DFW Music News

My Jerusalem's Jeff Klein on Playing in Dallas and with Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli

Austin-based My Jerusalem hits Dallas tonight, a night crowded with great shows. Seems like everyone is stuffing the good pre-Thanksgiving concerts into one night. My Jerusalem plays a special folky orchestral pop that isn't precious or twee, and it's not something to miss.

With a new album in the works, band mastermind Jeff Klein took some time out to give some background on the band, his time playing with Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli and his experience of playing in Dallas.

Read more after the jump.

Are you originally from Austin or New Orleans? I'm actually originally from New York. I made my way down to Austin, got sidetracked in New Orleans, came back to Austin, went back to New Orleans and now I'm back in Austin. I basically lived in New Orleans off and on for about four years while I was playing in another band called The Twilight Singers. A lot of those guys live there, and I had a girlfriend there at the time too.

Where you already in The Twilight Singers before you moved to New Orleans? Yeah, kinda. The whole Twilight Singers thing was weird because I was opening up for them, and then they lost a member and I started filling in. I was kind of a member, kind of not a member, kind of a member, and then I was a member and now I'm not a member. [laughs] I had a couple of solo records before them, and one of them I did was with Greg Dulli from The Twilight Singers. I wanted to do it in New Orleans, so that was my first trip out there. We did it in a studio there and I was very impressionable and loved the place a little too much.

When was the first time you came to Dallas? I think the first time I came to Dallas might have been when I opened for Son Volt at the Gypsy Tea Room. I'd say it was about 2003, maybe. I played the Gypsy Tea Room twice for my first Dallas shows. I did a bunch of dates with The New Amsterdams.

Oh yeah! The Get Up Kids' Matt Pryor's other band. I did shows with them, and one was at the Gypsy Tea Room, and then I did one or two shows at that more singer/songwriter place, Poor David's Pub. A much different vibe. You know, it made me feel young. I played Trees too when I did shows with that band Ash. I don't know if you remember them.

Ash? As in, Tim Wheeler's band? One of best Irish rock bands of the last 20 years? Yeah! I think Goldenboy was also on the bill.

Tell us a little about your involvement with The Gutter Twins. That kinda bled over from The Twilight Singers. Mark Lanegan and I are really close friends. Basically, the band for The Gutter Twins was the same band as The Twilight Singers. Only the drummer was Cully Symington, who's now in Okkervil River and Cursive.

Is there a member of My Jerusalem who used to be in The Polyphonic Spree? There are two that used to be in The Polyphonic Spree. There is Matt Bricker who plays trumpet, who I think is doing those Christmas shows with them. And then there's Evan Jacobs who was also in the early, early stages of Midlake.

There's a joke in Dallas ... I'm sure everybody is in Polyphonic Spree. [laughs]

Well, it's more like, if you know anyone who plays music in Dallas, either casually or regularly, that person has either played in the Spree or knows someone in the band. I'm sure of it. I'm sure the same goes for Austin. [laughs]

Is there a new My Jerusalem record in development? Yeah. We're going in the studio in January. We're going into a place in Austin called Public Hi-Fi with Jim Eno from Spoon. He's been doing some cool records, like the new Strange Boys, and he produces all the Spoon records. He's a cool guy and it's a great studio.

He knows how to get great drum sounds. Yeah! That's for sure. [laughs] That's definitely for sure. Which is where everything starts.

Live, are you playing a lot of new material that will be on the next record? I'd say only two or three songs, maybe. I think we're all working the things out. It's kind of like writing a paper and January's coming up real soon. That's how I feel with every record. I have all these bodies and skeletons of songs and you're like, "All right, yeah, I'm gonna finish them." I kinda like working under pressure. I think everybody else in the band does too.

It seems like, across the board, whether you play in a punk band or a metal band or a folk band, you benefit from playing songs live before you record them. Is that something that works in your band? I tell you what, if we went to record our last record again right now, it would be completely different and probably much, much better. Everyone in our band is such studio nerds that it's like the demos are full visions of stuff. So I think we've been trying to do it a little bit. There's something about putting it out there into the world and that's like the definitive version of it ... I don't know, I probably should do it that way. [laughs]

My Jerusalem performs at Bryan Street Tavern tonight, November 18.

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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs