In an era where just about every alternative-rock band from the '90s has been reuniting, Sleater-Kinney somehow managed to catch people off guard earlier this year when it returned with its first album in a decade. It wasn't only that the band was back. It was that the album, "No Cities to Love," was one of the year's best -- urgent, powerful and the equal of anything in the group's catalog.
Today, Sleater-Kinney is more popular than it ever was, in part because many new fans discovered the trio as a result of co-founder Carrie Brownstein's star turn in the TV show "Portlandia." Brownstein also has a new memoir out, entitled "Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl." Meanwhile, the band is wrapping up a year of touring with five shows in New York, playing smaller venues each night.
amNewYork spoke with Brownstein.
How long did it take to develop a vision for what Sleater-Kinney would be like in 2015?
The only vision we had was that we wanted to write a good record that did nothing to tarnish our legacy, that stood up to our other albums, that felt like a step forward and that had the energy and enthusiasm and innovation of a first record. We never committed to the release of the album until we felt certain we had achieved those things.
Now that you've been on the road for nearly a year, what has been the most surprising thing?
The most rewarding thing, which I suppose in some ways was unexpected, was that there were a lot of people who discovered us with "No Cities to Love." That was very rewarding because it gives everyone a sense of relevance that you're not just looking through the lens of nostalgia or sentimentality. There are people for whom what you're doing right now is really the only way they know you or assess you. Those shows were numerous and very invigorating for us, the ones where the new songs carry just as much weight as the older ones. That's how we perform them and that's how we perceive them, but you don't know where the audience is at in terms of their connection to the band.
Are you writing new songs together? Have you thought at all about the next Sleater-Kinney album?
We're going to finish up these winter shows, and we have a tour in Australia in early 2016, then after that I think we will start to think about writing another record. I feel like there is more to tell or to say for this band, but we won't really work on it until next year.
You're seen as role models by a lot of people and seem to take that responsibility very seriously. How important is that to you?
I don't think we set out to be role models. I think that we try to make good records and we try to perform galvanizing and exciting shows. The byproduct of people looking up to us or considering us role models, I think we take seriously. … The main thing is we're very flattered and grateful our music connects with people, and we always try to write honestly and urgently. The fact that people feel a sense of ownership over it, the fact that people have a sense that our music helps explain something ineffable is really rewarding for us.
If you go:
Sleater-Kinney is performing all around New York City. Sat., Kings Theatre; Sun., Terminal 5; Dec. 14, Irving Plaza; Dec. 15, Music Hall of Williamsburg; Dec. 16, Market Hotel. $25-$37.50