James McCartney is a man of few words, preferring as it were to let his music do the talking.
So McCartney, the only son of Paul and Linda McCartney, doesn’t turn up with a lot of hype. Nor does he do anything to contribute to any buzz that would be generated by talking about his life and family, playing Paul’s songs or, in an opposite strategy, coming out against his dad’s kind of music.
Rather, the 39-year-old simply plays his own songs — he’s released a pair of EPs and two albums since 2010 — and flies quietly under the pop culture radar.
After spending his first two and a half years on the road with Paul McCartney and Wings, James grew up in the county of East Sussex in southeast England, attended the local state secondary school, and in 1998, graduated from Bexhill College, near his East Sussex home, having studied art and sculpture.
A guitarist since he was 9, when his father gave him a Fender Stratocaster once owned by Carl Perkins, McCartney played on a pair of Paul McCartney and Wings albums, taking a guitar solo on 1997’s “Flaming Pie” and contributing guitar and percussion to 2001’s “Driving Rain.”
He also plays lead guitar on “The Light Comes From Within,” the final recording by his mother, who died in 1998.
McCartney didn’t put out a solo recording until he was 33, releasing the EP “Available Light” in 2010 and its follow-up “Close at Hand” in 2011. His first album, “Me,” was released in 2013.
McCartney, who understandably doesn’t care to be compared to his famous father musically, nonetheless demonstrated that he shares Paul’s sense of melody and gift for pop-rock songwriting, and here and there, sounds very much like his dad vocally.
On “The Blackberry Train,” engineered by Steve Albini, best known for his work with Nirvana and the Pixies, McCartney adds some abrasive edges and electronic touches to his psychedelic pop, giving the album a more distinctive sound.
McCartney rarely does live interviews. He responded briefly to a handful of questions submitted by email.
Q: Why did you decide to work with Steve Albini on “Blackberry Train”?
McCartney: I really admire him and thought it would be a great experience to work with him.
Q: The record is psychedelic pop with a hard edge here and there. Did you get what you were looking for and is that a step forward for you?
McCartney: It’s all been an evolution. This set of songs definitely has a harder edge, but it’s a continuation of the last album. The main thing for me is not to conform or compromise.
Q: You grew up surrounded by music. At what point did you decide you wanted to be a musician? Do you recall why you wanted to at the time?
McCartney: Music has been important to me my whole life. Of course, as a kid, you always dream of being a fireman or policeman, so I did that as well.
Q: This is a cliched question, but what are your influences.
McCartney: There are so many influences for me ... Kurt Cobain, The Smiths, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, The Cure, The Beatles (“Let It Be” is one of my favorite albums), Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Hank Williams. I could name so many more! In the end, I don’t really prefer a particular style, just great music, truly.
Q: What are your shows like for you and for the audience?
McCartney: I love performing live, and it’s great fun. It can be nerve-wracking sometimes, mostly because I get so pumped up for it! Ultimately, though, when you look out at the audience and see them connecting with the music you’ve written, it’s all worth it. An amazing and beautiful experience.