Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Interview: John Lennon, London - March 1966

Date: first week of March 1966
Time: 3:30 pm
Location: Cafe, Soho, London
Interviewer: Chris Hutchins
Published: 11 March 1966
New Musical Express, page 3

John Lennon and I tried something unusual last week - we went to lunch. Unusual for him because he NEVER lunches out and unusual for me because I normally eat before 3.30 pm! But then journalists have to get up earlier than Beatles do.
John arrived (on time) to test the new experience and we moved away in style in the luxury of his Rolls-Royce Phantom V, surveying Mayfair from behind darkened windows that allow you to see out but no one to see in. It's something like travelling in an ambulance, but ambulances are rarely fitted with TV and fridge!
The phone in the back of the car hummed: "Can't be for me," said John, "no one's got the number." We arrived at the restaurant in Regent Street and John sent the car away, asking the driver to return in 90 minutes. Only when it had gone did we discover that the restaurant, where our table was booked for 3.15, closes at 3 . . .
" 'Ere, it's John Lennon," said a woman to her friend, but before her friend had turned round we were in the back of a taxi. The driver said he knew a nice little caff in Soho and that sounded better than sandwiches and tea at NEMS (the Epstein Emporium) so off we went.
The place was empty and the food smelt good, though sherry in the soup was the closest we could get to alcohol at that time of day, much to the regret of our waiter.
John asked for a paper serviette as he'd forgotten a handkerchief and removed his pvc mac ("Bought it in Tahiti for fifteen bob") and the Lennon interview began . . . .

CHRIS HUTCHINS: You have often said that you don't want to be playing in a pop group when you reach 30; you are now in your 26th year. The only firm date in the Beatles' 1966 diary seems to be the NME Poll Winners Concert on May 1. Is this therefore, the start of the retirement process?

JOHN: No. We're going to Germany, America and Japan this year. It's an accident that we're not working now; we should have just had two weeks holiday after Christmas and then started on the next film, but it isn't ready and won't be for months.
We want to work and we've got plenty to do: writing songs, taping things and so on. Paul and I ought to get down to writing some songs for the new LP next week. I hope he and Jane aren't going away or God knows when we'll be ready to record.
George thought we'd written them and were all ready - that's why he came dashing back from his honeymoon and we hadn't got a thing ready. We'll have to get started, there's been too much messing round. But I feel we've only just finished "Rubber Soul" and I keep looking for the reviews, then I realise we did it months ago.
We're obviously not going to work harder than we want to now, but you get a bit fed up of doing nothing.

CHRIS HUTCHINS: Now that you've got all the money you need and plenty of time on your hands, don't you ever get the urge to do something different?

JOHN: I've had one or two things up my sleeve, I was going to make recordings of some of my poetry. But I'm not high-powered. I just sort of stand there and let things happen to me.
I should have finished a new book - it's supposed to be out this month but I've only done one page! I thought why should I break me back getting books out like records?

CHRIS HUTCHINS: Do you ever worry that the money you have won't be enough to last your lifetime?

JOHN: Yes! I get fits of worrying about that. I get visions of being one of those fools who do it all in by the time they're 30. Then I imagine writing a series for the "People" saying "I was going to spend, spend, spend . . ."
I thought about this a while back and decided I'd been a bit extravagant and bought too many cars, so I put the Ferrari and the Mini up for sale. Then one of the accountants said I was all right, so I got the cars back.
It's the old story of never knowing how much we've got. I've tried to find out but with income tax to be deducted and the money coming in from all over the place, the sums get too complicated for me, I can't even do my times table.
Every now and again the accountant clears some money of tax and puts it into my account saying: "That's there and it's all yours but don't spend it all at once!" The thing I've learned is that if I'm spending £10,000 I say to myself: "You've had to earn £30,000 before tax to get that."

CHRIS HUTCHINS: What sort of people are your guests at home in Weybridge?

JOHN: We entertain very few. Proby was there one night and George Martin another, I think those are the only two we've specifically said "Come to dinner" to and made preparations. Normally I like people to drop round on the off chance. It cuts out all that formal entertaining business.
We've just had Ivan and Jean down for a weekend - they're old friends from Liverpool - and Pete Shotton, the fellow who runs my supermarket came round on Saturday.

CHRIS HUTCHINS: Is the house at Weybridge a permanent home?

