My Jerusalem's Jeff Klein On Getting Soy Bombed, The Replacements and X
Jeff Klein, frontman and main songwriter behind My Jerusalem, has shared some of his background before, but not for My First Show. My Jerusalem, whose new album, Preachers, is out next week, comes back to Dada on Friday. Klein took time out a few weeks ago to share his obsession with Paul Westerberg, going to Berklee School of Music and getting Soy Bombed.
What do you remember about going to Berklee School of Music? I only know about it from polar opposites: Juliana Hatfield and the founding members of Dream Theater.
Yeah, those are kind of like the two [opposites]. When I went there, it was the Steve Vai factor kinda going on. When I was deciding on colleges, my final deciding factor was that I didn't have to take gym at Berklee. I thought, "Alright, I'll take really expensive guitar lessons." When I was there, it was all dudes. Like, 90 percent dudes. So I feel bad for the other 10 percent women that went there. Everyone was really into Steve Vai and things like that, metal, wanky kind of stuff, or they were really into Nine Inch Nails and Tori Amos. It was a weird place to go to. I got a better experience living in Boston than I did from the school itself. It was more in my style of playing. That being said, there were some really weird people, in a good way. Like, almost 80 percent were super-weird characters, and the other 20 percent were rich kids with guitars that got to music college. I feel like everybody whose been successful has dropped out, which I left after a year. Not that I'm putting myself in that same category with those successful people.
Can you remember how you got into Paul Westerberg and/or The Replacements?
Yeah, definitely! It's my brother, Eric. When I was growing up, they were his favorite band. I got into them via osmosis. It was sort of my favorite band too. When I was 13, I was listening to Don't Tell a Soul and stuff like that while everyone else is listening to whatever metal and things like that. My brother would take me to Westerberg shows all the time. I never actually got to see The Replacements play. For me, it's the perfect punk rock aesthetic but really great lyrics, which is sometimes missing from the punk rock aesthetic. It's like, growing up in a middle class family, [Westerberg] was the blue-collar, working class Bob Dylan of sorts. The songs were great. The sarcasm was tongue-in-cheek. The passion, even still, is in there with what he does. It's sort of flippant, but really thoughtful at the same time.
You have some upcoming shows with X in December. Any memories of getting into them? Did you ever see them on American Bandstand?
I did not catch them on American Bandstand. I've seen the clips from Letterman. I remember my brother had Los Angeles on cassette. I think I wanted to impress him and I made myself get into all this stuff that he was into. And then that became just a part of me. I remember driving around and it was one of four tapes I had on repeat. Like, "Johnnie Hit and Run Pauline." To me, it's one of those perfect desert island records. There's very few records that are perfect from beginning to end.
Playing along with the band's name, have you ever read 'Salem's Lot or any of Stephen King's books?
When I was younger, yeah. I read 'Salem's Lot and It when I was younger.
Did you like them?
I did, I did! At the time, I did.
I take it you're more into [Chuck] Bukowski.
I have gone through a heavy Bukowski kind of period. My attention span is so short that I find myself reading short stories more than I do novels. I just started reading that new Nick Cave book.
So far, what's the worst onstage moment that you've had?
Luckily, there isn't anything super-scarring I can think of. One time in London, I was opening for The Twilight Singers, I think it was the last day of tour and everybody thought it would be hilarious if Larry Palm, the guitar tech at the time, would basically "Soy Bomb" me. My solo material, especially at the time, was very dark and moody. Basically, during one of the more intense songs, Larry Palm was behind me with "Soy Bomb" written on his bare 50-year-old chest. And I don't realize it until a good two minutes into the song. I think everybody else thought it was amazing. I thought it was funny in retrospect, but in the moment, I remember thinking it was not the most awesome thing.