Monday, September 27, 2010

An EXCLUSIVE interview with Corin Tucker!

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

     Like the Punk movement in the late ‘70s, the Grunge scene of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s changed the Rock ‘n’ Roll rulebook…again!  When Grunge started taking over the charts, the sudden change in the musical environment sent Hair Metal bands running for cover and Aqua Net’s sales plummeted.  Flannel shirts were all the rage and it was definitely cool to look as if you hadn’t bathed in a few days… or weeks.  Yes, Grunge single-handedly brought the distortion and stink back to Rock ‘n’ Roll.
     By the time Kurt Cobain died in 1994 and took Grunge’s integrity and credibility with him, there were already hundreds of other small scenes that had been born and created in the wake of Grunge and Alt-Rock’s rise to power.  Like Punk, Grunge opened the floodgates and Indie labels and bands began to flourish again. 
     One of the most popular bands that rose from the Indie scene was Sleater-Kinney.  The trio’s members were originally part of the Riot Grrrl movement before moving forming SK in 1994. For over a decade, the trio released some of the most acclaimed and adored albums of the ‘90s and then millennium.  By the time they released The Woods in 2005, Sleater Kinney were press darlings and were on the verge of something much bigger.  And then they went on indefinite hiatus.
     Five years on, there’s still no new Sleater Kinney but that doesn’t mean that the band’s members have given up on music.  Guitarist/vocalist Corin Tucker had become a mom and stepped away from the music business in order to raise her two children. Now, with a handful of new songs, she’s ready to step out of the shadows and back into the spotlight again.
     1,000 Years is Corin’s debut solo album and while all the best aspects of Sleater Kinney are present and accounted for, there’s also a new maturity and message in her music.  There are quiet moments here that are haunting but not ‘soft’. Don’t be concerned, though: she hasn’t gone all Jewel on us! On 1,000 Years, Corin Tucker is still very much Corin Tucker. This will please the SK fans while also opening the door for a new generation of fans.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee caught up with Corin as she prepared for the release of the album…..

SPAZ: While this isn’t a Sleater-Kinney album, and doesn’t pretend to be, did you still feel pressure in creating a new body of work that would inevitably be compared to your previous releases?
CORIN TUCKER: I think that critical attention can be a hindrance when one is writing. I try to block it from my mind and just focus on making something new, and something that pleases me.

SPAZ: Were you initially hesitant to get back into the music scene after becoming a mother of two?
CT: Yes, I have a very full plate now, and I really enjoy my parenting time. However, I do miss playing music and am trying to do it “part-time” now.

SPAZ: Has being a mother changed your approach to songwriting?  And do you have a different songwriting process compared to your days with Heavens To Betsy and Sleater-Kinney?
CT: I don’t think I have a different songwriting approach. It’s basically the same process. I do a rough sketch or come up with a guitar part I like, then I go back to it and add a chorus or a verse, and the vocal melody, until the song is finished. Sometimes it all comes at once, sometimes it takes forever. With Sleater-Kinney, I often brought unfinished bits in to write with Carrie (Brownstein). It took me a lot longer to write this record than anything else I’ve done, but I enjoyed it.

SPAZ: When you went into the studio to record the album, did you have a clear and definite idea on how you wanted the album to sound?
CT: I worked with Seth Lorinczi, who produced this album, from the beginning of the process to the end. He had terrific production ideas for every song, which sometimes included stripping away the guitar entirely and using keyboards or piano. I knew I wanted an album that included some quieter ballads, sort of a “songwriter” vibe, but Seth really steered the album into eclectic territory.

SPAZ: Was it liberating to be the one in charge on this project as opposed to being one member of an established ‘band’?
CT: It was a blank slate, which was very liberating creatively.

SPAZ:  While some songs are acoustic based and others are straight ahead rockers, there are songs like “Handed Love” that combines the best of both worlds in a very powerful way.  Did you have this all worked out before going into the studio?
CT: Yes, as I’ve said, Seth and I worked on pre-production for several months before we started tracking. It was a luxury to have time to work through all of it beforehand.

SPAZ: Who do you have playing with you on the album?
CT: Seth Lorinczi plays guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards and bass on the album and Sara Lund plays drums and percussion. Julianna Bright sings backup.

SPAZ: The album veers from quiet acoustic passages to gut-crunching rockers.  At this point in your career, do you feel that you have anything to prove?
CT: I wanted to try and do something different on this record, so yes, I guess I am still trying to impress people.

SPAZ: There’s definitely a live, relaxed vibe on the album, even when it rocks. How much of the music was recorded live in the studio? 
CT: We did all of the basic tracks live, together, at least with two guitars and drums or one guitar and bass.

SPAZ: Now that you are going to tour for the album, do you plan on taking your children on the road with you… or do you plan to tour in short bursts and not spend too much time away from them?
CT: We will be bringing our young ones with us for the most part, or, yes, just going on a short trip without them. We will try and keep things short.

SPAZ: Now that the album is complete, are you able to listen to it without wanting to go back and tweak something here or there?  There are some artists who claim they NEVER go back and listen to their albums once they’ve been released….
CT: I usually end up listening to an album a few times right after it is made, but then I get tired of it, especially after playing the songs live. I’m not a perfectionist, so I don’t listen to its faults. I am really pleased with this record.

SPAZ: What’s next for Corin Tucker?
CT: I am enjoying the moment, for now!

SPAZ: What do you have currently spinning in your CD DVD players?
CT: I just bought the new Versus record and the new Joanna Newsome.

Thanks to Corin Tucker
 Special thanks to Kristin Attaway and Maggie Vail.

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