- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Hackney Diamonds Official album.
- Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles
More from year 2022
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“Bite My Head Off” is a song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and released on The Rolling Stones’ 2023 album “Hackney Diamonds“. It features Paul McCartney on bass, making it the first Rolling Stones song Paul has contributed to since “We Love You” in 1967.
Paul was invited to join the recording session for the track by producer Andy Watt, who was simultaneously working with McCartney on his new album and producing the new Rolling Stones album.
When did the idea of producing a Stones album begin to feel like a serious possibility to you?
Mick called me at the end of July . He basically was like, “I just got off the phone with Ronnie [Wood], and Ronnie told me he just had dinner with Paul McCartney and his wife, and Paul recommended a ‘spright young fellow named Andrew Watt’ to work with.” My jaw is on the floor. That doesn’t sound like a real conversation. And then Mick said, “I told Ronnie, that’s the producer I was thinking of showing you.” How fucking cool is that? […]
When did the main sessions for the album begin?
Mick said, “It’s going to be in L.A. in November.” And I’m looking at my calendar and I go, “Oh, fuck. I’ve got Paul McCartney booked during this time.” The Stones wanted to do it for a month straight, from early November into early December. But I don’t think I need to explain to you why you do not cancel on Paul McCartney.
So I call Mick and I’m like, “Listen, I can work, but I have these four or five days booked with Paul right in the middle of this.” And he said, “Oh, yeah, I understand.” So I hung up and said to myself, “I’m going to ask the dumbest question I could ever ask.” I called Mick back and said, “What do you think about me asking if Paul would be into playing bass on a track?” And Mick was like, “Yeah, that sounds great.” So I called Paul and he said, “Yeah, I’d love to play bass with the Stones.”Andrew Watt – From Rolling Stones Producer Andrew Watt on Making ‘Hackney Diamonds’, October 29, 2023
From thewrap.com, September 28, 2023:
Mick Jagger, speaking to podcast and radio host Zane Lowe on his Apple Music 1 show, revealed details of the former Beatle’s involvement in “Hackney Diamonds,” the first album of new Rolling Stones songs in 18 years.
Jagger said Watt had booked the Stones for a three-week recording session that was somehow sandwiched around a week of studio time that Watt said McCartney already had dibs on.
Still, the producer had assured Jagger he was fully committed to producing the tracks for the Stones as the band took on a sense of urgency to finish the project after it had lingered in perpetuity for too long, the Stones’ legendary front man said.
“The thing was that Andy had said to me, ‘Look, I’m working on this, Mick. It’s had my complete attention, my complete focus, for six months,’” Jagger said in the Apple Music 1 interview. “And then he said to me, ‘I didn’t really tell you completely the truth because I had this week booked with Paul McCartney right in the middle.’ Right in the middle of the three weeks we got booked for, we only had three weeks booked for cutting tracks. So right in the middle of the three weeks, ‘I’ve got Paul McCartney booked.’ He says, ‘It’s the only thing I couldn’t cancel.’”
Jagger said the Stones, despite their momentum, were OK with taking a break after hearing the news. But it also presented them with an opportunity.
“I said, ‘Well, it’s all right. We will take a few days off. It’s all right. We’ve got time. And we’ve got a lot of great stuff,’” Jagger recalled. “And he said, ‘Well, yeah, but why don’t we invite Paul for one of the days and get him to play? And I said, ‘Well, yeah, that’s a great idea.’ So Andy called Paul and asked him if he wanted to come on one of his days that Andy had promised him.”
Jagger clarified that while McCartney was generous with this time, he didn’t pay for the session that resulted in “Bite My Head Off.”
“He gave up one of his recording days, I think would be fair,” Jagger said. “He didn’t get an invoice, but he did give up one of his recording days.”From thewrap.com, September 28, 2023
There are at least two tracks I’d love to know more about. The first is “Bite My Head Off,” featuring Paul McCartney on that gnarly fuzz bass.
