Giles Martin Talks About Beatles 'Now and Then,' 'Red and Blue' Album Reissues

has a new interview with Giles Martin about his most-recent work with the Beatles.

Some highlights:

The orchestral scoring session you and Paul did at Capitol Studios in L.A. took place quite a while ago, we know. There’s such a thing as NDAs, but it’s still surprising that that many people could be involved and keep a secret, until Paul himself first spoke about it this spring.

Well, the orchestra didn’t know what they were playing on. They weren’t aware that this was a Beatles recording. I think they thought it was just a Paul McCartney project that I was working with him on. It’s one of those things that I didn’t really think about at the time. I’m thinking about the string arrangement, the players playing the right thing, all that stuff. But they weren’t privy to the information, so they had nothing to hide. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Not in this case: A little knowledge actually worked quite well. But it is funny how we finished this last year, and it hasn’t got out.

....With the strings, I thought I might as well rip off my dad — which I did do. My dad was an amazing string arranger. If I’m gonna rip off my dad, you might as well do it for the last Beatles song. There were some times where Paul was like, “We shouldn’t do that, you’re going a bit too far, or “We should try and do this.” Because, even with my dad, even with “Yesterday,” the first string thing (with the Beatles), Paul would have very, very strong ideas about how you want things to sound. And generally, obviously, it’s the Beatles — he’s right. I’m pleased we added the strings. I just wanted it to be as Beatles as possible, basically. I wanted people to listen to this and go, “Yeah, this is a Beatles record.”

...When you went back to what was done in the studio in the mid-‘90s, even though the time they spent working on the song then was short, was there enough of George on there that you were really able to use something of George’s?

More than something of George’s. George was playing acoustic and electric guitar on it. What was really interesting is what Paul would say to me [in the process of] doing the strings and then going through the arrangement. The strings are quite rhythmical, as you heard, the sort of chuggy “Eleanor Rigby” style kind of strings I’ve got in there. And Paul was very deliberate in saying to me, “Listen carefully — isolate George. Play it to me. We need to make sure that we are empathetic to the rhythm that George is trying to lay down here.” Because that’s what he was good at. That’s what I learned from Paul. You know, (George is) not here to say he doesn’t like the string arrangement. So let’s make damn sure that we respect his rhythm playing on the electric guitar when he’s playing it.

There is a backing group vocal track that was announced that people are wondering about. In the pre-release materials, it was compared to an outgrowth of something you did for the Las Vegas “Love” soundtrack, where you were able to use backing vocals done for one song on another track. But with what you did here with backing vocals, is there a way in which that counts as AI — the bogeyman that people bring up now? Or how would you describe it?

No, it’s not artificial or intelligent. No, it’s the same process that I used, as you say so rightly, in “Love.” And Paul was nervous about this, actually… My thought was this: that I really thought this needs to sound like the Beatles. And I have Paul, and he’s definitely the producer of this track, and I’m producing it with him. The band would have probably sang “ahhhhs” in those things, but they’re not around anymore. So I’m not using AI to recreate their voices in any way. I’m literally taking the multitrack tapes of “Eleanor Rigby,” some stuff from “Because” and “Here, There, and Everywhere,” just in the same way the Beatles are splicing that in.

So, no AI, no. It might have been easier if I used AI, but I didn’t. And it’s funny, because it gives a different quality. I was listening to the song today, and the backing vocals have a sort of tape feel to them, like they’re on tape. They feel like they’re from the Beatles, and they are from the Beatles. I think if they were from some machine learning program, they wouldn’t sound right.

We always want to ask you what’s next in rolling out Beatles stuff, and you never want to say or commit to what’s next. But is it safe to assume that if people now have fully half the tracks from “Rubber Soul” remixed for the new “1962-66,” that eventually they’ll get the remixes of the other half, and in fact all the tracks from the early albums everybody wants, at some point?

All I can say is that I’m definitely not doing it right now. I mean, as you know, the answer to that question will be the same. It’s that we’ve just done this, and… With Peter’s video, and the sensitivity around the project, I’m really proud of what we’ve done. I think it is emotional. And I think we have to let the dust settle on this first before we make any decisions about what we’re going to do next — that is my final answer on that. As you’d expect!