Paul McCartney Finds Freedom In His Alter Ego

Paul McCartney 300

For The Fireman's Electric Arguments, Paul McCartney and Youth recorded 13 songs in 13 days. Ruth Ward hide caption

itoggle caption Ruth Ward

When The Fireman released its debut in 1993 — an instrumental electronic and dance album called Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest — the band's identity was a mystery. Eventually a U.K. music magazine revealed The Fireman as a duo featuring the bassist and producer known as Youth and, to everyone's surprise, Paul McCartney. The project was praised though many thought it was a strange and unexpected direction for the former Beatle.

Last year, McCartney and Youth returned to work as The Fireman for their third and latest release together, Electric Arguments. McCartney entered the studio, without any material, and recorded 13 songs in 13 days.

"I would go into the studio with absolutely no idea," McCartney explains, "neither of us had any idea what the song was going to be, what the lyrics or the melody were, which could be said to be kind of a frightening prospect. Our collaboration then just became fun."

McCartney played all the instruments, with Youth at the helm as producer. But unlike the previous works, Electric Arguments features vocals.

"I would pull some words out of a poetry book, do a cut up, stick it with some other words, make some other words up that went with them." says McCartney. "And suddenly we found ourselves on this kind of exciting trail, where 'Whew, it's a song.'"

The excitement McCartney felt came partly from the freedom of working not under his own name, but as The Fireman: "The pseudonym allows you to be anyone you want to be," McCartney says. "We always say, The Fireman can do anything. I think you can get into a bit of a straightjacket; you know, I am 'Paul of The Beatles' or I am 'Paul McCartney' who makes albums a certain way. So it's very liberating."

Listen to the complete interview with Paul McCartney by clicking on the 'listen' link at the top of the page.

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