JOHN: No it's not. I'm dying to move into town but I'm waiting to see how Paul gets on when he goes into his town house. If he gets by all right then I'll sell the place at Weybridge. Probably to some American who'll pay a fortune for it!
I was thinking the other night though that it might not be easy to find a buyer. How do you sell somebody a pink, green and purple house? We've had purple velvet put up on the dining room walls - it sets of the old scrubbed table we eat on.
Then there's the "funny" room upstairs. I painted that all colours changing from one to another as I emptied each can of paint. How do you show somebody that when they come to look the place over? And there's the plants in the bath. . . .
I suppose I could have a flat in town but I don't want to spend another £20,000 just to have somewhere to stay overnight when I've had too much bevy to drive home.

CHRIS HUTCHINS: What kind of TV programmes do you watch?

JOHN: "The Power Game" is my favourite. I love that. And next to it "Danger Man" and "The Rat Catchers" - did you see that episode the other night when that spy, the clever one, shot a nun by mistake. I love that and I was so glad it happened to the clever one.

CHRIS HUTCHINS: What's going to come out of the next recording sessions?

JOHN: Literally anything. Electronic music, jokes . . . one thing's for sure - the next LP is going to be very different. We wanted to have it so that there was no space between the tracks - just continuous. But they wouldn't wear it.
Paul and I are very keen on this electronic music. You make it clinking a couple of glasses together or with bleeps from the radio, then you loop the tape to repeat the noises at intervals. Some people build up whole symphonies from it. It would have been better than the background music we had for the last film. All those silly bands. Never again!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Interview: Paul McCartney, London - September 1967

Date: 7 or 8 September 1967
Location: 7 Cavendish Avenue, St. John's Wood, London
Interviewer: Norrie Drummond
Published: [in edited form] 9 September 1967 - New Musical Express, pages 3 & 11
Title: Paul: "I'm more at ease now" ... But he envies George's faith

[complete] January 1968 - Hit Parader
Title: "Paul McCartney At Home"

As most people must have noticed, the Beatles have undergone a major change in the past year. The moptops have gone and been replaced by four highly individual, creative personalities. The "yeah-yeahs" and the "ooohs" have given way to sitars and melotrons.

The Beatle boots and round-collared jackets have been discarded and been replaced by kaftans and beads. No longer is it news when they are seen at clubs or theatres. At last the screams are fading away.

To find out more about the great Beatles' transformation I visited Paul McCartney at his St. John's Wood home recently.

I told my taxi-driver the address. "Oh, you mean where that Beatle lives," he said.

No more than half a dozen fans were waiting patiently at the massive iron gates of his house.

The gates were opened by his housekeeper, Mrs. Mills ("She still hasn't given me a tune yet," says Paul), who led me into the lounge.

Paul's huge Old English sheepdog, Martha, bounded forward, leaped up, put both front paws on my shoulders and started chewing my tie. His three cats - Jesus, Joseph and Mary - were crawling over each other underneath the television set.

Paul, dressed in a green, floral-patterned shirt and green slacks, sat cross-legged in a large green velvet armchair. Mike McGear, Paul's brother, was just leaving with several kaftans over his arm.

A large "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" poster is pinned to one wall. His book collection includes many works on yoga and meditation.

At the moment all four Beatles are on holiday, although they have been recording.

"When I used to tell you we didn't know what our plans were, it was simply that we hadn't been told what we were going to be doing. Now we simply just don't know."

Mrs. Mills reappeared bearing cups of tea and a large cream sponge. "The only thing lined up for us is the TV show," said Paul, stirring his tea. "But we're still trying to work out the format. We've also been recording the past few nights, and our next album will probably come from the TV show."

Anything that the Beatles now indulge in they obviously do for love - not for money. "We can now sit back and pick and choose what we want to do. We're not going to turn out records or films just for the sake of it. We don't want to talk unless we've got something to say.

"When you don't have to make a living, a job has a different meaning. Most people have to earn a wage to live. If you don't, you take a job to relieve the boredom - but you do something which gives you pleasure.

"We enjoy recording, but we want to go even further. I would like to come up with a completely new form of music, invent new sounds. I want to do something, but I don't really know what.

"At the moment I'm thinking things out. There seems to be a pause in my life right now - a time for reassessment."

I asked Paul if he ever regarded himself as being rather like a retired man of sixty-five, who was now only pottering around, dabbling in his favorite hobby.

To a certain extent he was inclined to agree. "I don't regard myself as having retired, but what do most people do when they retire? As you say, they become wrapped up in a hobby. Either that or they find another job.

"I would like to do something else, but what that will be, I don't know."

Despite the fact that three of the Beatles are married and they are, all four of them, very different individuals, they still have that same bond of loyalty to each other that they have always had. They are still each other's best friends.

