The Corin Tucker Band (John Clark / Kill Rock Stars )
Corin Tucker isn't joking when she describes her new album as a dance record. Six years removed from her days as a co-anchor of Sleater-Kinney, one of the defining bands of the Pacific Northwest's riot grrrl movement, Tucker speaks today of having rediscovered her love of rock 'n' roll.
It's landed her, she says, on a rather "groovy planet."
The recently released "Kill My Blues," the second album with her Corin Tucker Band, does away with the more atmospheric, singer-songwriter leanings of 2010's "1,000 Years." Sonically, the new work is the sound of a band brimming with joy.
Over the course of 12 tracks, "Kill My Blues" jets from the disco-rock excitement that is the grand finale of "Neskowin" to the outlandish psychedelic keyboards of "Constance." The band finds plenty of space to cut loose in between, and a two-minute garage-rock raver such as "No Bad News Tonight" feels like a mission statement.
"The album is about getting through all you have to get through in your life and finding this really fun groovy surprise at the end of it all," Tucker says. "That's one thing about getting older. If you can get through the hard stuff -- work through your friendships and relationships -- there's some really good stuff that happens."
Tucker, in the midst of a tour that will bring the band to the Echo on Tuesday, says the band didn't fully click until it was on the road in support of "1,000 Years." The group bonded, Tucker says, while tackling covers such as Shelia E.'s "The Glamorous Life."
Dipping into a little funk and soul served two purposes. It took Tucker out of her comfort zone, and it showed her the musical possibilities of her new bandmates. After having been in Sleater-Kinney for more than a decade, Tucker was essentially starting back at square one with new peers Seth Lorinczi (guitar), Sara Lund (drums) and Mike Clark (bass).
"When you're in a band that long, it becomes your community," Tucker says. "It becomes your identity. It was hard for me to figure all that out again. It was hard for me to figure out how to collaborate with people who have a really different style. They're just different musicians. But one of the good things about getting older is being open to different possibilities and being flexible."
"Kill My Blues" doesn't shy away from matters of aging, either. While "Neskowin" sees Tucker, who turns 40 in a few weeks, looking back on one of her teenage experiences, "None Like You" deals with having to say goodbye to an older loved one. The song begins with a keyboard eulogy, but builds into something far more cosmic, with celebratory "ba-ba-ba's" finding a balance with weighty, bluesy riffs.
"I don't know if 'centered' is the right word, but this album is about being able to feel good about all the good things and all the bad things that have happened in your life," Tucker says. "They're all you. This record is looking back at different life experiences I've had and almost celebrating them and coming to terms with them."
That's not to say "Kill My Blues" is all one big rock 'n' roll party. It wasn't long before a conversation with Tucker, who was speaking in mid-September as her band was making its way to Atlanta, turned toward this year's election cycle.
As a music community that includes Madonna and Paul McCartney rallies around jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot, Tucker's "Kill My Blues" sounds an alarm that rings closer to home. Opening track "Groundhog Day" sees Tucker in a state of shock. "I thought we had a plan," she shouts in the first verse, looking on in horror at a Congress that's been debating women's reproductive rights.
"The song is meant to be a heads-up," Tucker says. "We're still talking about reproductive freedom. A law student calmly argues that birth control should be covered under an insurance policy, and that causes outrage. That is unacceptable.
"A woman's sexuality is still seen as this threatening thing," she continues. "It's abnormal for women to have sex and not want to get pregnant? What the what? It's outrageous to me that this country is struggling with this."
Social consciousness has been one constant in Tucker's career, regardless of the project. Artists, she says, have a responsibility, if not to write topical songs, to at least encourage fans to be aware of what is happening around them.
"I don't want to chastise anyone for not writing more progressive songs," she says. "There's a lot of different ways for progressive ideas to come up. It doesn't need to be an angry song. To me, that’s what comes natural. ‘Hey, this is bothering me!’ But that may not be another person's cup of tea. But I do think musicians should be encouraging people to vote."
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