Sleater-Kinney: All Hands on the Bad One
Tuesday, May, 2, 2000
2 p.m. EDT
Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss are Live Online to answer your questions about the band's upcoming tour and its brand new CD.
Gutiarists Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker formed Sleater-Kinney in Olympia, Washington in 1994 (the band is named for a street in Olympia) and released a self-titled debut in 1995. Shortly thereafter, Janet Weiss was added as the group's drummer.
Today, Sleater-Kinney releases their fifth album All Hands on the Bad One. Filled with straight ahead rockers such as "You're No Rock n' Roll Fun," and angry exhortations like "#1 Must Have," Brownstein, Tucker and Weiss have delivered another round of furious pop and punk sound which raises the bar for the competition.
Here is a transcript of today's discussion.
Sleater Kinney: (Corin) Good morning Washington DC!
(Janet) Well, it's kind of morning. It's morning here for us. Hi. Thanks for the questions everyone.
Hi guys. What is up with this picture on the front of the All Hands On The Bad One CD?! I don't understand what is happening at all. (But I like all the other pics!)
Sleater Kinney: (Janet) Actually, this photo is of Carrie being hauled off a dance floor. She worked herself into a frenzy and passed out. People are laughing in the background because she's wearing a bunny suit.
Los Angeles, CA:
I was wondering if the band is still going to allow fans to take photographs of the band during the shows this tour.
Sleater Kinney: Yes. We allow respectful photography. Try not to flash in the beginniing of the show as Corin is shy.
Corin, im curious to what effects playing guitar through 2 amps has added? and are there any reasons why Carrie went back to using her Gibson instead of her Rickenbacker guitar at the record release show in Olympia, WA?
also thank you dearly for allowing photographers and videographers to document your shows. Ill send pics to your record label
Sleater Kinney: (Corin) I've added the second amp to incorporate the textures we utilitzed on the album.
(Janet) Carrie's Epiphone can be seen on display at the Experience Music Project museum in Seattle. The guitar she played in Olympia is new. It's a Gibson SG.
This is probably a really boring question, but what are the lyrics that Corin sings in the middle of "The Professional" that weren't printed in the liner notes?
Sleater Kinney: (Janet) Corin was speaking in tongues during recording, kind of like Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear.
new york, new york:
you seem to have abandoned the race politics that corin was dealing with in heavens to betsy. where have those gone? how do you feel about reaching a majority white audience? do you attempt to assure safe spaces for your fans of color?
Sleater Kinney: (Corin) When Sleater-Kinney started, I wanted to have a band that was based in writing from my own personal experiences. I actually heard from several fans of color after the Heavens to Betsy record that they had felt disincluded by some things I had said. There are people of color in the indie rock scene, and we try to make our shows a safe place for everyone, including them.
what's the songwriting process like for you guyz? how do you siphon your ideas for s-k against your other bands?
Sleater Kinney: (Janet) Usually Carrie or Corin have a skeleton for a song to start. They sometimes work together first, crafting the guitar parts, and then bring it to me to add drums and whatever else. Sometimes we jam in the basement and come up with tasty riffs on the spot. It's all quite organic and spontaneous, although this album consists of more songs which had more structure prior to all of us playing together. Youth Decay is an example. As far as the other bands go, it's pretty obvious which songs are SK songs.
Corin, do you have any other tattoos besides
the one on your ankle?
Sleater Kinney: No, but Carrie has a full backpiece of Jimi Hendrix.
It seems like in the last year Carrie went from Internet phobia to becoming SK's Web/email spokesperson. Do the two of you spend much time on the Net?
Sleater Kinney: She is on probation and we've taken her IMAC away from her.
As you gain more and more exposure, what will you do to cope with it and maintain a "normal" life?
Sleater Kinney: (Janet) Good question. I worry about this every day. It's very important for me to be able to go to the grocery store, or attend a show without feeling like there's a hierarchy of power. In Portland, fans are very respectful, and that's great. In order to combat this problem, we try to present ourselves as complex, real people, so that it might be treated by others as such. In my eyes, fame does ugly things to people.
Hi guys. What's the story with the new album? I took off work today to get it, and both record stores I went to don't have it in! Are you having distribution problems?
Sleater Kinney: Please e-mail this to our record exective Slim@killrockstars.com
If you could tell him which stores don't have the record, that would be a great help. Sorry you took off work and didn't find it.
New Orleans, La:
What do you think of ebay and the stuff people are selling on there? H2B 7"s for $50, Corin's HS yearbook, etc. Or have you learned to ignore it?
Sleater Kinney: What you can't control, sometimes you must ignore.
(Janet) I want that yearbook!! Tucker in high school... must have been a cute sight.
Corin: On the new album, you sing a lyric about fashion magazines on your table. Out of curiousity, what publications do you read?
