Jeff Klein, right, conceived My Jerusalem’s new album in his hometown of Brighton Beach. (Courtesy Steve Gullick)

Jeff Klein, right, conceived My Jerusalem’s new album in his hometown of Brighton Beach. (Courtesy Steve Gullick)

My Jerusalem’s Jeff Klein ponders ‘a little’ death

Jeff Klein of the Austin-based band My Jerusalem didn’t set out to pen a musical “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” but circumstances beyond his control forced his hand.

His mother died after a protracted illness at his boyhood home in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach while he was on the road with his dark-textured group, and he says, “I never stopped to process it. I just kept the blinders on, maintained what I had to maintain at the time, and never really sat and dealt with it.”

When he stopped to compose his latest album, which wound up with the ominous title “A Little Death,” words didn’t come.

So the singer, who appears at the Fillmore with the band on Sunday, left Texas, where depression and various distractions were clouding his thinking.

“Instead of running away from my problems, I decided to deal with them head on,” he says. “So I thought I would go to New York, to the area where I grew up, and see if I could kill two birds with one stone. And it worked. It was like these floodgates opened.” He wrote 20 songs in two weeks.

Subletting a musician chum’s apartment, Klein had access to an arsenal of guitars and a mini-home studio.

He fell into a daily ritual of walking the wintry streets of his old neighborhood, past his mother’s former abode and his grandparents’ unusual home, where they raised a revolving brood of 15 foster kids in exchange for free rent.

“There’s just something indescribably beautiful about Brighton Beach when it’s completely frozen over, with snow everywhere,” he says.
“It was like some 1950s time capsule, with immigrant ladies in huge fur coats and fur hats. So I’d take in the isolation, grab some breakfast, and go back and just start writing.”

Klein conceived stunning tracks (“I’m a recovering goth,” he says), performed in his trademark Roy-Orbison-meets-Echo-and-the-Bunnymen style.

There are musings on mortality (“Rabbit Rabbit,” “Done and Dusted” and “Young and Worthless”) and the sax-screeching opener “Young Leather” features a backing-vocal by blues-rocker Elle King, whom he’s known since she was 18 and working at a New York tattoo parlor.

“Her voice is so amazing, and she has that authenticity that I love,” he says.

Klein formed his group in 2010, after an eye-opening trip to Jerusalem left him so impressed he borrowed the name.

But Brighton Beach provided an epiphany, as well. “Death is everybody’s fate. There’s nothing you can do to stop it,” he says. “So you’ve really got to live your life the way you want, because you never know when it’s going to end.”

IF YOU GO
The Sounds, with My Jerusalem
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 18
Tickets: $27
Contact: (415) 316-6000, www.ticketmaster.comA Little DeathAustiBrighton BeachBrooklynJeff KleinMy JerusalemPop Music

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Azikiwee Anderson of Rize Up Bakery pulls and twists sourdough into shape on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s Rize Up Bakery serving up sourdough with a call to action

Azikiwee Anderson wakes up most mornings just before dawn to start cooking… Continue reading

Although The City has been shut down and largely empty, people have enjoyed gathering in places such as Dolores Park. <ins>(Al Saracevic/The Examiner)</ins>
Come back to San Francisco: The City needs you now

Time to get out of the house, people. The City’s been lonely… Continue reading

A surveillance camera outside Macy’s at Union Square on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Is the tide turning against surveillance cameras in SF?

Crime-fighting camera networks are springing up in commercial areas all around San… Continue reading

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott speaks alongside Mayor London Breed at a news conference about 2019 crime statistics at SFPD headquarters on Jan. 21, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What the media gets wrong about crime in San Francisco

By Lincoln Mitchell Special to The Examiner Seemingly every day now, you… Continue reading

Vice President Kamala Harris is under fire for her comments in Guatemala earlier this week. (Examiner file photo.)
SF immigration advocates slam Kamala Harris’ ‘betrayal’ to her past

Kamala Harris’ comments earlier this week discouraging Central Americans from traveling to… Continue reading

Most Read