Jay Bennett and Edward Burch

"From my point of view, I was in this band that people considered so important, and people thought it really made a difference, and it touched so many people's lives and changed the direction of popular culture. Now, that's not necessarily how I look at it, but a lot of people think about it that way. And it doesn't make sense to imagine that happening twice in your life. The Beatles were fucking great. But Wings didn't change the world. They had great music and great songs, but Jesus Christ, you know?" That's actually Dave Grohl talking about post-Nirvana life in the Foo Fighters in the November issue of Spin, but it could easily be Jay Bennett talking about life after Wilco and his new project with Edward Burch. But Bennett--who was asked to leave Wilco a year ago during negotiations after the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which wasn't a surprise to Bennett, the band and certainly not anyone who's seen Sam Jones' documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart--isn't a man trying to reinvent himself. Instead he's doing what he does: writing songs, playing live, having a good time. And, before, during and after Wilco, that has included Burch.

That familiarity and kinship are key on stage. On good nights, when the crowd is attentive and the room is relaxed, Bennett likes to think of the shows not as concerts with tickets and set lists, but as a bunch of friends hanging out in his basement or rec room, listening to some pals jamming. And from the floor, that's exactly what it looks like as they cheerfully bicker over what song to play next, launching into Elvis Costello's "Green Shirt" or a Springsteen cover in addition to all those songs the pair has been brewing for years. Bennett will always be "that guy who was in Wilco," but that doesn't mean Bennett and Burch need to hide in any shadows.