Sleater-Kinney are in the studio working on their sixth album, and according to drummer Janet Weiss the band is “about sixty percent done with it,” with plans for a late-August release.
The untitled album will be the group’s first since All Hands on the Bad One, which was released nearly two years ago. During that downtime, singer/guitarist Corin Tucker had a child, while guitarist Carrie Brownstein and Weiss busied themselves with side projects Spells and Quasi, respectively.
“It seemed like the time sort of flew by,” Weiss says. “But it benefited us, in that we’re a lot more focused and excited about working together because we had the time away. We had been together all the time for a few years, and it was great to step back and put things in perspective and regain our enthusiasm. It’s always hard when you try to push yourself to play something different or approach something in a new way or tackle a new problem, but I think we’ve been on the same page as far as where things should go. It’s made things a lot easier.”
Weiss says the group will likely whittle down tracks to a twelve- or thirteen-song album, and that the tunes are coming out longer, though hardly jam-band long. “Longer for us is almost four minutes,” she says. “I don’t think there’s a song over five minutes. We’re still working within the same framework — it’s just we’ve stretched out a little bit.”
Though Weiss says “the personality of the songs is just now emerging,” she promises that the band is looking forward as usual. “It’s a different tone, a little bit darker, maybe, than the last record,” she says. “It’s been a heavy year. I think our records are always so personal that it’s hard to make a record that doesn’t reflect the state of things on a larger level. I still think we’re challenged though. We don’t want to rest on our laurels. But it’s tough, because we are a band who gets written about more than a lot of other bands who are sort of on the same level, and that can kind turn your criticism of yourself inward and create a more self-conscious dealing. We all really try to keep that self-consciousness away from the songwriting and from the newest record. I stopped reading press, so I feel totally liberated.”
As with 1997’s Dig Me Out and All Hands, John Goodmanson is on board as producer. And as with the band’s previous three releases, the album will be issued on Portland, Oregon, indie Kill Rock Stars. With major labels in the midst of year two of a sales slide, Weiss says the independent route has proven an even better fit. “I’m just so glad we never got tangled up with a big corporation like that,” she says. “They’re just having the problems that all corporations have eventually. When you’re dealing in big business, you’re going to encounter all the big business pitfalls and problems, and that doesn’t have anything to do with our music. I feel really good about our choices. We make mistakes like everybody else, but we’ve chosen the path that we can keep control over, one in which we’re going to be the ones steering the ship.”
After wrapping the album, the next course for their ship is a fall tour. According to Weiss, the trek will likely comprise a series of shorter jaunts that together will cover the U.S.