It was just about a year ago when a rock fantasy we didn’t even know we had came true — the existence of Wild Flag, a new group (supergroup, if you will) consisting of Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, the Minders’ Rebecca Cole and Helium’s Mary Timony.
We talked to D.C.-based Timony about Wild Flag right after this news came out and asked what the band would sound like. Her answer was: “Pretty rocking, I think.” This was correct. Their self-titled debut is chock full of guitar hero and fist-pumping moments and the band brings its crackling live show back to a sold-out Black Cat on Thursday. (With Eleanor Friedberger opening — don’t be late!)
Click Track talked to Timony about year one of Wild Flag, what year two has in store and one specific lyrical surprise.
In the year since we last talked has it gone as you’d hoped? Have your wildest dreams come true?
We’ve kept ourselves pretty busy. We’ve done a few tours and recorded a lot. Now we’re doing more tours. It’s been great ... Actually, up until May, when Carrie goes back to doing “Portlandia,” we’ll be touring a good amount of time. Although we don’t want to tour constantly because that wouldn’t be smart. We’d burn out. The way we tour is pretty comfortable. There’s always a bed to sleep on. We’re not sleeping on anyone’s floor. Which I have done and don’t ever want to do again. Not at my age!
You did play a lot of shows before the record came out.
The reason why is because we really wanted to figure out what was working in our music. And it really helped us. We really got in there and threw away a bunch of stuff that wasn’t working, arranged songs a little bit differently. We can gauge the energy of the songs and what’s flowing when we play live. So that’s really why we did it. And also we just wanted the practice of playing shows before we recorded. I feel like if we hadn’t done that the record would have been a little bit different. We wouldn’t have been as happy with it, for sure. We wanted it to sound like a live record and the best way to do that is to play a lot of shows before recording it. (Laughs.)
What a novel concept! But not one that all bands adhere to these days.
No, because it’s so easy to record yourself now. I mean, I wasn’t really in that mode for a long time. I’ve got ProTools in my basement and I’ve always been more of a studio person anyways. One really great thing about playing with this band, for me, is that it’s just so refreshing to focus on what we’re sounding like as players, together. And not trying to create something on the tape or on the computer, that doesn’t exist in real life.
OK, here’s a nerdy one — I noticed you referenced an old lyric of yours on the Wild Flag record.
Yeah — you say, “I’m not that bold,” on “Something Came Over Me.”
Ohhhhh. OK! In “Something Came Over Me” I think I say, “I’d tell you why but I’m not that bold.” And then it’s also in … [Helium’s] “Superball.” [“I’d tell you the truth, but I’m not that bold.”] I think I’m just repeating myself! I don’t think I’m referencing myself! I think it just might have come out twice. (Laughs.)
So this is the band, right? This wasn’t just for one record — this is the new thing.
You know … I think we’re going to make another record. That’s our plan. We like to just focus on what we’re doing and not get too ahead of ourselves because then it gets overwhelming. We’re definitely planning on it. We’re going to do it as long as it’s making us happy. We all are getting so much out of it, just playing with each other. It’s really fun for me to play with them because they are all super-inspiring to me. I just feel so lucky to be playing with them.