Carl Broemel Q&A
Mon, 20 Sep 2010 16:27:26
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My Morning Jacket vocalist/guitarist Carl Broemel is making a go of it on his own for the second time... but not for any other reason than to fill the inevitable down time in his life that comes when his main band takes a minute off. With his second solo effort, All Birds Say, Broemel’s easy, breezy sonic personality manifests itself tenfold. For the album, Broemel recorded with his father, also a musician, who plays a variety of instruments. Generations collide on All Birds Say and may collide once again in the future, as Broemel himself is a father. ARTISTdirect’s Amy Sciarretto talked to Broemel about post-flood Nashville, how being a father has affected his songwriting, how he wishes he could just play in My Morning Jacket all the time and the patriarchal, musical generation gap.
Since you live in Nashville, did you experience the floods that affected Nashville earlier this year?
I was on tour. My wife and baby were here, though, when the floods went through. I'd call and my wife would be like, 'It's still raining,' and I would be like, 'It's fine' and then I got home and saw what had happened. Thankfully, our house was ß, but some of our neighbors weren't. We live close to the river.
Did My Morning Jacket lose any equipment, since so many musicians lost priceless, irreplaceable gear in the floods?
We lost some equipment. Since we were on tour, we didn't lose a lot, but we had stuff at Sound Check, the same place that the country acts had their stuff. The only thing there was empty cases, so there was somewhat expensive stuff lost. But everything we needed wasn't there. I went there and it was wild. It was piles and piles of destroyed equipment. You could see the water line was up four feet on the drywall. Everything below that was destroyed; everything above was moldy and smelly. People lost a lot of good gear, irreplaceable stuff. Sound Check is open for business again, though.
So why did you choose to go solo again at this point in your career? What was the impetus?
It worked out on timing. It wasn't conscious or planned out. I started working on solo stuff in 2005, working on music with my friends Teddy and Richard in Nashville. We'd record a song here or there, and once I got six songs, I thought, 'This could be an album.' I kept on writing and did five or six songs in 2009. Then, I gave it to people in the band and those who work with us. Having a year off last year made it easy and gave me time to think about it.
Is there something the solo stuff satisfies in you that your main band doesn't?
I don't know that it does, necessarily. It doesn't satisfy something that the band doesn't; but it satisfies filling the time when we aren't doing stuff. If I just played in My Morning Jacket, I'd be stoked and that'd be it. I don't think, 'Hey, I should be on my own.' It's quite the opposite. I think I should be hanging out with those guys more.
What are your touring plans and how do they relate to MMJ?
I have shows coming up in October, in Indianapolis, where I grew up and in Chicago, and I play New York on October 20 at Joe's Pub. Then My Morning Jacket will record in November and be busy. I am planning solo stuff for December through February.
Has you songwriting been affected by becoming a father?
Yes, I think so. I wrote a few song before my baby boy came. I was thinking about being a grown up, officially. It is weird; time management is the craziest thing about being a parent. Now that he is here, I really have to manage time. Before he came, I worked hard on the record, since I thought I'd never be able to do what I wanted to do ever again! I allocated time to get it mixed and mastered after he was born. I appreciated having time, and you never realize how much time you have. Thinking about time, though, leads to you thinking that your life having a finite length. You think about time and it gets heavy.
That is a heavy concept, yet the songwriting on All Birds Say is chill and breezy. Were you just in a super positive headspace when scribbling songs?
I find time to write at night when everyone is asleep. I play acoustic guitar when it's quiet and not with other musicians around. If I was there with a drummer, the music I am writing might be more upbeat. But the songs came out of me picking on a guitar. Most of my songwriting throughout my life has been mellow. I am a mellow guy. Working with Teddy and Richard, they just felt good and really laid back. It all felt right in that space, not bombastic and over the top. It felt good being chill.
Do you think MMJ fans will like Carl Broemel solo?
I am not sure. I don't know. I have met some people that came to the shows because of My Morning Jacket. They showed up with both records, and I signed them both. There is some connection there. It's part of the experiment. In one hand, with my solo stuff, I like to be treated like I am not in the band, but at same time, it doesn't help or hurt. I don't think about it too much. But it is impossible to separate at this point.
For All Birds Say, you collaborated with your father, who is also a musician.
One of the coolest things, for me, is hearing my dad's parts. He played bassoon, sax and clarinet on a bunch of songs, so we got to work together. He is a retired orchestra musician, who was playing in the Indianapolis Orchestra. Collaborating with him was one of the coolest parts, and so was combining our worlds. He encouraged me to play music my whole life and helped guide me in directions, and when I was choosing to go into rock 'n' roll over classical music, he wasn't 1000 percent happy about it, but he supported me regardless. We have played together before, but this was our first time recording together.
It begs the question: Do you hope to play and record music with your son on day?
Exactly. Talk about a role reversal. He can strum guitar, if I am holding it. He rocks back and forth. When I play 'Lollipop,' he puts his finger in his mouth, like to make the pop sound. It's so cool to see what he does if he goes into music and to not be too pushy. What if he is in a horrible band? I'll buy a ticket and go!