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Preview+Interview: My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel talks new album and more ahead of Turf Club Gig

Carl Broemel
Photo: Jack Spencer

Great bands come in all shapes and sizes. What makes a band like Mastodon great is very different than what made Outkast great. With that said, there are some attributes that many great bands share. Traits like innovation, creativity, and longevity are among these. Over the last few decades, one band that’s been as great in these and many ways is My Morning Jacket. By continuing to push the boundaries of rock in creative ways over the course of their storied career, the Louisville outfit has long been one of the genre’s guiding lights.

At the center of the band and their development is guitarist Carl Broemel. Originally from Indiana, Broemel joined the group for their critically acclaimed 2005 album Z and has been a constant in the band ever since. In large part due to his contributions, their catalog is as strong and eclectic as any over the period.

While pinpointing an individual’s contributions to a group is inherently an imperfect science, there’s no denying the role that Broemel’s diverse sonic influences and multi-instrumental abilities have played in shaping the group’s always-evolving sound during his tenure.

As impressive as these contributions are, however, they’re far from his only musical exploits. Over the last decade, Broemel has also released three solo albums. Though they’re very different than his work in My Morning Jacket, they show another side, that of a singer and songwriter who is as able to write and sing a great song as he is to shred through one.

His catalog is as interesting as you’d expect from an artist of his caliber, running the gamut from long guitar workouts to gentler acoustic numbers to everything in between. The constant running through all of it is the thoughtfulness and craftsmanship of a true expert.

His latest album, Wished Out, was released in September, and though it is different in many ways than its predecessors, it retains and builds on their best parts, namely a great pop/rock feel and a strong sense of balance that keeps the album cohesive and interesting. Throughout his solo career, Broemel has shown a knack for melody, and this album is no exception.

As good as the album is though, the live show has always been a great way to experience Broemel, regardless of the project he’s with. In the live arena, his songs come to life better than just about anybody’s; the solos brimming with energy, and carl’s signature passion for his craft showing through.

He’s one of those artists that conjures up a natural connection to the audience, whether that be with his warm melodies or with his guitar. The Twin Cities will be able to experience this connection first-hand at the intimate Turf Club on Monday, November 6. With support from the eclectic instrumental duo Steelism, Broemel is sure to deliver a memorable and dynamic performance. It’ll be a show as enjoyable to the casual fan as it is to Jacket Diehards, both of whom will likely be in attendance.

The show will be as rare as It is interesting. Broemel doesn’t do solo tours all that often, and this is his only Minneapolis date (with any band) on the calendar in the near-term future. Given the intimacy of the venue, and the level of talent involved, it’s a show you won’t want to miss.

Below is an interview with Carl

Music in Minnesota: Your highest profile gig is playing with My Morning Jacket, but you’ve put lots of energy into your strong solo career over the last 8 years. Do you think your solo efforts inform your playing in My Morning Jacket and Vice versa?

Carl Broemel: It has been my experience that continuing to explore musical ideas on my own and collaborating with people outside of the band helps me come back to MMJ with a clear head and a new approach.  no matter what I am doing the musical environment seeps into how I play, and being in MMJ since 2004 has definitely changed me as a musician.

MIM: In an interview earlier this year, you mentioned Michael Kiwanuka being an influence on this album, specifically on the title track (“Wished Out”). Are there any other artists or bands who helped shape the way you thought about this album?

CB: when I’m working on songs, I am sometimes thinking about another artist I admire and what they might do.  it helps to zoom out from what you are working on and see it from a different angle.  I feel like the production on “Second Fiddle” sounds a little like Yo La Tengo, and the song “No One Else” is in part a tip of the hat to a jazz record by Jack Teagarden called “Think Well of Me.”  There’s no shame in getting inspired by other people’s records.

MIM: What’s the most exciting part of cutting a new record for you?

CB: The most fun times working on an album are when you are on a roll, writing every day when you already have the momentum, and also getting “the take” of a song, that’s always fun, because a lot of the time it’s not what you originally thought it would sound like.

MIM: You’re a man of many talents, including but not limited to playing several instruments. How many have you played on record? Of those that you play, which came the most naturally and which the least?

CB: I’ve played all kinds of stringed instruments on records, pedal steel, guitars, mandolins, etc. I also play saxophone and keyboards, I played the drums on one song on “out of reach”.  I’d say drumming is the most difficult because I hear parts that I just cannot execute!  I love playing bass guitar, probably my favorite to play at the moment. When I was a kid I started with violin, moved to piano, sang in a choir, and finally convinced my dad to get me a cheap guitar, I’ve always jumped around between instruments.

MIM: In My Morning Jacket, you and Jim (James) form one of the more dynamic guitar duos in rock. How does playing alongside him onstage and in the studio differ from anybody else you’ve worked with?

CB: Jim has a direct connection with the guitar and he wields it like a lightning rod, a divining stick.  there have been so many times when he totally blows me away, in the studio, he will out of the blue add a part, that takes him no time at all to work out, and once he adds it feels like it was absolutely fundamental to the song.  I am kind of the opposite, I need a sec to work out my idea. Also, I love sharing the moments of total chaos and cacophony at our live shows, and sometimes when I listen back, I can’t tell who is doing what, it’s like a musical Ouija board, did you play that?  did I play it? whatever that is I like it.

MIM: How is it playing with the band Steelism on your current tour?

CB: It has been amazing. They can play anything, learn anything, improvise over anything.  they have brought a lot to the music and they make the live show a more intense thing than the album.  it has been a blast to see the music evolve and grow.

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