Live from London, Paul McCartney’s promotion for his new album Kisses On The Bottom began with a press conference, thanks to McCartney’s live webstream exclusive to PaulMcCartney.com.
During the thirty-minute broadcast with the world’s media and tens of thousands of eager fans behind screens, Paul talked career, influences, his new album, The Beatles, and women. Check out the highlights below.
On the inspiration for “Kisses On The Bottom”:
McCartney: Tradition in Liverpool family was the singsongs. I always loved these songs. Dad was a piano player. I wanted to do them, but I never got around to it. We were writing Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and new stuff… every time I came to this album someone else would do it. I kept saying, “well I can’t do it now, it’ll look like I’m jumping on the bandwagon.” But then I realized, I’d just do it and not worry about the market.
On track choices:
McCartney: The direction of the album is not a direction anyone else would take. The songs are not as well known as others. I didn’t even know some of them before this album, but that’s what happened in the end.
On Fred Astaire:
McCartney: Yeah, I think Fred Astaire was just this fantastic character from that era. I remember in the ‘60s when we were making Sgt. Pepper, I used to ask if they could make my jackets like Fred Astaire, he had very slick sleeves, and I wanted one. Musically, his vocal style is very interesting. Everybody thought he was lazy except the songwriters. He had this voice I wanted to try to get near. It’s like a little voice. I tried that. That became a big part of the signature of this album. Some of the stylistic things came from the people of that era. Have you seen the new film The Artist? Yes, great film, that’s the era I love. An era for style, music. Era I love.
On big events this year:
McCartney: If there is something they want me to do, they tend to dictate it rather than me. I’d like to be doing something, though I won’t know until our meeting tomorrow.
On the album’s sweet spot:
McCartney: When I came in, I didn’t know how to do it. We’re in Capitol Studios, iconic to Nat King Cole and Sinatra… all these guys recorded here. I found it a little bit intimidating. We chose a song, very organically. Didn’t make it too stiff. I was using a big voice, “Heaven, I’m in heaven” (he starts singing very loudly), it made me feel very uncomfortable.
So what was the key?
McCartney: Channeling Fred Astaire. If you listen careful, you’ll hear Fred Astaire. I decided to use this littler voice. I’m not very good about it. That’s what we wanted to do, get in the room. We’d say, what song do you want to do? We’d pull up chords and lyrics. Tony (producer) sat in the room, usually they’re not in the actual room, but he was. It became more intimate. Also, figure it out. Kick it around and then record it. Then what you get is something really fresh. I think that’s why I had so much fun doing it. It was just made up on the spot. No preconceived ideas. I think we all felt we contributed.
On his favorite song on the new album:
McCartney: I think probably “My Valentine” because it’s kind of the newest for me. I really had a lot of fun with Eric doing the solo on it. Again, he just came up with the solo. (whistles tune) I like that. Of the old songs I also love “Bye Bye Blackbird” because normally you get (begins singing) but Tommy’s idea was to slow it right down, which I was a bit dubious about at first, but I think it works. It was very similar to how The Beatles worked. Bring it in, kick it around, and record it. The fact I was working with great jazz musicians, it’s really cool to just say to the guys, ‘let’s just go from the bass,” and the guy’s an unbelievable player, so he knows exactly what to play, which really worked.
On being an idol
McCartney: It’s very strange indeed. Really, I’m just a kid from Liverpool still. It’s great, you know I supposed you want to be the best you can be in anything. When you get there, you can’t say you don’t want to be that. It’s a reflection of what people think you did well. You have to kind of accept it and thank them.
On becoming one of rock’s elder statesmen
McCartney: That’s the perspective of youth, you know? We thought 30 was really old. Now I think it’s amazingly young. The guys who came out of college at 24, we felt sorry for them. But they’re so young. I must admit, I didn’t expect to be singing and playing at the level I am now. It keeps things interesting. We were in South America last year and the crowds were amazing, the best. You come out to that, and it’s hard to say no to that… even though I am over 30. I always say at the end of all my concerts, “See ya next time.” And I mean it. I’ll do it until they let me.
On his father and piano:
McCartney: He learned by ear and when I expressed an interest he said, “No. You have to learn to play properly.” I tried when I was 16, but the teacher kept taking me back to five-finger exercise. At 21 I had a very good teacher, but same thing, I couldn’t do it. They all have to take you back to the basis, and I didn’t want to return to the five-finger exercise. The stuff I was hearing in my head was different from the dots I was seeing in the page.
On recording with Stevie Wonder:
McCartney: We had this song, “Only Our Hearts” which is very ‘30s-’40s genre, that I’d written on purpose to be in that style. The producer said, “What about Stevie” and I was like “Wow.” It was a bit in left field. He agreed to come along, I met him after recording all those years ago, I’ve seen him off and on, but to record with him, we hadn’t done it in a while. But he’s such a genius. That’s one of the great things about this album. Everyone is such a great musician.
With some last-minute words and comments, McCartney said, “Wave to our webcast audience,” and in the midst of an enthusiastic wave, the screen turned black.
McCartney’s 15th solo album and first record since 2007, Kisses On The Bottom, will be released by Hear Music on Feb. 7.
If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, you can listen to “My Valentine” here.