Episode 128 of The JamBase Podcast, a partner of the Osiris Media Network, features an interview with Wilco bassist John Stirratt. JamBase’s Andy Kahn spoke with Stirratt about the band’s recently released album, Cruel Country, and more.
The interview took place over a video call earlier this week. Stirratt had just returned to his home in Maine from Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts.
Stirratt detailed what went into Wilco’s Solid Sound set that featured the live debuts of all 21 songs that make up the new double album. Stirratt revealed he was more nervous before the band’s recent shows celebrating – and recreating – their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, than he was about playing all the new songs on Cruel Country.
Stirratt is a co-founding member of Wilco and along with Jeff Tweedy, is the band’s only other constant member. Stirratt and Tweedy are joined in the band by previous JamBase Podcast guest, guitarist Nels Cline, as well as keyboardist Mikael Jorgenson, Stirratt’s rhythm section partner, drummer Glenn Kotche and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Sansone.
Sansone and Stirratt are also bandmates in the Autumn Defense. The side project also performed at Solid Sound and might have new music coming soon. Stirratt recalled his experience performing with David Byrne at Solid Sound. Stirratt told an incredibly cool story about Byrne’s history with MASS MoCA, which is an innovative contemporary art museum and creative space.
Stirratt talked quite a bit about the recording process for Cruel Country, which took place over two sessions at the band’s Chicago-based recording facility known as The Loft. The new album was tracked live with all the members of the band in the same room which was something they had not done much of on their last several albums.
The bassist also discussed Wilco’s decision to make a “Country” album. Prior to forming Wilco, Stirratt joined Tweedy in Uncle Tupelo and appeared on the final album recorded by the band often associated with the alt-country label. Stirratt talked about the country music influences like Waylon Jennings that helped inform the sound of the album, which was also heavily influenced by Sansone’s use of a B-Bender device that was invented in the late-1960s by members of The Byrds to alter the pitch of a guitar. Stirratt also touched on how he found the process of making a Country album more freeing than limiting and many other aspects of the album.
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