We’re officially two months away from No Cities to Love, Sleater-Kinney’s first new album in 10 years. Aside from the lead single, the excellent “Bury Our Friends”, there isn’t much else that we know about the highly-anticipated release. That is, until now.
All three members of Sleater-Kinney — Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss — recently sat down with NPR’s All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton for an extensive interview on the recording process behind the new LP, what it’s like to return after such a long hiatus, how the three-piece has evolved, and so much more. Plus, scattered throughout the 40-minute conversation are snippets of three brand new songs.
Listen to the entire interview over at NPR.com, and below, check out a few choice quotes.
Brownstein on the early stages of No Cities to Love:
We wrote in my basement. It took on many permutations, and eventually we settled on a process that was a little more akin to what we had done in the early years, partially because Corin and I had to kind of reacquaint ourselves to the very specific vernacular that she and I speak, musically. And so, [she] and I would work on songs and then bring them to Janet, instead of jamming … It’s almost telepathic. I think that Corin and I can complete each other’s musical sentences in a way that never ceases to surprise me.
Weiss on growing older and how it’s affected the group:
I feel like, with the three of us, with the way we connect, there’s a desperation to reach a certain level…a desperation to break through of the mundane, of the generic. We’re trying to push through, so desperately, to something bigger, that it just sort of comes out in this really powerful, forward-moving way. But I don’t think that’s changed. I think…we just…don’t write a lot of slow songs —there’s a lot of…unbridled energy….I guess as far as young versus old, I don’t really feel like I’ve said it all, and I’m comfortable, and I’m sort of ready to kick my feet up. I feel like there’s a lot left to do… and if we’re gonna do this, the three of us, let’s make it off the charts.
Brownstein on what it means to be an “outsider”, creatively and personally:
I think in all of the creative pursuits I have, I feel like it’s an exploration of otherness and feeling like an outsider and creating work that’s strange and unusual that goes along the periphery for people to find if they need it. I think that’s how I go through life — kind of in an outside lane, sort of observing. Observing what’s happening in the center. And, so, I think a lot of these songs have to do with an inchoate, almost shapelessness. And I think that’s why a lot of the titles have words like “surface,” and “cities,” these things that are logistically, technically concrete, but actually are so much more murky in reality. And trying to make sense of what that stability is, and what it means to feel other when there’s so much in the middle that it keeps you not just on the outside, but wanting to be on the outside.
Tucker on being a woman in the music business:
I think it has gotten better. Our society has become more progressive in talking about women’s issues and safety and I think Obama just really stepped up recently and spoke about talking to survivors of sexual assault, and saying, you know, we’ve got your back. We need to do something about this. I mean, that’s a really big deal. That’s something no president has ever done, and, you know, for someone that’s in charge of our country to say, “This is important and we need to work on this, and keep working together,” that’s a huge step forward.
Brownstein on the band’s musical influences:
I do think that I like pop music, and I think a lot about melody — but that doesn’t even mean Top 40 music, necessarily, it’s just, in the years of listening to music, and what I’ve decided to discard, and literally throw out, it tends to be music that just doesn’t have good songwriting, or good melody. Like, that’s just what I come back to over and over again: a great chorus, or a great hook. It doesn’t have to be saccharine, it doesn’t have to be cheap. I think that, to me, has a forcefulness to it, and I do think that this record focuses on choruses in a way that some of our earlier records didn’t. Although I can hear it come in on an album like All Hands on the Bad One, I can hear the poppier elements start to come out on that record. There’s just such a singular aspect to this band. We’re not porous, we’re not letting a lot of outside things in. And when we do, the way that it’s interpreted within the three of us, what comes out doesn’t sound anything like what we brought in.
No Cities to Love arrives on January 20th via Sub Pop. In support, the band have also lined up a reunion tour, whose dates can be found here.