Album Q&A

On 24 November 2008, the day of Electric Arguments’ release, Paul McCartney’s official website published a Q&A about the album.

Question 1: The title of the album is Electric Arguments. Does this suggest that the creative dynamic between you and Youth is one of a challenging nature? Or is there another story to the title?

PM: The truth behind the title is that it’s a phrase I pulled out from an Allen Ginsberg poem. It’s as simple as that. It seemed to fit the spirit of the album.

2: Was there a conscious decision this time to include vocals?

PM: Yeah, it was a conscious decision. We wanted to go somewhere else to keep it exciting and it was quite interesting because I hadn’t written any songs for the album, so we had to improvise them each day and even though it was slightly scary it was really exciting learning to walk that tightrope.

3: Electric Arguments has been described as a cross between Arcade Fire and Led Zeppelin, would you consider that a fair call?

PM: I think it’s a compliment I’m happy to accept. Both are cool sources of music so that’s ok by me.

4: It’s a very eclectic album – is that something you had in mind when you started the album or did it take a life of its own?

PM: Yeah, it took on a life of its own. We made one or two decisions like that we would include vocals, which led us towards the song aspect of the album. Each day we would look at what the day had brought and incorporate those feelings into the track. Sometimes we wanted to get heavy and sometimes we were more in sea shanty mode.

5: Much has been made of the one-day limit per song during the recording process, just how did the time limit actually affect the end result?

PM: It wasn’t a strict rule, it was just that we were working so fast that things only seemed to need a day to get done. It did mean that it was exciting coming in the next day and looking at what we had done the previous day. Then we just spun off that.

6: Will The Fireman ever play live?

PM: There is a good chance he might. I’ll ask him.

7: In 1998 you described the sound of The Fireman as “Ambient dreams in rainbow arches”. In 2008 how would you sum up The Fireman?

PM: The Fireman takes your hand and leads you through the blaze to places you didn’t know you wanted to go.

8: As tends to happen with Paul McCartney songs, there has already been much speculation about what these songs might be about, but you made the lyrics up as you went along – how did that process work?

PM: People have always read into my lyrics and found in them more than I ever intended. This time around I dipped into poetry books, mainly those of the beat poets of the 60s, and looked for inspiration and words that I could take and make my own. Eventually this process would lead to a full song.

9: How is this different to a PM solo record?

PM: The original idea of The Fireman was to feel completely free in a studio atmosphere and this is something I’ve been interested in since Sgt. Pepper, where we gave ourselves alter egos to achieve the same effect. It gives you the feeling that anything is possible and stops you being too serious.

10: The first two Fireman albums were released on EMI. This time The Fireman are going the indie route. Is that exciting for you?

PM: I’m interested in anything that keeps the process fresh, so to work with new people means that I’ll be exposed to new ideas and this keeps the excitement alive for me.

Press release

A press release about Electric Arguments was posted on on 29 September 2008.

The Fireman Finds His Voice With Brand New Album Electric Arguments
Album Release Date: 17th November 2008

The Fireman are back after a ten-year break and this time they have something to sing about. For the first time ever the The Fireman have found their voice, Electric Arguments is their first release to feature vocals. Electric Arguments is their third and brand new studio album and it’s not the album people might expect from the mysterious duo…

“Ambient dreams in rainbow arches describe the circles of The Fireman”, is how the duo described their music in a rare interview around the release of their last album ‘Rushes’ in 1998. Their first album ‘Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest’, released in 1993, was a solid ambient dance album heavy on electronics. Around this time the identity of The Fireman was unknown until the press exposed the duo as none other than Paul McCartney and Youth. The now defunct music bible Melody Maker heaped praise on the project, “Paul McCartney has discovered dance music – the results are staggeringly brilliant. They (The Fireman) take a melody and, with dexterous genre-hopping through ambient, trance and house, evolve a number of breathtaking variations.”

Last year The Fireman returned to work again to start work on what would become Electric Arguments. The results this time are entirely different.

Earlier this year The Fireman donated a new track, Lifelong Passion, from Electric Arguments, to the charity Adopt-A-Minefield. This new track marked a directional change for The Fireman. Lifelong Passion showcased a new more traditional song based sound with vocals, going against the sound of the first two albums. And so the speculation began. A ‘studio source’ was quoted in The Times as describing their new sound ‘like Arcade Fire meets Led Zeppelin’. So what had The Fireman been up to and what does the album sound like?

Electric Arguments is an eclectic and varied album consisting of thirteen tracks recorded in thirteen days over the period of nearly a year. Each track was written and recorded in the space of one day. The Fireman went into the studio with no plan or clear direction of how they wanted the album to sound. The project took a life of its own and the results will surprise anyone expecting to hear the previous sound of the band.

The album’s opener Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight is classic rock and an instant attention grabber. A heavy guitar riff with loud drums and souring vocals, it’s like nothing The Fireman have ever done before. The second track, the acoustic driven Two Magpies immediately takes you in a different direction, calming things right down. Then we reach the third song Sing The Changes, a euphoric upbeat song with an instantly memorable melody. Electric Arguments continues in this fashion, keeping the listener intrigued as to where The Fireman will take them next. Each album track has an entirely different personality, yet somehow this collection sits together perfectly. Other standout tracks include ‘Light From Your Lighthouse’, ‘Sun Is Shining’ and ‘Dance ‘Til We’re High’, all in keeping with the genre-hopping spirit of the first two The Fireman albums. Electric Arguments demonstrates that Paul McCartney is still interested in pure musical possibilities. This is an album set to both surprise and delight the listener. Made with no record company restraints or a set release date to work to, Electric Arguments was made with complete artistic and creative freedom.

Produced By Paul McCartney & Youth
All tracks written by Paul McCartney

Electric Arguments is released on One Little Indian