IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Wilco hits their stride and the road

Jeff Tweedy is clean and the band has a new lineup
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jeff Tweedy is a new man.

The Wilco frontman, who battled an addiction to painkillers in 2004, has been clean for a year now and is feeling better than ever. Tweedy and the rest of his Chicago-based band will hit the road this summer headlining a tour through June, while hitting the main stage at summer festivals such as Bonnaroo.

“I’m enjoying everything a lot more than I probably have most of my life,” Tweedy said during a recent interview. “I’m more excited than I’ve ever felt. I don’t really have any idea about where it’s going. I just know that it’s still going and I’m awake.”

Wilco may still be best known for their 2002 album, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” Initially rejected by their label for not being commercial enough, it became one of the year’s most acclaimed albums and their biggest seller. The drama of that was captured in the documentary “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” which featured some of the tension among former members.

Besides the euphoria Tweedy is feeling after freeing himself from his addiction, the Wilco frontman is pumped about the band’s new lineup, which features founding members John Stirratt (bass) and Glenn Kotche (drums), plus Mike Jorgensen (keyboards), Nels Cline (guitars) and Pat Sansone (keyboards, guitars), who joined the band for the 2004 album “A Ghost is Born.”

“I think it’s the tightest union the band has ever felt,” he said. “Musically, and most importantly friendship-wise, (we’re) all kind of looking from the same direction and playing with the same mind.”

For their gigs at the summer festivals, Wilco will condense their catalog into briefer sets. “We’re focusing more on the higher energy stuff than the shorter rock songs, which will be easier to translate in (those) environments,” Tweedy said.

“There’s enough space (in the songs) to interpret things from night to night,” Tweedy added. “Especially a song like ‘Spiders,’ a lot of the songs have lots of room for improvisation. We’re changing things from night to night.”

Tweedy’s music has already had an effect on his 9-year-old son, who plays drums and wants to follow in his fathers footsteps. But Tweedy is a bit uneasy about his son’s ambitions to become a “rock star.”

“I’m all for them wanting be musicians, but I have a certain amount of ambivalence about them wanting to be rock stars,” Tweedy said. “I think that’s a pretty lame goal. Having music in your life is extremely wonderful blessing, but aspiring to be some sort of sensation, I will discourage it as much as possible.”

As far as his personal goals, keeping himself in shape remains a top priority.

“I was probably a little underweight about a year ago. (I) gained a lot of weight, I stopped smoking,” Tweedy said. “But everything else has been great. It’s been like the best year ever.”