Paul McCartney dropped his 18th solo album, Egypt Station, on Friday and is now poised to land a very impressive first-week Billboard haul. The album is very good, and so too are the resulting interviews, particularly this fucking incredible cover story from Chris Heath for GQ.
Deep into the extended piece, a particularly candid McCartney looks back on his creative relationship with collaborator Kanye West. Yeezus, according to McCartney, at one point offered to produce the album that would eventually become Egypt Station. "No, I said, 'That's great, wow.' I'm just amazed that he said it," McCartney, who first met West back in 2008 at the MTV Europe Music Awards, said. "And then we never talked about it again. It was just a thought that was thrown away. I certainly thought about it and got very excited and thought, 'That's something, there's no denying that…but is it something I want to do?' There's the thing. And I thought, 'Maybe not.'"
During their inaugural 2008 encounter, the two pop titans initially connected over the pain of recent break-ups. "I'd just gone through my divorce, and I was kind of a little bit raw from it, and I said something to him about it, and he'd just broken up with someone, and he just pulled out his phone and played this great little track—I don't even remember what it's called, but it's one of his famous ones," he recalled. "So I sort of liked him, and I liked this tune."
Later, in 2014, West and McCartney linked for a number of sessions at the Beverly Hills Hotel. These sessions would eventually result in the singles "FourFiveSeconds," "Only One," and "All Day." When McCartney later experienced the finished "FourFiveSeconds," which features McCartney vocals and guitar work that West sped up and pitch-shifted, he was surprised to hear Rihanna. "She's cool," he told GQ. "So it was a great thrill, actually. I loved it. I feel a kind of privilege that they think I'm worthy of their world. I know I'm worthy of my world, but I didn't know that they think I could fit."
McCartney addressed the "beware" warning Damon Albarn texted him about working with West. (The Gorillaz/Blur frontman went on to call "FoureFiveSeconds" an "abusive collaboration" in an interview, saying Ye "trapped" McCartney.) "He might have [sent it]. I don't remember. But I wouldn't listen to him. I don't listen to people," he told GQ. Also: "I love the respect someone like Damon is attributing to me, but I'm not that fussed. If I want to go somewhere else from where I normally go or where I'm expected to go, I'll go. And if I enjoy it, that's enough for me. The great thing is, all sorts of hysterical things come out of it. I mean, there's a lot of people think Kanye discovered me. And that's not a joke."
Naturally, this resulted in McCartney teasing a recent, not-yet-unveiled track in which he used Auto-Tune in the same way West has used it since his 808s & Heartbreak days. According to McCartney, he was able to get past his initial hesitance to try the effect after realizing John Lennon would have loved it. "If we'd had this in the Beatles, we'd have been—John, particularly—would be so all over it," he said, recommending that people not be "so straitlaced" that they are blocking themselves from new experiences.
Sir Paul also let loose some highly readable thoughts on the Beatles split, his general dislike of orgies, Quincy Jones, group masturbation, frogs, and much more. Do yourself a favor and catch the full piece right here.