The clock is ticking for Corin Tucker. Her 9-year-old son Marshall’s piano lesson is just wrapping up, and she only has 10 minutes to spare. “This is my only time to talk,” she laughs.
Fortunately, brevity is her strong suit. As frontwoman of the legendary ‘90s Riot Grrrl outfit Sleater-Kinney, Tucker only needed two or three minutes to fire off some fierce elocution. Every verse and chorus on the Portland, Ore., trio’s 1995 self-titled debut played out like fight songs—gritty, fist-pumping anthems that marked the emergence of a new synthesis of feminism and punk.
In summer 2006, the group announced an indefinite hiatus. As Tucker’s longtime songwriting partner Carrie Brownstein began blogging for NPR, Tucker stopped recording entirely. (Not including her voicemail greeting, which she sings to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.”) A resident of Portland, she is now a mother of two, and has released her first solo effort as The Corin Tucker Band: 1,000 Years, from which she will perform tonight at Black Cat.
At the encouragement of the rest of the band—-fellow Portland musicians Seth Lorinczi, Sara Lund, and Julianna Bright—-1,000 Years features another first for Tucker: acoustic tracks. “It was a good challenge for me,” she says. “It’s just really neat to hear my music arranged with these different instruments, and just to pull different things out from my songwriting.”
On “Half a World Away,” she sings wistfully of “the lands, the story, the pictures, your car,” recounting possessions and experiences she’s shared with her oft-traveling husband. The record is no Riot Grrrl revival, but it does grapple with a different facet of feminism—Tucker’s juggling act as a stay-at-home mom, wife, and songwriter. “I really enjoy being a mom and being one to my kids,” she says, “but there is almost a negative association between feminism and motherhood. And that’s really a shame.”
In Sleater-Kinney, Tucker was the group’s spitfire, her scream a rallying cry. Now, she hopes that 1,000 Years’ more subdued moments will be just as resonant. Her tenor has not changed, even if her tone has, and she is still talking about feminism and gender roles quite a bit—now, with Marshall.
“It’s something that’s an important part of my ideals, and important to my kids as well,” she says, before she hangs up to take her son home.
Correction: Corin Tucker lives in Portland, Ore., not Washington State, as the article originally stated. Also, Sleater-Kinney recorded seven albums, not five, and Carrie Brownstein sang the lyric “I know how to scream,” not Tucker.