Sushi Bar or Dennys?

Wilcos food for thought

You don't have to answer that.

"If you would have asked me a few years ago, I would have said you were nuts," says John Stirratt, who has been playing bass for Wilco since the beginning. "Now I guess I would say that you're a little less nuts."

Stirratt is on the phone with us from his hotel room in Nashville. He's handling the interviews for Wilco's current tour because Tweedy is overseas talking to the European press. That will teach us to be more forcefully conversational the next time we bump into him in front of a sushi bar or a Denny's.

"After what's gone on in the past few years, I'm more inclined to consider everything a possibility," says Stirratt. Consequently, he downplays the commotion that has surrounded Wilco since it set out to record Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in late 1999. "We had been free of trouble for so long," he says, "that I think we were just overdue, as far as tumult goes."

In concert, Wilco is better than ever. The band's performances in San Francisco and at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles were tight and powerful, challenging and rollicking.

"People keep mentioning our new 'inaccessibility,' but I really don't understand that," says Stirratt. "I think we have better songs than ever—and play them better. I'll admit we probably couldn't write a hit if we wanted to, but that's not bad in a climate where people want something different—and when you see Radiohead drawing 60,000 people without playing big-rousing-chorus rock, it's a good sign. But I'd just prefer to be taken for who we are, instead of reading implications into everything."

Still, some questions beg for an answer—while they seem to remain unanswerable. Such as: sushi bar or Denny's?

"Hmmm, that's a good one," Stirratt says. "Because I know Jeff is a big sushi fan—but he sure doesn't mind a Grand Slam breakfast."

Wilco perform at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583. Wed., 8 p.m. $20. All ages, but anyone 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult 18 or over.
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