Skip to main content
Select Source:

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney


Rock group




Sleater-Kinney, a trio of unrepentant feminists who made waves with their 1997 release Dig Me Out, grew out of both the riot-grrrl movement and the punk/indie scene in the Pacific Northwest. Consisting simply of a drummer and two guitarists, the band has earned both sincere praise and fawning press. According to Rolling Stone writer Evelyn McDonnell, Sleater-Kinney "is poised to become the first band to emerge from the feminist-punk riot-grrrl movement of the early 1990s and cross over to a broad rock audience."

As a child, Sleater-Kinney's co-founder, guitarist, and frontperson Corin Tucker lived in both Eugene, Oregon and North Dakota. Her father was a folk singer and she grew up listening to his Velvet Underground records. Co-founder and fellow guitarist Carrie Brownstein was a native of the Seattle area and, during her formative years, became a fan of English punk acts like the Jam and the Buzzcocks. By the mid-1990s, Tucker was a student at Evergreen State College and member of a band called Heavens to Betsy, which grew out of the riot-grrrl scene that originated in the Pacific Northwest. Riot-grrrl politics and culture involved a wave of radical young feminists like Brownstein, who was running a feminist network group booth when she met Tucker. The riot-grrrl movement was well organized and its participants often relied on thought-provoking street art or action to get their messages across. Many of them picked up the instruments of previous oppressioninherently sexist rock and rollto further explore new avenues of communication. "Riot grrrl suddenly made feminism something I could embrace and utilize and be empowered by," Brownstein explained to McDonnell in Rolling Stone.


Brownstein was also a musician who played in the band Excuse 17. She and Tucker became romantically involved, and one day during the summer of 1994 sat down and wrote a few songs. They found a rehearsal space in nearby in Lacey, Washington, and, in need of a band name one day, simply adopted the street names at the nearest intersection. They had a more difficult time, however, finding a permanent drummer. In their first two years of existence, Sleater-Kinney went through drummers at an alarming rate: first came Australian Lora Macfarlane, who stayed until 1995; she was replaced by Toni Gogin for part of 1996; finally Janet Weiss joined that year.


Call the Doctor

After playing some shows, Sleater-Kinney signed with Villa Villakula/Chainsaw and released their self-titled debut in 1995. It was followed by 1996's Call the Doctor, which contained the track "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone," referring to the debauched and dissipated member of the seminal New York punk-rock legends, The Ramones. The lyrics, Tucker explained, were a sly diatribe against the male-oriented alternative-music scene. "The song is about all these bands that are like the kings of indie rock," Tucker explained to Elizabeth Vincintelli in Rolling Stone. "But it's also a joke about jumping in and out of those roles. Imagine living your life like Joey Ramone!"

Call the Doctor was met with favorable words from critics. Greil Marcus, writing in Interview, even liked the name"what a title for a piece of music that means to call everything into question," he noted. He found much to praise inside the record, especially Tucker's vocals. "With a steely passion channeled through the affect of her all-American-mallrat accent, she starts off at high pressure and stays there, the tension of her refusal to press any harder turning into a nervous worry that she might," observed Marcus. "Against this, the fabulously engaging interlocking guitar lines seem more found or received than madethe deep inventiveness of the band coming off simply as the necessary consequence of a voice this demanding."

Robert Christgau of the Village Voice also found much to laud in Call the Doctor, and echoed Marcus's appreciation of Tucker's vocal talents, which some other writers have even compared to Belinda Carlisle's in timbre. "The obvious reason Tucker dominates this band is her voice," wrote Christgau. He also commended her lyrical delivery: "in a music of becoming, Tucker's albums enact a coming-of-age-in-progress that's conveyed by the conviction in her singing, not the acuteness of an analysis millions of young women have already stumbled toward," noted Christgau. "From a parental perspective the effect is intense, touching, an up. For her fans and peers, I bet it feels like life itself."

