For Sleater-Kinney singer/guitarist/writer Corin Tucker, the last two whirlwind years as both critics' darlings and tireless road
warriors were as unexpected as they were -- as she puts it -- "overwhelming."
"It was really just so, um, overwhelming how much people responded to the album [1997's Dig Me Out] and how
much they wanted to hear us and how it took off," said Tucker, who, along with bandmates guitarist Carrie Brownstein and
drummer Janet Weiss, just returned from a 25-date European tour.
The punk trio are preparing to record their fourth album, which Tucker said they'd be sitting
down to write over the next three months. "I can't really write on the road," 25-year-old Tucker said. "I forget what I write
five minutes later, so unless I have a tape recorder with me, it's gone. We can write songs fast when we're all together."
Sleater-Kinney are one of the most important bands to have emerged during the late '90s. They made the cover of the Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop poll pull-out section earlier this year; critics voted their raw, brilliant 1996 album
Call the Doctor one of the top three albums of '96.
The new songs, three of which the band debuted on their European tour, "sound familiar to fans of the other records,"
Tucker said, but added that she also hopes there will be a new twist on the next album. "We'll hopefully expand and have more time to write longer, more instrumental songs [for it]."
Insisting the trio is
"just a rock band," though, Tucker said chances are the new songs will come out "real spontaneously." Until Sleater Kinney
get in the studio, she explained, she didn't think the band would "try to be real arty."
Though everyone from critic Greil Marcus to Rolling Stone writers have praised the band's edgy sound and in-your-face lyrics, Slim Moon, owner of Kill Rock Stars, the label that released Sleater-Kinney's most recent albums, said he thinks the group deserves even more acclaim. While noting that he too was "surprised, in a certain way," by the critical
kudos heaped on the band, he said he saw two ways to look at it. "When a band gets critical acclaim especially, it's like a
landslide," Moon said. "But if you compare [Tucker's previous band] Heavens to Betsy to Sleater, I always thought Corin was
a great songwriter and I don't think the degree to which Heavens was ignored by the press and to which Sleater was raved
about in every media outlet is commensurate with how much better her songwriting got."
Moon's heard a few of the new songs, one of which was sung by Brownstein, he said, adding that the last he knew the band
was shooting for a mid-1998 release for the next album.
The European tour found Sleater-Kinney headlining or co-headlining shows in England, France, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland, Holland and Scotland with fellow trios Bis and Helium. Tucker said it really helped them
establish a burgeoning audience in Europe, where word of mouth is still growing. "Some people were familiar with us in
England and France and Germany," Tucker said. "But it's definitely a totally different thing. A lot of people there have no access to our records. So we were trying to go over and introduce ourselves to them."
One of the most striking cultural differences, Tucker said, was how European audiences responded to the band's blitzkrieg
punk attack. "A lot of times they'd be real reserved while we were playing, then they'd go crazy when we were done,"
Tucker said. "So we'd have to play really insane, embarrassing double encores."
Although Tucker wouldn't name the three
new songs the band is working on, she did say that her bandmates are currently both busy recording and touring with their side projects.
"Janet's working on another record with her other band, Quasi, and Carrie is about to do a West Coast tour with her band
Lois, so we'll get back to work when they're done with that," she said. [Wed., Nov. 19, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]