Wilco's John Stirratt on The Whole Love, The Autumn Defense, and Lacking Irony

Though the Wilco lineup has solidified since 2007's Sky Blue Sky, the years leading up to that album were marked by turnover. Of the original lineup, only songwriter Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt remain. In fact, Stirratt's ties to Tweedy stretch all the way back to Uncle Tupelo, the seminal alt-country band he played in with Tweedy and Jay Farrar before forming Wilco in 1994.

Coming up on 20 years of active Wilco duty, Stirratt says that the band is playing at the "height of their power." The band's latest, 2011's The Whole Love certainly bears out his statement. Opening with the clattering "Art of Almost," the record explores both gentle balladry on songs like "Open Mind" and artful power pop with songs like "Born Alone." Stirratt's bass playing is at the forefront of "Capitol City," acting as melodic element of ornamentation, and gritty and fuzzy on "I Might," which serves as the best garage rock jam we didn't know Wilco had in them.

Speaking over the phone, Stirratt and I discussed the band's Grammy nomination (Best Rock Album), the new album, the current Wilco lineup, and why people didn't seem to enjoy "happy" Wilco.

Wilco is scheduled to perform Saturday, January 21, at ASU Gammage in Tempe. The show is sold out.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.