Weiss: No, it doesn't ever get that urgent.
Tucker: We're all different, but I don't think we're that different. I think that, in terms of music and what we really care about, we wouldn't have made it this far if we didn't all really care about playing music and playing it live and writing really good songs. For all of us, that's our true love and we all share that in common and all respect each other a lot. So that keeps us together.
Addicted To Noise: Is there a particular song on this album that, when you first started playing it, you went, 'Wow!' ?
Brownstein: "All Hands on the Bad One" was a song where I wanted us all to sing on the chorus. So I wrote the music and asked Corin to sing on the chorus. I said, 'Sing something we can all sing over.' So she started singing, "All Hands on the Bad One/ We would be no better." And then me and Janet sang. And then I was like, 'I have a really cheesy idea: Let's stop in the middle.' And it's rare that we go for something like that, and we tried it. It was sort of magical and sonically all you could hear was our vocals, which was kind of all-consuming.
That was sort of a springboard in terms of thinking about melody and harmony on the record, because we had done a little bit of Janet doing harmonies on The Hot Rock, but we hadn't really used the power of all three of our voices before. Especially in sort of a droning repetitive phrase that just felt sort of eerie and also empowering at the same time. So I think we felt like we had a lot more open to us after that song in terms of what we could use in terms of our talents, between the three of us. It just seemed wide-open.
Addicted To Noise: From album to album, it seems to be this evolving kind of thing where you keep finding new things that you can now do that you didn't know you could do before.
Brownstein: Yeah, we definitely don't feel tapped out. I think we continually find inspiration outside of ourselves and from one another. And I think that's really important to be able to be inspired by the people that you work with. So that continually happens and that's continually renewed. We don't have this sense of like, 'Oh, we can make any kind of record.' I don't want to make a jazz record with Sleater-Kinney. We set boundaries. [laughs]
Weiss: We could get jazzy, though [laughing].
Brownstein: Yeah, we could get jazzy. When you really utilize all three people instead of counting on one person to do something, obviously it works exponentially, so it happens like that.
Addicted To Noise: Why did you choose that song to become the title track?
Brownstein: Well, we tend to name our albums after a song, always. We didn't want to stray from the norm. It seems the only title that works well, in terms of describing the sentiment of the record.
It's a song that has to do with your relationship to evil and your relationship to the hypocrisy of forcing a morality on someone else when you yourself are no better. As a character study, I find that the notion of 'the bad one' is an interesting one: Who is the bad one? The person labeling themselves or us for thinking that 'the bad one' even exists in the first place?
I think that relates to a lot of songs on the album. "Ballad of the Ladyman," for instance who is 'the ladyman'? Is the person that wants to be on the radio, 'the bad one,' or is it the fans assuming that they [the artist] want to be on the radio are they 'the bad one'? Or is "The Professional," the ominous professional figure, 'the bad one'? I think all these songs can go into that machine of 'the bad one' and that mentality and then be spit out in a bunch of different scenarios. So that's why I think it works as the title.
Addicted To Noise: If I have this right, one of the things you wanted to address was that it's not black and white. It's not like this person is right because they follow this particular approach to life.
Tucker: That song is kind of about embracing 'the bad one' inside you or evil, the whole idea of your worst impulses and looking at them and saying, 'Well, what can I do with those?' And instead of banishing them, saying, 'Well, how can I channel those?' I mean, that sounds really new agey, I know. But I think that when you're a writer and you're trying to think about characters, I think that definitely you can call upon 'the bad one' many times. And sometimes 'the bad one' is what will get you through a certain experience. It sort of relates to anger and how that can be used positively.
Addicted To Noise: Can you be more specific or give an example?
Tucker: [laughs] I think that having a sense of humor about something. Like "Ballad of the Ladyman," it's like you feel so used sometimes as an entertainer. Like people are just using you up. For, like, a wind-up toy of what they think they can get from you. You really have this impulse to turn on your audience and kind of mess with them. And I think you can recognize that, play with it and have a sense of humor about it, but not necessarily become that negative or that bitter about anything. It's like you have to address that feeling, you have to address that feeling of negativity that the rock industry has 'cause it's a really negative place sometimes, but if you look it in the face and address it and maybe write about it, then you've dealt with it. Rather than pretending it's not there and becoming bitter, which I think a lot of people do.
Addicted To Noise: Do you sometimes feel a little constrained by the expectations of fans? As though they're putting you in a particular box, and you're like, 'No, that's not who we are'?
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