During a music class in his freshman year of high school, Whitney guitarist Max Kakacek watched the documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco, which chronicles the alt-rockers during an especially pivotal time in their storied career. “They were trying to teach us some version of a grass-roots way to make music and not go the major-label route,” he remembers. “That was ingrained in me. That’s how I figured it out.”
Today, the 28-year-old Chicago native is sharing this memory with Whitney vocalist-drummer Julien Ehrlich and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, who responds with a stunned, “Oh wow.” Sitting in Tweedy’s Chicago warehouse/studio, The Loft, Kakacek and Ehrlich are taking a breather at home before going to Europe to play a few festivals. On Aug. 30, Whitney will release its second album, Forever Turned Around, on Secretly Canadian, pre-empting a tour that will run through the end of the year, capped by four Chicago dates at the 1,300-capacity Thalia Hall.
Kakacek first met Tweedy in 2011, when his former band Smith Westerns -- in which Ehrlich, 27, often played drums -- opened a week’s worth of shows for Wilco. After Smith Westerns broke up, Kakacek and Ehrlich formed Whitney and released the lush debut Light Upon the Lake. They’ve since racked up 110 million streams, according to Nielsen Music, and have performed at Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Pitchfork.