The Minus 5 at the Abbey Pub, Chicago

By JON SINGER
Source: The Northwest Herald
Scott MaCaughey’s The Minus 5 will be down with Wilco today and Thursday at the Abbey Pub.
McCaughey will play the two concerts with Wilco as his backing band, as he did on his new album, “Down With Wilco.” These shows are two of only four concerts the pairing will perform. The final two are April 29 in New York – a taping for “Late Show With David Letterman” and a gig at the Bowery Ballroom.

McCaughey, 48, stepped out for a phone interview Monday night while at a Jayhawks concert at the Metro in Chicago.

“I’ve known Jeff (Tweedy) for a pretty long time, and John (Stirratt), and we talked about (collaborating) for a few years,” McCaughey said. “… We’d done stuff together in the past, like when we toured together with Wilco and REM. We’d hang out, write songs and play guitars, and it put the seed in our mind that we should make a record together some time. So, it was just something that we’d been talking about for a long time and we actually finally got the opportunity.”

McCaughey’s usual Minus 5 bandmates consist of Peter Buck of REM on bass, John Auer on guitar, Bill Rieflin on drums and Ken Stringfellow on keyboards. McCaughey also tours and records with REM, playing guitar, some bass and keyboards.
McCaughey said his calendar is overflowing with REM dates. “We’re going to work on the record more in May. We’re doing a tour in June and July of Europe. And then in September and October, we’re touring the States,” McCaughey said.

The Abbey shows will be unpredictable. “It’s going to be a surprise to me because we’re winging it… but mostly we’re going to play songs off the record because we haven’t had an opportunity to do that with the band that played on the record,” McCaughey said. He also expects to play cover songs and a couple of “Down With Wilco” outtakes that are “a little more punk rock.”

The Minus 5’s sound is similar to Wilco or REM, mostly combining clean guitar sounds with strong melodies.

McCaughey cites the two bands as influences. “(Wilco’s) songs are so great. Jeff’s such a great writer. And REM (is an influence) because I’ve played with them and I see how they write songs. But… the ones that got me to write songs were people like Neil Young, Ray Davies and the Beatles, of course,” he said.

McCaughey’s first well-known band was the Young Fresh Fellows out of Seattle, who first released an album in 1984. The band has not broken up, but is involved in other music ventures.

“A couple times a year, at least, we get together, play and do some shows and maybe a little recording,” McCaughey said. “We’re still pals and still like to play together and we see each other all the time… nothing’s really changed, we just don’t do it as often.”

McCaughey founded The Minus 5 in 1993, and the band has released four albums.