Bowie are all very much numbers to perform. You know: ‘Alright, Can You Do It, Come On, yeah I Do, yeah, will you.’ To an audience, they are very audience numbers. So I dig that and I think we’ll do that, start working on things to get an audience at it. Rather than deep stuff.”

Get Rocking

The age of people sitting back and listening never happened for the Beatles but Paul agrees now that an audience will sit back for numbers like My Love and Live And Let Die. “But on the rockers I like ’em rockin,” he says.

“I still think stage acts are like the fairground or the circus coming to town. You’ve got to have things they know. I mean people go to the circus to see a lion, but if you put a ballet on, just a ballet, they would say ‘Ugh whatdye mean’ it wouldn’t work.”

He’s so keen to give audience songs they want that Beatles songs were considered.

“But it’s a good thing we didn’t because you’ve got the danger then of developing a second-rate Beatles and you can get left in the lurch. You could develop the most incredible Beatles or McCartney act and blow it by not keeping up with the times. Then it’s going to be ‘Oh they’re a very nice nostalgic group’ and I don’t want that, I’ll leave it to all the bands playing down in Benidorm.”

That’s perhaps one place Wings won’t be playing but you can expect them round your town sometime because Paul is into that: “No one’s ever offended when you take your band to their town,” he says.

More hits

As for the States where the album is doing so well, that’s out. They can’t go because of his dope bust but they don’t want to play there anyway.

Now that the tour is over they’re getting down to more recording and hopefully some number-one hit rockers. That should make everyone sit up and take notice. 

Last updated on August 14, 2023


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