Interview for Record Mirror • Saturday, November 2, 1974

Wings about to take flight again

Interview of Jimmy McCulloch
Published by:
Record Mirror
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Interview

JIMMY PLAYS guitar in a band. Now he’s been a member for almost a year and the sum total of his work with them has been hours of rehearsing and the release soon of a single.

Not too hard going eh? But despite the seeming lack of productivity, the band has been one of the most successful in the world over the past year.

Neither Jimmy McCulloch or the other newcomer to Wings, drummer Geoff Britton, had much to do with that success, but they represent the return of Wings to album and live work for the first time since Band of the Run days, and the subsequent departure of Henry McCulloch and Denny Seiwell.

“At the time of Band on the Run I wouldn’t have minded being in the band,” admitted Jimmy. “l mean I would have liked to have been on Band on the Run. But this’ll be the band now till it disintegrates. We are more of a group now. None of us are feeling overshadowed by Paul, in fact, we’ve been trying to drop the Paul McCartney and bit from the band’s title for a long time, probably we’ll do it this time. And we don’t talk about the Beatles in the band, though perhaps a lot of their ideas are in the band and on stage. We are Wings, and now we’ve got Geoff the band is complete.”

Yes, there was Geoff, a black belted Karate expert and second in the British Championships, running with his boxer dog in fields near his home when the phone rings.

McCartney’s voice on the other end told him he had the job, and Geoff, who once drummed to Beatle numbers at by weddings, moved up another step in the premier division.

It’s not everyday you’re invited to join Wings, it’s only after days and weeks of auditioning and Miss World-type eliminations.

“l was aware of some of the problems there’d been with the line-up when I joined,” admitted Geoff. “And I did have a certain feeling of apprehension. There was a lot of wrong press, articles about the band splitting and then never really confirming that I was in the band, which made me feel insecure. But it’s all ironed out now. As soon as I joined we were off to Nashville, and living together there brought out the best and worst in everybody.”

From a technical point of view there couldn’t be a drummer with more experience. He has played with bands whose styles were total opposites, from country and western with the King Pins, folk with East of Eden to rock and roll with the Wild Angels.

In fact, he’s still a bit of a rocker at heart, very reluctant to pose for pix without his leather jacket and was just persuaded that his Honda 4 wouldn’t make it through the door.

And with a bike riding Karate champion who has a wife and an overboard liking for dogs (he’s got 22) as Wings’ new drummer, guitarist Jimmy McCulloch must be playing it for understatement when he describes Geoff as heavy.

This guy must need new skins every time he plays Band On The Run, if his sticks are as McCulloch further describes – “really big, huge like handles,” Geoff probably keeps the band in time by the threat of their physical use rather than anything musical.

Though Geoff wouldn’t be so presumptuous, he’s still slightly in awe of his bass guitarist, and as he says:

“Who wouldn’t be. When I relate back to the past and how it is now, it really mystifies me. l mean I remember playing Beatle numbers weddings with the Rick Carrick Quartet, but what musician out of those times wasn’t influenced by the Beatles.”

Of course Geoff was really excited when he got the drum berth but the weeks leading up to that were a butterfly’s paradise.

“l was with a friend and he mentioned that Wings were looking for a drummer and auditions were being held,” he explained. “So I got on the list to go along to the Albrey Theatre in the West End (on his bike and in leathers of course), where all of Wings were in the seats listening to the drummers play with session men.”

The shortlist of five who were invited back a few days later included Geoff.

“l was keen on the job but I wasn’t going to bank on it, I thought it was just to meet McCartney. But then I made it to the third interview, just me and another drummer, and we all went out to dinner and then played with the group.”

After two days of nail-biting tension, the running in the fields with the dog phone-call came, and that was that.

Certainly, the arrival of Geoff has fired the band into action after almost a year without any signs of assembled life. There’s the new single Junior’s Farm recorded in Nashville due out now, and the band start on a new album in November which they hope to finish in January or February after a break for Christmas.

“It would be difficult for any album to follow Band On The Run, seeing how big it is,” explain Wings’ guitarist Jimmy McCulloch. “But the new album will be as good, if not better. The single will be the telling point.”

As neither Geoff or Jimmy played on Band On The Run, when it comes to live dates and the proposed world tour, tracks from that album will be vulnerable to interpretation.

“Basically we’ll stick to the original tracks, and if I can put in my own style into the songs on stage I will as long as it doesn’t interfere with the flow. I’m really looking forward to going back on the road, I haven’t done a gig for a year or so. I suppose we’ll be playing old numbers like My Love and of course Band On The Run tracks but also tracks from the new album.

“The album is about half completed, we’re still working on the arrangements. Hopefully I’d like to do one of my songs, but that is as yet to be decided, it depends on how many Paul writes, he’s the main writing force.”

At the moment Paul and Linda are at their Scottish farm putting the finishing touches to the arrangements, while Denny Laine spends most of his time on the leaking boat at Chertsey holding party after party to celebrate the arrival of his baby.

Jimmy has held over work on his solo album and Geoff is waiting for the rest to assemble and begin work on the new album. If the release of that is backed by a world tour, sales should easily outstrip the comparatively promotionless Band On The Run. The mind boggles.


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