The Paul McCartney Project

Sir Paul McCartney on his lockdown album: 'I was just messing around'

Interview of Paul McCartney • Oct 22nd, 2020 • Radio interview
Published by:
BBC Radio 6 Music
Matt Everitt
Read interview on BBC Radio 6 Music
Timeline More from year 2020

Album This interview has been made to promote the McCartney III Official album.

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Matt Everitt: This is all very unexpected. You’re not very good at sitting on your hands, are you?

Sir Paul McCartney: Well, no. I get these ideas and it keeps me busy.

Have you spent this time in lockdown growing a huge beard, like the one on the cover of McCartney I?

No, what I do is, I grow it for a couple of weeks and then I get fed up with it ‘cos it gets itchy, so I shave it off.

How has your lockdown been?

It’s been OK actually, ‘cos I came back off holiday at the beginning of the year and got down to my farm in the countryside and happened to be locked down with my daughter, Mary, and her family, so that meant four of my grandkids.

It was all very lovely. I did a bit of recording [in his home studio], then I’d come over in the evening and see Mary and her family.

McCartney I started a trend for lo-fi, DIY [albums]. Have you always had a soft spot for that record?

Yeah, it happened because suddenly I wasn’t in the Beatles anymore, so I was at a bit of a loose end.

So I had all my stuff, I had a bass, I had my guitar, I had my amp and I got hold of a four-track recorder from EMI, which was the same machine we’d used with the Beatles [and I] just plugged the microphone straight into the back. That was it.

It’s now regarded as a classic, isn’t it? It’s seen as being the start of that DIY ethos for bands.

It’s funny, time lends an edge to all these things – because at the time it was [perceived] to be just a load of crap! People tend to think better of it now.

Do you think you work differently if you’re recording in a bathroom, instead of Abbey Road?

I think so. If you’re on your own, you can have an idea and then very quickly play it. Whereas, with a band, you’ve got to explain it.

Sometimes that’s great… but when you’re just noodling around on your own, there’s just a sense of freedom.

This album has songs from lots of different points in time.

Most of it’s new stuff. There are one or two [songs] that I hadn’t finished and, because I was able to get in the studio, I thought “OK, wait a minute, what about that one?” So I’d get it out and think, “Ugh, oh dear.” And you’d try to figure out what was wrong with it, or why you didn’t like it.

In some cases the vocal or the words just didn’t cut it, so you’d strip it all down and go “OK, let’s just make it completely different”.

When I’d done them, I was going “Well, what am I going to do with this?” And it suddenly hit me: this is McCartney III. You’ve done it all yourself, like the others, so this qualifies.

The vocals sound really raw.

Thanks. I was trying to get them posh.

I meant that in a good way!

I know, I know! Because I wasn’t aiming at a proper record release, I was just having a go. So I think it has ended up being exactly what it is – which is me not really trying very hard, except to have fun.

The future of live concerts is uncertain at the moment. Have you thought about the possibility that you might not be able to play live again?

Yes, definitely. I look back at the last gig I did, which was at Dodger Stadium in LA, and we didn’t have a very good night. I must say, I was thinking “Uh-oh, what if that was the last gig?”

But it would be great, wouldn’t it, to be in a crowd and be able to go crazy and listen to a live band again. I was imagining that the other day – instead of doing the songs, you’d just be standing there going “This is great, isn’t it?”

Last question: Are we going to get a McCartney IV in 2030?

I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see.


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