Despite cancelling two tours, Ringo Starr is making the most of his downtime by recording and releasing his new EP, Zoom In.
The appropriately-titled five-track release was recorded remotely and at Starr’s home studio with safety precautions in place. Featuring collaborations with songwriters, producers and musicians, Zoom In was a “weird way of making a record but it’s the only way to do it” Starr says during a Q&A with ET Canada.
“The thing last year was very difficult for everybody, trying to get used to restrictions,” he says of the EP which is out March 19. “There were two tours booked for me and I was just sitting there moping about and thought better make an EP. Hit the drums and hang out with a few musicians and we did. We were all very cautious, all got tested.”
For Starr, 80, he explains collaborating with his fellow musicians meant he “didn’t have to be the writer or co-writer of the song,” adding, “I started calling people” and asking if they had any songs. “I just did the vocals. the fun part of doing it yourself.”
Included on the EP is the previously-released song “Here’s To The Nights” which features Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Ben Harper, Dave Grohl, Sheryl Crow, Chris Stapleton, Steve Lukather, Jenny Lewis, Lenny Kravitz, Corinne Bailey Rae, Eric Burton, Yola, and FINNEAS.
“I think everyone was looking for something to do. I was in that mood of looking for people I hadn’t worked with,” Starr says. “For me, it’s like a really good phase of my recording life to play or to listen to what they played at their own studios and it worked.”
Starr drew on his love of EPs to create Zoom In, saying “it’s not such a big situation” as it is to record a full album. “To do the 10 tracks it’s joyful but it’s work.”
Revealing he’s had both his vaccine shots, like most people, Starr is having a “really tough” time not seeing his family over the course of the past year. Though “we FaceTime”, Starr says “this is the longest I haven’t seen the kids of the grandkids.”
“My granddaughter sent me a little video today of my great-grandson singing away to my songs,” he shares. “It’s hard and I smile because they only want to go back to school and they’re all back in school now in England and I never wanted to go to school as a kid. They just wanted to see their pals.”
“It keeps your spirits alive to be able to hang out with friends,” he says adding he’s seen his step-children and is taking every precaution. “It is hard, so hard.”
But Starr is keeping busy at his Los Angeles home during the pandemic. “I’ve got artwork coming out the kazoo because it’s another thing I love to do,” he says, sharing that most of his time has been spent making music, art and working out in his home gym. “I like to keep fit as best I can.”
While Starr is keeping busy, one thing fans won’t be seeing from him is a virtual concert anytime soon – even with cancelled tour plans this year.
“I had to cancel last year and I’ve cancelled this year because I don’t want to go out on the road and social distancing and masks on,” he says as he discusses postponing his 2021 tour dates. But Starr is hopeful he’ll be able to hit the road in 2022. “I’m gonna wait to go on tour next year. There may be four or five EPs out there by then, who knows,” he laughs. “I love live… I’m not really interested in it unless I’m there and you’re there. That’s the way I want to do it.”
Besides eventually hitting the road, one of the other things Starr is excited about is Peter Jackson’s upcoming documentary “The Beatles: Get Back”. Jackson’s film utilizes never-before-seen archival footage of The Beatles filmed in 1969 for the “Let It Be” film. While Starr has publicly voiced his displeasure over the resulting film which focused on the turmoil within the group, the musician says his memories of that time are of moments of “joy and laughter”.
Revealing Jackson has discovered more than 50 hours of unused footage from that period, Starr says it gives an entirely different tone to what has previously been presented. “It’s full of fun. There’s a lot of joy in making those records, those tracks, so I am certainly looking forward to the whole thing,” he adds.
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