Interview with My Morning Jacket: Songs For The Road

—by , June 19, 2008

Is there a song that’s particularly special to you?

Yeah, there are a couple, like ‘Evil Urges.’ I think that was one of the most fun to write because it started out as two riffs. Like that intro riff with the bubbling roads and stuff and then the kind of big chorus part. Those were just two riffs that Jim had and he wanted to fit them together. I think it was the first song that we worked on and it was kind of nice because we were all starting from scratch. It wasn’t a demo that we had previously or something that we were familiar with. So it was a nice ice breaker. And it was one that we spent the entire month in Colorado last year rehearsing. Every day we would play that song. So every day it really went through a lot of changes and was probably the most collaborative thing that we’d done.

How does a MMJ song typically come to life?

The process doesn’t change too much. Jim makes demos at home and hands us, like, two-dozen songs or something. And we all live with them for a while. Then we get together and everybody just plays whatever comes into their minds. We just kind of hammer them out from there.

Where does inspiration often strike you?

I would listen to the songs in the morning here at the house and I guess it was last spring I had to do a lot of mowing. I had to mow the yard, like, every five days or something and then I had to rake between mowing because I had this ancient mower. So anyway, I spent a lot of time outside working and I would still have the songs in my head and I could hear little bass parts come up that way. So a lot of my stuff came when I was just working in the yard.

Your first ever headlining show at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall is scheduled for June 20 and it sold out in just 22 minutes. How does it feel knowing people can’t wait to be in the room with you guys?

It’s surreal. And it’s insanely flattering and unbelievable. Definitely unbelievable would be the major thing. I obviously believe in us, but just that anybody really wants to see us that much and that a show would sell out that quickly just blows my mind.

What do you think makes your live show such an attraction?

That’s a good question. It’s funny when I see Okonokos [live 2006 DVD] or something like that. When I actually see clips of us playing, it’s like ‘Oh, wow, these guys are pretty good.’ It’s so strange. Well I guess it’s not that strange. When you’re in the middle of it and you’re doing it you just have no clue. But even when I saw Patrick and Carl play with Bobby Bare Jr. in Austin a couple of years ago, I was like, ‘Holy shit,’ watching them play. I understood. Not being a part of what they were doing and watching them play as individuals, there was a weird energy and a magical thing that happened. It’s hard to describe. I don’t know, it’s weird.

Years ago when we were touring on At Dawn live shows were so different. It was like we wanted to be, I don’t want to say we wanted to be a metal band, but that’s what it felt like when we got on stage, like we were Metallica in the ‘80s or something. (laughs). It wasn’t even something we talked about. It was just like that was what we did. I guess it was what we had grown up listening to and watching all the time, hardcore and metal and stuff like that. I guess that really seeped its way into the live show, whereas the recording was a totally different world. Maybe that’s where it comes from, just that music we were listening to growing up.

Do you have a song that’s a favorite to play live?

‘One Big Holiday’ would probably be the obvious answer, because we’ve been playing it for so long, since the first year the band started. That’s one that I can’t get tired of playing. And hearing people chime in at the verses, its like, ‘Oh my god,’ it’s insane. And you can’t beat that intro, you know the ticking and then the guitar comes in. It’s like one of those live staples. Like it was written to be that kind of song. One that would get people off their feet. So that’s always fun to play.

Evil Urges is available now. My Morning Jacket will perform at Radio City Music Hall on June 20. For more info visit mymorningjacket.com

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