As for the dual guitars and no-bass sound, Christgau called it "minimalist in its own way, original without self-indulgence, often fairly fast but never speedy, a punk-informed variant sure enough of where it's headed that it can take its time getting there," he wrote in the Village Voice. Other critics have struggled to match Sleater-Kinney's sound with that of lauded predecessorsPJ Harvey, Gang of Four, Swiss girl punkers Liliput, and Sonic Youth are but a few names that crop up in reviews of their work.


"Made a Space for Women in Music"

Sleater-Kinney also became known for playing notoriously user-friendly showsif the crowd is right. At one gig at a tiny venue in Portland, an audience member dancing maniacally near the low stage kept whacking Tucker's guitar during the set. "But instead of chastising the enraptured fan, Tucker voted her Best Dancer," reported Charles R. Cross in Rolling Stone. "Between songs, Tucker urged the young girls in the crowd to start their own groups." In early 1997, they opened for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and were heckled by a male-dominated front row. At the end of one show, Brownstein sent her microphone stand flying into the head of one particularly rabid anti-fan. Still, as Tucker told McDonnell in Rolling Stone, they had mellowed some. "We're not as apt to want to start arguments everywhere Still, everything about where we're coming from has to do with the fact that there was a first wave of girl bands that we were part of, and that has made a space for women in music."

Sleater-Kinney released their third studio effort in 1997, shortly after Spin magazine named them to "The Spin 40" in its April issue, a list of acts the editors termed vital to alternative music. Less thrashy than their previous two records, Dig Me Out included love songs and some poppy dance numbers done with a Farfisa organ. Other songs seemed to find intense pleasure in the simple catharsis of rock and roll. Dig Me Out, according to Matt Diehl in Rolling Stone, displays not just Sleater-Kinney's lyrical talents but combines them with "an explosive musical chemistry that mixes infectious melodicism with innovative punk deconstruction." Ann Powers reviewed the record for Spin and declared that Tucker "lets the songs' electric momentum strip her down to her emotional corea pure and antisocial humanity. From start to finish, Dig Me Out aims for this place of undiluted emotion, where girlishness yields to the rage and joy of women who feel no need to charm."

For the Record . . .

Members include Carrie Brownstein (born c. 1975), guitar, vocals; Toni Gogin (left group, 1996), drums; Lora Macfarlane (left group, 1995), drums; Corin Tucker (born c. 1973; married film-maker Lance Bangs; children: Marshall Tucker Bangs), guitar, vocals; Janet Weiss (born c. 1965; divorced; joined group, 1996), drums.


Group formed in Olympia, WA, 1994; released self-titled debut on Villa Villakula/Chainsaw, 1995; drummer Lora Macfarlane left group, 1995; released Call the Doctor, 1996; drummer Janet Weiss joined group, 1996; released Dig Me Out on Kill Rock Stars, 1997; released The Hot Rock, 1999; released All Hands on the Bad One, 2000; released One Beat, 2002.


Addresses: Record company Kill Rock Stars, 120 Northeast State Ave., #418, Olympia, WA 98501, web-site: http://www.killrockstars.com. Website Sleater-Kinney Official Website: http://www.thisissleaterkinney.com.



Powers concluded her review noting the negative connotations the term "feminist" has received over the years, but she hinted at the new radical strain found in Sleater-Kinney's message. "If they wanna be our Simone de Beauvoir, Dig Me Out proves they're up to it," Powers declared. Christgau, writing in the Village Voice, also found hope in the very act of SleaterKinney's existence. "The truth is," Christgau opined, "that most people can't make great rock and roll, or create themselves in public either. But the more people get the chance to try, the better off we are."


