Emerging from the early 1990s music scene in the American Northwest, Corin Tucker has been a prominent figure among female musicians since co-founding influential Riot Grrrl band Heavens to Betsy. Perhaps most recognized for her work as lead vocalist and guitarist for the band Sleater-Kinney, Tucker’s made a name for herself with her instantly recognizable, powerful vocal delivery.
In anticipation of the Sept. 18 release of her group’s latest record, Kill My Blues, we caught up with Tucker to hear her take on the new album and what direction she sees her music taking in the future.
Do you enjoy being the central focus with the Corin Tucker Band as opposed to your earlier groups?
Corin: Yeah, I think that it’s definitely a different feel as a group, and it is really enjoyable. It’s fun to try different things over the years as an artist and it’s nice to play with different people. And I think that this record is more collaborative than the last one and it really highlights different people on it.
You mentioned that this record was a collaborative process, is that something that you have done in the past? Is that what you prefer?
Corin: I think that it is probably the way that I work best is to collaborate with other people and I really enjoy working that way, I really like taking an idea and kind of letting it develop and bringing in different things to it, like a rhythm part or different percussion or different instruments and taking the base of an idea and teasing it out into a full song is something I really enjoy.
Do you have any musical acts that you consider as an influence in your own songwriting that people may be surprised to find out about?
Corin: Well, I think that there was a lot of college-rock in the 80s that I listened to like R.E.M. and the Pixies. Those bands were really big when I was 15 and 16 and there was a lot of non-traditional songwriting that had a really big influence on me.
To what degree do you consider audience expectations or desires when in the creative process?
Corin: I think that when we toured with our last record in 2010 we really noticed that a lot of the people who came out to the shows really wanted to dance to our songs, even though some of them were acoustic or ballads, people would dance right through some of the slower numbers. And it struck me that some people would really enjoy more of a dance record, and so that’s something that we really tried to get with this record. It’s definitely a lot more dance-y and kind of upbeat. Even though some of the subject matter is sad it is still very much a rock record.
In regards to your last album I read that you referred to it as sort of a “middle-aged Mom record” or something you something you wouldn’t have necessarily written in your earlier days. With this new record is that something you’re building on?
Corin: I think it’s another direction entirely. I think I feel really confident about the band and the songs that we collaborated on and so I think that there’s kind of like a non-traditional rock ‘n’ roll sound to this album that’s kind of drawn on the music that the four of us really like. Whether it’s going to be ‘80s or ‘90s, there’s a little bit of guitar rock that could be seen as coming from any of those eras in this record.
Is there a particular track or even a specific moment on the new record that you are especially excited about?
Corin: Well, there is a really nice guitar break in Joey that’s really fun to do and I’m really excited to do it live. We haven’t done it very much but it’s going to be a little bit different each night so that’s something that will be really fun to take out on the road.
In the past, you’ve had the opportunity to perform alongside Eddie Vedder and you’ve cited him as a major influence on your own work, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what you took away from working with him?
Corin: Eddie Vedder has been just such a great person to work with over the years. We’ve collaborated a lot and he is a really open person to work with. He is just really open to any of my ideas and he is willing to try a bunch of different things and I guess that was what made it such a real joy to work with him. To see how he approaches a song and how he looks at things and how willing he is to change things and lets things evolve naturally was just a really cool thing to witness.
Do you think a younger version of yourself would be surprised to see where you are now as a musician?
Corin: (laughs) It’s hard to describe. I don’t think that I would have predicted myself still playing music twenty years later, but you know I think that when you find something you really love to do and you’re lucky enough to get to do it that you have to seize every opportunity you get to do it.
In regards to writing and creating a record, has your motivation changed at all over the years?
Corin: I don’t think so, I think it’s still about writing a good record that affects people. I think that it’s important to take risks when you’re writing and there definitely needs to be an emotional connection when making a song. For me, the underlying reason behind playing music has always been that it allows me to connect with the world in a way that I don’t think I would otherwise.