"We almost broke up the band," My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan joked on the topic of the laborious sequencing process for the new record, Evil Urges. But joking aside, the band makes it clear that the recording process was far from easy this go-round.
"It was the hardest record we've ever made. We did have a lot of fun in the conceiving of it — but in the making, it was more like work," lead singer Jim James explained. "It was just like kind of slamming at it working with sounds and trying to get it to work out."
While James typically demos new material on his own, the recording process for the Louisville rockers' new album had a few more stages than usual. About 25 demos were presented to the band for realization in a lax Colorado atmosphere.
"I thought there'd be songs on the record that [in the end] didn't even make the record," said James. "A lot of the songs don't work out — but some of them work out great that you didn't think would work out." And after a month or two of fiddling around in Colorado, it was on to New York for the actual recording.
This time, the pressures of recording in a New York studio, as opposed to their usual Louisville spots, added some creative restrictions. "I think we're more used to working on our [own] terms ... just the pressure of having an end point added a different edge to our workday because before, we could just record whenever the feeling hit," Hallahan said of the problems they faced.
"From, like, noon to midnight, we could only be in the studio for 12 hours," James added. "We didn't want it to be an electronic-sounding record. I wanted it to be organic — [just] a band playing. And to do that on some of the songs, it took a lot of takes and a lot of time, miking, getting everything worked out so it would be ... almost to halfway trick you into thinking it was a drum machine. But it's not. It's a person playing. But trying to do that in the real world took a lot of time."
Due in stores June 10, Evil Urges is a hodgepodge of different sounds and genres that coalesce nicely into a new My Morning Jacket package. It won't be the opus to launch them into superstardom, but it continues what has been their slow upward trajectory to the top echelon of American rock.