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Published: 2016/10/15
by Dean Budnick

"In The Dark" with Carl Broemel

Photo by Dean Budnick

Although My Morning Jacket has been relatively quiet on the touring and recording front in 2016, guitarist Carl Broemel has been quite active. Broemel spent much of the summer on the road with his MMJ bandmates, Tommy Blankenship, Bo Koster, and Patrick Hallahan backing Ray LaMontagne on his Ouroboros tour, performing the album in its entirety most every night (while Jim James did not join them, he certainly had his hand in the project as he produced the record). In addition, Broemel has released his own album, 4th of July, the follow-up to 2010’s All Birds Say and he will be gigging in support of it through November. The following conversation explores both of these efforts, with a brief detour into the realms of MMJ’s past and future (with some quality Pretty Little Liars talk too).

Before we talk about your new album, I’d like to take a few moments to discuss My Morning Jacket’s Lockn’ set, which was a highlight for many people. What were your expectations going into that and how did you and the band approach it?

I didn’t really think about it too much because we had never been there before. We were thinking, “Oh we haven’t done this festival. It’s going to be Phish and Ween and us headlining every night and it’s going to be awesome to be in that company.”

As far as what our expectations had been, we thought it was cool to do something new and we were stoked by the fact that they had us playing last one night. We went into it with the thought, “Let’s see how this goes.” One of the coolest things was that while the four of us had been playing all summer with Ray but we hadn’t really seen Jim in a while. So it was really good to see him and we had a quick rehearsal in Nashville and worked on some new things to try. Then we rolled in and played. We had a blast.

We haven’t really played a lot this year but every time we played it felt really good. We did the Shaky Knees festival, we played Red Rocks, and we did a couple short runs that weren’t long enough for anyone to be tired. Lockn’ fit into that too. We were feeling real fresh and excited to play and I think it was a good day for us. I walked out on stage and I was like “Holy shit, there’s a lot of people here.” I hadn’t know how big the festival was. We rolled in a few hours before we played, so we didn’t get a chance to scope it out. Anyway, I had no expectations and we were just stoked.

Do you think about context when you go into a big show like that or do you just do what you do and come out blasting?

We kind of do and we kind of don’t. It’s not that we were pre-meditating it in a huge way but we were aware of the context of which we were going to go play. Phish is playing, Ween is playing, a lot of bands that improvise are playing so we felt like we were free to improvise and free to do something weird. Nobody has to tell us that twice. “Feel free to let it all hang out here because people are open to that.” I think that’s a good mental space for us to be in.

We approached that one a bit like a fun, late night Bonnaroo show. That was the closest we could think of how we were going to go for it. It seemed like people were into it. We hadn’t seen Jim in so long so that when we got up there, we were ready to go for it. It was fun.

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