Interview with Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion have a new album out called Wassaic Way.  They recently talked with Joey Spehar of The Morning Mix about the new record, their connection with Wilco, and growing up in a family business.

Wassaic Way is different than previous works by the duo.  Songs such as “Chairman Meow” have a sunnier and more upbeat feel to them.  Irion points out the irony in the fact that the sunny sound for “Chairman Meow” comes from the fact that it was literally written on a sunny day in Los Angeles.  Irion also explains the writing process that he and Sarah Lee Guthrie go through when writing an album.  “We tend to go [write] individually.  Sarah Lee and I have been married fourteen years so the last thing we want to do is go write a song together,” states Irion.  “We’ve definitely learned to work it out over the years and figure out who’s best at what. I think we’ve learned the process of doing it individually and coming together,” adds Guthrie.

The Wilco-Guthrie-Irion connection continues to live with Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion’s upcoming release, Wassaic Way, which was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Patrick Sansone.  Irion and Guthrie explain how their connection with Wilco started, “We did a tour with the Autumn Defense a few years back, which is John Stirratt and Pat’s side project.  And they put out a record called Once Around.  We just made a connection with those guys and we love that record so much that we just all decided to get in our Sprinter van and go to a tour together.  That turned into us playing Solid Sound, which is a Wilco curated festival near our hometown in western Mass and that’s where we met Jeff.”

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion also discuss what it’s like to be married while being in a band together, "We’re totally human, of course there’s ups and down to this and that’s just the thing.  The ups are really good and it’s so great we have our two little girls with us.  Of course it’s not always great, it’s hard.”  The duo discuss the parallels of growing up in a family business and playing in a real "family band" and the challenges the situation presents. “It’s good, but it's definitely a challenge.  But it also shows up in art.  I think that’s part of what keeps up writing songs that are meaningful and that everybody can relate to actually,” adds Guthrie.

Wassiac Way is the third release by the Guthrie and Irion, who actually released the record theselves.  “We kind of went into this like this is a big deal for us.  It’s taken a long journey for us to come to a point where we can make a record with a guy like Jeff Tweedy.  This has been quite a journey, it’s so exciting for us and we’re going really strong on this.  It’s very rewarding being able to be in control of it [Wassaic Way] even at this point.  We’ve always made the records ourselves and handed them off to labels here and there to put them out and see them through.  This time we get to see it through ourselves and been actually really great,” adds Guthrie. 

You can find Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion’s new record, Wassaic Way, is out in stores now and on iTunes