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Like Father, Rock Son: Jeff & Spencer Tweedy

What happens when your dad fronts one of the most revered bands in indie rock? You pick up your drumsticks and join him; Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, 47, and son Spencer, 18, discuss their new album, ”Sukierae”, out Sept. 23

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Spencer has been in other bands, and Jeff, I hear you have a group of your own. So what drove the two of you to make a record?
Jeff Tweedy Playing music together has always been a part of our family life, a way to interact, an activity that we enjoy in our daily life. Spencer ended up drumming on the last Mavis Staples record that I helped make for her, and all the other members of Wilco were busy, so it wasn’t really a good time to start another Wilco record. We just kind of continued the process from making the Mavis record. We were having such a good time.

Spencer Tweedy I concur. That checks out with me.

Jeff Thanks, Spencer.

Spencer, how would you compare your dad to other people you’ve played with?
Spencer I have more fun with my dad than with anyone else. It just feels the easiest. I think our sensibilities are probably pretty much identical, because everybody’s like their parents. It helps that he’s been playing for most of his life — proficient musicians are always fun to play with.

Jeff Trust is the thing that makes music so satisfying to make with other people, and we have the epitome of that.

Jeff, what did you learn about Spencer during recording?
Spencer You learned that you can play piano pretty well.

Jeff [Laughs] I wouldn’t go that far. I learned that if I have Pro Tools and an unlimited amount of time, I can make a piano track that sounds relatively musical. With Spencer, I think I knew he was very good going into the Mavis record, but what I didn’t anticipate was that someone as young as he is could be so poised. Studios can wig out even the most seasoned musicians.

Do you two generally have the same taste in bands?
Spencer My whole life I’ve identified more with music from the ’60s and ’70s. But there are some new garage bands that I connect with, and for my dad, who grew up listening to the first wave of those bands, I think it can be hard to view the records coming out today in a vacuum and not on the continuum of the stuff that came before.

Jeff There’s a certain spirit of a certain type of music that has to come to young people in a vibrant and alive way…. It doesn’t really matter if I don’t think it’s as good musically. Spencer, you just deferred college for a year. Will you study music at school?

Spencer I would like to be a musician, but I don’t think that will be part of my academic life. I want to spend my education exploring more scholarly stuff — things that you can only get in that environment.

That’s very levelheaded.
Jeff He’s a levelheaded kid. I just have to keep my mouth shut. [Laughs]