If they are asked to do something as a group and any one of them doesn't want to take part, then the scheme is dropped.

"If three of us wanted to make a film, for instance, and the fourth didn't think it was a good idea, we'd forget about it, because the fourth person would have a very good reason for not wanting to do it."

In the past year Paul has become a much more introspective person. He is constantly striving to discover more about other people. What is depression? Why do people become bored? What is his ultimate goal?

These are the questions to which Paul has tried to find the answers in books on meditation and in lectures by men who know more about it than he does. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is playing a big part in developing the Beatle minds. He is the man who gave them strength when they heard of Brian Epstein's tragic death.

"I'm more tolerant now than I was, and I feel more at ease myself, but I'm not less certain about many things," said Paul.

"In some ways I envy George, because he now has a great faith. He seems to have found what he's been searching for.

"When we went to India we were amazed. So many people living in terrible poverty - but everyone was so happy. They were always laughing and smiling, even though most of them were starving. For people in the Western world to understand why these people can be so happy is a very difficult thing."

With John, George, and Ringo, Paul will be flying to India again shortly to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi.

To a certain extent, Paul's music is his greatest emotional outlet. "Ravi Shankar discovered himself through his music, and I suppose in many ways we are, too."

This is apparent in their latest albums, which feature many tracks based on personal experiences. But how far can one go with any new art form, be it music, films or theatre? Will the great general public accept it?

"We've never set out with the sole intention of trying to please people. It's been wonderful that so many have appreciated what we've done. We don't want to come to a point where we wave 'cheerio' to anyone. We want to take them along with us."

Paul McCartney certainly is more at ease now and much more tolerant and understanding. But he's still searching for something. Whether or not he'll ever find it, I just don't know. But he is determined to, somehow.

Interview: John Lennon, Wellington - June 21, 1964

Q: You do have fans from all age groups, don’t you?

Lennon: Yes, some people say to…that when you get older fans, that kids don’t like you. It’s true of a pocket of kids, but it’s much more satisfying to have a good, you know, sort of…I can’t think of the word…coverage of…

Q: Yes.

Lennon: What’s the word? I can’t…what…you know. Oh, it doesn’t matter anyway. More different types than just one packet of…pocket of, sort of…one packet of little fans in one corner, you know!

Q: Your book, In My Own Write [sic], what’s it all about, John?

Lennon: It’s about nothing. You know, if you like it, you like it, if you don’t, you don’t. That’s all there is to it. There’s nothing deep or anything in it, it’s just meant to be funny.

Q: Entertainment.

Lennon: I hope.

Q: What about the next one you’re writing?

Lennon: I don’t know, I’m just, you know, I don’t know whether I’ll ever write one if I get…you know, it just depends how I feel. I’m just writing now and then when I feel like. I only do it when I feel in a funny mood.

Q: You mentioned art school, were you going to be an artist of some kind?

Lennon: I went to art school because there didn’t seem to be any hope for me in any other field, and it was about the only thing I could do possibly. But I didn’t do very well there, either, ‘cause I’m lazy, you see. So that’s the way it goes.

Q: Did you use your art at all? Have you done any drawings?

Lennon: I did the drawings for the book. Those…that’s the most amount of drawing I’ve done since I left college.

Q: John, what was your group called originally?

Lennon: We had one or two names. I had a group before I met the others called the Quarry Men. And then Paul joined it, and then George joined it, and then we began to change the names for different bookings, you know. And then we finally hit upon the Beatles.

Q: And what about the haircut?

Lennon: That just, it’s so long ago, we can hardly remember, you know. It was something to do with Paris and something to do with Hamburg, only we’re not quite sure now, because there’s so much been written about it, even we’ve forgotten. That’s true, we just…

Q: Have to read it up to find out.

Lennon: Yeah, well, you know, they just make it up about the hair now, but it…something sort of happened between Hamburg and Paris.

Q: What do you feel about all the manufacturers sort of jumping on the bandwagon, and all the Beatle shoes and bags and clothes?

Lennon: Well, most of them spelling it B-E-A-T-L-E-S we have got some, sort of, thing in it. I don’t know how it’s worked, our accountants do it. So I don’t mind it, you know, as long as we’re in on it. And the ones that aren’t are usually tracked down, if you’re listening. And the one…the clever ones trying to use B-double-E, it doesn’t often help, you know.

Q: Is there anything you want to do and see while you’re in New Zealand?

Lennon: I want to see this stuff steaming out of the ground.

Q: Will you get up there?

Lennon: I don’t know, we’ll try.