One year ago, Jeff Tweedy's life was turned upside down.
On the surface, things appeared to be idyllic. He was married, with two kids and a house in a suburb of Chicago. His band, Wilco, was gearing up to release A Ghost Is Born, the follow-up to their career-defining Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. There were plans for a full slate of tours, including a headlining slot opposite Radiohead and Kraftwerk at the prestigious annual Coachella festival.
Then things fell apart. Tweedy — who has a long history of near-crippling migraines — blindsided fans by checking into a rehab facility to deal with an addiction to painkillers. The release date for Ghost was pushed back, and Wilco were forced to scrap all immediate plans, including playing Coachella.
Now, a little more than a year after he entered rehab, Tweedy and Wilco played a raucous sunset performance at last weekend's Coachella festival (see "Coldplay, NIN Top Coachella With Emotional Performances".) Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has been certified gold, and A Ghost Is Born took home a Grammy for Best Alternative Album. And Tweedy is healthy, happy and finally able to look back at the past 375-or-so days of his life.
"Personally it's a triumph to get back and play [Coachella] again," Tweedy said. "I was really, really sad that we had to cancel any shows last year — Coachella especially, because it seemed like it was going to be such a big event and so fun. I'm really happy they asked us back, and I feel about a thousand times better getting to do it this year than I probably would have felt doing it last year."
Now the key for Tweedy is to maintain that positive headspace while Wilco continue on their seemingly endless tour schedule. After wowing audiences at Coachella, the band is heading home to Chicago for a four-night stand at Chicago's Vic Theatre. Those shows are being filmed, and Wilco hope to turn the performances into a live DVD to be released later this year.
"Hopefully we'll be able to put it all together in some sort of a compelling document of the way the band sounds, looks and plays at this point in time," Tweedy laughed. "There's nothing really groundbreaking about it. It's a concert film, basically."
And while the band's schedule looks full well into the summer, it has slated some studio time toward the end of August, and both Tweedy and drummer Glenn Kotche are "75 percent finished" with another Loose Fur album (their collaboration with Foxtrot/Ghost producer/Sonic Youth member Jim O'Rourke). But expectations for a new Wilco album are high, and, to be honest, so are Tweedy's. He wants to win another Grammy — and this time around, he might actually attend the ceremony.
"After not getting a nomination for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, we didn't exactly stop our touring schedule or anything to go to the Grammys. When we found out we won, we were in Birmingham, Alabama, which seemed fitting," he laughed. "I mean, the one time we did go to the Grammys, I was mistaken for an usher by P. Diddy — so we never really fit in."
And as for when fans can expect that new Wilco album, Tweedy is asking for a bit of patience. In his own humble way, of course.
"Really, most of last year has been spent getting used to having a six-piece band [they added avant guitarist Nels Cline to the mix for Ghost], and kind of readjusting all the older material," he said. "I think we're all looking forward to getting into the studio to see what happens. Luckily the world really doesn't need another Wilco record. It's not like peace in the Middle East is dependent upon Wilco's plans."
For a full-length feature on Wilco, check out "Wilco: Ghost Stories."