Jeff Tweedy Confirms Solo Debut Album – What About Wilco?

Jeff Tweedy’s forthcoming “solo” album Sukierae will be released September 16, 2014. More details and over streams of over 45 minutes of top-notch live recordings of the new songs are here.

Jeff Tweedy discussed Wilco’s next album with Uncut at the start of last year. “I usually have a lot of songs mapped out before we go into the studio, though I also like the idea of just seeing what happens some days,” he said. “I collect song ideas and lyrics all the time.  I’ll go through all the different snippets, of which there can be anything from 30 to 100 at any given time.  Right now I’ve got about 90 songs in my playlist that haven’t been recorded.  I tend to not even remember doing them or writing them once I’m in the studio… But if some sound like somebody else wrote them, then they’re the ones that usually work.  I wrote my most recent song a few days ago.  I don’t have a real title for it yet, though I was calling it ‘Associate Sunrise’.  I’ve no idea what it’s about.”

Photo by Wilco photographer Charles Harris (visit his vast Wilco portfolio here)

With over 90 songs being sketched out, Wilco’s follow-up to 2011’s The Whole Love initially looked likely for release last year. “Wilco are just laying low and making some music in the studio until we go to tour Australia in March,” Jeff told Uncut in early 2013. “We’ll probably get started on out next record in February.”  Sure enough on the last day of January 2013 Wilco announced the start of their session on facebook with the below picture captioned, “New Neve console up and ready to make magic at the Loft. Well, not new — just new to us.”

In anticipation of Wilco’s tour down under, Australian website published an interview with Tweedy in March 2013 (presumably conducted in early February) that further hinted at Wilco’s forthcoming album: “I guess something feels a little bit more restless within the group than maybe on the last few records. Maybe it might be time to scratch the more – I don’t ever want to use the words that people have used to describe us like experimental or weird because I never have thought of us as being anything like that – but whatever that side of the band is, it feels like that’s an itch we haven’t scratched.” He clarified to themusic.som that the album he envisions is “not necessarily noisy, maybe just some less conventional song shapes, and in the sonics of it.” 

Maybe I have taken in some of that critical shorthand that ‘Wilco have played it safe’ lately – and maybe even those twelve-minute songs are the safe way for us. It relates to that enthusiasm and passion for Wilco – maybe it fostered a certain amount of expectation, and when it just sounds like Wilco, that’s somehow a disappointment, but it’s never been weird, really.” Tweedy defends “Wilco’s always been a pop band, in the spirit of rock‘n’roll in some way. And some of the other shit that some people put on us – good and bad – I sometimes don’t recognise myself at all in that.”

Whatever the noise or weirdness level, over a year later there’s no signs of a Wilco album in the near future.

What happened?

For one thing, Tweedy was pre-occupied producing two fantastic albums released in the first half of last year: Low’s The Invisible Way and Mavis Staples’ One True Vine (more on that here). “I’m not sure if doing more production work has helped me as a songwriter,” Tweedy mused to Uncut, “but it certainly gives me a lot of confidence for when it comes time for finishing songs for Wilco.” He says he “was overjoyed at the prospect of working with Low….it sounds like classic Low, but recorded in a different way.  I don’t know if they’ve used as many acoustic instruments on an entire record before.”

White Denim traveled to Chicago in March 2013 to record two tracks at Wilco’s Loft with Tweedy and his producing partner Tom Schick. The results were released on October’s Corsicana Lemonade, along with subsequent tracks recorded with Jim Vollentine at their home state in Texas. Jeff and Wilco bandmate Pat Sansone also co-produced Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion’s Wassaic Way, released last August – all of which lead to Tweedy getting nominated for the “Producer of the Year” Grammy (he lost to Pharrell Williams).

Add to that the comeback of their own festival last June, Solid Sound (with two nights of celebrated performances by Wilco), an incredible tour with Bob Dylan throughout last summer and a variety of side projects, and the Wilco album that looked likely for near release at the start of 2013 seemed far off by the end of the year.

Which brings us to 2014.

This Spring Nels Cline toured and released an album with Medeski Martin & Wood, The Woodstock Sessions (Vol. 2) – part of a new series of collaborative live albums recorded at New York’s Applehead Studios (listen up). That’s in addition to The Nels Cline Singers’ MACROSCOPE. Tweedy meanwhile guested as a folksinger in an episode of Portlandia and was one of several musicians to cameo on the season finale of NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation, playing the frontoman of fictitious band Land Ho! Both aired last month. There’s even talk of another Loose Fur album according to Jim O’Rourke.

Also in April, while announcing the lineup of Taste Of Chicago on local radio station WXRT, the city’s mayor Rahm Emanuel leaked that Tweedy has a solo debut album in the pipeline (previously insinuated by Nels Cline in interviews).  Today Tweedy announced a solo tour leading up to his appearance at this summer’s Newport Folk Festival (and further confirming his solo LP). Catch Jeff and his new band –  Jim Elkington on guitar, Darin Gray on bass, Jeff’s son Spencer Tweedy on drums and Liam Cunningham on keyboards – at the following tour stops this summer:

6-05 Detroit, MI – Masonic Temple
6-06 Pittsburgh, PA – Three Rivers Arts Festival
6-07 Hunter Mountain, NY – Mountain Jam
6-09 Baltimore, MD – Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
6-10 Washington, DC – Lincoln Theatre
6-11 Louisville, KY – The Brown Theatre on Broadway
6-16 Milwaukee, WI – The Pabst Theater
6-17 Columbia, MO – Missouri Theatre
6-18 Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
6-21 Austin, TX – Texas Union Ballroom
6-22 Dallas, TX – Majestic Theatre
6-24 Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
7-04 Ottawa, Ontario – Ottawa Bluesfest
7-06 Toronto, Ontario – Toronto Urban Roots Fest
7-12 Chicago, IL – Taste of Chicago
7-27 Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival

But what about Wilco? Is the album they began recording last year still in the making? Considering that they’re almost completely taking 2014 off from touring – their only appearance so far is a double booking at Lockn’ Music Festival – it’s not a stretch to assume something is going on behind the scenes. Rumors suggest they have been working the next LP intermittently all this time. We can only hope.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s