Jim James originally released “Regions of Light and Sound of God,” his debut solo LP, last February, but the My Morning Jacket frontman isn’t done repping it just yet. Following a recent tour behind the record and a spot on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last month, James now has the second music video for his album — a clip for “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.),” and Billboard has the exclusive premiere.
Though he’s most known for his work as My Morning Jacket’s singer and one of its shredding guitarists, James’ solo career has been a modest success. “Regions of Light” has sold just short of 50,000 records since its release, a small number to some but actually a decent percentage of his band’s usual sales numbers — putting him on par with such artists as Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.
Of course, that distinction doesn’t faze James whatsoever.
“I guess it just depends on how people respond to a record,” he said. “I can never really understand any of that stuff. Public taste and stuff like that is crazy but I do that I care a lot about our fans and we care a lot about our fans as a band. We constantly try to let our fans know how much we respect and appreciate them, because without them, the whole thing’s completely pointless and doesn’t work.”
The success of his solo work (he also released the “Tribute To” EP under the name Yim Yames in 2009 to similar results) could be seen as a harbinger of more James-only releases, but the rocker doesn’t necessarily see things that way. “I just kind of let everything come as it will,” he explained. “Performance never really affects what I do; I’m kind of ruthless with myself that way. Nothing is ever good enough and everything could always be better in my mind. If the universe wants me to make another solo record, I’ll make another solo record, no matter how many copies this one does or doesn’t sell.”
The video for “State of the Art” comes following a series of contests James held involving the song, the five-minute opening track on “Regions of Light and Sound of God.” Video project site Genero.tv held a competition in conjunction with James for filmmakers to create the video for “State of the Art,” and the winning submission — created by Staci DeGagne, Alexander Fletcher and Joe Barham of San Francisco-based production company Clean White Lines — becomes the single’s official video.
James himself, he says, was more of a “creative consultant” on the video — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“They did a really good job and it was a cool chance to have this kind of fan interaction process because I love people getting the chance to get their work out there through one of my songs,” the singer/guitarist said. “I grew up in a place — Louisville, Ky. — where there aren’t too many opportunities for upcoming bands, so things like this are really cool. It’s really exciting to me because it gives somebody a chance that might not have had a chance.”
The music video depicts a mysterious character with a TV for a head traveling through a city and meeting with its inhabitants. It keeps with the song’s general theme — a world that has been overrun with technology, and our increasing, strange, perhaps necessary relationship with it.
James and co. also conducted a remix contest for the song, for which the winner received $1,000 and inclusion on a just-released remix EP on Spotify that features contributions from The Decemberists’ Chris Funk and Thom Green of alt-j.
But My Morning Jacket fans, fear not — James has convened with the rest of the band for a new album, which he’s “really excited about.” Whatever comes of the sessions will be the first since 2011’s “Circuital,” which hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200.