MMJ’s Jim James Readies Solo Efforts and Supergroup


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The perennial festival rockers of My Morning Jacket are strangely absent from the circuit this season. However, drummer Patrick Hallahan was in attendance at this year’s Bonnaroo as a spectator. He revealed to Spinner, “Right now, honestly, we’ve just taken a big hiatus.” Enjoying the easy life backstage, the weary rocker explains, “We’ve been touring for eight years straight. We all have other things going on right now.” This vast understatement refers to a number of side-projects the band members are focusing on now.

Hallahan himself has been touring with Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) in support of his new Nonesuch release, Keep It Hid. Hallahan’s live skills on the drum kit should lend themselves nicely to the do-it-yourself, blues-rock sound of Auerbach’s solo release.

Meanwhile, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James is keeping himself busy with a number of ambitious projects. Having done plenty of solo work for charity (Radio City’s “Change Begins Within” and a tribute album with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band) and for fun (see his bootleg Christmas album), he will release his first bona fide solo record August 4 on ATO Records.

The Tribute To EP will be released under the pseudonym “Yim Yames,” and will pay homage to the late George Harrison, a figure whose work James considers “a prime example of the healing power of music.” Featuring Harrison-penned Beatles tunes “Long, Long, Long” and “Love You To,” the record will also see “Yames” try his hand at some of Harrison’s solo work. Fans who can’t wait until August can sample Yames’ wares at, where “Behind That Locked Door,” is now available as a free download. Additionally, a digital version of the entire album will be for sale July 7.

Though the tunes will be new for fans, James himself has been sitting on these recordings for some time with little interest in making them public.  He tells Billboard, “I felt really confused a lot of the time. I wanted to just do it and let it come out even if I messed stuff up.” James attributes his inspiration for releasing the album to his involvement in David Lynch’s “Change Begins Within” benefit concert. “Being at that benefit, George’s name came up a lot. Talking with people who had known him, his spirit was very big at that event.” Also in the spirit of Harrison, a portion of the EP’s proceeds will be donated to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

As for Tribute To’s sonic qualities, James warns, “It’s definitely not the tightest or most professional recording you’re ever going to hear in your life but I like that. I think it lends it a more childish atmosphere. I wanted it to exist as a version of me back then, a person who is in love with George Harrison’s music” As My Morning Jacket’s music has maintained a reputation for its beautifully controlled chaos, James’ toned-down acoustic foray should not disappoint. He has done his best to make each rendition “pretty faithful to the original version.” Minor flourishes include some banjo, piano, and overdubbed backing vocals.

On the heels of his solo work, James will see his contributions to “The Monsters of Folk” come to fruition. The flannel-sporting supergroup (comprised of James, Coner Oberst, Mike Mogis, and M. Ward) releases its self-titled debut September 22 on Shangri-La. The album, recorded between tours over the past few years, should be quite a treat. Over the course of its 15 tracks, listeners will hear each of the four musicians plays every instrument included on the record. Fans anticipate a legendary tour to follow the release.

Also on the horizon is a solo record of James’ originals. He allows, “It’s not planned or mapped out; I’m just kind of setting up a home studio and starting to get into that again. Sit around by myself and play stuff. I think that’s in the works but it’s hard to say when.”

Some may feel as though MMJ was just reaching its full potential, and that James has ruined the fun with his own “One Big Holiday.” However, fans should not fret. “Everybody’s just taking time off and doing what they want to do,” Hallahan says. Their musical balloon has not popped, nor has it begun to deflate. Hallahan shares an even more poignant metaphor, “We’re all in our own islands and eventually we’ll all swim back to the mainland and get back together.” Let’s hope they are strong swimmers.

Tribute To tracklist (“Yim Yames”):

“Long, Long, Long”

“Behind That Locked Door”

“Love You To”

“My Sweet Lord”

“Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)”

“All Things Must Pass”

Monsters of Folk tracklist:

“Dear God (sincerely M.O.F.)”

“Say Please”

“Whole Lotta Losin'”


“The Right Place”

“Baby Boomer”

“Man Named Truth”


“Ahead of the Curve”

“Slow Down Jo”

“Losin Yo Head”

“Magic Marker”

“Map Of The World”

“The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me”

“His Master’s Voice”

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