Sleater-Kinney Biography

This potent feminist punk rock band was formed in 1994 in Olympia, Washington, by Carrie Brownstein (27 September 1974, USA; guitar/vocals) and Corin Tucker (b. 9 November 1972, Eugene, Oregon, USA; guitar/vocals). Tucker had previously played in the Heavens To Betsy, who only released one album but were an integral part of the radical feminist ‘riot-grrrl’ movement of the 90s. She met Brownstein while enquiring about the grass-roots feminist network in Olympia after a local show. Brownstein formed her own band, Excuse 17, before becoming Tucker’s short-term lover and forming Sleater-Kinney (naming the band after a nearby road). Their edgy twin-guitar sound was, ironically, picked up by archetypal male rock critics Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau, bringing the band to the attention of an American music press still championing the ‘riot-grrrl’ movement. Having established themselves as an explosive live act, the band recorded two albums (with drummers Lora McFarlane (b. Scotland) and Toni Gogin) that explored the struggle of women to establish their identity in a male-dominated culture. They then gained a certain notoriety for a series of tempestuous performances in support of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. At one set in Portland, Brownstein kicked a microphone stand into the face of a persistent heckler, while at another performance Tucker issued the following, much-quoted agenda-setting remark: ‘We just want to say that we’re not here to fuck the band. We are the band.’

The band’s highly praised Kill Rock Stars debut, Dig Me Out, was recorded with new drummer Janet Weiss (b. 24 September 1965, Hollywood, California, USA). Maintaining the raw emotional range of its predecessor and the core duo’s ferocious vocal style, these trademarks were now allied to greater musical complexity in a wholly engaging marriage of pop and punk. Less overtly preachy, the album was a highly personal expression of female desire and frustration that cemented the band’s progress. 1999’s The Hot Rock was a proficient but unremarkable set that lacked some of the raw charm of their earlier work. The trio bounced back to form with the following year’s All Hands On The Bad One, their most assured and melodic effort to date. Following one further long-player for Kill Rock Stars, the trio relocated to Sub Pop Records for 2005’s The Woods. Despite the album being a critical and commercial success, Sleater-Kinney opted to call it a day the following year.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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