On Election day we caught up with Jeff Tweedy, frontman of esteemed alt-country group Wilco, about why college students should be going to the polls, how he became a more engaged citizen, what’s in-store for Wilco in the near future, and plenty more. Below are some excerpts of our interview conducted by Assistant Music Director Anne Goodall. Listen to the full stream to grab all the Wilco-goods.
Anne Goodall: So we’re obviously a college radio station here at Wake Radio and I know it’s easy for a lot of us as students to abstain from voting merely due to the inconvenience of it all. Why do you think it’s so key that younger citizens, like those of us still in school, cast their ballot?
Jeff Tweedy: Well because if you don’t vote it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that your vote isn’t worth anything. And I think that for that people that feel like their votes don’t count or that there’s something futile about it, I recommend trying to talk someone else into voting with them. [Chuckles] I think that the reason that there’s any argument to be made against voting is because there is such a high rate of, I guess, people that aren’t unengaged or people that are unengaged and not voting. And that weakens, I think, everyone’s vote. I think there’s a lot more that can be done the more people are participating in our government.
Voting for the first time:
AG: Many of us on campus are voting for the first time. This was actually my first presidential election and it was like a really cool kind of empowering experience after I went in and left the polls. Do you remember your first time voting for the president?
JT: [Laughs] I’m old enough to say, no I don’t really…but I wasn’t as engaged at that point in my life, and I regret it. That’s probably why I don’t remember it. I think that is something I’m happy I’ve changed in my life and would recommend anyone else that feels like that to not use that as a cop-out.
AG: Yeah. Absolutely.
JT: It’s where your engagement as a citizen starts. I think you should start there. There [are] probably a lot more things you can do for your community, but voting is really the beginning.
The songwriting process:
AG: So what’s the songwriting process like for you guys as Wilco? Do you write most of it on your own or is it more of a collaborative effort with the rest of the band?
JT: Oh I spend time writing songs on my own and then I bring them to the band. There’s a real collaborative nature to the way songs get finished [and arranged] in Wilco. But primarily they start with me working on them by myself.
For more information about Wilco, please visit their website.
Interview transcribed by Laura J. Chin.
Audio edited, mixed, and produced by Laura J. Chin.