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Jeff Tweedy chats ahead of Wilco’s L.A. concerts

January 9, 2012 |  6:07 pm

Quick chat: Wilco plays the Hollywood Palladium Jan. 24, the Wiltern Jan. 25 and the Los Angeles Theatre Jan. 27.

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy

In advance of Wilco’s mini-L.A. residency, with dates at the Palladium (Jan. 24), the Wiltern (Jan 25) and the Los Angeles Theatre (Jan. 27), band leader Jeff Tweedy reflected on the band's last decade and a half, while sharing thoughts on the band’s new album, “The Whole Love.” 

On Wilco’s live philosophy: “I like the audience being on the same level — a figurative stage. We can put on a pretty good show as entertainers, about half of a show, usually, but then the seriousness has to go away. The ritual of it being a performance needs to be broken in order for it to feel like you achieved your goal. The goal is to join the audience, or make them feel comfortable joining you. I don’t feel like I’m supposed to be up there pretending to be worthy of being looked at.” 

On the importance of nonsense: “For a lot of this record I started with the sound. The original version of ‘I Might’ is all sounds. There’s hardly any discernible words in the first take. I sat and listened to it a million times until they started to sound like words, and then I wrote them down. I tried to stay out of the way and not inject too much ego or meaning. I did a version where I sang the words over the grunts and sounds that were there, and it sounded like a tight double.” 

On starting its own label, dBpm Records: “We’re trying to prove to ourselves that we’re good enough at putting our own records out. If that proves to be the case — and I never wanted to be a music mogul or be on that side of the table — I can see how it would be gratifying to have a band you love find a comfortable home with our label. But we have to be honest about whether or not we have the energy and the resources to do a good job for anybody other than ourselves. I wouldn’t want to get somebody mixed up in this.”

On the warts-and-all look at the band that is the 2002 documentary “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart:” “The movie has calcified people’s opinions of our personalities, or at least mine in particular. So that’s a reason not to do it again, really, but it’s not a reason to regret it. I know it helped us too. It helped get the word out. I would rather have a mythology to live down than to still be trying to reach out and just get some interest in order to be heard.” 

RELATED:

Wilco's riveting 'Art of Almost,' an oral history

Wilco's Nels Cline: 'L.A. gets no respect as far as culture'

The secret production weapon on Wilco's 'The Whole Love'

-- Todd Martens

Image: Jeff Tweedy. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times

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