Turntable Interview: Corin Tucker
Corin Tucker has been making music longer than some of you have been alive. Bursting out of the burgeoning music scene in Olympia, Washington in the early ’90s, Tucker sang her heart out in Heavens To Betsy before teaming up with Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss (who are both now in Wild Flag) to form Sleater-Kinney. The band eventually dissolved and in 2009, Tucker formed the Corin Tucker Band. The group with bass player Sara Lund (Unwound) and Seth Lorinczi (Golden Bears’/Circus Lupus) has a new album “Kill My Blues” coming out September 18th on Kill Rock Stars the record label Corin has been affiliated with for over two decades. On the new album, Tucker returns to her sonic roots delivering a performance sure to thrill old fans and earn her plenty of new ones. Tucker swung by Turntable.fm to spin tunes and chat Skrillex, driving carpool, and how touring is like The Amazing Race.
CORIN TUCKER: Hi!
@woolyknickers started playing “Dancing Barefoot” by Patti Smith Group
STEREOGUM: Welcome to Turntable Interview.
CORIN TUCKER: Thanks! This is cool.
STEREOGUM: Have you started doing press for your new album yet?
CORIN TUCKER: Yeah, I just started.
STEREOGUM: From what I’ve seen it’s all been pretty positive.
CORIN TUCKER: Yeah, I think people are excited, which is nice.
STEREOGUM: People seem to really like your new stuff because it kind of harks back to your roots in both Sleater-Kinney and Cadallaca. Was that your intention?
CORIN TUCKER: We gave it some thought as a band, what kind of gets people moving. People really want to dance at our shows.
CORIN TUCKER: Our culture really lacks movement time. We are actually trying to save people’s lives.
STEREOGUM: Ha! It’s a public service, really.
CORIN TUCKER: Kidding. Sort of.
STEREOGUM: On behalf of society: THANK YOU.
@corintuckerband started playing “A Message To You Rudy” by The Specials
CORIN TUCKER: We need help as much as anyone else.
STEREOGUM: I do think Electronic Dance Music, at least, is having a resurgence
CORIN TUCKER: I’ve tried to pick some dance songs as inspiration.
STEREOGUM: I mean regardless of what you think of Skrillex’s guitar skills (kidding) he does get people dancing
CORIN TUCKER: Yeah, can we play some Skrillex? My son is kind of obsessed.
STEREOGUM: Kids these days! We can play whatever you want. What are your favorite songs to dance to?
CORIN TUCKER: The eighties were my teen years, so the GoGos are sort of a touchstone
@woolyknickers started playing “With A Girl Like You” by The Troggs
STEREOGUM: I love the GoGos, although it’s so hard to imagine them as “punk”
CORIN TUCKER: Recently I saw Tuneyards and everyone was dancing.
STEREOGUM: You mentioned your son, do you think being a parent has changed your music at all?
@corintuckerband started playing “Bangarang (Feat. Sirah)” by Skrillex
CORIN TUCKER: Yes and no. I think being a parent changes you as a human being, so it probably affects the lyrics more than anything. But it’s funny that he’s now introducing me to new music. It’s great.
STEREOGUM: What besides Skrillex has he introduced you to?
CORIN TUCKER: Deadmau5? I picked him too.
STEREOGUM: Nice! He’s a character, especially the way he is always calling out his own industry. Like accusing DJs of just pushing play and not doing any real work on stage.
CORIN TUCKER: Honestly my husband Lance is the true new music source in the house, but once my son hears something he likes, we listen in the car a lot.
STEREOGUM: You must drive a mean carpool
CORIN TUCKER: Yeah, the whole DJ thing is so funny to me. It’s sick.
STEREOGUM: Your carpool is sick? Like good sick or bad sick?
CORIN TUCKER: Like literally someone’s usually sick anyway!
@woolyknickers started playing “Ice Cream (Feat. Matias Aguayo)” by Battles
CORIN TUCKER: Wow lots of grunting in this song, funny.
STEREOGUM: Yeah Battles has lots of grunting. Do you think Skrillex and Deadmau5 influenced your album at all?
CORIN TUCKER: No! Not really, we started writing it a year and half ago. But we did try to write dancier stuff.
STEREOGUM: Are you going to go on tour?