Balanced Fame and Personal Politics

With the release of 1999's The Hot Rock and All Hands on the Bad One in 2000, the band found itself balancing their newfound fame with a keen interest in politics, both of the social and rock and roll sorts. Not only did the records reflect Sleater-Kinney's already established left-of-center ethos, but the band brought Planned Parenthood activists on the All Hands on the Bad One tour to promote their cause and help raise funds for the financially threatened agency. That year Tucker started a family of her own when she married filmmaker Lance Bangs and had a child with him in 2001.

For many politically minded bands, 2001 was an un-forgettable year. The events surrounding September 11th and the fall of the World Trade Center caused Sleater-Kinney to produce the most politically charged album of their career. Released in 2002, One Beat was both a direct criticism of George W. Bush's governmental actions and an attempt to distance the socially accommodating indie rock community from its oppressive corporate counterpart. Of the record's political impact, New Musical Express writer Victoria Segal commented: "Few bands could explore motherhood and terrorism without making you want to shoot them." But with sly wit and emotionally connected song writing, Sleater-Kinney did it with ease.


Selected discography

Sleater-Kinney, Villa Villakula/Chainsaw, 1995.

Call the Doctor, Chainsaw, 1996.

Dig Me Out, Kill Rock Stars, 1997.

The Hot Rock, Kill Rock Stars, 1999.

All Hands on the Bad One, Kill Rock Stars, 2000.

One Beat, Kill Rock Stars, 2002.



Sources

Periodicals

Interview, July 1996, p. 53.

New Musical Express, August 15, 2002.

Rolling Stone, June 13, 1996, p. 82; November 14, 1996, p. 49; April 3, 1997, p. 32; May 15, 1997, p. 112; June 12, 1997, p. 36.

Spin, April 1997, p. 130; June 1997, p. 117.

Village Voice, April 16, 1996, p. 64.


Online

Sleater-Kinney Official Website, http://www.thisissleaterkinney.com (February 3, 2004).


Carol Brennan and Ken Taylor

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sleater-Kinney." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sleater-Kinney." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/sleater-kinney-0

"Sleater-Kinney." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/sleater-kinney-0

Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney

Rock group

For the Record

Reaching a Core Audience

Selected discography

Sources

Sleater-Kinney, a trio of unrepentant feminists who made waves with their 1997 release Dig Me Out, grew out of both the riot-grrrl movement and the punk/indie scene in the Pacific Northwest. Consisting simply of a drummer and two guitarists, the band has earned both sincere praise and fawning pressthe latter perhaps due more to their photogenic, skirt-clad, modern-rock coed look. Still, Sleater-Kinney, according to Rolling Stone writer Evelyn McDonnell, is poised to become the first band to emerge from the feminist-punk riot-grrrl movement of the early 1990s and cross over to a broad rock audience.

As a child, Sleater-Kinneys co-founder, guitarist, and frontperson Corin Tucker lived in both Eugene, Oregon and North Dakota; her father was a folk singer and she grew up listening to his Velvet Underground records. Co-founder and fellow guitarist Carrie Brownstein was a native of the Seattle area and, during her formative years, became a fan of English punk acts like the Jam and the Buzzcocks. By the mid-1990s, Tucker was a student at Evergreen State College and member of a band called Heavens to Betsy, which grew out of the riot-grrrl scene, a movement best described by Rolling Stones Lorraine Ali as something that happened when bands and fanzines tucked raw feminist credos inside Hello Kitty trimmings. Riot-grrrl politics and culture involved a wave of radical young feministslike Brownstein, who was running a feminist network group booth when she met Tuckerwho were well-organized and often relied on thought-provoking street art or action to get their message across. Many of them picked up the instruments of previous oppressioninherently sexist rock and rollto further explore new avenues of communication. Riot grrrl suddenly made feminism something I could embrace and utilize and be empowered by, Brownstein explained to McDonnell in Rolling Stone.