Sleater Kinney: (Corin) I just succumbed and bought the new Marie Claire.
This record seems to be quite a bit more overtly political and perphaps feminist than your previous albums. What is your reaction to the attacks against the so-called feminist agenda by men and women alike recently?
Sleater Kinney: *Corin) I, personally, have really reconnected with my political anger this year, and have felt more inspired than I have in a long time. I've felt disturbed by the mysoginist and sexist things that happened in 1999. By having the privilidge of an audience, if I can in any way inspire people to change things, I want to.
I'm wondering what you consider the advantages to be of being with a small label like KRS
Sleater Kinney: (Janet) There are tons of advantages to being on an independent label, the obvious being total artistic freedom. We really have control and a say in all aspects of business that pertain to this band. We work together with KRS, not in opposition, and think of them as our partners. Having a large corporation, such as a major label, controling our music would be destructive for us.
I'm a big S-K fan and generally love all your CDs. I've also seen you several times -- NYC Central Park Summerstage 1997 was my favorite -- and can say unequivocally that you guys kick butt live. Your shows have awesome energy and your songs are complex and kickin'. However, one thing may be missing from S-K. You guys should seriously consider incorporating more TAMBOURINE. I got a pink vintage Barbie one as a birthday gift last year, and am available to tour this summer for a minimal salary. What do you guys say?!?
Sleater Kinney: (Janet) You should talk to Carrie. She's got a side project called "Green Tambourine" and could use some more members. It's an allstar tamband, and boy do they jam!!!!
new Orleans, La:
Corin, how did you learn to play guitar? Did you teach yourself to play along to other songs by ear, or just pick up a guitar and started playing? Also, for both of you, how old were you when you started playing/singing?
Sleater Kinney: Corin) I was 17 when I started playing, and although my dad tried to give me guitar lessons, I was fairly obstinate about teaching myself and not playing traditional notes or chords. I started writing as soon as I could play anything.
(Janet) I played guitar a little in my late teens, but didn't learn to play the drums until I joined a band when I was 22. It's never too late to express yourself with music though.
Do you two plan to follow Carrie's lead and start plugging internet sites behind Leonard Nimoy?
Sleater Kinney: We can't act to save our lives.
Cindy Sherman, Ohio:
What would you say to fans who think that you're sound has gone soft? I would imagine that "Was it a Lie?" would have been a lot louder if it had been written for "Call the doctor". Also wheres Carrie? and whats Corin doing to Janet on the Youth Decay lyric page?
Sleater Kinney: Carrie is working on her go carts, which she is passionate about. She's got a big race tomorrow and couldn't make it to Portland. As far as a sound going soft, I'd say "go buy a John Coltrane record!!"
New Orleans, LA:
Corin, a long time ago you introduced me to the work of Angela Davis. My ideas were so positively affected by that. Do ya'll ever sit down and realize just how much you really do affect people and how amazing that is? Is that a part of why you seem so determined to break down the boundries of indie VS mainstream?
Sleater Kinney: (Corin) I think because I was so incredibly affected by musicians when I was a teenager, I realize the positive effect you can have in peoples lives.
(Janet) I went to SF State where Angela Davis was a professor and I must say she was positively amazing.
Janet: ever considering incorporating Sam into your S-K act? Or would you rather keep it a 3-piece girl band?
Sleater Kinney: Janet - funny you mention this. He played melotron on "Milkshake'n Honey" It was great to have the whole family together in the studio. I don't think he'll be joining SK anytime soon though.
What was your thinking behind going back to John Goodmanson to produce? To my ears, it was a great decision. While Hot Rock is a wonderful album, i thought the drums got a little lost in the mix, while Dig Me Out had one of the great drum sounds ive ever heard.
Sleater Kinney: (Janet) Josh, you're okay in my book. I agree, the drums were lost on the Hot Rock. But the sonic textures and mood of that album were what needed to be conveyed. John Goodmanson has the incredible ability of capturing our live sound and heightening it, so we sound better. Plus, he's such an awesome guy an has lot's of great studio stories.
Corin & Janet:
What would you think you would be doing (occupaion wise) if it wasn't music? Corin: Knowing that you are getting a broader, bigger audience, does that change your writing process? How do you feel about so may people dissecting your words - do you fear being misunderstood? When did you know that music is what you wanted to do?
Sleater Kinney: (Corin) My writing process hasn't changed. I still write songs very spontaneously, without any kind of self-sensorship. I feel this is essential to the artistic process. If I worried about what other people thought, I wouldn't be in this band.
Corin, your hair rocks. How do you do it?
Sleater Kinney: Two words - David Kennedy.
Hello ladies, How do you keep from getting tired of playing your songs over and over on tour?
