Sleater-Kinney chat about their new EP and the importance of women artists right now on the XPN Morning Show - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Sleater-Kinney chats with Kristen Kurtis on XPN Morning Show

This morning, Sleater-Kinney, released their new EP, Frayed Rope, a reimagining of their album Little Rope, which was just released on January 19th. The band’s Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker gave a call to the WXPN Morning Show to talk about the release and what’s coming up for them. Listen to their chat above, and read the transcript down below.

Sleater-Kinney - Frayed Rope Sessions (Mini Doc)

Kristen Kurtis: Hey, this is Kristen Kurtis from the XPN Morning Show with a very special couple of guests on the phone for this very special day. On International Women’s Day, we are welcoming Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney to the show. Good morning, you two.

Sleater Kinney: Good morning.

Kristen Kurtis: How are you two doing today?

Sleater Kinney: Good, Great!

Kristen Kurtis: Well, thanks for calling all the way into Philadelphia. We’re just really excited to see you here in ten days for a sold-out show at the TLA with Black Belt Eagle Scout. Just one of the many things that we have to discuss this morning. I think the big news is that you have surprise-released an EP today called Frayed Rope. Please tell me more about this EP.

Corin Tucker: Yeah, this is something that we did in Portland and I’m really happy about it. It’s kind of an alternative take on some of the songs on Little Rope. We were really fortunate enough to work with, a whole string quartet. It’s meant to be something that’s a more expressive version of the songs, and I think it came out really well.

Kristen Kurtis: I’m really excited to hear these new versions of these songs. I feel like these songs have lived a lot of lives, like the two of you have as Little Rope, which was just released on January 19th, was partially written before some really awful news that you got Carry about your mother and stepfather being involved in a fatal car accident in Italy, and the songs seemed to kind of take on a new life for you after they were originally written for the record, you ended up really pouring your grief into these songs, which you can really hear. Do these feel different to you in relation to the lives that these songs have lived?

Carrie Brownstein: I mean, I think it’s part of the same story of the album, but it’s nice to give the songs a reconsideration and to breathe a sort of a different life form into them, where we’re approaching them slightly differently and, you know, both deconstructing and then rebuilding the sonic landscape of the song. And it brings out a different emotionality, and I think allows both us and the wider audience to hear them in a new light.

Corin Tucker: We really wanted to do something different and exciting, and I think being able to go in and try new things, you know, with the songs that we’ve written was a really fun experience and we really liked working with different musicians, taking the song to like a different place. That was really good experience. So yeah, I think it’s it’s not something we’ve had the time to do very often is to go back and record alternate versions of the songs. So I think we really relish the opportunity to have a new approach.

Kristen Kurtis: You do tend to keep yourselves very busy. I hear that there’s a lot of stuff going on in the near future for you too. First though, releasing this EP on International Women’s Day, was that a purposeful decision or did it just kind of work out like that?

Carrie Brownstein: You know, part of it is coincidental, but I think the song like Untidy Creature, while the narrator is telling a personal, intimate story of feeling unseen and trapped within a relationship, it’s also broadly inspired by some of the legislation in the particularly in the United States, like the rollback of Roe versus Wade and some of the decisions like in Alabama, you know, just this trespass upon women’s bodily autonomy and this idea that women aren’t responsible enough to be in charge of their own health care, their own lives. And I think there is a connection more broadly. And that song in particular, I think, is wrestling with some of that invisibility that many people feel when governments try to control their choices in decision.

"That song in particular, I think, is wrestling with some of that invisibility that many people feel when governments try to control their choices in decision." — Carrie Brownstein

Kristen Kurtis: Yeah, I feel really honored to be speaking with the two of you, especially today, having come out of the riot girl movement in Olympia 30 years ago now, and really bringing themes of feminism and issues that women face all the time in your music. So thank you so much for giving voice to some of these issues and for taking the time today. Speaking of which, 30 years ago, congratulations on still making music together and rocking so hard after first forming the band in 1994. When you think back on three decades together, what are some thoughts and feelings that come to mind?

Corin Tucker: I think that we’ve witnessed a change in culture. We’ve obviously, as Carrie mentioned, we feel bad that legislatively we’ve lost some of the rights that we had this years ago. I think the change in culture is that we’re much more open to talk about women’s issues and to tell our stories, and I think that part of our music and part of our audience, I’m really happy about that kind of thing.

