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Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker rocks on

By Quinn Brown, CNN
Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney has a new solo album out.
Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney has a new solo album out.
  • Corin Tucker was a member of the all-female punk trio Sleater-Kinney
  • Tucker has gone solo with the new album "1,000 Years"
  • She says she juggles being an artist with life as a wife and mother

Los Angeles (CNN) -- The marketing machine is not at the forefront of Corin Tucker's mind.

At least, not in the moment where she exclaimed to an interviewer earlier this year that her new record would be middle-aged mom indie rock. "I was feeling kind of snotty about people's expectations of me and the record," she said. "I don't know if it was insecurity or just me being bratty."

It is a reasonable reaction from the singer/songwriter of one of the most influential bands in the last two decades, Sleater-Kinney, the all-female punk power trio that Time magazine's Griel Marcus once called America's best rock band. -- the same band that went on indefinite hiatus in 2006.

For four years fans, friends, and critics have been asking Tucker when she would get back in the game. But the musician from Portland, Oregon, had other priorities. "Kill Rock Stars [Tucker's record label] said 'We would really love to work with you," Tucker said. "But I countered saying that I could not do the kind of touring I did with Sleater-Kinney because I have two kids."

Tucker then played a couple of benefit shows, showcased some new songs, and got some encouragement from Steve Earle and the Golden Bears' Seth Lorinczi. Lorinczi turned out to be the pivotal factor -- he would go on to produce Tucker's album. "I feel super fortunate to even play with Seth and to have him say yes to my production ideas, because I had specific requests in order for me to make a record," Tucker said of Lorinczi, who also has a young daughter and was amenable to Tucker's request for reasonable work hours.

The result is "1,000 Years," an album of distance and departure, but also focus and force. Many of its songs were written while her husband, filmmaker Lance Bangs, was working overseas, and some speak to the longing from lost love.

And Tucker still has that voice. Think Pretenders if they were fronted by a banshee instead of Chrissy Hynde; middle-aged mom rock never sounded so good.

CNN sat down with Corin Tucker before a recent show in Los Angeles to discuss going solo, the role of her family in her career and juggling motherhood with being a rocker.

CNN: Did it surprise you that some of the articles say you have softened your approach, or do you think that's fair?

Corin Tucker: Well I do feel like there is some quieter acoustic stuff, but I don't think it lacks a punch. I feel like instead it just kind of waits until the exact right moment.

CNN: What was the impetus to finally record a solo record and how important was Seth in that process?

Tucker: I ended up playing a benefit [with Seth] and we started talking and I really loved the record that he recorded for the Golden Bears.

He did the whole thing at his house, and he has a daughter that's close to the same age as my daughter, so I started working with him and said, "Hey, what if we did this recording at your house and it was during the day and we kept it really mellow and at reasonable hours and everything?" He was like, "OK, we'll see."

Eventually we worked it out, and after we had worked on some songs and played the guitar together for a while, he started to come up with some great production ideas, which then led to us asking Sara Lund to come and play with us. She really added a lot in terms of percussion ideas.

CNN: Coming from such a well-respected band with such a distinct sound, did you set out to make this sound different or did it come naturally?

Tucker: I think a little of both.

The idea of making a solo album is a different thing and wanting to do some piano and some acoustic guitar and really wanting to make it more dramatic was a lot of fun and just naturally different. Playing with Seth was a totally different collaboration. When you collaborate with people it becomes a different mix of things, kind of a natural chemistry.

I think that "Doubt" is the closet thing to Sleater-Kinney. It definitely touches on Olympia's [music] history. The three of us [in Sleater-Kinney] and Sara were apart of that and Seth has some Olympia/punk rock ties, so that song touches on the basic drums, vocal, loud guitar, starting place that all of us had.

CNN: How crucial was the role of family in this album?

Tucker: Its huge! I think that being a mom and having that responsibility is the main thing I'm doing these days and I love it, but I have a creative outlet that kind of lets [me] vent. It's this release where you go, "Oh, I'm doing this other thing." that immediately opens the door for all that other stuff to really come out.

CNN: How does being a mom affect the day-to-day routine of being an artist?

Tucker: Finding the time to write is a real challenge. I have found that writing at the same time every night when I put them to bed and I have a routine going, it would come out easier.

CNN: Carrie has said that Sleater-Kinney will perform together again in the next five years. Earlier this year, Janet told me she wasn't ruling it out. So what do you say?

Tucker: I would really like to. It will have to be the right time for everyone, and the great thing is everyone is busy with some amazing projects and everyone is healthy and doing well. I'm thankful for that. I would really like to [reunite] in the future when everyone is ready.