Paul discusses writing/recording "McCartney III"

From Paul's website, details on his McCartney III album, out Dec. 11.

In case you missed it, there’s a new Paul McCartney studio album on the way! McCartney III will be the third album in a trilogy of self-titled solo records, following McCartney in 1970 and McCartney II in 1980, and is written, produced and performed by Paul.
McCartney III was made in lockdown (or, as Paul says, “made in Rockdown”) at Paul’s studio in Sussex, and the album artwork features photography by his daughter Mary McCartney, his nephew Sonny McCartney and the cover artwork is by Ed Ruscha, who regular visitors to the site will know from a recent Paintings On The Wall.

2020 certainly hasn’t been the year any of us expected, so we were curious to find out how the new album came about, and what Paul’s recording process was like. We spoke with Paul via Zoom to find out more… What inspired you to start working on McCartney III this year?

Paul: Well, I’m always writing. It’s like my hobby! I had a couple of things that were new - that I’d just done - and during lockdown you were asked to stay at home, or go to work only if it couldn't be done from home. The thing that I couldn't get done from home was making a record – unless I was going to do the bedroom thing, which I haven't really got set up.

This meant I was able to go into the studio. I had to finish an intro and outro for a short animated film and I got into it. Then I thought, ‘Well, you know what? I'm enjoying this!’, so then I looked at the latest song I'd written and did that.

I realised there were some songs that I half worked on, so I started finishing those up. Then there were songs that I’d never worked on, but I'd written year or so ago, and I enjoyed going back to them because it wasn't for anything. It felt homemade, you know? For example, if you're making a painting that's going to go on the front of the Town Hall, it’s very significant, but if you're making a painting just for your own little bedroom, you don't worry so much, and that can be very liberating.

It was quite liberating doing these songs. And I enjoyed that time, because I was locked down with Mary and her family. It was great! Mary is a great cook, so I'd come back from the studio, cooking would be on, and we’d drink and sit around just before dinner. They would say, ‘What did you do today?’ And it became a little ritual – I’d get my little books out, play the music off my phone. So now they know these songs inside out. Do you ever record voice notes on your phone?

Paul: Yes I do, a lot – and it’s embarrassing! To think, when we started off all those years ago, John and I had to remember everything! The only things available for home recording were the big Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorders, and of course you had to be very rich to have one, so we didn't have them.

We always had to remember what we’d written that day. We’d write the song, go away, and all we’d have is a little piece of paper with the words on, and then later on we’d have a drink and think, ‘What the hell was that song?! ... Oh God! Forgotten it!’. I’d wait a minute, thinking John would probably remember, and often one of us would wake up first thing in the morning and luckily have the song in our head again. So, in the studio you were always playing something that you remembered, that you knew and that was finished.

Nowadays with iPhones, you put a little sketch of an idea or a little bit of a riff, maybe just two lines of a song and think ‘I’ll finish that later’. My phone is full of little sketches, some of which I pulled out during lockdown and thought ‘I've really got to finish these’. So, I did.

But yeah, I’m always on my iPhone, always putting ideas down. And the double-edged sword means it's good because you can remember your ideas. But it's bad because you don't finish them. You’ve got to force yourself to come back and finish. Fortunately, I had an opportunity during this time to do just that.