In the '90s, rock band Sleater-Kinney rose to prominence thanks to their proximity to the burgeoning Pacific Northwest riot grrrl and indie rock scenes. In the new millennium, the band reached an even wider audience based on the success of great Bush-era records like One Beat and The Woods, but then — seemingly at the apex of their career — announced a hiatus in 2006. Since then, the band members went off in different directions: Singer Corin Tucker released a couple solo records and focused on her family, and guitarist Carrie Brownstein found her calling as an actress on Portlandia. Last year, the band reformed, releasing a comeback record, No Cities to Love, and an ensuing tour. We caught up with Tucker to learn more.
Metro Times: How's the tour going? It seems like you're taking it in smaller segments as opposed to the endless touring of the past.
Corin Tucker: We don't really do that anymore, thankfully. It actually has to do with Portlandia's schedule. When they are active, we are not active. And that really works with me, having a family.
MT: Speaking of Portlandia — it seems like despite the hiatus, the band maybe has more fans now than ever. I don't know what you think about that, but I imagine some of those fans probably came from Portlandia.
Tucker: Yeah, for sure. There's definitely people that are checking us out because they've seen Carrie's TV show, and know her from her acting and writing career. And there's also people that kind of heard kind of word of mouth about the band and our music but never got the chance to see us. So, it's been a really nice mix of all of those things.
MT: I also can't help but feel there is kind of a deficit of great rock bands at the moment, and Sleater-Kinney was such a great rock band — perhaps you're filling a void in pop culture right now.
Tucker: I think that there currently aren't that many groups these days that are more guitar-based. And we are kind of a unique band, and so it is something different that people get to see when they see our live show.
MT: I read that your daughter saw you play as Sleater-Kinney for the first time during the tour for No Cities to Love. That must have been like "bring your daughter to work day," right?
Tucker: [Laughs] Yeah, definitely.
MT: Has she seen you perform with your other bands?
Tucker: Yeah, she's been on tour with the Corin Tucker Band. But Sleater-Kinney is a unique thing. It's a really big band. It's a lot bigger than any of that, so it's been fun to have her be able to see that too.
MT: I always imagined that with kids of rock stars, maybe they don't even like music because their parents like it, so they don't think it's cool. Do they listen to rock 'n' roll?
Tucker: They kind of have their own taste — which is not Sleater-Kinney at all. And that's totally fine. [Laughs] They understand that I love doing it and that's what I do. But it's definitely not their music. My daughter loves Taylor Swift, Katy Perry — you know, like a lot of pop stuff. But I turned her on to Chvrches. That was my influence I guess. [Laughs]
MT: Who's the support act for you this tour?
Tucker: We are playing the Waxahatchee. I love their music — I got to see them at the Pitchfork festival. They're really fun.
MT: So one thing I always wondered about: Sleater-Kinney gave the White Stripes one of their big breaks by taking them on an early tour. How did you meet them?
Tucker: Well, first of all I wouldn't say we gave them a big break — I mean, those guys were going to be huge no matter who they played with. But they did open for us. Janet saw them play with the Jicks, and she was the one who was like, "This band is amazing, we should ask them to come on tour with us."
MT: And then later, Sleater-Kinney played with Pearl Jam.
Tucker: I definitely think there are some Pearl Jam fans that heard us from those tours and got pulled over to the dark side, and like our band now. [Laughs.]
MT: What lead to the hiatus in the first place?
Tucker: There was a lot of stress with the touring. It was difficult for me, being a mom, and having to be away from my kid. And Carrie was also having a hard time with the stress of traveling as well.
MT: Did you all stay in contact during the hiatus?
Tucker: We all stayed friends. But we didn't play together. Janet and Carrie played together in their band Wild Flag. And I had a baby, so I wasn't doing anything for a few years. But I think we all kind of felt like if we were going to be a band again, we would want to do it in the right way. So that's why we decided to make a new record, and go about it that way.
MT: Has the reaction been surprising to you? Was there any fear that people might have forgotten about Sleater-Kinney?
Tucker: Absolutely. I was pretty freaked out when we played our first show again. That's a long time not to play a show. I'm really happy with how everything has come out, with the record and the live shows as well.
MT: Will there be another new Sleater-Kinney record?
Tucker: I think we would like to. There might be some challenges in terms of scheduling, but I think there's definitely a desire to do another one if we can.
MT: Would you want to stick with Sub Pop for the next record?
Tucker: That's a really good question! I love working with Sub Pop. We're out of contract with them, but I really love working with them. So we'll see.
MT: Do you have any memories of previous times you've played Detroit?
Tucker: Oh man. We played a really bizarre cafe in the '90s. I want to say it was called Zoot's? It was like a coffee bar. But people were standing on tables, going bananas. It was an awesome show.
Starts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-399-2980; royaloakmusictheatre.com; tickets starting from $25.
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