Carrie Brownstein: Yeah. And when you start a band, when you’re quite young, you don’t think too far ahead. I think that’s part of the vitality of being young and playing music, is that you’re squarely rooted in the present, and that’s all you’re reckoning with. So I think one thing that kind of marvelous and miraculous about being a band for so long as being able to tell stories from various stages in our lives, and we really value the artists who are ahead of us and, you know, and have been around even longer, and getting to hear narratives from the full spectrum of ages and experiences. And we’ve had this conduit for so many years through which we can tell our own stories and reflect back through the music, our feelings and our perspectives. And that’s, I think, a real privilege. And we feel very, very lucky and also a little surprised just to still be playing music together.

Kristen Kurtis: I think it’s great. Your music is so cathartic when you’re, like, really frustrated about some of these issues that we’re discussing right now. It feels really good to blast a Sleater-Kinney album. You were just mentioning some other musicians that came before you and ones that have come after you. Who are you guys rocking out to these days? Is there anybody really that’s kind of constantly on your turntable right now?

Corin Tucker: Yeah, I mean, I’m we’re really happy to be playing with Black Belt, Eagle Scout, she’s incredible. Really fun to listen to every night. We also talked with BlondShell this year.

Carrie Brownstein: Kim Gordon has an incredible album coming out this year. I am in constant amazement of her reinvention, but also her consistency in putting out interesting and innovative art. Lucinda Williams, PJ Harvey, Joan Armatrading who is about to do something in the classical world. So many artists who, like I said, have come before us that we admire and continue to kind of look to a guide.

Kristen Kurtis: I heard a whispering, and maybe you can confirm or deny that even after releasing this full-length album in January and the reimagining of some of the songs on the EP today, that you have even more new music on the way in April, maybe some collaborations?

Sleater Kinney: Oh, that’s.

Carrie Brownstein: So do we, Corin.

Corin Tucker: We might.

Carrie Brownstein: Just. Stay tuned is what we can say.

Kristen Kurtis: We’ll definitely be paying attention. Do you have any plans to celebrate 30 years together? Is this tour that you’re on right now it? Or can we expect other celebrations, too?

Carrie Brownstein: I think we like to not look back too much. You know, we are grateful to have a through line. We acknowledge the through line. We always incorporate our older records into the setlist, but I think we try not to get too steeped in nostalgia or sentimentality, even though we’re proud of our accomplishments. There’s a slight a tinge of cynicism, I think, to always be looking back and to have a sense that the past was better. We try to just be in the moment. So I think the best way to celebrate 30 years is to have a record out that we’re very proud of. That seems to me like the ultimate anniversary present, both for ourselves and hopefully to our fans. So nothing that’s going to be some kind of big retrospective. I think, 30 years and being on the road with a new record is about as good as it gets.

Kristen Kurtis: I so appreciate that. Have either of you heard of, and I think it’s maybe a… Joke doesn’t feel like the right word, but kind of like a tongue-in-cheek named organization called the, the Society for the Advancement of Time for exactly what you’re talking about. Folks who are like, it is not the 60s and 70s anymore. We have to be talking about the issues of today, and just not trying to dwell in the past and pretend that it was better than where we are right now. And as you’ve mentioned, we’re certainly dealing with some stumbling blocks that we felt like we had put to bed in the past. But we’re here to have the two of you forge into the future and be witnesses to the things that we’re all experiencing together. So I am here for that too.

Carrie Brownstein: It’s 2024. Let’s go.

Kristen Kurtis: All right. So, anything impactful for International Women’s Day in any ways to make a dent in some of the issues that we’re talking about right now that you two are planning on?

Corin Tucker: We work with an organization called Headcounts that registers people to vote so we encourage people to vote if it’s locally, that’s happening right now.

Kristen Kurtis: Oh no, Corin, I think our connection is breaking up a little bit here, but I heard you say Headcounts. I am at their website and seeing that the next few shows they’re hosting here in Philly are with Group Love at Franklin Music Hall on March 23rd, Green Day at Citizens Bank Park on August 9th, and Philly’s own Mount Joy at TD Pavilion at The Man on September 20th, which is great. So thank you for alerting us to that. And in the meantime, we look forward to seeing you for your sold-out show at the TLA on March 18th with Black Belt Eagle Scout, and I can’t wait to sit down and do a little AB playing songs from Little Rope next to the reimaginings you’ve released today on the Frayed Rope EP. Thank you both so much for your time.

Sleater Kinney: Thank you so much. Take care.

Kristen Kurtis: All right. You too.

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