Singer-songwriter James McCartney is currently in the midst of a 47-date U.S. tour in support of his new album, Me. The record is McCartney’s first full-length, though he has previously release of two digital-only EPs, Available Light and Close At Hand. But he’s not exactly new to music: he played guitar and drums, and cowrote some songs on his father’s solo albums, including Flaming Pie in ‘97 and Driving Rain in ‘01. And yes, his father is that McCartney (James’ mother is Linda).
James McCartney’s tour brings him to The Altamont Theatre on Tuesday, May 28. Risa Binder also performs. 8 p.m., $15. In advance of that show, James talked to Xpress about playing Coachella, his favorite U.S. tour stops, and the connection between music and visual art.
Mountain Xpress: You started your current tour off at Coachella, and then move on to smaller venues — which seems sort of like jumping into the deep end and then swimming to the shallow end. Is that daunting? And how did you get warmed up and in the groove for the tour?
James McCartney: Not daunting at all. I love playing small venues, because it gives me a chance to connect with the audience, and also have them connect with me, and the music. It’s actually lovely.
Where in the U.S. are you most excited to tour? Any side trips that you hope to make as you cross the country — perhaps to visit the oldest drive-in theatre or the giant robot playground? Everywhere really. I love America. But especially the Southwest… my mom loved it there.
Does coming from a famous (and famously talented) family put a lot of pressure on you? Do you feel like audiences have certain expectations and, if so, how do you handle that? Coming from the kind of family that I’ve come from and I am a part of, it’s kind of public, so there’s a fair amount of attention towards me. I have to be careful. But, privacy is a good thing if you want it.
Besides being a singer/songwriter, you’re also a visual artist. Do you work on both simultaneously, or do you take time off from one to pursue the other? And do you feel that music and visual art somehow inspire each other, or play off of each other? Or are they completely different creative outlets for you? I feel that they are deeply related, but are also different. In fact all the artwork for Me and for my the first single, “Strong As You” are made up of paintings that I have done. And I feel that art and expression are always related like that.
You’re touring in support of your full-length, Me. How have the songs been received, and have they evolved for you as you’ve been playing them in front of audiences? (e.g.: Have you been rearranging them for the live show, or have the meanings of the songs changed as your play them?) The reception has been great. The record is intimate and personal and that’s why tour is solo to keep intimate and personal and also to say, “This is Me.”