CHICAGO — Renowned indie rock band Wilco released a public statement today denying their involvement in the rise of alt-country music. The band refused to disavow any support they’ve received from fans of the genre, however, drawing harsh rebukes from all sides of the cultural aisle.
Thanks to his work with the ‘90s alternative band Uncle Tupelo, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy in particular is credited with accidentally starting the alt-country genre, closely linked with some of the most strident hipster ideology, marked by ironic truck ownership, rampant beard growth, and vaguely left-of-center ideals.
“Well, just so you understand — we don’t know anything about alt-country. OK?” said Tweedy in a press conference late this morning. “I’m as upset as anyone that I’m cited as a major influence by some college-educated Williamsburg band called Modern John Travolta, who writes songs where you could interchange the words ‘woman,’ ‘truck’ and ‘dog’ at any point and not change the meaning.”
Critics charge that, by denying their role in the rise of alt-country without offering a clear condemnation of the genre, Wilco is still offering tacit support to a large sect of their supporters who strongly believe in a world with a steel guitar Ramones cover band. Meanwhile, some longtime fans find themselves frustrated by a band they once considered a leader of the movement.
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“They’re abandoning us,” said Kim Ruehl, editor of No Depression, a peer-reviewed journal on roots and Americana music. “And we’re the ones who tried to give them press from the beginning. At this point, if you meet someone who likes Wilco, just know they’ve been tricked by the establishment media over at Pitchfork.”
Increasingly, alt-country fans have sought to build like-minded communities, primarily in small mountain towns rife with abundant natural resources like once-thriving honky-tonks, flannel-lined Carhartt jackets, and mercantiles specializing in artisan leather bicycle locks and growler coozies. Polls have shown, however, that most longtime residents of these towns do not support the alt-country movement, let alone becoming cultural hubs for it.
“We want to get the message out there that we don’t embrace alt-country. Nothing could be farther from the truth,” said Leeann Chillicothe, mayor of Kalispell, Mont. “Let’s just call these people what they are — neo-Cowpunks. And that shit will not stand here.”
Article by Ian Fishman.
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