Riot Grrrl Corin Tucker Talks New Album
These days, Tucker sounds like she’s been through an exorcism. At 37 years old, she’s married with two children, and this has affected her outlook and her music. Her new project, her first since Sleater-Kinney went on an indefinite hiatus in 2006, embodies more of her softer side, though there is still plenty of the riotous anxiety that made her famous in the first place.
The album, “1,000 Years,” which came out Oct. 5 on Kill Rock Stars, has fewer screams and less angst, but it also shows her trying things she never would have done with her other groups.
“I did know that I wanted to do something different creatively than I’d done before,” she says over the phone while doing laundry and taking care of her sick daughter. “I wanted to include some different material and different songs and different instrumentation.”
For one thing, before she formed the Corin Tucker Band, she had never really learned to play acoustic guitar. She laughs when she admits this.
“I have a really nice acoustic that plays a lot more like an electric. It’s pretty easy,” she says.
In Sleater-Kinney, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss helped push Tucker to her limit as a vocalist and guitarist. In the Corin Tucker Band, her fellow musicians push her creatively as well, but in much different ways. Seth Lorinczi of The Golden Bears and Sara Lund of Unwound play bass and drums, respectively. Lorinczi produced the record and influenced some of the most interesting decisions.
“We worked on things kind of slowly and we tinkered with things and kind of expanded each song as we were going along,” Tucker says.
One of the best songs on “1,000 Years” is “Half a World Away,” which begins with a two-note motif on African agogo bells. The instruments reflect the theme of the song, which Tucker wrote about the time during which her husband, the filmmaker Lance Bangs, spent a long time in Africa making the documentary, “The Lazarus Effect.” The track is understated, but effective.
On the other end is “Doubt,” which ought to satisfy any Sleater-Kinney nostalgia. The band strafes the listener with punk rock chords, but then fleetingly interrupts the barrage with sounds of waves on the shore.
It’s clear from the early reviews that there is nostalgia for the old days, but Tucker is not deterred.
“We were looking for something less familiar from me as an artist. But I can sort of understand it. But I’m just hopeful that they’ll open their minds to the record and to trying out different things as well.”
Her voice was the brassiest in a band whose snarling attitude pretty much defined the Riot Grrrl genre in the 90s and early aughts. Her trademark vibrato was a splash of cold water to the face. With the Corin Tucker Band, she sounds more vulnerable, and the songs are more down-to-earth. But even though she’s settled down, she hasn’t lost her drive.
“I think that, with this album, I was trying to do something different, and it was definitely a more personal album,” she says. “I still am definitely a feminist and still have the same beliefs and stuff, but I think I’m at a different place in my life, and I think I’ve probably mellowed out from being a mom and being a little bit older.”
Sure, she’s a middle-aged mom, but how many middle-aged moms can school their kids in punk rock? For her part, Tucker says she gave her 9-year-old son an Operation Ivy CD for his last birthday. That’s a good start.
The Corin Tucker Band plays The El Rey Theater Oct. 13 with special guests The Golden Bears.
Reach reporter Ryan Faughnder here.
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