Brownstein was also a musician who played in the band Excuse 17. She and Tucker became romantically involved, and one day during the summer of 1994 sat down and wrote a few songs. They found a rehearsal space in nearby in Lacey, Washington, and, in need of a band name one day, simply adopted the street names at the nearest intersection. They had a more difficult time finding a permanent drummerin their two years of existence, Sleater-Kinney went through them in an almost Spinal-Tap-esque way: first came Australian Lora Macfarlane, who stayed until 1995; she was replaced by Toni Gogin for part of 1996; finally Janet Weiss joined that year.

After playing some showsperformances that often included a cover Bostons More Than a Feeling Sleater-Kinney signed with Villa Villakula/Chainsaw and released their self-titled debut in 1995. It was followed by 1996s Call the Doctor, which contained the track I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, referring to the debauched and dissipated member of the seminal New York punk-rock legends. The lyrics, Tucker explained, were a sly diatribe against the male-oriented alternative-music scene. The song is about all these bands that are like the kings of indie rock, Tucker explained to Elizabeth Vincintelli in Rolling Stone about the song, and its call for women to become their own rock god (desses). But its also a joke about jumping in and out of those roles. Imagine living your life like Joey Ramone!

Call the Doctor met with favorable words from critics, and some well-known arbiters at that. Greil Marcus, writing in Interview, even liked the namewhat a title for a piece of music that means to call everything into question, he noted. He found much to praise inside the record, especially Tuckers vocals. With a steely passion channeled through the affect of her all-American-mallrat accent, she starts off at high pressure and stays there, the tension of her refusal to press any harder turning into a nervous worry that she might, observed Marcus. Against this, the fabulously engaging interlocking guitar lines seem more found or received than madethe deep inventiveness of the band coming off simply as the necessary consequence of a voice this demanding.

Robert Christgau of the Village Voice also found much to laud in Dig Me Out, and echoed Marcuss appreciation of Tuckers vocal talents, which some other writers have

For the Record

Members include Carrie Brownstein (born c. 1975), guitars; Janet Weiss , (joined band 1996), drums; Corin Tucker (born c. 1973), guitars. Former members include Lora Macfarlane (left band, c. 1995), drums; Toni Gogin , (left band, 1996), drums.

Tuckers first band was Heavens to Betsy; Brownstein is an alumnus of Excuse 17; Tucker and Brownstein formed Sleater-Kinney in 1994, in Olympia, Washington.

Addresses: Home Olympia, WA (Brownstein) and Portland, OR (Tucker and Weiss). Record company Kill Rock Stars, 120 Northeast State Avenue, #418, Olympia, WA 98501.

even compared to Belinda Carlisles in timbre. The obvious reason Tucker dominates this band is her voice, wrote Christgau. He also commended her lyrical deliveryin a music of becoming, Tuckers albums enact a coming-of-age-in-progress thats conveyed by the conviction in her singing, not the acuteness of an analysis millions of young women have already stumbled toward, noted Christgau. From a parental perspective the effect is intense, touching, an up. For her fans and peers, I bet it feels like life itself .

As for the dual guitars and no-bass sound, Christgau called it minimalist in its own way, original without self-indulgence, often fairly fast but never speedy, a punk-informed variant sure enough of where its headed that it can take its time getting there, he wrote in the Village Voice. Other critics have struggled to match Sleater-Kinneys sound with that of lauded predecessorsPJ Harvey, Gang of Four, Swiss girl punkers Liliput, and Sonic Youth are but a few names that crop up in reviews of their work.

Sleater-Kinney are also known for playing notoriously user-friendly showsif the crowd is right. At one gig at a tiny venue in Portland, an audience member dancing maniacally near the low stage kept whacking Tuckers guitar during the set. But instead of chastising the enraptured fan, Tucker voted her Best Dancer, reported Charles R. Cross in Rolling Stone. Between songs, Tucker urged the young girls in the crowd to start their own groups. In early 1997, they opened for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and were heckled by a male-dominated front row. At the end of one show, Brownstein sent her microphone stand flying into the head of one particularly rabid anti-fan. Still, as Tucker told McDonnell in Rolling Stone, they had mellowed some. Were not as apt to want to start arguments everywhere Still, everything about where were coming from has to do with the fact that there was a first wave of girl bands that we were part of, and that has made a space for women in music.

