Talking Changes (and ‘Changes’) with Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker

Sleater-Kinney have reunited after an extended hiatus to release "No Cities to Love." Singer-guitarist Corin Tucker delivers a party playlist for you to love.

Photo: Brigitte Sire
Photo: Brigitte Sire

One of the most beloved and influential rock bands of their late-1990s/early-2000s generation, Sleater-Kinney took the politics and DIY ethos of Riot Grrl to a wide audience, while garnering heaps of critical acclaim for the powerful and sophisticated musicianship of drummer Janet Weiss and the band’s dual singer-guitarists, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker.

Before forming Sleater-Kinney, Ms. Tucker was in the path-breaking Heavens to Betsy and in 2010, she recorded what she calls her “middle aged mom record” with her Corin Tucker Band. After a decade-long hiatus, Sleater-Kinney is back with a new album, “No Cities to Love,” and are in the midst of a triumphant world tour. Ms. Tucker joins us with a party playlist which definitely is to love.

Hey, this is Corin from Sleater-Kinney. Let me just tell you that, when Sleater-Kinney is in the room, the party gets started. Janet will take over the turntable. Any of us could do it but Janet is flawless. As soon as she gets that happening, we’re all on the dance floor and the party is started. So this isn’t going to be quite as good as Janet’s DJ session, but this is my dinner party soundtrack.

Lizzo, “Batches & Cookies”

My first track is by Lizzo, the incredible hip-hop artist from Minneapolis. And the song is “Batches and Cookies.” Total party-starter. It’s kind of food-themed, but it kind of breaks the ice.

You know for me, ‘dinner party,’ it’s just, it has the word ‘party’ in it. It should be up. I just think that she has a really fun sense of word play. She’s got a great energy. And now she’s doing her whole US tour with us.

Courtney Barnett, “History Eraser”

So the second track I would pick is by Courtney Barnett. And it’s “History Eraser.” The song to me is just incredibly strong narrative of her being, I don’t know, drunk at a party and making out with someone. But the way she phrases everything is so singular. It’s very compelling. I think there’s something about “I changed all the letters around on the page so they would spell out your name.”

I heard this song and I was like, “What is this?” and then, you know, my husband Lance Bangs was like, “Oh yeah, Courtney Barnett. You know I have the CD.” Of course. And I was like, “What’s her story?” He’s like, “Well I don’t really know.” Which is shocking because my husband is always an encyclopedia of information about the new artists. So that’s why I play her at the dinner party, being like “Hey, who knows Courtney?” you know? In Portland, there is kind of a good possibility that somebody would be like, “Oh yeah, well Courtney, I know her. She does this.”

David Bowie, “Changes”

So, as the party goes along and the ice is broken, I think maybe we’ll switch to a track that kind of unifies the party. Something that everyone knows. This is David Bowie, “Changes.”

I was thinking you know, maybe the food is done, maybe we’re going to move to a different room. So I think that having this song, “Changes,” would actually provide a good segue into a change. Change of scene for the party.

He has an incredible gift as a song writer to empathize with the protesters and the kids. He was always telling their story. You know, “Rebel, Rebel,” “Changes,” this profound story teller and narrator.

Sleater-Kinney, “No Cities to Love”

If was going to pick a Sleater-Kinney track to play at a dinner party — which by the way I would never do — I would probably pick “No Cities to Love,” the title track from our new record, because I think you could actually sit down to it and it wouldn’t be awful.

I did actually turn to Carrie one time when we were hanging out and said you know, “I wonder if we’re ever going to play together again.” My husband Lance was in the room. Fred Armisen was also in the room. They kind of freaked out and were like, “Whoa, this has got to happen.” So there was a series of conversations after that, “Should we do a show? Should we do a couple of shows?” It was like, “No, not good enough.” Until we got to the point we’re like, “We have to write a whole new record to reinvent the band, period.”