My Morning Jacket’s Jim James on Tortoises and Being In A Band For 20 Years

Rolling Stone: You’re from Louisville, Kentucky, but lately you’ve been living in Los Angeles. What’s that like?

Jim James: There are so many people here trying to make their dreams come true, and it’s incredibly inspiring. I’m renting an Airbnb from an artist who kinda built the place. There are two 40-year-old giant desert tortoises that live here, and they’ve been amazing to live with. They don’t need you, but they also enjoy being around you. They’re so content to do very little, and I’m trying to learn from them: “You’re just gonna climb out of your hole and sit in the sun?” “Yeah, that’s all I’m gonna do today.”

Rolling Stone: You’ve fronted My Morning Jacket for almost 20 years. What have you learned about leading a band?

Jim James: The biggest part, as clichĂ© as it sounds, is just being honest and never carrying a debt with anybody. If someone makes you mad, tell them. Work it out. Don’t carry it around like a burden. The same with love. If someone makes you happy, let them know how awesome they are. You can never say “I love you” enough.