Published Aug 18, 2015Last month, alt-country greats Wilco caught us off guard with the unexpected roll-out of their new LP, Star Wars. Adding to the surprise was the fantastical, outer space-themed title and quirky kitty artwork. Now, frontman Jeff Tweedy has explained the inspiration behind all that.
Interestingly, Tweedy said that he isn't a fan of the Star Wars franchise. He told Rolling Stone [via Stereogum], "In fact, I didn't even know there was a new Star Wars movie coming out until my lawyer told me. Everybody advised me against it, because there is a heavily protected trademark involved."
He further explained, "The album has nothing to do with Star Wars. It just made me feel good."
As for the artwork, it's apparently a familiar sight at the band's workspace. Tweedy said, "That painting of that cat hangs in the kitchen at the [Wilco] loft, and every day I'd look at it and go, 'You know, that should just be the album cover.' Then I started thinking about the phrase 'Star Wars' recontextualized against that painting — it was beautiful and jarring."
Tweedy also explained the reasoning behind the surprise release. As you'd probably expect, the band wanted to capitalize on their excitement and not have the process be as protracted as a typical album release.
He said, "I was really dreading the modern roll-out pattern. Usually by the time the record comes out, I hate it. I hate talking about it. I hate all the people that have weighed in on it. I think it's done a disservice to our records, the way they've been heard in dribs and drabs, and a lot of people think they've heard a whole record after hearing one song. That's not the way Wilco records work."
Interestingly, Tweedy is already working on the next Wilco record, saying that it's half-done and revealing that personal struggles (including his wife's recent cancer diagnosis and his brother's death in 2013) have spurred his musical productivity. "I have a whole lot of material," he said. Luckily, his wife is apparently "doing great now."
Star Wars is already available digitally. The CD will come out on August 21 and the vinyl pressing will follow on October 13. They can be pre-ordered here. Stream the full album below.