CORIN TUCKER: Yeah, a whole US tour starting in September.
STEREOGUM: Nice! Is your son going to come out at all?
CORIN TUCKER: No, the kids are staying home for this one, they’re both in school.
CORIN TUCKER: It will be CTB TCB.
STEREOGUM: When is the last time you did a big national tour?
CORIN TUCKER: Um, 2010 I think? About two years.
STEREOGUM: So not that long at all. Do you have any favorite cities or venues to play? Places you look forward to each time out?
CORIN TUCKER: We are playing Chicago, finally, which I am psyched about.
@corintuckerband started playing “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk
CORIN TUCKER: I look forward to most of it, actually.
STEREOGUM: Have you ever sat down and figured out how much of your life you have spent in a van? Between Heavens to Betsy, Sleater Kinney, Cadallaca, and CTB?
CORIN TUCKER: Ack! Kind of sad, really, like probably half a year or something.
STEREOGUM: Did I miss some in there?
CORIN TUCKER: I think you got it! Nice one.
STEREOGUM: Thank you!
CORIN TUCKER: It’s all about the show, though.
STEREOGUM: I actually once got offered a job at a record store for being able to name all the Sleater Kinney precursor bands
CORIN TUCKER: That is awesome! Do you watch Amazing Race?
CORIN TUCKER: I think Amazing Race is sometimes like being on tour.
STEREOGUM: Minus the million dollar cash prize? Well, hopefully including the cash prize actually.
CORIN TUCKER: Like you either live for the weird challenges or you don’t
STEREOGUM: Like, the drummer left her passport at the hotel and you have to catch a flight to Ireland in an hour, what do you do?
CORIN TUCKER: Ha!
STEREOGUM: It’s like a Choose your Own Adventure
CORIN TUCKER: Exactly. Usually, drive like hell.
STEREOGUM: What’s been the wildest ride you’ve been on to make a gig?
@woolyknickers started playing “News” by Tune-Yards
CORIN TUCKER: I did bribe a cabbie once in England so S-K could make soundcheck.
STEREOGUM: How much did you have to pay him? And what did he do to get you there?
CORIN TUCKER: Our flight was canceled so we had to take this weird cab across England
STEREOGUM: As in the entire country?
CORIN TUCKER: No, I think it was just two of the smaller cities.
CORIN TUCKER: I think I offered him 20 pounds to just get us to the club, which he did!
STEREOGUM: Not bad!
STEREOGUM: Speaking of SK, what are the chances the band is ever getting back together for a reunion show? Follow up: How sick of that question are you?
CORIN TUCKER: We are still on hiatus, but I think the door is open. Not that sick actually, maybe like 40%?
STEREOGUM: That’s good news! 40% I can live with. Theoretically if you wanted a reunion you could just walk on stage while Wild Flag was playing.
CORIN TUCKER: Ha ha! I’m not sure about that.
@corintuckerband started playing “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads
STEREOGUM: A girl can dream
CORIN TUCKER: Of course.
STEREOGUM: How does it feel being the doyenne of the Portland music scene?
CORIN TUCKER: That’s a very nice word, doyenne.
STEREOGUM: Word-A-Day calendar
CORIN TUCKER: Portland just shrugs, which is as it should be.
STEREOGUM: Do you make it out to shows very often?
CORIN TUCKER: Not enough, wish I did more, but it’s getting a little better.
STEREOGUM: It is impressive how Portland has held on to its reputation for being at the forefront of music
@woolyknickers started playing “Golden Lights” by Twinkle
STEREOGUM: Do you think there are any bands in Portland that people need to know about?
CORIN TUCKER: I think Sara Lund’s band Hungry Ghost is great.
STEREOGUM: She brings it, no matter what band she’s in
CORIN TUCKER: Yeah, she’s deep talent.
STEREOGUM:: Do you know who you will be touring with in September?
CORIN TUCKER: Not for sure yet…
STEREOGUM:: Who is your dream bill?
@corintuckerband started playing “Can’t Hardly Wait (Outtake – Electric)” by The Replacements
STEREOGUM: I mean, if you could play with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? The Replacements? This is an awesome outtake by the way.
