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Five Questions with Jim James

November 17th, 2016
(Photo: Gregg Greenwood)

(Photo: Gregg Greenwood)

My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James (below, covering Mazzy Star’s “Fade into You” with Twin Limb) released his second solo full-length album, Eternally Even (stream it below), earlier this month to some considerable praise, and now he’s out on the road in support of it. The affable performer’s tour brings him through New York City this weekend to play Terminal 5 on Sunday night with dream-pop outfit Twin Limb opening. And despite feeling let down by the election (“Such a shame to see fear win out over love. But we have to remember this is just one contest and we still must have faith that humanity can win the greater game”), earlier this week, James connected with The House List from “beautiful Boston Commons underneath my favorite tree” to answer Five Questions.

When you’re writing, do you know as you’re doing it what it’s for—solo album, My Morning Jacket, something else—or is it that you just begin writing and see where it takes you? Songs usually speak to me and tell me what they want to be. Usually a song becomes a solo song because it is something I have just enjoyed working on like a puzzle alone in the studio, and then an MMJ song is a song I want a performance of.

Do you have any crutches when writing a song—are there certain words or styles you feel you lean on too much? Great question. Hmmmm, I feel like my main crutch is that I never have any idea what the fuck I am doing either personally or professionally.

How did My Morning Jacket end up backing Roger Waters at Newport Folk Fest? Did it stem from the Love for Levon show? Yes, we had such a time with Roger at Love for Levon. When we parted ways, we all said let’s do something again, not knowing if it would happen or not, and then it did for Newport, which was so beautiful. And then it did again for Bridge School, which again was unreal. What a thrill to share the stage with one of the greatest composers of the modern era. Roger is humble and friendly and fiercely intelligent and aware of exactly what he wants from each moment. It is incredibly intense working with him but ultimately very rewarding.

You lived in New York City for a while before returning to Louisville. What was your favorite part of living here and what do you most look forward to about coming back here to perform? I love NYC. I mean there is no place on earth like it. I love the rhythm and the flow and the sea of people every color of the rainbow in there together, just flowing trying to get somewhere, trying to get shit done! It’s incredibly inspiring and I carry its energy with me for quite some time after I leave each time.

What can we expect at Terminal 5 on 11/20? And how would you describe a Jim James show to someone who hasn’t seen you live? I’m not sure what to expect. It has been very exciting putting this new live show together and it’s feeling really fresh. I hope the show can be an outlet to get rid of bad energy as well and a place to come feel supported and loved and dance and scream! —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

(Jim James also plays the Civic Theatre in New Orleans on 12/17.)