A Family Band: Father, Jeff Tweedy, and son, Spencer Tweedy Collaborate on New Album

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Jeff Tweedy of Wilco Credit: flickr

For a regular 18 year old summer is about getting ready to head off to university and maybe having a job so you can go out drinking with the friends you hope to make. But, for Spencer Tweedy this summer was about recording an album co-written with his father, Jeff Tweedy. Spencer has now postponed his attendance at Lawrence University in Wisconsin a year so that he can spend the time on tour with his father.

Spencer and his dad named the band Tweedy, and their first album Sukierae was released on 23 September. The album title is an old nickname for Spencer’s mom (Jeff Tweedy’s wife) Susie, who was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this year. In an interview with NPR, Spencer said that it made sense that it was the album title “just because she’s the most important person in the world to us.” The album shows this sentiment, along with the general importance the Tweedy’s place on love, family and overcoming hardships.

Like Jeff Tweedy’s attitude regarding his band Wilco, Spencer Tweedy does not seem to care so much about the amount of attention he gets while recording with his father. Wilco has never gotten much publicity, but relies on a strong, dedicated fan base to follow them based on their musical ability alone.

Spencer Tweedy seems to want to go about his time in the public eye in very much the same way. He has his own Tumblr page on which he posts every one to two weeks, updating his fans about the his journey. One post from 10 September of this year was a photo of Jeff and Spencer on the cover of the Arts section of The New York Times. Spencer captioned it: “Dave Itzkoff wrote a really nice piece about Sukierae in The New York Times (!!!).”

Spencer’s public image is shy, innocent, and with a moderately inexpressive disposition. In the many interviews the Tweedy’s have had over the last couple months, Spencer nods along with his father, doing a poor job of hiding the fact that he wants to say something too or speak more for himself. Jeff even says in answer to a question about the difference between performing in different cities that he will answer the question because he has “played more shows around the world than Spencer has.”

But, once in a while, Spencer cuts in and says amazing, intuitive things like, “the biggest difference between audiences is probably less depend- ent on the geography and more de- pendent on the style of the event,” to which his father responded “that’s a very insightful thought, Spencer.” Spencer’s reply to his father’s comment was “I don’t know, I’ve only played like two shows,” and then he stepped back again to allow his father to explain his answer for him while he stared off into space with a faint frown on his face.

According to his father, Spencer picks up new instruments naturally, but his favourite has always been the drums, the instrument he plays on the album. He’s been playing in a band called the Blisters since he was seven. He also played on a recent Mavis Staples album that his father produced.

From listening to Sukierae, there is no doubt that Spencer Tweedy is a good drummer. He is certainly following in his father’s footsteps by relying on that ability, and of course on his father. In the New York Times article that Spencer references on his blog, the Tweedy’s established that working together is a harmonious experience and not a way to patch up a rocky father-son relationship.

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco Credit: flickr
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco Credit: flickr

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