'Ghosted. Immediately ghosted': Carrie Brownstein talks about meeting Corin Tucker and Sleater-Kinney dig into their new album
In the early '90s Corin Tucker's band Heaven's to Betsy was playing a show in Olympia, Wash. A teenage Carrie Brownstein was in the crowd. On stage Tucker had been talking about the riot grrrl movement and facing some "intense feedback" after the show from a journalist. After being berated, Brownstein came up and asked for more information. Tucker gave Brownstein her Heavens to Betsy lyric book and Browstein wrote down her name and address and asked Tucker to send her more information. She didn't. "Ghosted. Immediately ghosted," Brownstein remembers. But Tucker had offhandedly told Brownstein, and maybe everyone in the crowd to move to Olympia. So Brownstein did. And eventually they formed Sleater-Kinney.
Almost 30 years later Sleater-Kinney has a new album, "Path of Wellness." It is their first self produced album. All the critics described their production as "sparse" and "bare." But that's not what I heard. In the very first song on the album, there is seemingly a whole kitchen sink of homemade percussive instruments and patterns. "That polyrhythmic stuff is addictive. You make fun of that stuff when you're young and you're watching some people in a drum circle playing hacky sack and you're like, 'We'll never do that.' And then, 20 years later, you're asking someone to do a polyrhythm and saying, 'Hey, let's make this part 10 minutes long," says Brownstein, among laughs.
At one point on the album, Sleater-Kinney sing, "I feel like I'm unknown." For a band that has been so influential, not only musically, but for the way that they expressly spread the beliefs that they know, this struck me as a bit of a curve ball. And it was fascinating to hear each member of this band, after having been together for so long, have two completely different takes over the same line in one of their own songs. Tucker wrote it to be part of the continual search for a community of mutual understanding. "That's funny, I see it as the opposite," Brownstein says. She sees it as more of a slap in the face to those who think they know Sleater-Kinney's intentions better than they know them themselves.
One subject that they agree on is what they can't stop listening to. I ask Tucker first. "I would say the collaboration between Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen." Brownstein jumps in, "That's what I was going to say!"