Reaching a Core Audience

Sleater-Kinney released their third studio effort in 1997, shortly after Spin magazine named them to The Spin 40 in its April issue, a list of acts the editors termed vital to alternative music. Less thrashy then their previous two records, Dig Me Out included love songs and some poppy dance numbers done with a Farfisa organ. Other songs seemed to find intense pleasure in the simple catharsis of rock and roll. Dig Me Out, according to Matt Diehl in Rolling Stone, displays not just Sleater-Kinneys lyrical talents but combines them with an explosive musical chemistry that mixes infectious melodicism with innovative punk deconstruction. Ann Powers reviewed it for Spin and declared that Tucker lets the songs electric momentum strip her down to her emotional corea pure and antisocial humanity. From start to finish, Dig Me Out aims for this place of undiluted emotion, where girlishness yields to the rage and joy of women who feel no need to charm.

Powers concluded her review noting the negative connotations the term feminist has received over the years, but she hinted at the new radical strain found in Sleater-Kinneys message. If they wanna be our Simone de Beauvoir, Dig Me Out proves theyre up to it, Powers declared. Christgau, writing in the Village Voice, also found hope in the very act of Sleater-Kinneys existence. The truth is, Christgau opined, that most people cant make great rock and roll, or create themselves in public either. But the more people get the chance to try, the better off we are.

Selected discography

Sleater-Kinney, Villa Villakula/Chainsaw, 1995.

Call the Doctor, Chainsaw, 1996.

Dig Me Out, Kill Rock Stars, 1997.

Sources

Interview, July 1996.

Rolling Stone, June 13, 1996; November 14, 1996; April 3, 1997; May 15, 1997; June 12, 1997.

Spin, April 1997; June 1997.

Village Voice, April 16, 1996.

Carol Brennan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sleater-Kinney." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sleater-Kinney." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/sleater-kinney

"Sleater-Kinney." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/sleater-kinney

Sleater-Kinney

SLEATER-KINNEY

Formed: 1994, Olympia, Washington

Members: Carrie Brownstein, vocals and guitars (born Seattle, Washington, 27 September 1974); Corin Tucker, vocals and guitar (born 9 November 1972 Seattle, Washington); Janet Weiss, drums, vocals (born 25 September 1965, Hollywood, California). Former members: Lora McFarlane, drums.

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Dig Me Out (1997)

Hit songs since 1990: "You're No Rock n Roll Fun," "Get Up," "All Hands on the Bad One," "One Beat"


The powerful feminist rock trio Sleater-Kinney, one of the most critically acclaimed bands to emerge in the 1990s, bridged the attitude and approach of punk with the tunefulness of contemporary rock. Sleater-Kinney came out of the Northwest independent rock scene that had gained momentum in cities like Seattle and Olympia, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. The band is a trio: two guitarists, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, who also sing, and the drummer Janet Weiss, who pitches in on backup vocals. Sleater-Kinney's music is smart, energetic, and intricately tuneful. It charts the psychological territory of women struggling to find an identity in a male-dominated world.


Feminism Plus Punk Rock Equals Riot Grrls

Named after a road in Olympia, Washington, Sleater-Kinney coalesced following the heyday of riot grrl subculture, which brought together the politics of feminism with the culture of punk rock. Brownstein, a Seattle-area native, met Tucker in 1992, when Tucker was one-half of the duo Heavens to Betsy. Brownstein, inspired by her new friend, formed her own band, Excuse 17. Tucker and Brownstein briefly dated and recorded their self-titled debut (1995) with Lola MacFarlane. Their current drummer Janet Weiss had played with her then-husband Sam Coomer in Qasi, a Seattle indie band; she even divided her time between the bands for a while after she joined Sleater-Kinney in 1996. The politically charged, visceral, self-titled debut on Chainsaw Records, a Washington independent label, began to earn the group a following. They became known for explosive live performances and bristling guitar work.

