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The Sleater-Kinney Interview

This chick band says the last year in rock has been ugly for women.
by Amy Schroeder

One day, back when rockers Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein were living in Olympia, Wash., there was a flood. Carrie was trapped in the rising water and couldn't get to band practice because the roads were closed.

So the women decided to name their band after that crucial freeway off-ramp near their practice space, and started calling themselves Sleater-Kinney.

This week, Sleater-Kinney returns to Olympia to play Ladyfest 2000. Corin Tucker talked to ChickClick about the changes she's seen for women in rock since her band first got going.

How do you think music making has changed for women? Is music in a good place for women now?

Corin Tucker: 1999 saw a lot of ugly changes in rock, particularly a backlash against the success that women have had in mainstream rock. For example: the rapes and sexual assault that happened at Woodstock, along with signs from the audience like "show me your tits," or the popularity of bands like Insane Clown Posse or Limp Bizkit that have misogynist lyrics.

In a way, I see it as a more blatant power struggle for recognition within the capitalist corporate world. With the massive success of Lilith Fair, Alanis Morrisette and the Spice Girls, no one can dispute the selling power of female rock acts, but some people are not happy about it.

What particular examples can you think of that have inspired you to make your music?

I think seeing live music as a teenager really made music seem accessible to me, and seeing other women perform at punk rock shows made me feel like I could do that. Seeing Northwest bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Beat Happening and Mecca Normal was very inspiring.

What other changes do you foresee for women in rock in the future?

I think that the power of women organizing their own shows and festivals will be the new wave for women in rock. Riot grrls organized all-girl shows and events at the beginning of the '90s, and Lilith Fair was one of the most successful concerts ever.

Now some of the riot grrrls have become riot ladies and have organized Ladyfest 2000. There will be bands, visual arts, panels, workshops, etc. I think it's going to be spectacular. We are trying to make it a grassroots, non-profit organization.

Amy Schroeder lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and publishes a women-in-music zine called Venus.