The for­ward mo­tion


The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC -

Acou­ple of decades ago, a young and tough Jeff Tweedy thought he was punk rock. That is noth­ing com­pared to how out there, the 44-year-old Wilco front­man and fa­ther of two feels these days.

“To be hon­est, at this age, I feel like what we’re do­ing now is more punk rock than any­thing I could’ve pulled off dur­ing the con­form­ity of punk rock,” said Tweedy.

“To me, grow­ing up and be­ing an adult play­ing rock mu­sic is al­most rev­o­lu­tion­ary. I’m not talk­ing about just get­ting older. I’m talk­ing about act­ing like a ma­ture per­son and ad­vo­cat­ing grow­ing up, which gets a lot of bad ink as far as rock peo­ple go.”

In a sense, Wilco’s eighth stu­dio al­bum, The Whole Love, rep­re­sents the fi­nal step into com­plete rock ‘n’ roll adult­hood: true in­de­pen­dence. They re­cently jet­ti­soned their per­fectly good record la­bel and started their own, dBpm Records, punk cred for the DIY ini­tia­tive, for sure.

They rarely tour more than a few weeks at a time, carv­ing out a pri­vate life that al­lows for chil­dren and wives and a life. While that does not sound very punk, in Tweedy’s world view, it is as good as a tall blue mo­hawk and a pair of Dr Martens.

“It’s not some­thing peo­ple want you to do,” said Tweedy. “peo­ple want to have some sort of vi­car­i­ous idea that you can stay ir­re­spon­si­ble and im­ma­ture for­ever.”

The Whole Love, which was re­leased last month to gen­er­ally strong re­views, de­buted at No.5 on the Bill­board 200 al­bums chart with 82,000 copies sold. They fin­ished off a uS tour last week that in­cluded two sold-out shows at The Ry­man Au­di­to­rium in Nashville.

Tweedy was loose and in good hu­mourat his ho­tel room dur­ing an in­ter­view, wear­ing a denim jacket and his trade­mark tou­sled hair. He was full of funny, self-dep­re­cat­ing sto­ries and play­fully feigned ex­as­per­a­tion at the petty tra­vails of life on the road.

“He’s a lucky guy and he knows it,” said Wilco’s rep­re­sents the fi­nal step into com­plete rock ‘n’ roll adult­hood: true in­de­pen­dence. Wilco man­ager Tony Margherita, who has been with Tweedy since he was part of the sem­i­nal alt-coun­try band un­cle Tu­pelo.

“(It) does gen­er­ally feel like a pretty good fam­ily busi­ness, and that’s a nice thing if you can do it on your own terms.”

It has been that way a long time mu­si­cally for Wilco, the band that fa­mously fed at the same trough twice when it was dropped by Reprise over creative dif­fer­ences, then signed to sis­ter im­print None­such to re­lease a mile­stone al­bum. even back then, they thought of leav­ing the tra­di­tional la­bel par­a­digm.

“It’s funny, I think even back on Yan­kee Ho­tel Fox­trot when we were kicked off Reprise, it was pretty ob­vi­ous what was go­ing to hap­pen,” said bass player John Stir­ratt of their even­tual de­ci­sion to start their own la­bel.

“You could re­ally see the writ­ing on the wall. We thought, `Gosh, should we try this now?’ It was con­sid­ered.”

In­stead, Wilco re­leased four stu­dio al­bums on None­such, a la­bel all gen­uinely re­spected. But when Tweedy, Stir­ratt and the other mem­bers of the chicago-based band – gui­tarist Nels cline, drum­mer Glenn Kotche and multi-in­stru­men­tal­ists pat San­sone and Mikael Jor­gensen – had the chance to break away, they took it. And it has been bet­ter than ex­pected.

“We’ve had the feel­ing of free­dom for a long time and cer­tainly it seems like the free­dom is re­ally fun, be­cause any sort of idea we have we can re­ally fol­low up on it and sort of pur­sue,” said Stir­ratt.

“I think you, as the la­bel, if you have the work ethic and every­thing, you’re al­ways go­ing to do a bet­ter job for your­self than some­one else is go­ing to do. Frankly, we’ve al­ready seen that the way this al­bum has rolled out.”

The Whole Love fea­tures a lit­tle bit of every­thing for the ever-opin­ion­ated Wilco audi- ence.ence. It starts with a two-song warn­ing shot – the seven-minute stut­ter­ing, jagged lope of im­pres­sion­is­tic opener Art Of Al­most, and the fuzzed-up at­tack of the de­light­fully ob­scure tone poem I Might.

“We wanted to kick the door open and have peo­ple ex­pect any­thing else to hap­pen,” said Tweedy. “And any­thing else kind of does hap­pen.”

The ti­tle track is a dadaist salute to (per­haps un­re­quited) love and the 12-minute al­bum closer One Sun­day Morn­ing car­ries the stately grav­i­tas of a bib­li­cal pas­sage.

Tweedy and Stir­ratt think The Whole Love is the finest ex­am­ple of Wilco. com­bined with the launch of the la­bel, Tweedy said he and his band­mates have re­ally achieved ev­ery goal they’ve ever had.

“But there’s a much more elu­sive goal that I think takes a lot of work and I think is just valu­able, and that’s a goal to stay in­spired,” he said. “It’s a goal to keep feed­ing this idea. That’s kind of your job now, to stay into it, to not get jaded, to lis­ten to young bands.” – Ap

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