Because the Beatles remain the single most significant force in the history of popular music, it’s no wonder that all things related to the Fab Four continue to fascinate music fans more than four decades after the quartet called it quits.
One of the most intriguing things about that is the reaction when children of John, Paul, George and Ringo perform. The world has long heard from the offspring of Lennon (half-brothers Julian and Sean), Harrison (whose son Dhani records as Thenewno2) and Starr (Zak Starkey, who has drummed for the Who since 1996).
Now comes the steady rise of James McCartney. The only son of Paul and Linda, he had previously been featured on solo albums from his parents (his dad’s 2001 disc Driving Rain, his late mom’s 1998 effort Wide Prairie). But his ambitious two-disc set The Complete EP Collection (from Engine Company Records) marks a proper introduction for the 34-year-old singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in London.
Pulling together previously digital-only efforts Available Light (2010) and Close At Hand (2011), plus five new songs, the combined EP package is an exciting, wide-ranging effort the spans rousing power-pop, experimental material in the tradition of Radiohead, even authentic ’50s rockabilly, yet it all somehow works as a cohesive set. While his music rarely mirrors that of the Beatles — a smart move toward establishing a separate identity — James nonetheless has the same adventuresome spirit still recognized as key to his forebears’ magical imprint.
We caught up with McCartney last week, shortly before his first-ever appearance in Orange County, May 29 at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, followed by a May 31 gig at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood.
Soundcheck: I love your songs — you mix melodic pop-rock, indie, expressive ballads, experimental rock. Could you talk a bit about the diverse approach you take to songwriting, and how that connects with the lyrics or emotions of a specific song?
James McCartney: It’s whatever comes naturally at first, but it’s usually music first, then lyrics. I try different approaches, though, because sometimes you can find something for a song in a way you wouldn’t have thought. Even by singing nonsense words over a melody until things begin to take shape. But in the end it’s about having as much emotion as possible for me, musically and lyrically. Heartfelt and true, cathartic. Natural.
Article by Robert Kinsler, for the Orange County Register.
The latest from Encore: