From the Archive: Take Five With Sleater-Kinney

Sleater_kinney_2Sleater-Kinney's busting up. I'm not sad about it, because while it was my inclination to write that this was sad news, I think there are much more urgent things to be sad about, should one be inclined to be sad. (One is not, for the record, looking for things to be sad about. That's just masochistic.)

I would like to go on record as one of the band's trillion once-obsessed fans. The tracks "Dig Me Out" and "Call the Doctor" on repeat took me through more than one dark night of the s oul. Seeing them play live was divine. I actually bought a SK t-shirt at their Irving Plaza show in 2000 even though I do not buy band t-shirts, having learned my lesson after spending a mint on several hideous and cheap knee-length crapster-tees in high school, including Erasure, Squeeze, The Cure and a red-and-green Sting number (I went to a Sting concert?) that had a giant airbrushed Sting-head surrounded by what I can only remember as a the-holly-and-the-ivy Christmas motif. Criminal. The only t-shirt I bought that I wish I still had is the black "Death to the Pixies" shirt with Frank Black depicted as a baby all curled in fetal position. I made two friends in college simply by wearing that shirt. It attracted the right element. Maybe I can find it on eBay. Maybe I have banned myself from eBay because every time I get on there I end up with some shitty "vintage" glass tumblers that are sitting collecting dust in the cabinet, like so many hideous Sting-head tees. (Update.)

Revenons à nos moutons.
A million years ago when "All Hands on the Bad One" came out, I interviewed Sleater-Kinney for my dearly departed Girls On. I took photos of them and giggled like a Japanese Prime Minister at Graceland and asked them a bunch of generic questions that they chose from a pack of cards that I'd put together for the purpose of conducting fast Proust-questionnaire-style celebrity interviews:

Takes Five With...Sleater Kinney
Five Minutes. Five Questions. Make it snappy.

by Melissa Kirsch
August 2000
What's the last book you read that really floored you?

Corin: Right now I'm reading Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. I had such a liberal arts education that I never read some of the classics. It's really great for me to go back now when I have time to read things that have really influenced literature. It's such a really interesting, fascinating portrait of people and how they work with each other. 

Who are your heroes, both living and dead?  Who do you most admire?

Carrie: Some authors I admire for their philosophical approaches: James Baldwin—he was really involved in the Civil Rights movement and wrote a lot of great books like Go Tell It on the Mountain or Notes of a Native Son. I think that NPR had an archival interview with him. He was a really incredible man for not only having really strong convictions and really doing a lot in terms of issues of race in our country, but also issues, like queer rights. He was a really powerful speaker in a really metaphorical and complex way. I always go back to him, every couple months, as someone to be inspired by.

Presidential debates, genetically-engineered tomatoes, high school violence? What current event has got your attention?

Corin: Ladyfest is being organized for Olympia, Washington August 1-6. It highlights women's bands, music, politics, art, film. A friend of mine who was involved in the original Riot Grrl stuff organized it after we were interviewed together for a historical piece for Riot Grrl. The women who are involved with that now are ten years older than they were, and we were just talking about how we really should do something, all of us here together. So my friend got the people together, got the ball rolling, getting all these bands together, getting all these people coming out. We're having women doing all the organzing—it's all women-run and open to everyone. The proceeds are going to non-profit organizations, mostly.

You’re 85 years old. Where are you living? Are you still working in the same industry? What’s your ideal scenario?

I'll probably still be living in Portland, and maybe I'll be playing the accordion with old folks…I imagine I'll be playing music of some sort, but I hope to have a much calmer lifestyle by then. This is a difficult lifestyle to sustain for 45 years, but I think music will always be a part of my life.

What would you tell women in their 20s who have read every interview with you in other magazines, adore your work, and want to know something about you that no interviewers have ever asked?

Carrie: I think sometimes, people ask this but then have a hard time relaying it. I think the complexity of us as people. In journalism, what the audience requires is a really succinct description of people or a really easy category to put them in. We always try to come across as anybody would, which is as someone with contradictions, who makes mistakes, and goes forward and goes backwards, and has a life that isn't just linear. Things come around—it's kind of more cyclical. Us as people—we're three individuals who make up a band. We each have complexities and contradictions that don't come across when people are trying to pigeonhole us.

What's a project you'€™d love to work on but haven't had the chance?

Janet: This is really the only project I want to be doing. I think we all have a lot of choices open, but we choose to do this.