Paul McCartney offered up some additional details of what it was like to make his new album McCartney III while living in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
McCartney took part in Rolling Stone‘s latest “Musicians on Musicians” feature where two different artists sit down and have a conversation about their music. Sir Paul’s sat down with pop superstar Taylor Swift, whose latest album, Folklore, was also recorded during the pandemic.
Swift admired how Macca wrote, played and produced McCartney III on his own and said, “I listened to your new record. And I loved a lot of things about it, but it really did feel like kind of a flex to write, produce, and play every instrument on every track. To me, that’s like flexing a muscle and saying, ‘I can do all this on my own if I have to.'”
McCartney responded, “Well, I don’t think like that, I must admit. I just picked up some of these instruments over the years. We had a piano at home that my dad played, so I picked around on that. I wrote the melody to ‘When I’m 64’ when I was, you know, a teenager.”
As for making his new album, McCartney said, “Well, I’m very lucky because I have a studio that’s, like, 20 minutes away from where I live. We were in lockdown on a farm, a sheep farm with my daughter Mary and her four kids and her husband. So I had four of my grandkids, I had Mary, who’s a great cook, so I would just drive myself to the studio. And there were two other guys that could come in and we’d be very careful and distanced and everything: my engineer Steve, and then my equipment guy Keith. So the three of us made the record, and I just started off.”
He continued, “I had to do a little bit of film music — I had to do an instrumental for a film thing — so I did that. And I just kept going, and that turned into the opening track on the album. I would just come in, say, ‘Oh, yeah, what are we gonna do?’ [Then] have some sort of idea, and start doing it. Normally, I’d start with the instrument I wrote it on, either piano or guitar, and then probably add some drums and then a bit of bass till it started to sound like a record, and then just gradually layer it all up. It was fun.”
McCartney said of the album, “I had no idea it would end up as an album; I may have been a bit less indulgent, but if a track was eight minutes long, to tell you the truth, what I thought was, ‘I’ll be taking it home tonight, Mary will be cooking, the grandkids will all be there running around, and someone, maybe Simon, Mary’s husband, is going to say, ‘What did you do today?’ And I’m going to go, ‘Oh,’ and then get my phone and play it for them.’ So this became the ritual.”
McCartney III comes out on December 11 and is available for pre-order at PaulMcCartney.com.