Wilco is kinda like your best friend. They’re there for your break-ups, great on road trips, and tend to be painfully straightforward. They’re by your side, consistently producing tunes that soothe, rock and resonate. This Grammy-winning sextet has been selling out shows for eighteen years. They’re a creative bunch, made up of multi-instrumentalists that legitimately like one another.
I had the good fortune of chatting with Wilco bassist John Stirratt recently (my inner fanboy quickly revealed itself). Stirratt is one of two remaining Wilco members, (lead singer Jeff Tweedy is the other). He also plays in The Autumn Defense with Wilco bandmate, Pat Sansone. Catch Wilco headlining at Vail Snow Daze this Saturday, with opener Nathaniel Rateliff. Venue opens at 6pm and music starts at 6:30pm.
303 Magazine: So I have to tell you, my alarm clock is set to the song “Whole Love.” I’m a huge fan of that song!
“Ah! Really? Awesome. That’s sweet.”
303 Magazine: It seems like people always talk about the growing pains that Wilco has had over the years. Are you and Jeff like an old married couple at this point?
“(Laughs) Yeah, you know. I guess there’s probably worse ways to describe it. We’ve been together a long time…it’s funny, I think when you’re as busy as we’ve been over the years, it’s just flown by…there’s never much chance to reflect on it.”
303 Magazine: Wilco has been called the greatest American rock band. What do you think makes you so successful and relatable, on such a massive scale?
“Really I think it’s perseverance, foremost. And having a real wealth of material to work with. What Jeff has provided…he’s definitely provided so much to work with over the years.”
303 Magazine: Why was the last album called The Whole Love?
“We had a different working title for a long time but I think Jeff heard a reference to that phrase being used on a cop show. When someone gives a full confession, that’s what they’re saying: they’re giving the “whole love” and he was sort of attracted to that.”
303 Magazine: What’s your favorite song, right now, to play live?
“I like “Born Alone”…it has a great sort of rocking energy and people seem to really dig it…the feeling of that first chorus is romantic.”
303 Magazine: What about your 6-year-old daughter’s (Tallulah) favorite song?
“I think she likes that song, “I Might.” She is kind of a riff monger (sings riff and laughs).”
303 Magazine: You have so much experience in this business, what would you tell your 20-year-old self?
“Get in with publishing, if you can (laughs) ‘cause royalties don’t amount to anything any more and that’s kind of everything in the business right now. Luckily we’re sort of the exception to the rule as far as what’s going on these days. I would say write as much as you possibly can and play with people that you can stand to be around.”
303 Magazine: Who are you listening to right now?
“I like Tame Impala and Wild Belle. Been listening to this great old Charlie Rich stuff and I just saw The Who the other day, so I’ve been listening to them as well. “
303 Magazine: What’s something off the cuff that Wilco fans might be surprised to hear? (Stirratt struggled for something that wasn’t too private and graciously followed up with me, via text):
Mike Jorgensen’s dad was a famous engineer in New York, in the 70’s and 80’s.
303 Magazine: Is Wilco working on a new album right now?
“No, we haven’t. I think we’re going to do a little recording over the winter…I think we’re going to get back into it in the spring but nothing as of yet.”
303 Magazine: Have you had the chance to hangout in Colorado? Any favorite venues or establishments?
“I do love Red Rocks. We did play Colorado Springs three years ago and I hadn’t been there and really enjoyed that town and Garden of the Gods was fantastic! It was a really memorable spot for me…we had a day in Telluride that amazing too. Have not spent much time in Vail but it’s beautiful from what I hear. You’re lucky to live in such a beautiful place!”
Wilco is playing this Saturday, December 15th at Vail Snow Daze with opener, Nathaniel Rateliff. General admission tickets range from $29.50 (single day pass) to $129.50 (3 day pass). Other headliners include The Shins and Michael Franti & Spearhead. Purchase tickets at Vailsnowdaze.webconnex.com/tickets.