Pat Sansone: At The Speed Of Sound





Jeff Clark



Pat Sansone: At The Speed Of Sound



Meridian native Pat Sansone is an old soul -- a modern day troubadour who would have been perfectly at home writing and recording music in the attention to detail era of the 1970s. As a member of Wilco, where he plays guitar, keyboards, percussion and writes songs, Sansone spends a great deal of time on the road and in the studio with Jeff Tweedy and company when he's not writing or recording with his band The Autumn Defense or producing an album or doing studio work or publishing a book.



A multi-instrumentalist, Sansone joined Wilco in 2004 and hasn't looked back. He's currently on tour supporting the band's latest album, "The Whole Love" and playing gigs with The Autumn Defense, which features his longtime friend and Wilco bassist John Stirrat. After spending time in New Orleans and Nashville, Sansone moved to Chicago in 2005 to be closer to the Wilco family, but he still has a soft spot for the South.



Wilco will be performing Saturday, May 19 at Mud Island Amphitheater in Memphis.



Are you enjoying playing the new songs from "The Whole Love" live?


Pat Sansone: Yeah -- it's been great. We're still kind of discovering it as we go. All of the material kind of translated to the stage rather quickly. We enjoy playing it.



Any particular songs you look forward to playing live?


Pat Sansone: Of the new stuff, we tend to open with "Art of Almost," which is always a pretty exciting way to start the show. "Born Alone" is one that has translated to the stage really well -- It has an energy that kind of lifts the show up. It's always fun to get that one in the set.



Any Wilco classics you get excited about?


Pat Sansone: It's a pretty big selection of material we get to choose from every night. It's hard to pick one out of the basket; we're pretty lucky that we have a wide array of songs we can play. It's always kind of a surprise -- occasionally a rarity will show up and that's kind of fun. It's a bit of a challenge to remember how to play it.



How does the song writing process work in Wilco?


Pat Sansone: They usually start with an idea that Jeff (Tweedy) has. It could be nothing more than a chord progression. Sometimes he comes up with something that's more completely formed. The usually begin with Jeff. We just sort of sit around in a circle, the six of us, and kind of take it from there. If it needs a lot of brainstorming, we just bash it out. It's pretty organic.



What about The Autumn Defense? Do you and John (Stirrat) write songs collaboratively?


Pat Sansone: It's kind of the same process. With The Autumn Defense, there are things we write separately and we bring them to each other to finish. There's usually at least one song on each record we sit down and write together. The song on the album "Circles" called "The Answer" is the first time we started from scratch. It's still one of my favorite songs. It's the same process but it's a little more streamlined because it's just the two of us.



I really love The Autumn Defense because it reminds me of bands I love such as Wings and Bread. Are you a fan of 1970s AM radio rock?


Pat Sansone: Of course, that's what we grew up with and it's definitely a part of our sound and a part of our influences. Both of those bands you mentioned -- we love The Beatles and Paul McCartney and those Wings albums are great. We definitely appreciate being mentioned in the same sentence with Paul McCartney.


Bread is a band that gets mentioned a lot with us and its understandable because of the production and the textures and the arrangements and mostly the quality of the vocals and the harmonies. I think a lot of the Bread albums are gorgeous.



Having moved to Chicago, do you miss the South?


Pat Sansone: I was just in New Orleans -- The Autumn Defense played a gig there. It's always amazing being back there. I loved living there. It's a place that's very important to me and dear to me. I was recently in Mississippi spending time with my family. It's great to be in the South when I can. I need to do it a few times a year. It's very good for the soul.



You played in what I consider two of the more iconic Mississippi bands -- Stretch Armstrong and Birdy. Do you look back upon those time fondly?


Pat Sansone: I do. Those were some great years. I was in my early 20s then -- those are important years for everyone, especially when you are starting to play in bands and writing songs and learning about yourself musically. Looking back on it, I remember it being a pretty creative time in Mississippi. There were a lot of bands in Hattiesburg back then and a lot of places to play. Even though it was a small Mississippi college town, there was a lot of music going on. Those were some great times.


Playing with Trey (Batson, formerly of Cafe Des Moines) and Glen (Graham, Blind Melon) was pretty amazing. Both of those guys were phenomenal musicians.


Stretch Armstrong was so much fun. I have a lot of great memories of those shows.






Saturday, May 19


8 p.m.


Mud Island Amphitheater






Or Call: 1-800-745-3000



(Courtesy Photo)



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