Peter Buck knew he wanted to be in a band with Corin Tucker from the first time he saw Sleater-Kinney play to an empty room in 1997. “It was the day that Princess Diana died,” the former R.E.M. guitarist says. “I remember thinking, ‘Where did these people come from?’ It was a totally unique take on what punk rock was.”
Twenty years later, Buck and Tucker made it official with their new supergroup, Filthy Friends. Their debut album, Invitation, arrives August 25th, with a lengthy North American tour to follow. The record’s rollicking first official single, “The Arrival,” is out today, exclusively on Rolling Stone.
Filthy Friends, which includes former members of King Crimson, Young Fresh Fellows and Fastbacks, began in 2012 as a low-key project in Portland, Oregon, Tucker says. “For me, performing live with someone is the true litmus test of collaboration,” Tucker says. “I remember our first Filthy Friends show together in Portland, I was able to turn to Peter onstage, and really read him then, as wide open to possibility, spontaneity and creative sparks.”
Tucker is an equally massive fan of Buck’s. Her future husband, Lance, was hired as a filmmaker by R.E.M. in 1993 and made the introduction. “My memory of the meeting is that Peter went up to Carrie [Brownstein] after we played the Crocodile [in Seattle] and complimented her on the band,” she tells Rolling Stone. “Peter said something like, ‘But you probably don’t care what I think’ and she said something like, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ Really not that out of character for two spiky rockers, except that when Carrie told me about the conversation, I hit the roof, being a lifelong R.E.M. fanatic. Peter probably doesn’t even remember the conversation at all, but I was worried for years that he would mistake me for Carrie. … Years later, I think we were at a Belle and Sebastian show and he politely struck up a conversation, so I was relieved.”
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Filthy Friends doesn’t sound anything like either of their previous bands. Buck says it was an intentional decision to have filthy Friends explore new genres with “no limits.” The freedom is used to great effect on songs like the fierce, bluesy “Despierta” and the glam stomp of “Come Back Shelley,” which Tucker says reminds her of a “T. Rex vibe.” “The music sort of brought me back to my high school days, and to a memory of a girl who left home at the time. [Lyrically] it’s a sad story, but I wanted to make it rock & roll, so I sort of channeled a Replacements/Paul Westerberg vibe.”
Tucker, who writes the lyrics, was eminently inspired by the political landscape on this record. “No Forgotten Son,” for example, was a response to Trayvon Martin’s murder, something even Buck didn’t realize. The tragedy affected Tucker deeply, she explains, because Martin was so close to her own son’s age. Supporting the Black Lives Matter movement will be a cornerstone of Filthy Friends’ support. As will raising funds and awareness for embattled topics under the Trump administration such as climate change.
“I’m inspired by all of the states who have committed to the Paris Climate Agreement on their own,” Tucker says. “We need to keep moving on this issue despite the actions of the Trump administration.”
Political consciousness was always intrinsic to Tucker and Buck’s artistry with either R.E.M. or Sleater-Kinney. Filthy Friends will continue that trajectory, Tucker says. “I think we need to keep moving forward on climate change issues in this country regardless of the administration’s opinion.” This weekend, Filthy Friends will play a bespoke music festival in Norway to raise awareness about challenges facing the Arctic Circle. Last year, they contributed singles to the anti-Trump 30 Days, 30 Songs compilation.
Buck remembers watching the agonizing presidential race results last November in New Mexico with his wife and daughter. The last time he felt such political apprehension was being 13 years old, afraid that “Nixon was going to send me to Vietnam to die.”
“I’m not even a Democrat,” Buck says brusquely. “But it’s a shock to a lot of people who’ve had a middle-of-the-road president [for two terms] to all of a sudden have the John Burch Society running the country.”
“I’d rather have a president who isn’t and fascist and have shitty music on the radio – oh wait – the music on the radio is shitty and our president is a fascist.”
Filthy Friends Tour Dates
Aug. 25th – Eugene, OR @ Hi Fi Music Hall w/ wimps
Aug. 26th – Portland, OR @ Musicfest NW presents Project Pabst
Aug. 29th – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
Aug. 30th – Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
Sept. 1st – Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot
Sept. 6th – Brooklyn, NY @ The Bell House w/ Versus