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At Home With Carrie Brownstein

Images from our photo shoot at the ‘Portlandia’ star’s house in Portland

Carrie Brownstein

We Are The Rhoads Rolling Stone Carrie Brownstein

We are The Rhoads

In the new issue of Rolling Stone, Carrie Brownstein talks about her unlikely journey from shredding onstage with Sleater-Kinney to getting laughs on IFC's Portlandia. We photographed the multi-talented singer-guitarist-comedian at home in Portland, where she's lived for more than a decade. Read on for outtakes from the RS photo shoot, plus Carrie's commentary on life in Portland – and read our full profile from the latest issue of the magazine here.

Photos by We Are the Rhoads

Interview by Simon Vozick-Levinson

Carrie Brownstein

We are The Rhoads

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Brownstein has lived in the same house in Portland since 2006, the year that Sleater-Kinney broke up. "I like going home," she says. "My version of home is probably less conventional than most people's, but at least I have something I can picture in my mind."

Carrie Brownstein

We Are The Rhoads Rolling Stone Carrie Brownstein

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"My house has four bedrooms and two baths, but it's pretty small – it's like a little bungalow," says the Portlandia star. "I mostly live on the main floor and close the door to upstairs."

Carrie Brownstein

We Are The Rhoads Rolling Stone Carrie Brownstein

We are The Rhoads

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Brownstein moved from Olympia, Washington, to Portland in the fall of 2001 – mostly to be closer to her Sleater-Kinney bandmates, singer-guitarist Corin Tucker and drummer Janet Weiss, both of whom had lived in Portland for years. "It just started feeling arduous to commute for the sake of songwriting," Brownstein recalls. "If inspiration didn't strike or we hit a moment of frustration, we couldn't say, 'Let's call it a day, see you tomorrow.' It was like, 'OK, now I'm going to get back in my car and drive back to Olympia, and we'll try again next week.' We wrote [1999's] The Hot Rock and [2000's] All Hands on the Bad One that way, but I remember it being a huge relief with [2002's] One Beat that there was a seamlessness to the writing process, just because we were all in Portland."

Carrie Brownstein

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"It's always strange to move to a city that you think you're familiar with from visiting," Brownstein says. "You think you have this awareness of the geographical layout of the roads and the neighborhoods, but you only know it as a tourist or a visitor." When she first moved to Portland, she says, "I felt more disoriented than I thought I would. Strangely, it really did feel like a big city at the time. Moving from a town with a population under 50,000 to the big city was pretty exciting."

Carrie Brownstein

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That said, Brownstein adds affectionately, "Portland doesn't function quite as a legitimate city. The other day, when I called to get a cab to the airport the next morning, they said, 'Well, you can't reserve a cab right now, there's only 50 in the city.' It's a city of a million people! That's pretty bad statistics. They were like, 'Just wake up and start calling as early as you possibly can.' I finally just drove my car."

Carrie Brownstein

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Lately, Brownstein has been putting the finishing touches on a memoir that she hopes to publish next year. "I'm very early to rise," she says. "I get up between 6:30 and 7:30 and make coffee, and I usually try to write – if I don't write in the morning, then I'm screwed, 'cause the whole day can unravel in the most sultry way."

Carrie Brownstein

We are The Rhoads

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She gets most of her writing done while sitting at her dining room table with one of her dogs nearby. "Sometimes I'll move to the couch, but when I'm sitting there with the computer on my lap, it's almost like the physicality of it starts to diminish," she says. "Your body feels like you're this melted candle that can no longer handle any kind of work – all you're able to do is surf the Internet. Like, 'My body has formed a comma, and now I might as well just crawl up in a ball and look at YouTube for the next four hours.'"

Carrie Brownstein

We Are The Rhoads Rolling Stone Carrie Brownstein

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Brownstein has two dogs, aged 10 years and four years. "They're big, so two's plenty – I think one would be great, actually," she says with a laugh. "One is a German wirehaired pointer mix, and the other is a border collie hound mix. They look like these classic hunting dogs. I don't hunt, though."

Carrie Brownstein

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Despite fans' hopes, Brownstein says she is unsure whether Sleater-Kinney will reunite in the near future; meanwhile, her band Wild Flag closed up shop after one excellent album released in 2011, and Portlandia and her memoir keep her plenty busy. But even though she doesn't have an active band at the moment, Brownstein still plays lots of music at home. "I play guitar a lot, actually," she says. "I really like it. And being friends with people that play guitar really well, I don't want to lose that skill. I don't want to be, like, a hobbyist with guitar – someone who pulls out an acoustic guitar at a party or something. That's very unappealing. I want to be able to play well."