Tags are annoying to most musicians but even James McCann must acknowledge he gets to wear the ‘veteran’ badge when he arrives at the company Xmas party by now. There at the earliest days of The Drones and Nunchukka Superfly, he’s been one of those “best kept secret” solo artists Australia seems to bury for more than a decade, making a name for himself in his adopted home of Melbourne (and in France) but deserving much wider attention.
“James McCann and The New Vindictives” was a couple of years in gestation with French label Beast Records taking its time to squeeze it into their schedule. Contrastingly, the band and the recording came together with spontaneity very much the name of the game.
James McCann leads his New Vindictives through a set in Sydney.
Before he was hanging out with The Drones in Perth, or touring through Europe with his own bands, James McCann cut his teeth playing in a local band in regional Western Australia. It was a baptism of fire, an experience that instilled in McCann a resilience that’s benefited him ever since.
“There’d be bikers, surfers, shearers, hippies, all mixing into one crowd, and fuckin’ getting’ shitfaced,” McCann says. “It could go real good, or it could go south really quickly. Heavy stuff would be happening, and you’d be up there watching. You had to hold your own.
"So by the time we got to Perth, playing was a walk in the park! The whole of my music career since then has been easy, crowd-wise.”
McCann grew up in the Western Australian town of Albany, 400 kilometres south-east of Perth. McCann’s father had moved from Scotland to Australia in the 1950s. After marrying a local woman in Sydney, where McCann’s elder sister was born, the McCanns moved back to Scotland, where James and his younger sister were born.