Saturday, June 15, 2024 
--archival-captured-cinematronic-continuity error-daily report-datastream-depth of field--
--drama-44.1 khz-gramophone-inquisitive-needle drops-picture book-twinklepop--
Neumu = Art + Music + Words
Search Neumu:  


edited by michael goldbergcontact

For My Morning Jacket, It's The Music That Matters

Burlington, Vt. — Jim James, leader and lead singer of My Morning Jacket, is sick and tired of critics talking about everything except his band's music. "It is frustrating to hear people constantly talk about our hair or the fact that we are from Kentucky," said James, 25, during an interview at Vermont Sandwich Company, a small restaurant in Burlington, a few hours before the band were to perform at Higher Ground.

"We have long hair because we like it," James, who also plays guitar, continued. "The media is so lazy. They write more about what we look like than what we sound like. We are what we are, we sound like what we sound like. We can't help that. I just want people to write more about the music. Whether they love it or they hate it, make it about the music."

My Morning Jacket's sound is good ol'-fashioned '70s-style rock that somehow mixes the spastic and stylistic musical approach of the Flaming Lips to a 1970's Neil Young (think After the Gold Rush) aesthetic. With his voice drenched in reverb, James croons lyrics of love, lust and wide-open spaces in a way that only James (with his falsetto) can produce.

James is proud of the fact that the group — guitarist Johnny Quaid, bassist Two Tone Tommy, keyboardist Danny Cash, drummer Patrick Hallahan and James — attracts a diverse audience. "The genius behind the band is that there are not certain kinds of people that listen to our music," he said. "We don't want to ever be exclusive."

A skilled, talented songwriter, James creates songs that take the listener on a lyrical road trip akin to the one in Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." It Still Moves (ATO), presents colorful images of outstretched roads, love, lust and living life in Kentucky. Whether it is through the down-tempo beat of "Golden," which discusses the exploration of unmarked territories ("Watchin' a stretch of road/ Miles of light explode/ Driftin' off a thing I'd never done before/ Watchin' a crowd roll in/ Out go the lights it begins/ A feelin' in my bones I never felt before") or the poppy surf-rock love song "Mahgeetah" ("Sittin' here with me and mine/ All wrapped up in a bottle of wine/ Little we can do/ We goin' see it thru somehow so/ Now are you ready to go?/ My lady I been waitin' on the boat here/ I been waitin' so long"), James manages to draw on rock's past without creating musical clichés.

James was still in elementary school when he decided he was going to become a rocker. "I have known this is what I wanted to do since I was in 7th grade, and since then it has been my number one priority," he said. He noted that Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation and Don McLean's "Leader of the Band" (a song that he was obsessed with) inspired him to want to make music himself.

My Morning Jacket's live performances seem to portray the purity of a childhood vision of rock stardom. With their shaggy retro look — the band members have long early '70s-style hair and at times play shoeless — My Morning Jacket reminds music fans that nothing is sacred.

The band formed in 1999. They recorded two indie albums, 1999's The Tennessee Fire (Darla) and 2001's At Dawn (Darla), before signing with Dave Matthews' well-funded ATO Records in early 2002. Although the group has yet to meet Matthews, James said the move to ATO has been a good one. "We told them how we wanted to go about making this album, that we wanted to record at our own studio (Above the Cadillac) and do everything on our own terms, and ATO respected our wishes," James said. "The main difference in switching labels for us was distribution. We wanted more people to be able to listen to our record. ATO is distributed by BMG, one of the biggest media companies."

At dinner James was confident and relaxed. His long hair was tied back in a ponytail and his face was obscured behind an overgrown beard. A simple, worn-down vintage T-shirt and corduroys fit perfectly snug to his body. "So what do you want to be when you grow up?" he asked me.

Though James has done many interviews, he's still not at ease in partaking in one-sided conversations. Throughout the dinner, James and guitarist/cousin Johnny Quaid carried on a rambling discussion that ranged from music to anti-fashion and gossip. "Less music, more talk," joked Quaid, as he created a new slogan for the band: "My Morning Jacket: less music, more talk and fashion."

Asked about the inspiration for their name, the two young men displayed their sense of humor. "My Morning Jacket? Isn't that a brand of cigarettes?" Quaid asked.