CORIN TUCKER: Um, that’s tough. Open for the X-ray Specs and the Slits? We’ve lost so many great talents in the past year or so. Um, yeah, I didn’t actually realize this was an outtake but OK!
STEREOGUM: The X Ray Specs, Slits, and CTB would be amazing! I saw a video on YouTube of you singing with Eddie Vedder. How did that come about?
CORIN TUCKER: Eddie is a good friend and so great to work with. He asked me to sing on his “Into the Wild” album.
@woolyknickers started playing “Portland” by The Replacements
CORIN TUCKER: But we’ve done a few songs over the years.
STEREOGUM: Oh right! Into the Wild.
CORIN TUCKER: I’ve heard stories about this song over the years.
STEREOGUM: Well, my sources tell me it was an apology song Westerberg wrote
CORIN TUCKER: It’s an apology for the terrible show, right?
STEREOGUM: Yeah, after tossing a couch out a window at Pine Street back in the day. With Scott McConaghy from Young Fresh Fellows or something. That’s not actually how you spell his last name.
CORIN TUCKER: It’s like 14 more letters. But I also heard a story about a sweet kiss on the cheek to a 16 year old girl.
STEREOGUM: Really? I hadn’t heard that one.
CORIN TUCKER: Straight from the source on that one.
STEREOGUM: Wait. Who did you meet? Westerberg?
CORIN TUCKER: Nope, no no. The girl, who’s my age.
STEREOGUM: Oh, wow! Have you seen the Replacements documentary “Color Me Obsessed”? It’s all fan interviews
CORIN TUCKER: No, but I want to.
STEREOGUM: It’s really good!
CORIN TUCKER: They carved out a special place in people’s hearts.
STEREOGUM: In the movie they talk about this song with Scott, but I can’t remember the exact reason. But, yeah, they were amazing and they are never getting back together
CORIN TUCKER: Sigh.
STEREOGUM: …sigh. So back to your album.
@corintuckerband started playing “One Trick Pony” by Deadmau5
STEREOGUM: What was the writing process like? You said you’ve been writing for a year and a half?
CORIN TUCKER: Yeah, I think we wrote and recorded for all of 2011. We worked on things a bit a time, until we had all the songs we wanted. And then certain songs just come right at the end.
STEREOGUM: And then you headed into the studio?
CORIN TUCKER: Well, actually we work at Seth’s house, which is where his studio is.
STEREOGUM: Oh that makes it easy, or at least easier.
CORIN TUCKER: It’s very humane, with lots of food breaks.
STEREOGUM: Food breaks are important! It is Portland after all. You probably have food trucks parked right outside.
CORIN TUCKER: Yeah, there was at least one food truck run. It was really cold though for one of the sessions.
STEREOGUM: can we hear teeth chattering on a track?
CORIN TUCKER: Yes! The basement where we do the vocals is like a freezer.
STEREOGUM: Well that should account for some unique sounds on the album. What about your first single Groundhog Day? What is the story behind the song?
@woolyknickers started playing “Hold The Line Feat. Mr. Lex & Santigold” by Major Lazer
CORIN TUCKER: I am referencing one of my favorite movies, the Harold Ramis one with Bill Murray. He has to live the same day over and over again.
STEREOGUM: That’s what I thought.
CORIN TUCKER: I feel like the women’s movement in this country is stuck on repeat. We are still fighting to keep the gains that our mother’s generation made.
STEREOGUM: Oh wow. Do you think being a woman in the music industry has changed at all?
CORIN TUCKER: Yes, I do think we’ve made progress. More women are in control of their own careers, and their professional choices. But we still have a long way to go.
STEREOGUM: Right! I think women like you really paved the way for young artists like Azealiea Banks and Kitty Pryde who are great additions to the women in music biz.
@corintuckerband started playing “Nice” by Kleenex\/LiLiPUT
CORIN TUCKER: Wish I knew them! But yes, there are more women in the industry for sure.
STEREOGUM:: Do you seek out bands with women in them?
CORIN TUCKER: I think so, because I’m just interested in what women have to say.
STEREOGUM: And we are all interested in what you have to say on your new album. Can’t wait to hear it!
CORIN TUCKER: Thank you!
STEREOGUM: Thanks so much for chatting with me!
CORIN TUCKER: It’s been fun.