Wilco They have entered an interesting phase as a band: those from Chicago are getting closer and closer to being a legend in their field. AND “Cousin” (dBpm/Sony, 23) is one more piece to make that happen sooner rather than later.
The weight in history they have Wilco It is already undoubtable at this point. They have written their own path and, in the middle of 2023, there is no longer anyone who doubts the place they occupy and the mark they have left with an almost immaculate discography, with dozens of songs that we have listened to countless times at home and with a good list of direct solids for the memory. Surely that is something that the members of the group themselves do not even consider. They don’t have the need. Their thing is to compose songs and record albums that they are proud of. Yeah “Cruel Country” was the curious and unexpected artifact they launched last year, still to be digested, now they return with “Cousin”. A more specific album, but one that maintains its point of risk. Nothing that we have not heard before in a formula that has been widely assimilated and applauded, similar to the one used in “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” o “A Ghost Is Born”.
This past summer, Wilco They have been touring our country again. It seems that, beyond composing songs and recording them, they have not stopped playing. Even so, guitarist Nels Cline has time to attend our interview via Zoom before his concert in Dublin. Cline has been in the band for nineteen years now. “After all this time together I feel part of this family. I am one of the six pieces of the gear. Logically, at first it was difficult for me to understand how things worked in the group, what the dynamics were, it was even difficult for me to know what my role was. Now everything is very easy. Things flow completely naturally. Sometimes with Jeff [Tweedy] We only need a look to communicate. “That is enough for us.”. Those of us who follow Wilco Since its beginnings we have had that feeling. When you see them live it’s like having a group of friends playing together. “They’ve never told us that, but I buy your theory. We try to be close to our followers and the blame for this is the songs. “They are the ones who create that familiarity.” When faced with bands that have been together for so many years, I am always curious: do musicians get bored repeating their songs every night? “Luckily, in our case we have a lot of repertoire and we can choose. It is true that there are some more recurring ones, but every night we include material that we have been playing for a long time. And the best known ones, being the type of band we are, and without considering ourselves a jam band or people who spend the concert improvising, we do approach them in a different way. We always find a slightly different approach, a detail, something that makes them attractive again.”
Speaking of live performances, in the specific case of Nels Cline, an expected moment in his concerts is the solo of “Impossible Germany”. A great expectation is created similar to that which occurs with the starting signal of an athletics race or the taking of a penalty in an important match. “Every time is a new challenge for me. [risas]. And yes, I know there are a lot of people waiting for that solo. There is a kind of mystique around it and, when it arrives, I live it with the intensity and rigor it deserves. In fact, it has always surprised me, because I am not a guitarist specialized in solos, nor does the band go that way, but that is the magic of music, and also that of Wilco.”
As for what is his twelfth album, “Cousin”, it is perceived that there is great expectation. The album, given its makings and circumstances, is going to make people talk. The beginning with the intriguing “Infinite Surprise”, the elegance of “Evicted”, the harshest sounds of “Sunlight Ends”, the intoxicating beauty of “Pittsburg” or “Mean To Be”, with all that electricity on the way to exploration, those suggestive sounds and avant-garde folk. “From the inside it is more difficult to do the math on how a record will work. We dedicate ourselves to writing songs. Then it is Jeff, with the complicity of the rest, who decides the format. For example, with ‘Cruel Country’ we didn’t start with the idea that it would be a double and have that more relaxed air. And now the same thing happens. We do not differentiate some sessions from others. Maybe some of these new songs already came from when we did ‘Cruel Country’. We don’t have the feeling that this is an album that is going to generate more things for us compared to others. Of course, we are excited and expectant.” A great novelty is the name of the production company. Wilco They have chosen Cate Le Bon. “That was Jeff’s thing. He had wanted to work with her for a long time. Cate has given us other nuances and a necessary external vision. She was clear about which band she was going to work with and so were we, so there was at all times a climate in which trust prevailed and above all in which we listened to each other.”
Taking advantage of the fact that in the successful television series “The Bear” songs of WilcoI ask him what he considers harder: being part of a rock’n’roll band or working in a kitchen. “Without a doubt the kitchen. The stress level is very high,” she notes with a laugh and continues, “I think it’s the only series I’ve seen in the last two or three years. I loved the plot and seeing how well our songs fit together. But I’ll tell you one thing, unlike the rest of the guys in the band, I’ve never lived in Chicago, although according to them it’s a very good place.”.
Apart from Wilco and for decades, Nels Cline has been recording albums with a jazzy and experimental feel on his own, some as excellent as the recent ones “Currents, Constellations” (18) o “Share The Wealth” (20) for the Blue Note seal. That’s why I asked him about his opinion regarding the new jazz. “I don’t see these new jazz scenes in London or Los Angeles as different from those that existed, for example, in the seventies. It blends together in a similar way and the feeling of community was also present then. I think what differentiates them is that now the nuance lies in the fact that hip hop and urban sounds are what set the tone.so”.
In 2015 he participated in Jazz In Americaa wonderful one-day project that can be viewed on YouTube. “Thanks to my album ‘Lovers’ They asked me to play songs inspired by the city of Philadelphia with an orchestra. It was a challenge and a great responsibility, both choosing the repertoire and reproducing it. I would love to do something like that again. And I’m glad you liked it so much.”.