Jay Bennett Exits Wilco
Having just parted ways with Reprise Records in the wake of disagreements over the group's new album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," Wilco has now hit another rough patch, as songwriter/multi-instrumentalistHaving just parted ways with Reprise Records in the wake of disagreements over the group's new album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," Wilco has now hit another rough patch, as songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett has left the Chicago rock act.
According to a statement on Wilco's official Web site, the group will continue on as a quartet -- frontman Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, new drummer Glen Kotche, and new guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach -- and have been rehearsing with that lineup for an upcoming U.S. tour.
Bennett joined the group shortly after the recording of its first Reprise album, 1995's "A.M." He played an integral part in Wilco over the next six years, becoming a songwriting foil to Tweedy and contributing on dozens of instruments, primarily guitar and keyboards. In between tours and recording four albums with Wilco -- plus two Elektra "Mermaid Avenue" collaborations with Billy Bragg -- Bennett has found time to work on various solo projects, and plans to continue along that avenue. He has recently been recording material with Chicago singer/guitarist Ed Hargrove as well as Ken Hartz, Bennett's bandmate and songwriting partner in his pre-Wilco group, Titanic Love Affair.
"Yankee Foxtrot Hotel," the follow-up to 1999's "Summerteeth," was self-produced by the band and mixed by indie rock veteran Jim O'Rourke. Controversy ensued earlier this year when Reprise representatives reportedly asked the group to make changes to the album. Wilco refused, which led to band and label parting ways. Tweedy is currently fielding offers from a number of labels.
It is not known if Bennett's departure was spurred on by Wilco's recent label difficulties. It is also understood that during the mixing process for the new album, Tweedy, O'Rourke, and Kotchke put the finishing touches on a number of songs after Bennett and Stirratt had completed their contributions.
"Jay and John were getting the tracks ready to send over to the studio [during mixing]," O'Rourke tells Billboard.com. "They were still doing overdubs there, they'd finish them up, and bring the 24-tracks over. As they were doing that, [Jeff, Glen, and I] were mixing the last one they brought over and adding whatever needed to be added. There were two crews working at the same time.
As previously reported, the sessions for "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" were filmed for a documentary directed by Los Angeles filmmaker/photographer Sam Jones.