Home­grown tal­ent Drum­mer Spencer Tweedy


Pasatiempo - - NEWS - David Clem­mer I For The New Mex­i­can

IN 2002 a doc­u­men­tary about the band Wilco was re­leased. Ti­tled I Am Try­ing to Break Your

Heart , the film fol­lowed Jeff Tweedy and his band­mates through a dif­fi­cult pe­riod dur­ing which they recorded their break­out al­bum,

Yan­kee Ho­tel Fox­trot , strug­gled through tur­moil within the band, and were un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dumped by their record com­pany. About an hour and a quar­ter into the film, the band takes to the road on a tour bus with the Tweedy fam­ily along for the ride. At one point, a cute tow­headed boy, about five, is shown play­ing an im­promptu game of Name That Tune with Jeff. The young boy is now a hand­some young man in his late teens. His name is Spencer Tweedy, and he is cur­rently on tour with his fa­ther as drum­mer with the band Tweedy. In ad­di­tion to fa­ther and son, the Tweedy tour­ing en­sem­ble is rounded out by bassist Darin Gray, gui­tarist Jim Elk­ing­ton, key­boardist Liam Cun­ning­ham, and vo­cal­ist Sima Cun­ning­ham. Tweedy plays the Lensic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter on Thurs­day, March 26.

Jeff Tweedy mar­ried Spencer’s mom, Sue Miller, in 1995. They met when Miller was book­ing bands for the Cubby Bear, a bar across the street from Wrigley Field in Chicago. Miller be­came co-owner of Lounge Ax, a club where Tweedy’s bands fre­quently played. Tweedy pro­fesses on­line that when his son Spencer was born, be­fore he and Miller took him home, the first place they went was to the club. Lounge Ax closed in 2000, the year that Spencer’s younger brother, Sammy, was born. The youngest Tweedy par­tic­i­pates with his dad and brother in a thrashy band/ record­ing project called the Rac­coon­ists. Spencer is a mem­ber of the Blis­ters — a band that has been play­ing and record­ing for the past 11 years. He played drums on the 2013 Mavis Sta­ples al­bum, One True

Vin e, pro­duced by his fa­ther, and also on the re­cently re­leased post­hu­mous Pops Sta­ples al­bum, Don’t Lose

This , also pro­duced by Jeff. Wilco has recorded eight stu­dio al­bums since 1995, in ad­di­tion to three col­lab­o­ra­tions with Billy Bragg (the Mer­maid Av­enue se­ries), and a two-disc live record­ing. Jeff Tweedy has per­formed reg­u­larly as a solo act. Sukierae, Tweedy’s de­but al­bum, re­leased last year, was ini­tially con­ceived of as a Jeff Tweedy solo project, but it be­came ap­par­ent that Spencer’s drum­ming was in­te­gral to the devel­op­ment of the songs.

On a Fe­bru­ary morn­ing when it was freez­ing in both Chicago and Santa Fe, Pasatiempo had the op­por­tu­nity to chat with Spencer Tweedy.

Pasatiempo: The era of dig­i­tal me­dia and the in­ter­net, which you have grown up with, of­fers al­most lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for ex­pres­sion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. You seem to be ex­ploit­ing th­ese pos­si­bil­i­ties quite ef­fec­tively. Spencer Tweedy : It’s amaz­ing. I feel re­ally grate­ful. Grow­ing up and lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, mostly mu­sic that’s not from this — my — gen­er­a­tion, I think there are times when kids are tempted to say, “I wish I was born in the ’50s or the ’40s so I could have been a young adult in the ’60s.” There’s def­i­nitely some­thing ro­man­tic about that, but it’s a re­ally awe­some time to be alive, es­pe­cially for kids who need a cre­ative out­let [out­side of school]. It was re­ally great for me when I was go­ing to school to have an out­let out­side of that. It’s re­ally healthy. It keeps you sane. Pasa: Were you one of those kids who was al­ways beat­ing on things, in terms of your in­ter­est in drum­ming? Tweedy: Ab­so­lutely. I was al­ways a good stu­dent, but what I got in trou­ble for most of­ten was just an­noy­ing the crap out of my teach­ers by play­ing drums on ev­ery sur­face in the class­room. And that con­tin­ued on, grow­ing into an adult. I’ve had to curb it a bit. Pasa: All the songs on Sukierae were writ­ten by your dad, but is song­writ­ing part of what you’re as­pir­ing to? Tweedy: Yeah. Be­ing a drum­mer and that be­ing the fo­cus of the mu­sic I’ve played since I was a lit­tle kid, it seems a lit­tle weird call­ing my­self a gui­tar player or a song­writer or a singer. I’ve been putting to­gether a stu­dio at home, and I’ve been record­ing as much as I can when we’re off the road. Pasa: Are you ac­tu­ally a Wilco fan? Tweedy: Ab­so­lutely. I am 100 per­cent a fan. Peo­ple think it’s weird, but I love Wilco records. I’m a mas­sive fan. Pasa: I think it’s pretty typ­i­cal for any kid grow­ing up that, at some point, no mat­ter who they are, they begin to think their par­ents are bor­ing and em­bar­rass­ing. Have you gone through that stage, or have you man­aged to avoid it en­tirely? Your par­ents seems like pretty cool peo­ple. Tweedy: I don’t think of my par­ents as be­ing bor­ing. It’s a weird thing, be­cause I’ve been aware of that for a long time from watch­ing movies and TV shows and see­ing it in me­dia, like, the par­ents that were once cool, like in a Judd Apa­tow movie where Paul Rudd is chained down now and not fun any­more. Or try­ing to still be fun even though he has kids. My mom is re­ally cool. All my friends think she’s cool — she used to run a rock club, af­ter all. And my dad ob­vi­ously has the “rock star” ben­e­fit. I’ve al­ways thought that both of them were funny. If any­thing in my per­cep­tion of my par­ents has changed, it’s that I re­al­ize now just how less om­ni­scient they are. When I was a lit­tle kid I thought, Wow! My par­ents know ev­ery­thing! Now I re­al­ize they’re more hu­man in that sense. I don’t think that they’re lame, and, se­ri­ously, thank god for that, be­cause it’s one of the more de­press­ing things that can hap­pen. Pasa: What’s the out­look for col­lege? Tweedy: I’m en­rolled in a lib­eral arts school, and I’m start­ing this fall — be­cause, if I don’t, my mom will mur­der me. But I’m look­ing for­ward to it. I do pretty well in school, and there are parts of the aca­demic en­vi­ron­ment that re­ally work for me. I at least have to ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle bit of col­lege.

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