Singer and guitarist Corin Tucker can still wail like a banshee onstage.
Tucker inspired a generation of young women with her Olympia, Wash.-based trio, Sleater-Kinney. The highly acclaimed riot grrrl band went on hiatus in 2006. Tucker married filmmaker Lance Bangs, director of MTV’s “Jackass” and founder of the Flicker Film Festival. They’ve been raising two kids in Portland who likely have a good chance of growing up to be hipsters.
You may have seen Tucker make cameos on the IFC hit “Portlandia.” Her original bandmates, guitarist Carrie Brownstein (star of “Portlandia”) and drummer Janet Weiss are now active in the band, Wild Flag. They’re all still friends, and a reunion isn’t out of the cards.
But after a well-received, introspective solo album two years ago, the 39-year-old Tucker is ready to cut loose again with her solo group, the Corin Tucker Band, featuring members of Unwound, Circus Lupus, and Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks.
They’re touring in support of “Kill My Blues” (Kill Rock Stars) a solid new album of melodic, pop-inflected hooks that sounds as vital as anything Sleater-Kinney ever did. Tucker’s confident vocal delivery is still captivating, shifting from a coo to a caterwaul with ease. Catchy new numbers like “No Bad News Tonight” and “Joey” already sound like great additions to her catalogue.
Tucker spoke briefly with Style while she was doing the dishes at home.
Style: You know Pat Benatar got her start here in Richmond.
Corin Tucker: Really! I did not know that. Sweet… yeah, Sleater-Kinney has played there before.
So it’s been a while.
What is most different for you this time out with this band?
I think that we kind of clicked as a band from the last tour. We’re really enjoying playing together and having fun with the songs. We’re trying different things, you know? There’s [a] disco, ’80s, late-’79 thing happening on some songs. It’s really fun.
So more people should be dancing.
Yeah. That’s our plan. We have a fitness goal to attend to.
From the beginning of your career, your vocals had so much confidence. What originally inspired you to get onstage?
I think being part of that Olympia scene when I was so young. There were so many people that encouraged me to write and record music right away. There was a lot of really great people, especially the women of Bikini Kill. Kathleen [Hanna] was a hero of mine and was really encouraging. Bratmobile, Calvin Johnson. I was just incredibly lucky. I was this young kid in this music scene where everyone was like, “Oh, let’s put out a record!”
Is there an ideal balance you’re looking for today in your life today between your kids, touring, recording, etc.?
Ha. Ha. It’s just so funny, you talk about balance. I had a friend tell me the other day: “Balance? There’s no such thing as balance!” You have to stay in the moment, and enjoy what you have at that moment. A year later things will be different. That’s the thing with raising a family, you spend all this time with little kids raising them. Then when they get older, they don’t need you anymore. You’re like: Wait a minute, I put all this investment and you’re leaving?
Are your kids over it? How do they react to your singing?
Well my son is 11 now. He understands I really love playing music. He’s supportive, much more OK with me going out on tour now then he was when he was little, so that’s nice.
It must be weird going on the road at the start of a huge political season.
It’s impossible to ignore it. It’s just crazy to me the agenda the Republicans have: an amendment to [the] Constitution to outlaw all abortions? Seems bizarre that’s the political climate in 2012. So I feel that it’s important to keep talking about these social issues. They’re important to me, they’re important to women. We can’t keep silent and expect things to change.
How do you hope to inspire younger fans who may be turned off by politics because change is so slow, when it does come at all?
Yeah. But I honestly didn’t think we would ever have a black president in my lifetime. You know that was amazing! It was an amazing thing. Think about all the people who worked to change race relations. So many people gave their lives over hundreds of years to change things. I’m here being able to witness that power change happen. But it does take time to change things. Your voice definitely does matter. So I just want to remind people to vote.
Musically, is there anything left for you to prove?
For me, it’s about doing what I love to do, what makes me happy. That’s the whole idea behind “Kill My Blues”: finding what you love to do in life, and doing it for the short amount of time that we’re actually here. Acknowledging that. … I’m really looking forward to being able to play some shows, do a bunch of gigs with this album. It’s got a lot of dance stuff in it. It will be a good time for everybody. In Portland, I have a lot of neighbors, friends and family show up [to concerts]. But I’m excited to see what the rest of the country will be like. … Bring your disco shoes!
I have to ask: Will Sleater-Kinney ever get back together? And if they do will it be the whole shebang, new music and tour?
We’re on hiatus, we’re off doing other things. But I don’t know. Just enjoying these things right now.