The three women of Sleater-Kinney form an unlikely powerhouse. With the propulsive drumming of Weiss as a backup, the bone-rattling caterwaul of Tucker and the comfortably warm voice of Brownstein vie to be heard. The guitar lines weave and bob and play off each other with an intensity matched by few guitar duos, male or female. Beneath the noise they are just a trio of two guitars and a drum.


From Subculture to Pop Culture

From their early days, including their second album, Call the Doctor (1996), the group impressed the local scene with their blisteringly raw guitar playing and shrill feminist polemics. They boasted a small, mostly local following. With the release of Dig Me Out (1997), their best-selling album, Sleater-Kinney moved into the spotlight. Editors gave them magazine covers, and the group earned accolades as the most important new rock band of their time. They went from virtual obscurity to near fameas famous as a band on an independent label with limited distribution powers could be. The album's stunning success resulted in their having to fight off offers from major labels. Sleater-Kinney defended their independence.

The follow-up, The Hot Rock (1999), utilizes the point-counterpoint technique of the guitar/singers and is a more polished effort. The guitars are no longer a bleating distortion but a crystalline squall. The lyrics treat the destructive aspects of fame. In "The End of You" Brownstein warns, "I'd rather fly / don't wanna get caught in this endless race," to which Tucker wails, "Tie me to the mast of this ship and of this band / Tie me to the greater things / The people that I love." The album appeared on many critics year-end ten-best lists. At this point, Sleater-Kinney was the biggest band that almost nobody, other than music critics and diehard indie rock fans, had heard of.

Spot Light: Dig Me Out

With the release of their third album (and their debut on the respected independent rock label Kill Rock Stars), Sleater-Kinney made a name as a lyrically talented, intricately melodic, and politically charged punk-pop trio of women. Sustaining the rawness of their previous work, the album catapulted them into the spotlight, thanks to the adoring words of respected music critics such as Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau. Sleater-Kinney landed on the Spin 40 in April 1997. The recording is an assault to the senses right from the furious lead-off, title track. In her bone-chilling voice, Corin Tucker cries "Dig me out / Dig me in / Outta this mess / baby outta my head." "One More Hour" offers a superb example of the Tucker-Brownstein guitar technique, and "Words and Guitar" is a joyful and unforgiving celebration of classic rock and roll. Dig Me Out is the leanest Sleater-Kinney record. Almost every track maintains an arresting fever pitch.

Riding on the momentum of the release, the band toured extensively and then brought out All Hands on the Bad One (2000). Their fifth collection is more playful but no less emotionally unyielding. The women continue to stretch themselves. Tucker, whose all-encompassing voice had previously been used as a force to be reckoned with, now takes on a smug, all-knowing tone; at times it is not always clear who is singing, as in "Youth Decay." Tucker also swings from self-confidence to a desperate wail in the chorus of "Milkshake n' Honey."

On stage Sleater-Kinney is an energizing band and their shows usually sell out. After All Hands on the Bad One, they took time off. They reconvened for the release of One Beat (2002) and continued to bring their clarion call to feminism and self-determinism to audiences across the United States.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Sleater-Kinney (Chainsaw, 1995); Call the Doctor (Chainsaw, 1996); Dig Me Out (Kill Rock Stars, 1997); The Hot Rock (Kill Rock Stars, 1999); All Hands on the Bad One (Kill Rock Stars, 2000); One Beat (Kill Rock Stars, 2002).

WEBSITE:

www.killrockstars.com.

carrie havranek

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sleater-Kinney." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sleater-Kinney." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sleater-kinney

"Sleater-Kinney." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sleater-kinney