"I could tell you a load of bullshit about our name, but I am not going to," James said. "There are just some things that are meant for us and there are other things that are meant to be shared with the public. Our name and the name of the studio is for us; the music is for the public." — Rebekah J. Zietz [Monday, Sept. 29, 2003]

Alejandro Escovedo's Joyous Rebirth

John Vanderslice Kicks Genre

Paul Duncan's Elusive Pop

Stephen Yerkey's Wandering Songs

French Kicks Complete 'Two Thousand'

Spazzy Romanticism: Love Story In Blood Red

Brain Surgeons NYC Rock The Big Questions

Jarboe's 'Men' Charts Turbulent Emotions

Delta 5's Edgy Post-Punk Resurrected

Blitzen Trapper Spiff Things Up

Minus Five: Booze, Betrayal, Bibles and Guns

New Compilation Spotlights Forgotten Folk Guitar Heroes

Chris Brokaw's Experiment In Pop

Old And New With Death Vessel

Silver Jews: Salvation And Redemption

Jana Hunter's Beautiful Doom

Vashti Bunyan Finds Her Voice Again

Nick Castro's Turkish Folk Delight

Katrina Hits New Orleans Musicians Hard

Paula Frazer's Eerie Beauty

The National Find Emotional Balance

Death Cab For Cutie's New Album, Tour

Heavy Trash's Rockabilly Rampage

Help The Wrens Get Their Albums Released!

Devendra Banhart, Andy Cabic Launch Label

Lydia Lunch's Noir Seductions

Bosque Brown's The Real Deal

PDX Pop Now! Fest Announces Lineup

Sarah Dougher Starts Women-Focused Label

Jennifer Gentle's Joyful Psyche

Mountain Goat Darnielle Gets Autobiographical With 'Sunset Tree'

Mia Doi Todd's Beautiful Collaboration

Return of the Gang of Four

Martha Wainwright Finds Her Voice

Brian Jonestown Massacre's Acid Joyride

Solo Disc Due From Pixies' Frank Black

Heartless Bastards' Big-Hearted Rock

Mike Watt's Midlife Journey

The Black Swans Balance Old And New

Nicolai Dunger's Swedish Blues

The Insomniacs' Hard-Edged Pop

Yo La Tengo Collection Due

Juana Molina's 'Homemade' Sound

Beans Evolves

Earlimart's Songs Of Loss

Devendra Banhart's 'Mosquito Drawings'

Negativland Rerelease 'Helter Stupid'

Alina Simone Transforms The Ordinary

Sounds From Nature: Laura Veirs

Octet's Fractured Electric Pop

Sleater-Kinney Working With Lips Producer

The Cult Of Silkworm

The Evolution Of The Concretes

Devendra Banhart's Exuberant New Songs

Catching Up With The Incredible String Band

Gram Rabbit's Desert Visions

Three Indie-Rock Stars Unite As Maritime

Remembering Johnny Ramone

Jarboe's Many Voices

Phil Elvrum's Long Hard Winter

First U.S. Release For Vashti Bunyan Album

Incredible String Band To Tour U.S.

New Music From Lydia Lunch

Le Tigre Protest The Bush War Presidency

Joel RL Phelps: Bleak Songs Rock Hard

Time Tripping With Galaxie 500

Patti Smith Wants Bush Out!

Sharron Kraus: A New Kind Of Folk Music

The Fiery Furnaces' Psychedelic Theater

Harder, Heavier Burning Brides

Sonic Youth's Ongoing Experiment

The Dt's Do It Their Way

Poster Children Cover Political Rock

Rare Thelonious Monk Recordings Due

Uneasy Pop From dios

Beck, Lips, Waits Cover Daniel Johnston

Understanding Franz Ferdinand

The Truly Amazing Joanna Newsom

Mylab's Boundary-Crossing Experiments In Sound

Have You Heard Jolie Holland Whistle?

The 'Magical Realism' Of Vetiver

The Restless, Rootsy Songs Of Eszter Balint

The Sun Sets On The Blasters

Devendra Banhart To Tour U.S.

The East/West Fusion Sounds Of Macha

Destroyer Gets Mellow For Your Blues

TV On The Radio Get Political

Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse To Play Lollapalooza 2004

New Music From The Fall

Apocalyptic Sound From The Intelligence

Fast And Rude With The Casual Dots

'Rejoicing' With Devendra Banhart

New Album, Tour From The Polyphonic Spree

Shearwater Take Wing

Sleater-Kinney To Tour East/West Coasts

Resurrecting Rocket From The Tombs

Visqueen Want To Get A Riot Goin' On

Lloyd Cole Makes A Commotion

Funkstörung's 'Cut-Up' Theory

Waiting For Mirah's C'mon Miracle

Electrelane Find Their Voice

The Television Is Still On!

