Experimental-deep-fried-southern rockers, My Morning Jacket, are on the verge of one of their most important years as a band. Following up their critically acclaimed album, Z, the band will be releasing their brand new album, Evil Urges, on June 10. Besides gracing the recent cover of SPIN Magazine, My Morning Jacket can also be found playing Saturday Night Live this weekend, May 10, as well as playing a sold-out show at Radio City Music Hall and a marquee spot at this year’s Bonnaroo Festival next month.
(above: My Morning Jacket at this year’s SXSW in Austin, TX. Look at this live show, you can’t tell me they shouldn’t be playing arenas).
I sat down with My Morning Jacket’s resident drum pummeler, Patrick Hallahan, to discuss the band’s big year and the possibility of becoming rock’s next arena-worthy act:
Jim Shearer: I saw you guys at the IFC/Crossroads party at SXSW. Good show!
Patrick Hallahan: That might have been one of my favorite shows in a very, very long time, just because we have such a history with that room [The Parish]. We played a lot of shows there. My friend Will Johnson claims that that’s the best sounding room in Austin, TX. When we go there it’s like family. Chris, the sound engineer, knew my name the minute I walked in the door, and we hadn’t seen each other in four-and-a-half years. That just means the world to bands that play so many rooms throughout the year, for someone to know–it’s like a sense of family. It was a fantastic show, it really was.
Jim: Yo La Tengo opened up the show. Did you get to hang out with them at all?
Patrick: Absolutely. That was certainly one of the highlights of my week. I’ve been a fan of Yo La Tengo for so long. I felt so bad, because Yo La Tengo shouldn’t be opening for us, we should be opening for Yo La Tengo. It was just cool to befriend them, they’re really sweet. It was really good to know that a band I respect so highly are such a nice group of people
Jim: I notice when you’re playing the drums that you don’t close your mouth the entire show.
Patrick: (laughs) I’m just trying to catch flies. I guess it’s like the Michael Jordan tongue thing. I don’t know? When I’m not thinking, and in my euphoric state, I guess my mouth’s open.
Jim: My Morning Jacket has a big year coming up. You guys have a lot of stuff going on.
Patrick: What in particular are you talking about?
Jim: Well, you’ve got your new album, Evil Urges, you’ve got the show at Radio City Music Hall, which I think amazingly sold-out in 20 minutes?
Patrick: Twenty-two minutes.
Patrick: I swear to God I never thought that I’d be able to say that we sold out a show in an hour at a 300-capactiy club. To sell out Radio City Music Hall in 22 minutes–I don’t even feel that it’s real, honestly. The year ahead of us is definitely chock full of action–lots of touring, lots of seeing the world again. It’s been nice having a dormant period, but we’re certainly ready and willing to take this to anybody who wants to listen to it.
Jim: Can you walk us through the album?
Patrick: It sounds like a thousand things at once. It’s a very weird, schizophrenic album, and I’ll certainly take this one to the grave as being, probably, one of the proudest projects I have ever been a part of. I love it so much, I really do.
Jim: I know you guys are ready for it–I think you need to start playing arenas. At your SXSW show, I thought, “Wow, they’re ready to launch off.”
Patrick: We’ll play wherever people want us to play. We like playing regardless. That was the nice thing about playing at The Parish [SXSW]. It was just back to playing a small club again, and the intimacy of that. We love doing [small venues] and we love the big stage too. Just tell us where to go and we’ll put on a show.
Jim: If you did start touring arenas, are there any stage props that you’d like?
Patrick: Those are in the making. Those are still in the ethos, we’re trying to grab them from the sky right now. I don’t know what’s happened yet.
Jim: (laughs) Then you’ve got Bonnaroo coming up, which you’ve played a handful of times.
Patrick: This will be our fifth time, and they’re giving us the midnight slot on the first night. Bonnaroo is everything that SXSW isn’t–it’s very calm, it’s very compact. It’s still a huge festival, but you’re not running around an entire city. It’s very therapeutic, the Bonnaroo experience. To get the first night [Friday], is really something special, because everybody gets there on Thursday and they’re ready to go see music. When you get a midnight slot, everyone’s been listening to music all day, really getting into the mood of everything, and by midnight they really want to have a great time. We’re really looking forward to providing a fun Friday night at Bonnaroo.
Jim: Finally, how is it that you’re a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan?
Patrick: I guess I always tried to avoid football, cause I never wanted to seem like a jock, but I have always secretly adored sports. Now that I know that I’m not a jock, and I’m comfortable in my own skin (laughs), I just let it happen–it just waterfalled. I had to pick a team, cause there’s no pro teams in Louisville, or Kentucky for that matter. A lot of my friends were Pittsburgh Steelers fans and I started to go watch the games, and I just got caught up in the spirit of it. My second year of following them they won the Super Bowl, and it was just a beautiful, beautiful thing.