This article appeared in the July 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
“OK, Suki,” Patrick Hallahan says,“art-direct us.” Suki is Suki Anderson, our art director. Patrick Hallahan is My Morning Jacket’s drummer. It’s Thursday, May 24, on the second floor of an old schoolhouse, now home to the Squallis Puppeteers — or, judging by the mounds of costumes and props and materials to make costumes and props, the Squallis Hoarders.
We’re here for our cover shoot of My Morning Jacket’s three Louisvillians: Hallahan, mystical leader Jim James and soft-spoken bassist Tom Blankenship, who at one point squeezes into a green-and-white furry bodysuit that prompts James to say, “You look like Mario in his frog suit.”
James — who arrived in the hallway and immediately began snapping iPhone photos of elaborate puppets large enough for humans to fit inside — enters the high-ceilinged former classroom (the chalkboards and gold-bar-sized black erasers are anachronisms) where photographer Mickie Winters has set up lights and a white backdrop. James sees an orange boa and a blue tutu. “These are great,” he says. Things are about to get weird. But only after James establishes some ground rules. “Nothing too hick-y,” he says. “I just happen to be barefoot, but let’s not focus on our feet.” Image, you know? Also, this: “And not too Flaming Lips-ish.” The bear heads, then, are out.
“Those bastards!” Hallahan says, guffawing — the right word because he drenches rooms with his guffaws. “The Flaming Lips beat us to the punch every time!”
Soon, Hallahan is wearing gorilla pants. Anderson, the art director, shows him a wooden chair made for a grade-schooler. “Oh, God,” Hallahan says. “I don’t even know if my real butt could fit in this chair.” He sits.