"The working title, as of right now, is Get Well Soon Everybody," Jeff Tweedy, the singer-songwriter-leader of Wilco, says of his band's eighth studio album, now in the mixing stage at the group's Chicago studio, the Loft, and due for release in September. "If I could say anything to the world at large, that would be it."
The record will be Wilco's first on their own label, dBpm – shorthand for decibels per minute – and Tweedy's third set of new songs with his longest-running lineup: bassist John Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, drummer Glenn Kotche, keyboard player Mikael Jorgenson and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansome. The group has recorded more than 20 songs, Tweedy says, "out of the things I had coming in, which was somewhere in the fifties and sixties. It's a pretty great time for me writing-wise."
After Wilco finished touring last year, "we took a little more time off the road than we normally do," says Tweedy. "Certainly, it's been the longest break I've had since my twenties, and that's been a big help, wading out that far from the comfort of the old songs. You have to keep your mind sharp to play your old songs. It's hard to allow yourself to freely think about what you want to do next, when you're that close to doing another show."
The album includes a seven-minute track, "Art of Almost," which starts with shadowy electronics, gently turns into a haunted vocal section, then sprints into a Krautrock-style blowout. There are also two country-flavored songs, the spectral ballad "Black Moon" and the jauntier "Whole Love." "There are two strong threads of material," Tweedy says, "one being a little weirder – snot-nosed obnoxious pop songs – and the other more languid, atmospheric-country music." "Whole Love" grew out of "a chord progression I found interesting," he notes. But the arrangements are the product "of six guys being pretty remarkable at communicating without talking and having a lot of trust in each other."
Tweedy points out that the name of Wilco's label – to be distributed by ANTI – was originally a working title for the 2004 album, A Ghost Is Born. "It doesn't make any sense," he admits. "But as a graphic, it looks cool."