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Sleater-Kinney Week – Day 3: Excerpt from Chapter 2: Eight Days in Seattle

TO CELEBRATE THE RECENT RELEASE OF OUR 33 1/3 ON  DIG ME OUT, WE’RE PLEASED TO BRING YOU THE THIRD INSTALLMENT OF SLEATER-KINNEY WEEK BY AUTHOR JOVANA BABOVIC!

Since forming in 1994, Sleater-Kinney had cycled through three percussionists. Their self-titled debut was recorded in Australia with Laura MacFarlane. Although they “really clicked” with MacFarlane, they soon realized that “it just became unrealistic to play in a band with someone who lives across the world.”[1] Misty Farrell and Toni Gogin both took turns as drummers around the time of their next record, Call the Doctor, but neither could commit to the band in the long term. During the summer of 1996, Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein started looking for yet another replacement. Brownstein pasted a hand-made collage poster around Olympia that advertised: “Drummer Wanted: Preferably Female, For Rock n’ Roll Band. We like the Buzzcocks.” Tucker took a more targeted approach and reached out to local drummers she liked. After playing a show in Portland with the band Jr. High, Tucker was so impressed with their drummer Janet Weiss that she procured her phone number and invited her to a Sleater-Kinney practice.

By all accounts, there was an instant connection between Weiss and the band. “Meeting Janet was the best thing that could have happened to us,” Tucker claimed almost twenty years later. “She showed up and knew all of our songs from Call the Doctor, plus she had such a great presence.” [2] Weiss remembered that their first meeting was “a let’s-see-what-happens situation.”[3] “When Corin called me and invited me to play with them,” she recalled, “the first song they played for me was ‘Dig Me Out.’ It was a finished song and I had to find myself in it. Their songs were so immediate – they sounded so new and fresh to me – that I had a lot of ideas right off the bat.”[4] Tucker and Brownstein were eager to hear their new drummer’s ideas, welcoming the “slightly poppier sound” that Weiss contributed to Sleater-Kinney. “They were very advanced as far as their songwriting and the way they would complete each other’s ideas and how they put songs together,” Weiss explained. “They needed someone older with more experience. I had been playing a lot, very regularly, and I practiced a lot – I was into it. It wasn’t something I wasn’t sure about. I knew, and I think we all knew from the first practice, that this was worth exploring.”[5] Although they couldn’t have known that the collaboration would last for decades to come, all three were certain that Weiss brought cohesion to Sleater-Kinney.

 

  1. Amy Ra Nea Wilson, “Sleater-Kinney: Riot Grrrl Grows Up,” Rockrgrl, July/August 1996, 12.
  2. Corin Tucker, Interview with the author, August 21, 2014.
  3. Barbara Arnett, “Totally Janet Weiss,” Rockrgrl, September/October 1998, 20.
  4. Janet Weiss, Interview with the author, October 23, 2014.
  5. Janet Weiss, Interview with the author, October 23, 2014.

 

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