‘We just love playing together’: Paul McCartney’s current band has outlasted the Beatles, Wings

He was in the Beatles and Wings for roughly a decade a piece. But Paul McCartney has been collaborating with his current band for far longer, and he says that longevity has helped him to some of the most celebrated outings of his storied career on stage.

“We’ve been working together a long time,” McCartney tells KCSN. “A couple of years ago, I kind of looked at them and said: ‘You know what guys? We’re a band. We’re a real band.’ I think up until then we’d just been thinking: ‘We’re getting together, and playing some songs.’ But we’re a band now — and that elevated our performance, I think. When we realized that, we sort of felt so much better about what we were doing.”

McCartney first toured with Rusty Anderson, Abe Laboriel Jr., Brian Ray and Paul “Wix” Wickens beginning in April 2002, in support of his Driving Rain project. Wix was a carry over from McCartney’s 1990s-era bands. Since, the former Beatle has worked consistently with the same backing quartet on the road, even as individual members have contributed to McCartney’s studio efforts, as well. Anderson and Laboriel were on Driving Rain; Anderson, Laboriel and Ray contributed to 2005′s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard; and all four played on 2007′s Memory Almost Full and 2013′s New.

“I trust the guys,” McCartney adds. “They know what I’m going to do, I know what they are going to do. We surprise each other — and even if it’s like, ‘I didn’t know you were going to do that,’ we can all follow it. That’s the great thing with a band. And all of us just come to play music. There’s no other thing on the agenda. We just love playing together.”

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  • Chuck Coleman

    McCartney’s current band: These fellows while good are back up stage/studio musicians, not collaborators.

  • Le Sheppard

    Great point Chuck … and I believe the article is talking about the Ringo post Sullivan Beatles and not the entirety of George John and Paul plying together in starting in Liverpool and Hamburg. But you make the best point – only the Beatles were TRUE collaborators (no one ever matched them on that … ever). Denny and Wings 76 did some – but you always got the idea it was them with and backing and following Paul (I always thought the 76 Speed of Sound band was the closet to him having true collaborators again).

  • EdSullivan

    But… they’re not nearly as good as his earlier bands.

  • Scott Murray

    Chuck that is an accurate statement. My counterpoint rests on seeing these guys live since 2002 many times. They were tighter than ever during the summer 2012 leg of the “Out There” Tour. Yes, maybe not collaborators in the sense that John was to Paul but collaborators in a very different way as it relates to playing together live on stage. There is something to be said for teams that win the World Series, is it the money the owners throw at them or is it a bonding like we saw with the 2013 Red Sox. I know I do much better on the golf course when I play with people I know well! McCartney seems to be happy with a full time band, always has. My friend Tom (not a Beatle Fan but a big music fan) remarked while he watched the tribute to the Beatles last month how tight McCartney’s band seemed to be, so that says something. Brian, Rusty, Abe and Wix deserve the recognition! Isn’t really Jagger and the Stones? Bono and U2? Iv’e tested this with many so called rock& roll fans and most can’t name the Rolling Stones’ drummer or the U2′s? To Ed Sullivan’s comment, I totally disagree. This current band is far better technically than the WOA band and just as good if not better than the 1989-93 ensemble!

  • BigBernard

    Wickens is just a brown noser.