Through it all, they’ve displayed a real knack for knowing when to shake things up. Whether by leaning hard into their country music roots as they did on 2022’s Cruel Country, or inviting experimental-music mastermind Cate Le Bon into their inner circle to produce the 2023 album Cousin — a tightly constructed rock landscape with plenty of space for serious introspection.
In the midst of a robust world tour, the full band — Tweedy (vocals/guitar), John Stirratt (vocals/bass), Nels Cline (guitars), Mikael Jorgensen (keys), Pat Sansone (vocals/guitar), and Glenn Kotche (drums) — joins us at Bob Clearmountain’s Apogee Studio for a sprawling set of Cousin and Cruel Country cuts, alongside back-catalog jam “Handshake Drugs.” And in conversation with Morning Becomes Eclectic co-host Anthony Valadez, Tweedy lets loose about crashing open mics, working within Le Bon’s “meticulous palette,” and “reconnecting to the world on terms we can believe in.”
Click into the video above for the full musical performance, and watch/read on for the interview below.
The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Anthony Valadez: I want to talk about some magic that happened with y’all recently in Dallas. Can you tell us what happened while you were walking around the city?
Jeff Tweedy: Oh, I wasn’t walking around town. But Glenn Kotche was walking around town, and he noticed that there was a signup sheet at the bar across the street from where we were staying for the open mic… So he signed us up. Most of us were around so we went and played for about an hour. I think [the crowd was] ready to go home. I think we kind of kept them.
The clip on YouTube is worth watching. It looks like there are around four people out there.
There’s maybe four people [laughs]. And then we did a song with one of the other songwriters who taught us his song in real time on stage.
The new album Cousin was produced by Cate Le Bon who your bandmate Nels Cline describes as being really good at creating sonic textures. Can you describe some of the textures she was able to add to the Wilco sound?
Cate has a really meticulous palette of these sort of icy tones and synths. It’s course. Course bass, course, thin-sounding guitars… really a new palette for us. I think it still sounds like Wilco, but that it sounded like Wilco with a new lighting director, or something like that.
How has it been trying to recreate this record live?
It’s not the easiest of records we’ve made to recreate because of the nature of how it was recorded. [There was a considerable] amount of tearing things apart and putting them back together it took to get the shapes that we wanted, but it sounds good.