The invitation was too good to pass up, simply put, it read: “Skip out of work a little early and come relax in one of NYC’s most unique settings with Carl Broemel, Great Good Fine Ok, and The Arkells for Baeble Music’s first Bands & Brews event.” In this city, on a Wednesday, we all look for reasons to play hooky, so it was an easy decision to head to an unfamiliar part of Brooklyn.
Situated in a sparsely populated section of BK between Red Hook and Bay Ridge, Industry City is a rare find that offers a food court and special events to its sprawling complex. Only a few blocks from the [D,N,R] trains, it feels far enough away from the rat-race that you can let go of the day’s stress and relax. On this day we were directed to a unique setting that had a stage set up in an open-air courtyard, a small bar and plenty of inviting tables to sit at. A multitude of video cameras and stage lighting scattered about, made it evident that the show was being videotaped which was an added bonus.
As My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel sound-checked before his set, my nerves grew a bit as he’s one of the best guitarists on the earth for one of the best bands going and I was going to interview him after his performance. I was able to snag a copy of his upcoming solo album, 4th Of July, the night before and was thoroughly impressed with the overall cohesiveness of the 8 tracks on a whole. After his stellar 30 minute show, which included most of the new album, we took off to a quiet place and talked about his new LP.
Pancakes And Whiskey – Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, that was a cool set in a weird place, how did you feel about playing for Baeble Music today and having it video-recorded.
Carl – [heartily laughs] Not really looking forward to seeing it, it’s sort of hard to watch, I have no problem listening to myself play, but watching it..it can be tough. I thought it looked fine, I haven’t really done a lot of what I just did, trying to make a sonic thing happen by myself, so any little thing that goes wrong can be a nightmare (he had a slight looping malfunction).
In listening to the new album, the track that really stood out for me was the title track, 4th Of July, which sounds like a massive and complex journey. How did the song form?
That song I had a rough idea about what I wanted, but hadn’t done any lyrics, so what we (Tom Blankenship, Bo Koster, Richard Medek) did is run a drum machine and just jammed for three hours. We just got crazy with it, so I took all the takes and went with it.
Another track that stands out is Rocking Chair Dancer, that sounds like a real-personal story coming from within. As the song progresses, so does the subject, care to tell us what it’s about?
It has three verses; the first verse is like ‘you’re a kid and you’re dreaming’, the second is ‘I’m kinda doing what I wanted to do, but it’s totally different than what I thought’, and the third chapter is in the present and ‘I don’t need anything else now’. I wrote the guitar part while looking down at my son in his crib, this new human being was the inspiration. It’s also was my favorite song to record as we did it all live except Laura Veirs’ singing on it. One of my main goals on the record was to pull as many friends and favors as I could, as a lot of the times I’ll sit in on a session or do an overdub for them and mail the track. So, I did that as I wanted to make it more of a collective thing with Neko Case, Russ Pollard, Richard Medek and others.
Considering you wrote the album over the course of 4 years, there’s a real cohesiveness to it all. Does it feel like a complete piece to you?
I think so, yeah. There was a couple more songs I pulled off and made it more cohesive – shorter and sweeter. You can’t fit any more music on a vinyl or it sounds like ass (there’s 8 tracks on the LP). A big reason for the cohesiveness is due to this particular studio we work at called Creative Workshop in Nashville we like to call the Happy Forest. It’s old school and hasn’t really been updated since the 70’s, but the vibe is not unlike a forest with tree murals and a cool ashtray made out of a log, it’s just awesome – no matter what I’ve done, or how many tours, it’s always the same so hanging in there always glues it all together.
You’re currently on tour backing Ray Lamontagne and just having just completed a fairly large tour with Jacket, play tons of different music. What is your favorite song to play live that puts you in another place?
There’s so many touring with a band that sometimes gets transported a little bit, but is usually the longer songs like Steam Engine or something. For instance at Red Rocks not too long ago during Steam Engine; I grabbed the sax and I walked over to try to Jim and he was gone, but he’s still playing somewhere. Then I heard these insane UFO sounds and see him at the back of the stage staring up at the rocks and I was like ‘how the fuck is he playing that sound’ – I’ve never heard him do that before, no clue how he did it. It’s that type of thing, where we’ve been on the road for a decade, but we just did something totally new.
We ended our conversation with my story of seeing them the first time opening for Pearl Jam years back and then Carl offering up his love for Eddie and the crew for treating them with respect as musicians during that run. 4th Of July will be released in full on August 19th and we can’t wait to get it on that high-quality vinyl we pre-ordered HERE.
My night didn’t end there however, as Baeble booked two of the best up-and-coming acts in Great Good Fine Ok and Arkells. Local synth-pop legends, Great Good Fine Okay were wailing away to a growing crowd and caught their last up-tempo song. Arkells, performing in front of a packed crowd, would end the night as the sun set behind them. They are a fierce live band with the right amount of pop and rock, to make for fun and danceable show.
Article: Shayne Hanley