Sleater Kinney: We try to play a slightly different set each night. But really, each audience puts a different tint on the songs, keeping them relatively fresh. But yeah, if we toured for six months straight, we would probably become bored. It's important for us to enjoy our lives away from music in order for the music to remain vital.
Mike, Alexandria VA:
What do you guys think of all the critics who constantly hail you as the "greatest rock/punk/whatever band in America?" What do you think of all the hype?
Sleater Kinney: What hype? Just kidding. We work really hard at this, we love it passionately, and are happy to be appreciated. But when we're making music, it's got to come from a pure place, free from outside influence. So, we've got to let some of this kind of dialogue roll off our backs.
new york, ny:
the number of takes to make the video for you're no rock and roll fun seems high. how long did it take to shoot the video? was it hard work or fun?
Sleater Kinney: We don't even know how many takes it took. Are you a spy? We filmed the video in one blockbuster day. Carrie is the only trained acctress amongst us, so we had to move fast. It was easy, cause we already had memorized the script.
You all clearly have healthy senses of humor, and you seem to kid around a lot more in things like this chat and other interviews. Is that a response to people who tak you too seriously or spread rumors, or is it that your natural selves are not being edited out?
Sleater Kinney: (Janet) It's easier to be casual in this sort of setup. In a formal interview, sometimes humor isn't appreciated. Journalists often want to portray us as one dimensional, angry women. We are that and so much more!!!
bunny suit? jimi hendrix? is this a put-on?
Sleater Kinney: It's payback time.
new york, ny:
at the very very end of your new video, we see some guy twirling that stage around. i found that to be a loaded image - particularly in terms of the issues you address surrounding women doing it for themselves in rock and how you have set yourselves apart from being a package. was the image intentional? was it a play on the idea of the glam/model shoot images that you use throughout the video?
Sleater Kinney: It's funny how people want to read serious things into all that we do. The director put that shot in and we laughed. However, the issue you speak of is an important one, addressed quite a lot on the album. And no, it's not Lance Bangs, it's Carrie's cousin Bob.
Thank you, ladies, for the welcome distraction from work. Corin, I was wondering if you approached your vocals differently on the new album, particularly on songs like "Male Model" and "Milkshake+Honey." It sounds like you were having a blast recording the album, and the vocals really stand out. I also love all the harmony vocals.
Sleater Kinney: (Corin) We did really enjoy making this record, and this is reflected in the kind of risks we took with vocals. Milkshake n Honey was actually a scratch vocal that couldn't be beat, so we kept it.
what is your response to people who say you sold out because your sound is not as loud and aggressive as it was on the earlier albums?
Sleater Kinney: For people who want us to make Call the Doctor or Dig Me Out over and over, why don't you buy another copy of those records so you can have two.
I am wondering if it means anything to you that in some recent articles Ive seen you are still considered a "queer rock band".
Sleater Kinney: We don't want to pick any one label for our band, as it's made up of a lot of things, not just sexuality. We feel it is always important be supportive of the queer community, as we are a part of it.
Camb "Athens of America" MA:
Corin, can you offer any gardening tips? Do you see any parallels between gardening and music? I notice you all use the word "organic" a lot in conjunction with the new album...
Sleater Kinney: (Corin) I wrote the lyrics to "You're No Rock'n'Roll Fun" while gardening, so it's undeniable this connection of which you speak!
Hey. I haven't been able to catch the new video yet. Are they showing it on Mtv? Did Miranda July direct this one too?
Sleater Kinney: The video is directed by Brett Vapnik. She's a New Yorker who's worked on great vids by Helium and Catpower.
I heard you are doing some classic rock covers this tour. what are they and how did you choose them?
Sleater Kinney: Carrie's opening up the night with a solo version of Eric Clapton's "Slow Hand" so get to the show early!!
New Orleans, La:
Are you frequently discouraged by the scrutiny, from the punk community, that you're under with each new fan? Or are you able to recognize and seperate the people who are realy honestly affected by your work and is that part of what keeps you doing what you're doing?
Sleater Kinney: (janet) We try to be true to ourselves, which seems more punk rock than the idea of conforming for approval. Where this takes us, and who this affects is mysterious. The essence of music relys so heavily on the unknown, the esoteric, the intangible. Being discouraged by scrutiny can inhibit how we enjoy and relate to music, so we try to put our heads down and plow through such nonsense.
I just wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate the fact that you're drawing attention to independent labels such as Chainsaw and Kill Rock Stars. There are so many great bands that would've of been overlooked otherwise. It is also promising to see a band on a small label receive so much recognition.
Sleater Kinney: The more resources there are for bands to put out records (i.e. indie labels), the better. Expressing yourself through music is vital to our culture, but in order for the exchange of ideas to exist, others must hear what's being said. Distribution of pure, unique ideas is crucial to a thriving society.
Thanks for the great questions. It's fun to hear what you guys think. See you on tour!
CT and JW
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