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LAist Interview: Wilco Guitartist Nels Cline

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Wilco, from left: Glenn Kotche, Mikael Jorgensen, Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, John Stirratt | Photo by Autumn De WildeAs Wilco prepares to unveil its seventh studio album, the soon to be released "Wilco, (The Album)," the band is barnstorming across the U.S. and world. Earlier this week, I spoke with Wilco's guitar wizard and Los Angeles native Nels Cline from the road, in Oklahoma City. Nels, one of the newest members of the group, splits his time between riffing with Wilco and his own avant-garde jazz band, the Nels Cline Trio. We talked about his two musical worlds, his thoughts on Wilco before he joined the band and the bodily harm he does to himself on stage.

What are your own personal impressions of "Wilco (the Album)"?

I'm very pleased with the new record. By design, it's a different kind of record from "Sky Blue Sky" because [lead singer] Jeff [Tweedy] wanted to put more of himself on this record. As opposed to "Sky Blue Sky" being more of a live record for the most part, there was a lot of playing together, arranging together and writing together [on the new one]. This record is more of a production number in the sense that a lot of the tracks are layered. There's a lot more attention to the flavor in terms of the presentation. They both have a lot of color. I like both records and I like that they are both different.

"Sky Blue Sky" seemed to have a lot of outside influences with Impossible Germany seemingly borrowing from Steely Dan. On "Wilco (The Album)", it almost seems as if you guys are borrowing from yourself. For example, on the opening track, Jeff's repetition of "Wilco, Wilco, Wilco"; sounds like "Nothing, Nothing, Nothing" from "Being There." Did you guys consider Wilco's past history when writing the album?

I would have to say that this is a Jeff record, really more than Sky Blue Sky. Jeff had this body of songs and I can't speak for him with great authority, but I can say that nobody in the band ever thinks about referring to or reflecting upon past work. It's much more of a looking forward kind of thing. I don't think there's any looking back and referring to the past catalog.

You said this is a "Jeff record." How much of an influence did the rest of the band have on this album?