The Riot Grrl threesome of Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss and Corin Tucker, collectively known as Sleater-Kinney has been touring Europe in support of the latest release, The Woods. The act will perform at club NASA in Reykjavík, on the 4th of June. The Grapevine got in touch wit Janet Weiss and Corin Tucker for a brief interview.
/// First off, is this looks like you girls are moving up, you are (or have been) playing a lot big name festivals (Big Day Out, Coachella, Lollapalooza), and you’ve signed with a pretty big label… You even get to play in Iceland… Is this the year Sleater-Kinney finally breaks through the mainstream barrier?
Janet: It doesn’t look like we’ll be breaking through any mainstream barrier anytime soon. The barrier is something we’d rather leave untouched, thank you very much. Our goals and aspirations remain in the artistic realm. We have played some bigger festivals, but we usually go onstage early, before the main acts even hit the site.
Corin: But we’ve really enjoyed playing the larger festivals, and I think we’ve proven ourselves to be a live act that is worthy of a large crowd. It’s a good accomplishment.
/// You recently moved from small, indie label called Kill Rock Stars to Sub PobWhat prompted that move? Especially as you have always taken a fierce pride in being on a small indie label?
Corin: We wanted to try a different set up and perhaps put our band into a different context. We wanted to suprise people a little bit.
Janet: We try and take pride in all our decisions. We left Kill Rock Stars and for a year we had no label at all. Our relationship with them had become like an old married couple, and we wanted to re-energize the bussiness side of our record making. We still think quite fondly of Kill Rock Stars though.
/// Your latest album, The Woods, sounds a little less punk thanearlier releases, perhaps more structurally complex, was this aconscious decision to move away from your punk roots, perhaps in aneffort to reach a wider audience?
Janet: I think we moved away from punk roots on The Hot Rock album. Our value system is based in DIY and punk rock, but we have never tried to sound like Black
Corin: We wanted to make a more experimental record, and the music is a bit more complex than some of our older punk songs. But it wasn’t an effort to be more commercial necessarily, just to push ourselves musically.
Janet: Anyway, I don’t think a 15 minute song with a 5 minute improvisation in the middle would be considered by anyone alive to be a step in a commercial direction.
/// Sleater-Kinney has been a pretty political band, and you have been vocal on feminist issues and pro-choice matters. Where does the political interest come from?
Corin: We’re all just opinionated people, and come from a music scene where artists are often involved in politics, or activism.
/// Do you feel any obligation to get a message across to younger female audience through your music?
Corin: I don’t feel we’re obligated to convey a message, but I do think we can inspire young women to keep working at what they love.
Janet: Yes, play your own instruments, write your own songs, and be fearless when it comes to your music.
/// You hail from the Pacific-Northwest, which has been sort of an anti-corporate hotbed, which seems kind of funny, considering some of the big corporations located in the region, Starbucks, Boeing, Microsoft, Nike, etc. How can you be so corporate and yet anti-corporate?
Janet: The region is quite beautiful. I guess being close with nature might encourage one to protect it.
Corin: Yeah, The Pacific Northwest is very beautiful, and natural. I think people would like to keep it green up there, and challenge corporations that pollute the area.
/// I recently saw you perform on the Henry Rollins Show, did he flex his biceps?
Corin: Henry Rollins is a very charming guy, and I hope his show does well. We had a great time playing on it.
Janet: I didn’t watch the show. The people who worked there were awfully nice though, but I don’t really see a show like that taking off.
/// So what do you guys like to do on tour? Do you have off days to do some tourist stuff, or do you smash up hotel rooms or what?
Corin: Recently we had some time in Brussels, which is a beautiful city. We try to walk around and see as much as we can. And then we smash up the hotel!
Janet: I think we are the most boring band in the world. Drive, play, shower, sleep, eat, drive, play, eat… etc.
/// What are you guys listening to on tour? Any good recommendations?
Janet: We listen separately on headphones in the van, so I can only speak for myself, but I’ve been listening to The Cure, Wilco, The Gossip, Joanna Newsom, and some other stuff.
Corin: My new favorite record is the Bruce Springsteen Pete Seeger Sessions. It’s so inspiring.