- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the New Official album.
- Timeline See what happened in November 2011
- Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK
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Ideas and demos for 20 songs were recorded, in anticipation of recording a new album, even if no plan was clearly outlined. Paul’s idea was to work with a young producer, someone who could bring something different.
I did go into the studio with a lot of stuff. I think I had about 20 songs written, you know, which is always the motivating thing for me. It’s like I can’t start writing some more, I have got to clear this backlog. It’s always exciting, I’ve got enough for an album.Paul McCartney
Auditions to find the right producer were scheduled in January 2012, with sessions booked with Paul Epworth, Ethan Johns and Mark Ronson.
Once I had the songs I started to wonder who to do them with. I looked around for producers whose work I admired, and arranged to meet them, the idea being that one of them would stick out, and we would do the rest of the songs together.Paul McCartney
To start with, there was no particular plan for Paul’s sixteenth studio album: just a batch of songs that needed to be put down, and the idea of doing it with a young producer, with someone who could bring something different. Of course, any producer, young or old, would jump at the chance to work with the world’s greatest living songwriter, so the initial intention was to go in and work with a handful of big-but-youthful names, and see which turned out the best. There was Paul Epworth, co-writer and architect of Adele’s monstrously successful ‘21’, and innumerable cool indie records. And there was Mark Ronson, the man perhaps most notable for making Amy Winehouse’s classic recordings but, even putting that to one side, also with a jaw-droppingly impressive collection of credits. Plus the fact that, as Paul puts it, “He DJed at mine and Nancy’s wedding, and kept us dancing till 3am. So I knew I liked his taste.”
Also, with strong links to Paul’s past but also focused firmly on the future, there were Giles Martin and Ethan Johns. Their fathers are both known for their roles in music that no one will ever forget – “I did a lot of work with Giles’ Dad, George, in Beatles days; Glyn Johns worked with us on Let It Be and Wings stuff” Paul says, just in case anyone needed reminding – but their sons are two men with their own reputations for excellence. Ethan made the Kings Of Leon’s much loved, grittier early albums and, more recently, both Vaccines records. Giles had the advantage of having worked with Paul on “Things like Love, the Beatles’ Cirque du Soleil show, also the Olympics opening ceremony and then on some music I did for a new video game called ‘Destiny’ which comes out next year.”
“All the hot producers seem to be the age of the sons of my contemporaries,” McCartney notes. “But with those two, like their dads, they’re great guys who are serious about they do; they had a lot to live up to – but they all proved themselves.”
So four extremely strong contenders, from whom there could only be one winner. Except that…
Paul: “It turned out I got on with all of them! We made something really different with each producer, so I couldn’t choose and ended up working with all four. I ended up falling for them all. We just had a good time in different ways. Ethan was a bit more acoustic-leaning, Mark would be a little more R&B… they each had a different approach but were all great in their own field.”
And so the idea for NEW became that it would be a multi-producer Paul McCartney album: with four distinct styles, four different sets of ideas, coming together into one. “It’s funny, when I play people the album, they’re surprised it’s me,” says Paul. “A lot of the tracks are quite varied and not necessarily in a style you’d recognise as mine. But I didn’t want it to all sound the same. We had a lot of fun.”