It’s always exciting news when it’s announced that your favourite band is coming to town, and when I was granted an interview with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy I was thrilled (just ask my colleagues and Facebook friends). What a lovely and interesting man he is.
The story originally appeared in LIVE (digital edition here), but because it’s the week Wilco are set to play here in Auckland, here’s it is.
Wilco’s Solid Sound
Wilco endlessly create music as a band and in side projects across the music spectrum. They even have their own music festival. Josie Campbell speaks to Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy ahead of the band’s down-under tour.
Wilco last performed in Auckland at The Civic after the release of their seventh album Wilco (The Album) to a near-rapturous crowd. This time they’ll be at Auckland Town Hall on a tour supporting their last release The Whole Love. The band will be joined by soul legend Mavis Staples, who has just finished her second album with Jeff at the helm as producer.
“I feel very, very privileged to get to work with Mavis and have developed a real deep bond with her and Yvonne. She’s an angel, she makes people feel better, and it’s an amazing thing to get to be around.”
It’s too soon for the setlists to be finalised for the tour, so Jeff can’t say if there’ll be crossover between when Mavis is on stage and Wilco’s set, “but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that happened.”
Like all fans, I want to know how the new album is coming along and if we’ll hear new material on the tour. The answer is yes, and no. “There’s always a new Wilco album coming eventually,” he says down the line with a chuckle. “We’ve just really started working to be honest so it’ll probably be some time.”
“Generally we don’t play new things live because I’ve always found it more difficult to record those things, a song, once you’ve played it live. It just feels like the audience is missing when you get to the studio.
“It’ll mostly be some things we haven’t played from the catalogue before and a lot of stuff of the new record because we haven’t had the chance to play it there yet.”
The band’s lyricist, Jeff says it’s a general restlessness and curiosity that sparks his creativity.
“I enjoy listening to music a lot but I tend to spend most of my free time reading. I like almost anything and I’ll listen to almost anything. I think that’s a good way to stay inspired – just try to embrace more and try and understand more. Even music that I don’t quite get, I think it’s exciting sometimes to try to understand it, and the same with some fiction.”
They’re a prolific group, with multiple side projects and the band’s Solid Sound Festival happening for a third time in June. I ask how it feels to be curators of a festival, instead of being booked by promoters to play.
“It’s really creative. One of the big differences is we get to extend our concept of the band and our overall aesthetic to a festival and try and pick things that give a bigger, deeper picture of what inspires us. It’s a pure luxury to get to do that.”
While a trip to Massachusetts for Solid Sound Festival sounds like an worthwhile travel goal, a night with Wilco and Mavis Staples at Auckland Town Hall promises to be an extraordinary night of music. And fans, keep an eye out for Jeff in Newton; he reckons he’ll probably have a shawarma around the corner from Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios.
You can catch Wilco with Mavis Staples at Auckland Town Hall on 6 April.