Published Jan 01, 2006Of the many so-called Important Rock Bands worthy of hyperbole today, few are, in reality, more than a retro retread. But the three women in Sleater-Kinney don't believe in fitting any mould. Their new (and sixth) album One Beat is all about the future: their own musical progression, the current dissent deficit in America, and future generations of listeners.
Sleater-Kinney's own future was put into some doubt when, at the end of the tour for 2000's All Hands On The Bad One, they announced that they were taking time off. Guitarist/vocalist Corin Tucker was pregnant with her first child. (The boy with the coolest mom in rock'n'roll is named Marshall Tucker Bangs.) Drummer Janet Weiss recorded and toured in Quasi. Guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein took some acting gigs. However, the break barely lasted a year before they all got the itch to reform and record One Beat, released less than two years after Bad One. "We were the most anxious about taking a break, so it seems like forever for us," says Tucker. "The time off for me was really humbling in terms of having a kid. It was really important to not have just rock'n'roll every day in our lives, to experience life. That gives us more to write about, more to come back to after the break. That said, the band is something that's a real important outlet for creative expression for the three of us and we really love it. Giving ourselves a break from it and coming back made us realise how much we love playing music."
That love is evident on every track on One Beat, which makes their first five albums sound like they were merely warming up, with no sign of mellowing out. Now that they're no longer the new riot grrrls on the block, Sleater-Kinney were camp counsellors earlier this year at a rock'n'roll day camp in their hometown of Portland for young girls between eight and 15. "It was mind-blowing," Tucker enthuses. "Not only to foster the musical ability of these young girls, but to see the kind of self-esteem struggles girls have during puberty, and if you can in any way offer advice or encouragement to girls who are saying, I can't write a song,' or I can't do this,' it's a great thing."
Although they played a show at the camp as well, Tucker admits, "Actually, the opening band Mother May I were a much bigger hit than we were. They covered everything from Bob Marley to Black Sabbath. They blew us off the stage, and they were 11 years old."