Hailed as one of “the greatest live bands of the generation” by Rolling Stone magazine and “the greatest live band in the world,” by the L.A. Weekly, My Morning Jacket (MMJ) holds an esteemed status in modern rock ’n’ roll. On Sunday, October 11, the group will make a stop at the Santa Barbara Bowl as part of their tour for their latest record, The Waterfall.
MMJ has a unique ability to create tension that restricts the listener’s ear, only then to release it into an ever-expanding space that frees the mind, body, and soul; The Waterfall follows suit, all the while experimenting with new frameworks. Released last April The Waterfall delivers the signature sound that MMJ fans crave: grandiose ’80s synths, swelling lap steel guitar, explosive electric guitar, drum transitions, and lead singer Jim James’s reverbed-out voice. According to MMJ’s drummer Patrick Hallahan, the band’s goal for this album was to keep their core style in tact, but develop their songs differently in terms of structure. “Going into the album, it was pretty much written on the floor of the studio. We pieced together a lot of demos, more so than any other album,” he explained.
My Morning Jacket holds a respected place in music; they have toured with Bob Dylan, been internationally recognized for their extraordinary live sound, and have performed as animated character’s for Fox’s American Dad. Despite the acclaim the band has received, Hallahan maintains a matter-of-fact and humble attitude toward his art: “I feel very flattered and fortunate, but I try not to listen to too much [praise] because I just want to focus on getting better,” he said. “On one hand I’m very thankful for that, but there’s more work to be done.”
Formed in 1998, MMJ’s band members have changed throughout the years for the better, according to Hallahan: “I think we’ve all become much better listeners…You could be the greatest guitar player in the world, but if you’re not listening or receptive to someone having an inspired moment, or even listening to your own heart and something that is moving you and then acting on it, it just takes a long time to get to it,” he said. “I’m not saying we’re masters of it, but we’ve been getting better at allowing moments that want to happen to happen.”
Hallahan described how this personal work has translated into their music: “I guess, I just feel less of an ego and more of a comfort in our role. I feel like everyone dropped their ego and the need to prove themselves that was choking the situation. Once you don’t feel the need to prove yourself, then you feel like you’re there for a reason and you’re the right person for this moment, then you can get out of the way and listen to what’s out there,” he continued. “It has helped our improvisational moments, reworking songs, blending songs. It requires listening and it keeps things interesting and your mind focused and open to whatever is out there.”
Although they just released The Waterfall last spring, the band is gearing up to drop another record some time next year. “I think we would like to try to put some different song characters into that song lineup. Who knows what next year brings?” I’m hoping that it’s really soon because I miss those songs and want to start playing them, but I don’t really have an answer for when.”
My Morning Jacket plays the Bowl Sunday, October 11. For tickets and information, call (805) 962-7411 or see sbbowl.com.