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Published: 2013/03/19
by Glenn H Roth

My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan: Ten Years Behind the Drum Kit with a Friendship that Endures

Hallahan Takes The Relix Ink Blot test at Bonnaroo 2008

Patrick Hallahan and Jim James made a promise to remember: never play in a band together. The two budding musicians felt that dynamic would ruin their friendship.

So James formed My Morning Jacket and Hallahan enrolled at University of Louisville.

However, after the departure of MMJ’s drummer for the second time in four years, James broke the pact and reached out to his childhood friend. Hallahan and James met during the summer heading into fourth grade.

“It took me a couple days to answer,” said Hallahan of his decision to join the band. “I didn’t know what to think.”

Hallahan has been MMJ’s drummer for a decade and his friendship with James could not be any stronger.

My Morning Jacket, which formed in 1998, has slowly ascended to become one of the most popular touring bands with its guitar driven rock ‘n’ roll sound with touches of country, blues and R&B. Bassist Tom Blankenship, keyboardist Bo Koster, and guitarist Carl Broemel round out the rest of the group. spoke with Hallahan by phone to discuss his drumming style, musical influences, friendship with Jim, as well as MMJ’s plans for 2013.

I’ve seen the band perform live several times, can you tell me about those moments when Jim stands up on the drum kit and faces you while you’re drumming?

Honestly, sometimes I don’t even know he’s there. I’m usually in space a quarter way through the set and I usually don’t come back from space till we’re done. If I feel him up there, it’s just like when Tom gets closer to my stand or if I look over and make eye contact with Bo. It’s just nice to have a union with such close friends and bandmates.

Tell me about your friendship with Jim.

He’s one of my confidantes and closest friends. We’ve been through a lot of life together, so I think we can complete each other’s sentences. I think it’s important in a band scenario to have those kind of relationships because you can put the other person in context if there’s ever any dispute. It helps to have that deep relationship with somebody and that’s happened with the other guys over time as well. Even initially in the band, it was nice to have a pre-existing relationship with the guys and Jim when I joined the band. It alleviates that getting to know somebody process. You just get straight to the arts. Things came together so quickly more than any other band that I’ve ever been in and the relationships have been a catalyst for that.

You and Jim made a pact to never be in a band together because you didn’t want to destroy your friendship. How would you say that being in the band has actually impacted on your friendship?

I think it’s just added another element. I think at times it makes us distance ourselves from one another because we’re around each other all the time. I couldn’t get any closer to him than I already am. I think it’s just added another layer to it. It’s not just a friendship – it’s a lifelong quest, a constant artistic endeavor, a business venture and all points in between.

And you guys have the same look with the long hair and beard. You could be Jim’s stunt double.

He has the hair and the beard like me. You think he invented hair and beard? He’s my stunt double. (laughing)

Before you joined the band in 2002, what were your impressions?

They were like my best friends. I was living with Jim and the drummer at the time J Glenn. I was going to school (University of Louisville) and they were starting the band. I would loan them drum gear for recording stuff. It was just my friend’s band and listening to my friends play.

What were you studying at Louisville?

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I had what most people would consider “a figure out what he wants to do degree.” I went for a psychology degree with a minor in photography. But I had just been accepted to Middle Tennessee State University for recording and engineering, I was going to study that right before Jim called me and asked me to be in the band. Of course, Jim ignored our pact. (laughing)

When Jim called you, were you excited, shocked?

It took me a couple days to answer. I didn’t know what to think.

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