Nels Cline

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Interview: Nels Cline


When I interviewed punk rock bass guitar hero Mike Watt a couple years ago, he referred to guitarist Nels Cline’s musicianship by saying, “He has no fear”. And when you consider Cline’s diverse discography, that seems like an apt description.

Cline is best known for being the lead guitarist for Wilco, a position he has held for the past ten years. He has also performed and/or recorded with a variety of other artists including Watt, Thurston Moore, Charlie Haden, and his wife Yuka Honda, in styles including jazz, free improvisation, and avant rock.

In a new project, Cline and Honda will be composing the soundtrack for an upcoming documentary called Almost Sunrise, which follows the healing journey of two veterans who don’t want to become part of the shocking statistic that 22 former American soldiers commit suicide every day. Almost Sunrise is directed by Michael Collins, who also directed the award-winning film Give Up Tomorrow, and recently received $100K in support from a Kickstarter campaign to help finance the editing of hundreds of hours of footage.

Cline graciously took part of a rare day off to talk about the Almost Sunrise project, plus his former job at Rhino Records and making music with Wilco and Mike Watt. The interview was done by phone on 6/10/14.

Interview: Mike Watt talks about Yoko Ono gigs

Mike Watt co-founded, played bass, and composed many of the songs for the influential indie-punk band The Minutemen, which sadly was silenced when guitarist D. Boon died in a car accident. Watt has also played with fIREHOSE and, since 2003, The Stooges.

On October 1 and 2, Watt was a guest musician for Yoko Ono’s performances in Los Angeles, the second of which was reviewed here. This interview, conducted 10/8/10, covered his thoughts on these concerts, plus his recent projects with The Missingmen and Floored By Four.