Experimental Sounds From Hannah Marcus

The Ponys Play With Rayguns

Ex-Mono Men Leader Returns With The Dt's

Mountain Goats' Darnielle Adopts A More Hi-Fi Sound

Sun Kil Moon To Tour U.S., Europe

Nothin' But The Truth From The Von Bondies

Sultans Survive 'Shipwreck'

Sebadoh Reunite For Spring Tour

Xiu Xiu's 'Reality' Rock

Meet The Patients

Beth Orton, M. Ward Make Sadness Taste Sweet

Oneida's Pathway To Ecstasy

Radiohead, Pixies, Dizzee Rascal To Play Coachella

Young People Tour Behind War Prayers

Pixies Tour Dates Announced

Ani DiFranco Tells It Like It Is

Deerhoof Back For 2004 With Milkman

McLusky Set To 'Bring On The Big Guitars' Again

Pixies Reunite For U.S., European Tours

American Music Club, Decemberists To Play NoisePop 2004

Damien Rice Set To Tour U.S.

The Frames Accept Your Love

Punk Rock's A-Frames To Re-Record Third Album

Finally! Mission Of Burma Record New Album

A Solo Detour For Ladybug Transistor's Sasha Bell

Return Of The Old 97's

Spending The Night With Damien Rice

Tindersticks Reissues Due This Spring

The Evolution Of 'A Silver Mt. Zion'

Neil Young Rocks Australia With 'Greendale'

Poster Children Back In Action

'The Great Cat Power Disaster Of 2003'

Chicks On Speed's Subversive Strategies

Oranger At A Crossroad

Peaches On Tour And In Control

Jawbreaker's Complete Dear You Sessions To Be Released

Belle & Sebastian + Trevor Horn = Sunny Pop Nirvana

Von Bondies' Pawn Shoppe Heart

Descendents Are Back!

Modest Mouse Touring; Album Due in 2004

London Suede Take A (Permanent?) Break

Saul Williams Wants You To Think For Yourself

The 'Zen' Sound Of Calexico

Elliott Smith Dead AT 34

Debut Due From Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon

The Hunches: Music That'll 'Fucking Live Forever'

Vic Chesnutt Speaks His Mind

90 Day Men Cancel Tour

Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor Highlight SF Jazz Festival

For My Morning Jacket, It's The Music That Matters

EP Due From The Polyphonic Spree

Bright Eyes, Neva Dinova Collaborate On EP

The Rise & Fall & Rise Of Ben Lee

Catching Up With Cheerfully Defiant Tricky

Hanging Around With The Polyphonic Spree

Sophomore Album Due From The Shins

Noise Rock From Iceland's Singapore Sling

Death Cab To Tour U.S.

Rufus Wainwright's Want One Is 'Family Affair'

Death Cab's Transatlanticism On The Way

Heartfelt Rock From Sweden's Last Days Of April

The Minus 5 Get Down With Wilco

Tywanna Jo Baskette's Southern-Gothic Rock

Xiu Xiu's Stewart Takes On 'Gay-bashing'

Portishead Producer Resurfaces Behind New Diva

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wire, Primal Scream On Buddyhead Comp

Yeah Yeah Yeahs To Tour West Coast

Sonic Youth, Erase Errata Kick Off 'Buddy Series'

The Locust Are One Scary Band

Damien Rice In The 'Here And Now'

Remembering Karp's Scott Jernigan

ATP-NY Postponed 'Til At Least 2004

The Soul Of Chris Lee

Gits' Frenching The Bully To See Re-Release

Stephen Malkmus Is In Control

Superchunk To Release Rarities Set; Teenage Girls To Swoon As A Result

Summer Touring For The Gossip

Babbling On About Deerhoof

Irish Song Poet Damien Rice's O Released In U.S.

Chatting With ATP's Barry Hogan

Former Digable Planets Frontman Surfaces With Cherrywine

ATP L.A. Festival Rescheduled For Fall

Freakwater's Janet Bean Takes A Solo Turn

Lee's 'Cool Rock'

Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs Highlight YES NEW YORK

Mark Romanek's 'Hurt' Revives Johnny Cash's Career

The Rapture's Post-Punk, Post-Dance Sound

R.E.M., Wilco, Modest Mouse Highlight Bumbershoot Fest

Set Fires To Flames' Sleep-Deprivation Sound

Southern Gothic Past Shadows Verbena's La Musica Negra

The Subtle Evolution Of Yo La Tengo

Spring Tour For Jolie Holland (Plus A Live Album)

Liz Phair Still Pushing The Limits

Gold Chains Wants You To Dance And Think

Young People's War Prayers On The Way

peruse archival

-snippetcontactsnippetcontributorssnippetvisionsnippethelpsnippetcopyrightsnippetlegalsnippetterms of usesnippetThis site is Copyright © 2003 Insider One LLC