"I just played f***ing bass with the Stones – and I’m a f***ing Beatle:" it turns out Paul McCartney got quite excited playing on the new Rolling Stones album

Paul McCartney at home, and the Rolking Stones standing in a doorway
(Image credit: Paul McCartney: Mary McCartney | The Rolling Stones: Mark Seliger)

Producer Andrew Watt has revealed what when on behind the scenes when Paul McCartney recorded his bass part on the recent album by the Rolling Stones, Hackney Diamonds.  

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Watt says that he asked McCartney to play on stroppy rocker Bite My Head Off largely because it would confound expectations.

"It would be expected to have him play on a great big ballad like Depending on You, or one of the softer songs to get that 'melodic Paul McCartney' thing," says Watt. "But you’ve got to also understand, Paul McCartney loves to fucking rock. So I thought, 'Why not pick the most punk-rock fucking song – the one where everyone’s on 10 the whole time – and let these guys have the time of their lives rocking out together?"

Watt goes on the detail how he got McCartney's fuzzed-up bass sound, revealing that he gifted the Beatles' legend a left-handed Hoffner – identical to the one he traditionally uses – but wired a Univox Super Fuzz circuit into the body to give it the full fuzz action. "He was crying laughing," says Watt. "He had that as his secret weapon."

"Paul stands up," Watt continues. "All of a sudden, Ron stands up, Keith stands up, Mick drags a mic into the fucking centre of the room, and I swear to God, the roof left the fucking building. I can’t explain what that feels like, but it was the Stones and the Beatles. It wasn’t heavy for them; it was a fucking blast."

Finally, Watt reveals McCartney's reaction to session.  

"He literally was like, 'I just played fucking bass with the Stones – and I’m a fucking Beatle.' He literally said those words. These guys were literally like they were 18 again, and you can hear it in the recording. It’s ferocious."

Elsewhere in the interview, Watt reveals how he came to work on Hackney Diamonds, how the sessions with Bill Wyman, Lady Gaga, Elton John and Stevie Wonder worked out, how drummer Steve Jordan honoured Charlie Watts with his approach to playing, and why he hopes another album will follow. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.