Justin Vernon Has No Bon Iver Plans, Regrets Bushmills Ad

Justin Vernon’s inaugural Eaux Claires Festival would seem like a perfect place to kick off another era of Bon Iver. Vernon’s been active with side projects like Volcano Choir and producing things for groups like the Staves, but his claim to fame has been largely inactive since wrapping up a tour in 2012. And while Bon Iver will perform at Eaux Claires for the first time in three years, it doesn’t look like there will be anything else for a long while following that. A new Grantland profile on Vernon offers some insight into his headspace:

I’ve been taking it really slow. I don’t mean to get all cerebral about my art, but I’ve been trying to collect improvisations and collect moments. Like, real moments, [and] put them in a pot and serve them up. I’m thinking more, I guess, like a painter or a sculptor, like Danny Goldsworthy or something, in the way I’m putting songs together. To be clear, I’m not doing that to try and be fancy. I just think maybe I ran my course with being able to come up with new moments on the guitar.

As far as putting a record together, I don’t really know what’s happening. Our show is our main focus. We don’t have anything booked after this. We don’t have any plans. We’re not being secretive — we just don’t have any plans. It’s just about, Play the show and put all of our energy into one show— for once in my life, let’s just play one fucking show and care just about this one show for a goddamn change. It’s better than, All right, we’re going out on tour and we’re going to hit these markets and this, that, and the other. We might play some new stuff. I don’t know, we’re going to figure it out. I go home next week for two weeks of rehearsals and play with my boys.

He also reflects on his career a lot — he talks about that time he got parodied on Saturday Night Live by Justin Timberlake, and mentions some regrets he had about participating in a Bushmills advertising campaign from 2011:

We did a photo shoot for Bushmills. To be clear: They gave us a bunch of money and we were able to finish [my recording studio] without borrowing. It was great for us, and everybody that worked at the company was great, and I love Bushmills and wanted to do the deal because my dad loved Bushmills — we bond over Irish whiskey. But the problem is that it isn’t just Bushmills. It’s run by a corporation, and you kind of forget that they’re not interested in you or really what you’re doing. They’re interested in your popularity and your reach, and it felt really sickening after a while. Not badmouthing Bushmills the company, but I regret it. I regret it because it wasn’t us and they put my face on a fucking billboard, even though it was a cool billboard and I was with my brother and my sound engineer and we’re buds and we got drunk while we had the photo shoot. I just missed it. I missed the mark on that one and I let it all kind of get to me. It just doesn’t feel right after the fact, you know?

And, with his own personally curated festival around the corner, Vernon commented on festival politics:

…Fuck Lollapalooza. That isn’t rock and roll.

I’m not going to sit and pretend that we aren’t charging people money to get into our festival. But I don’t know, man. You can see it every year: Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo — the lineups are the fucking same. It’s about numbers, it’s about bottom lines, it’s about measuring groups and cultures of people and the numbers that they represent on a bottom-line agenda. All the lineups are becoming more and more the same, the same fucking headliners.

Read the whole piece here.