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THE LONG AND WINDING DOWN
The following interview was conducted at his studios where paul - on his own - was laying down drum and backing tracks for new songs
Photos: Showy, Alan Silfen and David Modell
Q: A year on from the start of the tour, you're a changed man aren't you?
A. I've got a completely different way of looking at things now. When you get on the road and see see what your audience is actually like, it changes your perception of your own music. It feels different, it reminds you of what sort of stuff audiences really like and then it reminds you of what you've done. So with the new album I'm doing now (to be written and recorded from November) I can guage from stuff in the live set what was more popular and so that is the sort of stuff I might write for the new album, so the tour and the audience gives you clues to write to.
[For the record here, the more popular stuff in the set included the rocking numbers sgt. pepper, Get Back, Can't Buy Me Love, Coming Up, My Brave Face, Saw Her Standing There]
A. [cont.] The other thing is that just reviewing your own work through the tour is healthy. We did more than two hours a night of my stuff and it surprises me how simple the songs are. Before doing them live I thought some of the songs were quite complicated but they're not. It gives you a good view of what it is you're doing.
I just feel clearer now about what I'm doing - because I've now seen how the songs I've done in the past have gone down and also I've seen what people really like.
Q; Are you more excited generally now?
A; Yeah, I like going on the road again. There's a danger in this business - you start off hungry and then get a bit of fame, then get a lot of fame and you start to rest on your laurels a little bit. And with fame comes money, so you buy a nicer house. So then you don't have people bothering you all the time and there's no traffic noise - but while you can be gaining stuff by just being better off you can also be losing stimulus - the stimulus of just being in the city, seeing all the other bands. And, you don't always realise that you need that stimulus, I find:
You come to the country, loving the air and the animals -and I DO love that side of my life a lot - but what the tour showed me was that I need a balance with that life. It needs some stimulation.
I think playing to a crowd of 184,000 in Rio is certainly stimulating. Going on stage every night after 13 years is certainly stimulating - because you've just got to do it.
Q; You said towards the end of the tour, backstage in private, that it had reminded you of The Beatles, How?
A; The tour itself reminded me in a lot of ways of The Beatles. One thing was the build-up - we started off little in Oslo, off Broadway - it's not little for everyone, 5000 people - but for us it turned out to be a small gig. Because it was a new band you couldn't just go rushing in; so you had to start little and build up - now THAT reminded me of The Beatles because The Beatles' whole thing over the 10 years we existed was a build-up; from little clubs to bigger clubs to ballrooms to theatres in Peterborough, then to Sunday Night at the Palladiums and then to TV and recording, you built and built and built until you finally went off to America - so we did that and the tour just reminded me of the way The Beatles' campaign worked; small, getting to know each other, getting more confident with what we do, and then increasing the whole thing - so by the time we were in the States and playing the 50,000-seat stadiums, that whole year had felt very much like a Beatles build-up.
And the other interesting thing was going back to the States a few times during the tour, that was like The Beatles; you went and got a certain reaction and you went again and it grew and the TV stations started doing these specials on you and then the Press Conferences.
I remember telling our tour publicist at the beginning of the tour I was a bit terrified at the Press Conferences in case they threw me a googly or a spinner or whatever you call a dodgy question that would catch me out. At the end of the tour I'd be just the opposite; I was HOPING they'd throw me a googly, just so it'd stop all the boring questions coming.
[Example of Boring Question; 'Paul, are you going to reform The Beatles']
[Paul's answer ALWAYS to this 'It is impossible to reform the Beatles since the death of John. People have suggested Julian; he's a nice kid - but he ain't John']
A. [cont.] So when you look at it all, it's just that my confidence has increased.
So to sum it up, it reminded me a lot of The Beatles, this tour; a new band, growing steadily and finally getting to the biggest gigs going, in America, finally getting to peak TV time.
Q. So are you going to capitalise on this new wave of confidence?
A. That's the idea now; once you've been playing like this you get to almost Olympic level, compared to an athlete, this is our Olympic level, playing the biggest stadiums in the world -but to do that, to get in on, you have to keep yourself in training and be able to do it without even thinking, like a great track runner. But when you've finished your Olympics, the natural thing is to go and have a long time off. The trouble with that is that you get a bit ring-rusty or arena-rusty or whatever athletes get - athletes' foot - without even realising it, because you're enjoying yourself. You think this is great, oh, I deserve a rest now, this is lovely. And so many people come off tour and say ' ooh it's nice to relax' and all that - but in fact to totally hang for three years, man, and then try to pick it all up - I think that's difficult. I think you set yourself problems you don't even need - it's like if you can stay at a certain level without having to play ALL the time then why not do it?