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Wilco’s Glenn Kotche Can Turn Anything Into an Instrument

The famous drummer is collaborating with Third Coast Percussion with some bizarre noise makers.

Glenn Kotche, surrounded by handcrafted instruments
Photo: Clayton Hauck

Glenn Kotche, the drummer of Wilco, is practiced in the art of novel instruments (that’s him in the Delta Faucet commercial). But for his new collaboration with the local quartet Third Coast Percussion, the 44-year-old takes that art to a new level. Kotche’s Wild Sound, a 43-minute tour de force, explores the world of percussive sound, one bizarre handcrafted instrument at a time. “I wanted an element of theater, without going into Stomp territory,” says Kotche.

GO Wild Sound runs May 21 and 22 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $10–$28. mcachicago.org

 


1. As Third Coast musicians play these tires, “the rubber parts trigger bass synth notes—almost a bass guitar part.”

2. When the fingertips of the wired gloves touch the washers screwed into the board, they trigger synthesized notes. “It’s akin to something you’d hear in a dance club.”

3. Steel slabs, rubber bands, and tongue depressors make a slapping instrument.

4. Audience members receive a smaller set of these wooden slabs and are told to rub one against the other to make the sound of a Latin American instrument called a guiro.

5. This bullroarer (a traditional Aboriginal instrument), crafted from an empty vitamin bottle, “makes a bird call” when swung around.

6. A shock absorber from a vehicle makes “a wobbly sound.”

7. Audience members rub their hands together while a percussionist waves sheets of metal, which evokes the sound of a rainstorm. “When you have a full audience doing it, it sounds realistic.”

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