The Chicago rock sextet Wilco will make an extended visit to Minnesota this weekend, giving two shows in two days in St. Paul.
Friday they’ll play Roy Wilkins Auditorium, followed by a trip over to Lake Wobegon for their second appearance on “A Prairie Home Companion” on Saturday. Winners of a Grammy Award, Wilco is touring in support of its seventh studio effort, “Wilco (the album)” (Nonesuch Records). Released on June 30, the recording debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard album chart, sold nearly 100,000 copies in its first week, and earned a four-star review in Rolling Stone.
Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche talked with MinnPost.com about his performance technique on the new recording — and about breaking drum sticks.
MinnPost: What one thing comes to mind about the process of creating Wilco (the album)?
Glenn Kotche: That it actually went really quickly. We recorded everything at our Loft studio in Chicago, demoed everything, throughout last year. So the songs were pretty much arranged. When we went to New Zealand (for a different project), we were having such a good time, things were going so well in the studio, that we just decided to try and re-cut the demo songs. So that’s why it went so quickly. In a matter of a week and a half we recorded everything except for one song. We brought it all back to Chicago and within two weeks put all the finishing touches on it. So the recording that’s out there really didn’t take long to put together at all.
MP: What’s different about your performance on this recording?
GK: I’m playing a lot harder on this recording because when we did these I was in an isolated room by myself. The drum sound is a little more naked and raw on this record. And louder than “Sky Blue Sky” (2007). Because when we did “Sky Blue Sky,” Jeff (Tweedy) was maybe 4 feet in front of my kick drum with no isolation in between, singing, while I was playing my drum part. So I played everything at a lower volume, used smaller sticks, different drum heads, little equipment changes. Drums are more present on this new recording, with a much more live sound.
MP: Are there any unique features to your current tour?
GK: We’re trying to play some smaller venues this time. So we’re going to be able to do a greater variety of our songs. That’s something that long-time fans can look forward to. Playing in large arenas can be limiting in regard to which songs you can play.
MP: iTunes lists Wilco as a country band.
GK: Don’t ask me! (laughs) Even “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” (2002) and “A Ghost Is Born” (2004) were labeled country. Ever since “A.M.” (1995), which was labeled an “alt-country” record, we’ve never been able to escape that. It doesn’t surprise me anymore because it keeps on happening.
MP: What about your fans surprises you, 8 years on with the group?
GK: I don’t take anything for granted. None of us in the band do. We’re pretty low-key guys. When I joined the band I never thought that I would (recognize) the same faces of so many fans at the shows, that they would age with us — are aging with us. Just that the fan base keeps growing is a pleasant surprise. And seeing younger people at the shows is really nice. I’m very happy about it, and I never expected it when I started.
MP: Is breaking a drum stick during a concert bad etiquette?
GK: No way! It shows that you’re going full on and that your heart’s in the performance … or that you have a faulty drum stick.
Wilco, Friday, Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m., Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 175 West Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. Tickets $34.