Jim James had a lot to say to Rolling Stone in a new interview with the My Morning Jacket singer and guitarist published on Thursday.
The 42-year-old rocker shared his thoughts and current worries on a wide range of topics which of course included My Morning Jacket’s new album, The Waterfall II, released earlier this month. The Waterfall II is comprised of material tracked during the sessions for 2015’s The Waterfall—a recurring theme the band built while writing, recording, and living together in Stinson Beach, California in 2014.
“It’s funny because when we did the [first] Waterfall, we were going to release all of these songs, and it would be a huge triple album,” James said of his band’s latest release. “But that would have been too much and a lot of the songs would have gotten lost. So I try to tell people, it’s not like these songs are like B sides or songs that we didn’t like as much. They are the last half of the album.”
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There’s been so much new music that I’ve written that I just kind of forgot about these. I’m just kind of moving on to the next thing. And even with the Jacket, it’s like, once we kind of played together again and fell back in love and got going again, we started working on a new record. So releasing this record was the last thing on our minds because we were just kind of moving on. This record really wouldn’t have come out now if it weren’t for the pandemic. It was almost a way to deal with this feeling of helplessness. We were so excited and so ready to be a band again and tour again and release a new record, but then, obviously, along with everybody else, the pandemic shut all that down.
Like most of us, James is not shy about expressing his concern over the future of the music industry as the pause on concerts and live events in America and other major global markets looks to continue into the coming fall and winter months. The band hasn’t performed since last summer with a show at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY on August 10th.
James’ concerns, rather, focus more on how fans are going to be able to afford simply attending a high-profile rock concert while so many around the country are out of work at the moment:
One of the things we all have to think about is, how do we address the people whose lives have been ruined by this pandemic? And the people who don’t have any money? You know, they can’t afford health care, they can’t afford to pay their rent. Like, I want to make sure that, when we come back, everybody who wants to come can come. So I don’t know what that means. But that might mean having to make, you know, half the show a $5 ticket, or asking people, “Hey, if you can afford to buy a ticket, would you consider buying a ticket for somebody who can’t, who doesn’t have the money?” We’re gonna have to try and figure that out. I think the most important thing when live music comes back is, how do we make it healing for everybody, especially people who have been hit so hard and financially to make sure that they can get into the shows too?
Because it’s like, how can you ask somebody? How can we go back on tour, full price, and ask somebody to pay full-price ticket when their whole entire being has just been crushed? Especially everybody in the people business, from restaurants and anybody who’s a waiter, or who hasn’t made any income in forever. So many people are going to need relief. I think this is a good moment for us to really challenge the structure of our capitalist society and start trying to care about each other again, you know, because everybody’s got to make a living.
I think it’s really important we show mercy to our fans and friends who are struggling and don’t have any money. The last thing I want is somebody who really wants to see us but [whose] life has been wrecked by this pandemic not be able to come have some fun and get some kind of healing from music again. That’s the whole problem in a nutshell with America. America has been gutted by ruthless capitalism. It’s time in so many ways for us to try and change that.
But by the time we play again, the bands you love won’t have made any money in in a year or more. So it’s gonna be this crazy convergence of bands needing to make money to feed their crew and themselves and their families and all that stuff, but it’s going to be in an environment where every band is back.
James did mention that the band is trying to figure out pushing their 2020 plans into 2021.
Click here to read the entire Rolling Stone interview.