I thought that was brilliant because it really showed the understanding and the compassion that they have for one another.
It made me laugh because I kept saying‚ "God‚ this is so real." It's kind of a realist view of a band. This is how it is. And the scenes where you're showing Nels [Cline] on the couch with a bag of ice underneath his neck and he's describing that he's head-banged one too many times in his life. [laughs] And he's talking about how he needs to take care of his body in order to play the music that he does. I thought that was great because it's kind of this anti-rock hero thing‚ you know? They're not backstage with all these groupies and girls and drugs; they're practicing and putting ice on their wounds. [laughs]
Yeah. I think‚ in a way it's sort of a post-rehab film. [laughter] But Wilco is at that place -- they're grownups‚ you know? And they have found the right orchestra for the music; they've found the right equation. And they're happy to present it‚ they're happy to show it off. I think if it were somebody else‚ if it was another band where the singer was a junkie‚ and so and so is fucking up…
Yeah‚ and how many times has that story been told? I was having a conversation with my friend the other day where I was like‚ "That story's been told a gazillion times."
I know.
But this is a different story. I love it.
It's functional. I really have the feeling that‚ if you're gonna make a movie about music‚ the music has to represent for itself. The music has to be the end of it. At the show‚ you have to make me believe that what you're watching is worth watching‚ and what you're listening is worth listening to. You cannot talk your way out of it if what you're seeing on screen and the performances are not there. And so that's the main thing. That's the main thesis behind this movie -- that Wilco is the greatest live band in the world. And we think it because this and this and this‚ and we don't need to talk about it; we can just show it.
[laughs] Exactly.
That's what we felt like we were after. And I mean not that the things we showed are necessarily the greatest performances in the entire world‚ but they are in a way‚ you know? You do get what these guys are doing. You get that they listen to each other‚ and you get that they actually work with each other‚ not against each other. You do get the supplemented egos that allow for this kind of grandeur. In any great band‚ somebody's gotta shut up‚ while the other guys play. You can't just all be up there hammering away. Dynamics are everything‚ and to me that needs to be shown with Wilco. I can't stress enough the importance; I feel the importance of this particular band. And the fact that they're writing for this band right now is hugely important for me.
The first dialogue we get after watching the performance is Pat [Sansone] and he's in the back lot of the Cain's Ballroom. I've played there‚ and I love that little silver bullet trailer that's in the background there. He's showing the Polaroids and he's saying‚ "Polaroid discontinued their film." And that idea of a fading Americana‚ I got that connection with it‚ and I think that's the power of their music and everything from the venues they're playing -- they're not playing huge stadiums; they're playing Tipitina's and Cain's…
Right. Having said that‚ they booked that tour with us in mind to film in these venues‚ because they're the ideal places for the film. We had a few pow-wows about it‚ and it was like… well‚ Christoph [Green] and I‚ we love architecture‚ we love music‚ and we love‚ you know‚ from the Burn to Shine series that we did‚ we even like to highlight‚ even not these fabulous houses‚ but just document the changing face of our society of American architecture and life. And so we were trying to do something that on a purely structural level in the movie‚ and that allows you to do something other than look at a band the whole time. In my head‚ I have this visualization that the band is like its own threatened city‚ you know? Like that has a history‚ and it's a village with old houses‚ but it's always being challenged‚ There's always some sort of giant turmoil going on in the middle of that village. In my head‚ that's Wilco.
Yeah. That's perfect because that quote John [Stirratt] was saying about these bombed-out downtowns‚ and that you can't walk to Wal-Mart. [laughs]
All those things‚ they worked for me as a metaphor for the band. All those things about America.
It does follow some sort of historical thread of music. I'm not saying they follow a historical thread of music but‚ you know‚ they do. [laughs] I guess I am saying that you listen to the music and their songs‚ and [Tweedy] does a lot to tie himself to the past -- historical music in the past and traditional American music. But at the same time‚ the dichotomy is that we also know what Wilco sounds like‚ and Wilco does not by any systemization always sound like that. And to me‚ to show him thinking about it so heavily‚ or to at least understand that he does think about it as a viewer‚ it contextualizes music in a different way‚ and it makes you think differently about what you're watching. And that's really the thing‚ you really only have a few minutes between songs to inform the way you watch them.
They're kind of like these little haikus. [laughs]
Yeah‚ because you don't want to make a super didactic film that's like "and then we were raised in this town‚" you know? That's all fine -- we have a certain amount of that stuff in there -- but it has to relate to the film‚ and it has to relate to the sort of underlying theme of the film.
Well‚ it's such a cool continuation since I Am Trying to Break Your Heart‚ to see how far the band has come and to see how... I don't know what you want to call it. Maturing is not the right word -- more like realization of themselves. It's really interesting to watch how that story has been evolving. Because there's a huge gap between that Wilco and Wilco now‚ and to see how much has come from that. And that made me think about this idea… music history. We've been talking about that a lot tonight‚ it's this unfolding story of the fading Americana. We go from this early folk music‚ and then historically music goes through the '40s‚ '50s‚ '60s. The era in the '60s when music becomes more political‚ but there's hypocrisy in some of the things that happen with that whole movement‚ which lead to the movement that you were a big part of in the '80s‚ and also there's a rebellion against the '80s "me generation" kind of bullshit‚ you know? And then it brings us to Wilco… [laughter]