Last fall, My Morning Jacket had just finished a sold-out tour in support of its latest ATO/RCA album, "Z," which ranked No. 1 on Billboard's annual year-end Critics' Choice poll.
Last fall, My Morning Jacket had just finished a sold-out tour in support of its latest ATO/RCA album, "Z," which ranked No. 1 on Billboard's annual year-end Critics' Choice poll. But shortly after returning to his Louisville-area home, frontman Jim James woke up one morning with chest pains so intense he was convinced he was suffering a heart attack.
"Fortunately, I didn't -- it was pneumonia that had sat in my lungs next to my heart, and made my heart swell up," he tells Billboard.com. "I don't think there will be long-term damage. But it took me out of commission for a good couple of months there, where all I could do was sit around the house."
Now fully healthy, James and MMJ are roaring back to life this spring as the support act on the first leg of Pearl Jam's North American tour. A number of high-profile festival appearances are also confirmed, including Coachella, Bonnaroo and High Sierra. In late summer or early fall, MMJ plans to make up dates it was forced to cancel in Europe after James took ill, to hopefully be followed by a North American headlining run.
"The stress that led to the whole thing in the first place was the ruthless touring schedule we've been keeping," James says. "Even though it is fun and rewarding, there's so much stress you don't even think about that mounts and mounts on your body. So, in the coming year, we want to pace it smarter and have some months off in between."
MMJ will get its sea legs back during the Pearl Jam dates, which kick off May 9 in Toronto. "It might be a little easier because it will be a shorter set, if nothing else. It will be a great way to get back into the swing of things," James says, adding that he and his bandmates have been inspired by Pearl Jam's longevity. "They're a really good example of what you can do if you set your mind to doing what you want to do and not what people think you're supposed to do."
And while James says not to expect MMJ back in the studio until the spring of 2007, there will be new product to savor this fall. The band is finishing up work on a double-disc live album as well as a DVD, which will be released separately. Eschewing the straight-up "film the show" approach, the DVD follows a storyline that transports fans to an MMJ show in the middle of a forest (oddly enough, the "Z" track "Into the Woods" is not included).
"We want to make this a watchable movie that is an hour-and-a-half or an hour-and-45 minutes, so you can hopefully sit down and watch the whole thing as an experience, rather than it being three hours long with every single song we've ever played," James says, adding that more filming is scheduled in Louisville.
The as-yet-untitled project was assembled with the help of Sam Erickson, who previously worked on DVDs for John Mayer and Bruce Hornsby. "Everything is killer," James says. "The shoot turned out great."
In addition, on June 13, Darla Records will release the collection "Tennessee Fire & At Dawn Demos," featuring early versions of songs from those albums.
Here are My Morning Jacket's tour dates:
April 21: Nashville (Rites of Spring)
April 29: Indio, Calif. (Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival)
May 9-10: Toronto (Air Canada Centre; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 12: Albany, N.Y. (Pepsi Arena; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 13: Hartford, Conn. (New England Dodge Music Arena; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 16: Chicago (United Center; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 19: Grand Rapids, Mich. (Van Andel Arena; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 20: Cleveland (Quicken Loans Arena; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 22: Auburn Hills, Mich. (Palace of Auburn Hills; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 24: Boston (TD Banknorth Garden; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 27: Camden, N.J. (Tweeter Center; w/ Pearl Jam)
May 30: Washington, D.C. (MCI Center; w/ Pearl Jam)
June 1, 3: East Rutherford, N.J. (Continental Airlines Arena; w/ Pearl Jam)
June 16-18: Manchester, Tenn. (Bonnaroo Festival)
June 29-July 2: Quincy, Calif. (High Sierra Festival)