1973 Interview with Paul McCartney - Forming Wings
July 6, 1973 Birmingham England
Steven: Has it been difficult for you putting together a new band? There would seem to be an extraordinary amount of pressure on you to come up with a group of musicians that could compete with the Beatles.
Paul: It was a bit touch and go at the beginning because it was a bit difficult for me to just suddenly develop a new band. Because let’s face it, the Beatles played Hamburg for like a year solid, playing eight hours a day before we ever were anything. Then we still came back to Liverpool and played for years at these little places, Litherland Town Hall and the Aintree Institute. So it took a long time but that was the idea. We felt, ‘Well, we can’t take quite as long with this band but we’re gonna kinda duck out of the press thing and do little anonymous gigs.’ We did our university tour and we did a Europe tour which was a bit more kind of press but we thought we’ve got to swallow our pride and go right ahead.
Steven: Were those considered breaking-in tours?
Paul: Definitely, for us. It was to get the band used to playing. Because if you get any five people, it’s pretty hard to get a band out of it unless you’ve been going a year or so. It takes that long for five people to begin to understand each other.
Steven: After playing with the same three musicians for such a long time, was it difficult to find new players? When you chose the people in Wings, were they your first choices?
Paul: Yeah, they were all first choices. I didn’t do it like thinking, ‘OK, who are the best musicians in the world?’ and get it together like that. It was all done very kind of random, really; there was like a great element of randomness in it. I went to New York and we auditioned drummers which everyone said later was about the uncoolest thing you can do because these drummers are like the world’s top. And there’s me, I just got them all down in a basement and said, ‘Alright, lads …’ And they’re sitting there and there’s no band, each drummer is just sitting there. But Denny (Seiwell) was the one who kind of appealed to me; I thought he looks good, he sings, and he can drum great. And he’s picking up a lot of compliments now from musicians who think he’s a red hot drummer. Brinsley really digs him, Brinsley’s drummer goes crazy over Denny. That’s Billy (Rankin).
Steven: Was that your idea to bring Brinsley Schwarz on the tour?
Paul: We did that special, that TV special, and that was kind of the end of our breaking-in period. We really hadn’t played very well, I don’t think any of us thought we played very well as a band up until the end of that special. And the last night, we did a concert for the special which we didn’t dig too much, it just didn’t get enough on for us. It was a bit of a dead audience.
Linda McCartney: And the audience was just sitting there all hot.
Paul: And they were all lit (with lights) and it was very. But we did a gig at the Hard Rock Café in London which is a real tiny, little thing for kind of charity. And Brinsley Schwarz were on before us and they kind of warmed it all up and they got a standup. Once you’ve heard a band rock a bit you can’t go on and not rock, you’ve got to play better. So we thought,’Great,’ and we went on after Brinsley and that was the first night we thought we played at all well. We were all double made up with that night. We rocked a bit that night.
Steven: What are you going to do for a second encore? You’ll have to have one now.
Paul: There are a lot of features with the act that are still a bit raw. Our opening is still possibly a bit raw, and the end we could go on a bit longer, but this is all fine tuning. The thing for us, the way we’ve done it is the idea of having places to go still. This is only our third thing really – university tour, European tour and this.
The aim was just to have a band, pure and simple. Have a good band. As to where we play, we’re easy. We’ll play down a pub if it’s cool, if we feel like it and they like it. But that’s the thing for us, we won’t naturally just play 50,000-seaters. That’s’ the interesting thing, we got Denny from New York, we auditioned some drummers there, and I knew Denny (Laine) was a good guitarist and good singer and stuff. So I just rang Denny up. And Henry was a kind of friend of Denny’s and Ian’s and he turned up one day at a rehearsal we were doing.
Henry McCullough: Drunk!
Paul: Drunk again. We didn’t really know, we were just thinking about it and stuff and he turned up and he played good stuff and that’s the kind of thing I meant about the element of random. It wasn’t like, ‘OK, now let’s audition another fifty guitarists and let’s see who’s who and what’s what.’ We just thought, ‘Great, let’s see how it goes’ and we had a band together then. It worked out good.
Henry McCullough: Everybody got to know each other; you know me, I know you, and we took each other for what it is. We were a little bit scared of each other. It started off we were a little bit apprehensive and it was ‘Who’s this we’ve got in the group?’ but we managed to cool out.
Steven: Did you have plans from the beginning to include Linda?
Paul: Yeah, Linda was a kind of first inclusion because we’d done Ram together. I worked her so hard in New York because it was all very well having Linda on harmonies but I’m not having her do bum harmonies. So I only worked her like mad. I mean she had never done it before, she’d never done a thing before. If you listen to Ram, all those harmonies on there are just me and Linda. Pretty good, some of them. It was quite hard work as I said. I worked her hard on that album. There was a bit of (mimics Linda), ‘What do you mean I’m singing flat?’ But in the end it was OK and we did it.
Steven: You must have noticed tonight that the more rock tunes you did created a bigger response. Will you emphasize those more and more?
Paul: That’s what we’re thinking, that’s the way we’re going to include a few more of those kinds of numbers. The main thing in performance, an average audience always go for numbers they know. Witness tonight when we did ‘C Moon;’ as soon as we hit ‘C Moon,’ which was a hit in Britain but not in the States, how the audience reacted.
Linda McCartney: On the university tour, we did some numbers twice.
Paul: But rather than go back, we’d like to do new numbers in the same vein. And on the next album we’ll have another bunch of numbers from which to choose. And by the time that album is done the whole act will be there.
Steven: How did it feel getting back on stage?
Paul: It’s now beginning to feel really good. It feels good to have a gig. If you’re just recording it’s very nice but you get a bit sterile. It’s a bit testtube, a bit like being in the laboratory. And if you go out and play, it’s the difference between sex and artificial insemination. Do you get what I mean? That’s what I think … audiences. It’s true enough, isn’t it?
Steven: Being on stage, then, must be a natural place for you.
Paul: You see I’ve always been, I suppose, a bit shy about getting up on stage. I remember the first time I ever got up on stage, I hauled my brother up with me. He had his arm in a cast, he’d broken his arm at scout camp, and I brought him up there with me. I brought my guitar with me and guess what I sang? ‘Long Tall Sally.’ I was eleven and still doing it.
This article was posted on September 02, 2005