Friday, February 10, 2006

Q&A: Tweedy on making ---- and stealing ---- music

From NC Times:

Q&A: Tweedy on making ---- and stealing ---- music

By:JOHN CARUCCI - Associated Press

Shutting down music file-sharing is like closing a library.That's according to Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, who's on a solo acoustic tour after the band's recent release of the live double CD "Kicking Television." Tweedy spoke to The Associated Press after a recent performance about songwriting, performing live and when it's good to steal music.

AP: At what point did you realize that music was something you could create?

Tweedy: I don't really remember when music became the most important thing in my life. My mother claims that I would stand and point at the stereo when I first learned how to walk, before I learned how to talk.

AP: What was your first instrument?

Tweedy: Guitar.

AP: The first song you ever wrote?

Tweedy: I wrote a song with a guy that lived in my hometown for his band when I was 15, 16 called "Your Little World," and they made a single out of it, but it was a local release.

AP: Do you remember what you were thinking when you wrote it?

Tweedy: It was just a pop song about a girl.

AP: Do you listen to the radio or contemporary music? Specifically, what do you like or hate about it?

Tweedy: Honestly, I don't listen to the radio very much.

AP: What's the first thing you do after you've written a song?

Tweedy: I tend to have a lot of things working at once. Like works in progress. But if I get the main idea of a song together I usually play it for my wife, or my kids, and see how they react to it. Eventually, I play it for my bandmates to see how they react to it. And if things keep going with some sense of encouragement, we record it and finish it.

AP: During last night's show, the crowd was calling out songs they wanted you to play. How much have those requests influenced your set list over the years?

Tweedy: I don't really have a set when I do a solo performance. I put a list onstage that (contains) way more songs than I will ever be able to play in one night. I just use it if I can't think of a song. Mostly I just go with what feels right to play next.

AP: After being dropped by Reprise Records in 2001, Wilco released "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" on the Web for free. Was that simply to get your music out there, or because you were disenchanted by the corporate process?

Tweedy: We had a tour booked, and we wanted to go out and play our songs that we had been rehearsing and were most excited about, which was our new record. And so we could have done (the tour) without people knowing those songs, but we thought that it would be more fun if people had a heads up to what we might be playing. And also I think the real sense that we had in the band at that point was we never made any money from selling a record. We had never recouped on any of our records. We had never gotten a royalty check. We had always been able to support ourselves by working hard and playing a lot of shows on the road, and that was a lot more important to us than having people pay us for our record. At that point in time, it was a very real decision.

AP: You've said that you don't see music file-sharing as a threat, mainly because of quality issues?

Tweedy: That's just part of it. I don't think that the quality is the same. But I don't see it as a threat because I don't feel that it's a threat to have people more interested in music. I think what's happening with file sharing is that you have a lot more people hearing a lot more music, and I think more than anything else it has engendered an enthusiasm for music. It's a no-brainer that it should be embraced, that's kind the whole point of making music, to be heard. The only thing that stands in the way of making sense to most people is greed. ... File sharing sites don't just have new material, they have archival material, they have spoken word, they tons of material that I never had access to growing up. At their fingertips, people have all this amazing stuff, and I'd like to see what's going to come out of that in the future. If you shut that down, it's like closing a library.

AP: So the record industry's approach is driven by fear?

Tweedy: Do you remember home taping as killing music? It's the same thing. The sky is falling. Ultimately, I think it's an excuse for incompetence.

AP: Maybe the best argument is the Grateful Dead, who let fans tape their shows?

Tweedy: That's the difference. If people aren't willing to go out and play music live, and use that as a part of how they define themselves as a band, then it's definitely going to hurt you. You can't just sit in your home studio and crank out records and get rich. Because people are going to be sharing (the music). But you foster a relationship with an audience, and nurture some good will by allowing taping. Most importantly, like the Grateful Dead, whatever you think of their music, they had it right, in my opinion philosophically, that this music that you're making requires a listener.

AP: One last question. When will Wilco tour?

Tweedy: Not until next year. That's kinda it for a while.


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