the unofficial uncle tupelo archives 

Trio Cries `Uncle' Over Nicknames

Michael Corcoran

Chicago Sun-Times, September 29, 1991

In Minneapolis, where they enjoy one of their biggest followings, they're called "the Tupe." At Lounge Ax, their Chicago home the past three years, they're called "Tupelo." In Austin, Texas, they're aligned with the university: "U.T." In their hometown of Belleville, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis, Uncle Tupelo is bombarded with even more nicknames.

"All the kids in our neighborhood like to make fun of us, so they call us Uncle Tupperware, Uncle Toupee, Uncle Soupelo, whatever, just to get a rise out of us," bassist Jeff Tweedy said. The three members of Uncle Tupelo, who have known each other since junior high, would have it no other way. Though the trio has found its cult of "flannelheads" expanding nationwide after last year's release of the outstanding "No Depression," the members clearly love living in the humility of their hometown.

"We've had a taste of that rock star stuff, like when we play in New York or some of the other bigger cities, but it's kinda embarrassing to us," said Tweedy, who described his social skills as "remedial."

Given the band's reluctance to promote itself, members were surprised when Michelle Shocked asked them to appear on one track of her upcoming "Arkansas Traveler" LP.

"We were supposed to back her up on a traditional fiddle tune called `Soldier's Joy,' " Tweedy said, "but it turned out being me and Jay singing lead, with Michelle in the background. She liked our arrangement, so we just did it that way for the record."

Uncle Tupelo will soon be on the shelves with a second LP, titled "Still Feel Gone." Though the new record explores some of the same blue-collar themes, Tweedy said the new one covers a wider perspective.

"It's not all that small-town drinking and moping stuff, as on `No Depression,' " Tweedy said. "Though the center of our universe is Belleville, we've actually gone out in the world a bit, and I think it shows."

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