This is part of a much longer story, but essentially, I was working with both Paul and the Stones during roughly the same period. The Stones’ regular bassist, Darryl Jones, isn’t on the album at all because he was on tour, so everybody was taking turns playing bass, including me, Keith, Ronnie and Bill Wyman.
One day, while speaking with Paul, I thought, Why not invite him to play bass on a song? I realized it was a significant request: Can we get someone from the Beatles to play in the Stones? But surprisingly, both Mick and Paul were like, Sure, no problem, sounds like fun. They were so nonchalant.
I reviewed the list of songs slated for recording. The typical choice might have been to place him on one of the ballads, such as “Dreamy Skies.” However, I thought, how cool would it be to play on the most aggressive punk-rock track on the album? I knew Paul loved to rock, and they had a great time recording “Bite My Head Off.” They were all laughing like teenagers.
How did Paul achieve that fantastic distortion on his bass?
As Paul and I were becoming friends, I decided to get him a gift. I got him another lefty ’64 Hofner, similar to the one he played in the Beatles. However, I added a twist: my guitar tech installed a Univox Super Fuzz circuit on the Hofner that could be activated with a switch.
When I gave it to Paul, he said, “This is an incredibly thoughtful gift, but why? I already have my Beatles Hofner — why another one?” I was like, “Just plug it in and give that extra switch a try.” Suddenly his eyes widened, and he just started ripping on it. I told him to bring it to the recording session, and he couldn’t stop laughing.
I shared the song with Paul the day before, and when we entered the studio with the band, he brought out the bass. During the breakdown section of the song, he activated the Super Fuzz switch, and it was complete carnage! Everyone was like, “What the fuck was that?” It was hilarious and so cool. I think we recorded just three takes of that song, but almost immediately, Keith and Ronnie were on their feet, and Mick dragged the mic into the middle of the room and the roof left the building.
I think Paul really enjoyed that he was just a guy in a band again with friends that he’s known for 60 years. It had been a long time since he was with equals, just plugging in his bass and doing a session. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for a very long time.Andrew Watt – Interview with Guitar Player, December 2023
Then you took a break for a couple of days for your session with Paul McCartney before he recorded with the band. How did the band pick “Bite My Head Off” for him?
It would be expected to have him play on a great big ballad like “Depending on You,” or one of the softer songs to get that “melodic Paul McCartney” thing. But you’ve got to also understand, Paul McCartney loves to fucking rock. So I thought, “Why not pick the most punk-rock fucking song — the one where everyone’s on 10 the whole time — and let these guys have the time of their lives rocking out together?”
Paul really digs into it during his solo, too. How did he get that sound?
I had just gotten Paul a ’64 Hoffner, a lefty one, as a present. He was like, “Why are you giving me this bass? I obviously have my famous one from the Beatles. I don’t need another.” I said, “Just touch that switch right there.” My guitar tech, Mark, put in a Univox Super Fuzz circuit into the bass, so when he hit one of the Hoffner switches it gives the loudest, most wicked fuzz bass you ever heard in your life. So he was crying laughing. He had that as his secret weapon.
So Paul comes in, learns the song, everyone’s playing around a little bit, we start going for takes, Paul stands up. All of a sudden, Ron stands up, Keith stands up, Mick drags a mic into the fucking center of the room, and I swear to God, the roof left the fucking building. I can’t explain what that feels like, but it was the Stones and the Beatles. It wasn’t heavy for them; it was a fucking blast. And the smile on Paul’s face kept getting bigger and bigger. We did three or four takes of that. And Paul hit the switch during his bass solo, and Mick literally goes, “Come on, Paul, let’s hear something” in his Liverpool accent. Like, you can’t make it up. Everyone was on fire. We did another tune because we were having so much fun.
Just how much fun did Paul have?
When I was walking Paul out, he literally was like, “I just played fucking bass with the Stones — and I’m a fucking Beatle.” He literally said those words. These guys were literally like they were 18 again, and you can hear it in the recording. It’s ferocious.Andrew Watt – From Rolling Stones Producer Andrew Watt on Making ‘Hackney Diamonds’, October 29, 2023
Last updated on October 30, 2023