Orbiting SXSW

7 Local Bands To Watch

(Page 4 of 7)

My Jerusalem

Wed., March 13, 10pm, Maggie Mae's; Thu., March 14, 11pm, Hickory Street
Orbiting SXSW
Photo by John Anderson

"For a lot of people the word Jerusalem represents a sort of spiritual utopia. It's considered by many different cultures as their religious birthplace/epicenter. The closest thing I have to any kind of religion in my life is rock & roll. This band is my own 'Jerusalem.'"

That's Jeff Klein. He kicked up some dirt here in Austin as a solo act before moving to New Orleans to work with Greg Dulli and the Twilight Singers in 2006. While in Louisiana, he started My Jerusalem, releasing Gone for Good in 2010. Returning to town afterward, late last year he produced Preachers, overseen by Jim Eno of Spoon. It finds Klein loosening the reins and turning My Jerusalem into a band to admire. It's won them opening slots on separate tours with the reunited Wallflowers and X.

"It's more of a band since making the new record," admits the frontman. "The first record was that world between my solo career and having a band. It was more disconnected. This record was rehearsing the songs before making the record. We've played 70 shows in the past four months, and we've seen the work pay off."

Klein, whose reputation includes laying his guts out in the music, admits there's less blood this time around, the band's unremitting ferocity offset by a slight pop edge.

"It's less introspective, less me, me, me," he says. "Since I've made so many of those kinds of records, I just wanted to write songs that were a little more general. I wouldn't say the words aren't important, but they're less deliberate. I gave myself more leniency with writing lyrics than I have in the past. I wanted to be creative and not be so literal about things. That's easier to do when you're not writing about yourself."

Amid the thunder and gloom of My Jerusalem, a bit of sunlight peeks through in the form of bassist Geena Spigarelli. Her constant smile offers a welcome contrast to Klein's bleak moods.

"The music makes me happy," the Austin na-

tive explains. "Jeff's finally got his smiley face."

Adds Klein, "There have been shows where I'm having a hard time and I look at her and then I can have a great show because we interact so well and she's having so much fun." – Jim Caligiuri

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