When Austin-based rock band My Jerusalem started working on their most recent release, “A Little Death,” front man Jeff Klein came down with a case of writer’s block.
His mother had just passed away and, searching for both closure and inspiration, he headed toward Brooklyn in his home state of New York, near where his mother had grown up.
“A lot of the album is me coming to terms with my mother’s death,” Klein said. “I went back there and secluded myself from the world. I think in the change of the environment, I found my inspiration.”
Before My Jerusalem, Klein spent time touring with different bands. When the band stopped to play in Israel, Klein noted he realized he wanted to form his own group again.
“I was walking around Jerusalem, and it’s just this heavy word that means so much to so many people,” Klein said. “I’m not religious at all, but I wanted the band to be my Jerusalem. I wanted people to feel like [the music] is a part of them. Like it’s this great goal. I wanted them to feel as intense as the city felt.”
Since then, Klein invited what was at first a rotating cast of musicians, but evolved into the group it is today, with Jon Merz, Kyle Robarge and Grant Van Amburgh. With “A Little Death,” Klein said the band developed into more of a cohesive group, while retaining their trademark dark and gothic sound.
“It’s gotten darker along the way,” Klein stated. “I think we’ve become more comfortable in the moods that we kind of create. We just write dark pop music at the end of the day with a little bit of feedback here and there. I was unlearning how to be a solo singer songwriter in the beginning and now it sounds like a brooding unit.”
Though Klein writes all of the songs, he realizes his band mates are essential to the band’s overall style.
“I write, but they bring their personalities to the songs,” he said. “If it was just me I’d be bored as fuck. Everyone in the band pulls things their own way, our drummer brings metal and hip-hop, I grew up on folk and punk rock, and I think it all comes together and eventually makes us what we are.”
For Klein, much of his lyrical inspiration comes directly from his life, from his best experiences, to his worst, never shying away from grim realities.
“I don’t write fiction,” he stated. “I’m sensitive to a fault, and I’m like a sponge, so I take in everything that’s happening to me and my family and friends. The world is plenty fucked up for me to have enough to write about.”
When it comes to their live performances, Klein enjoys playing their sadder songs, even though he admits it’s sometimes a bit selfish.
“For us, we present the darker songs in an intense way live, and people react to it and grab onto it,” Klein said. “We play so everyone can enjoy it. I think people want to hear the darker material, but they also want to be shaken and punched in the gut a bit.