(This week’s answers provided by Carrie)
Q: I know that over the years (including before s-k) that you’ve worked with a number of people during recording. it seems you have the best relationship with john goodmanson considering all of the albums you’ve done with him. what is it for you that can make or break studio time with someone? is it sharing the same vision? is it them having brilliant ideas of where to take the song? is it something as simple as just getting along really well? all of the above?
A: I think for us it boils down to a level of comfort. John came out of the Northwest music scene: He went to college in Olympia, had a radio show on KAOS, played in local bands, and practiced some of his earliest recording techniques on Bikini Kill and Unwound, both of whom were label mates of ours. Just as we have gotten better at our jobs, so has he. He goes off and works with big name producers and does his own production work on albums of many different genres. As a result, he has learned much over the years and every time we meet up with him he has new ideas. He is more interested in making a Sleater-Kinney record than making a John Goodmanson record, meaning he doesn’t need to leave his imprint. At this point, I think we all feel the need to challenge ourselves with each record; to push it to another level, to try things that we haven’t tried before, and to take risks. We feel most comfortable doing that with John because he has been with us from the beginning. Another advantage of working with someone who knows you really well is that they know when you can do something better. He knows immediately whether we should try another take of a song or, conversely, when we have captured it.
Q: Do you like new Zealand? will you come back, and if you do, will you play in the south island? do you like any new Zealand bands, if so, which ones?
A: We loved New Zealand. The fall of 2002 was our first and only time there. I was in awe of how beautiful everything was and yet everyone kept telling me that we weren’t even on the more splendid of the two islands. The people there were incredibly friendly. We want to go back to NZ and Australia once we release a new album and, if we do, I hope we can tour in more cities than just Auckland. The New Zealand bands I love are: The Verlaines, The Chills, The Clean, The Tall Dwarves (Chris Knox), The Sneaky Feelings, and Look Blue Go Purple.
Q: I was just wondering what your favorite song(s) is/are to play live, and if there are any you don’t like to play live.
A: My favorite songs to play are always the newest ones. Occasionally, either myself, or Janet and Corin, get sick of old songs and we’ll take them out of the rotation for a while and then put them back in once they feel fresh again. We try not to play any songs that we are tired of. The ones that tend to rotate in and out are the earlier ones (off of Dig Me Out or Call the Doctor) that we have played over and over again for many years.
Q: What was the longest you ever waited outside a concert to be up front?
A: I waited seven hours in 1985 to see Madonna’s Virgin Tour. She kicked off the entire tour in Seattle and played three shows there. I went the first night. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the event. The local news was there, interviewing girls with lace gloves and photographing the endless lines. The Beastie Boys opened and were booed off stage almost immediately. It was before “Licensed to Ill” and no one there had heard of them. I also waited about five hours to see the B-52’s on their Cosmic Thing tour. I think this was in 1990. My best friend and I ran to the front of the stage when the doors were opened and spent the next couple of hours pressed up against the barrier fighting to hold onto our spot. We went home with large bruises on our ribs. It was worth it though.
Q: Do you think that band members need to be friends in order for a band to be successful? Or can they maintain a more business-like relationship and still thrive?
A: I think it helps but it certainly isn’t crucial for success. There are more than enough band biographies that provide gory details of intra-band fighting and cattiness; siblings that hate one another, stealing someone’s girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. Yet these bands continued on for years, or at least until the bitter end. For us, however, maintaining a friendship with one another is very important to the longevity of this band. Playing live is one of our favorite aspects and part of the energy that is created on stage stems from the way we are able to communicate and share a musical discourse. If we weren’t talking off stage, I think some of this energy would dissipate. I don’t think we would want to continue if our relationship to one another was merely perfunctory. There has to be something that is alive and breathing between the three of us, especially if we want our music to have a vitality.