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Carrie Brownstein on forming and 'destroying' Sleater-Kinney




Carrie Brownstein in Sleater-Kinney's farewell show at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon on August 12, 2006.
Carrie Brownstein in Sleater-Kinney's farewell show at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon on August 12, 2006.
Sarae / Flickr Creative Commons

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These days, many people know Carrie Brownstein as one of the stars of the hit IFC comedy "Portlandia."

But before she was writing and starring in satirical sketches with Fred Armisen, she was playing guitar and singing in a band called Sleater-Kinney.

They were loved by critics and fans alike. But, like many rock and roll bands, Sleater-Kinney had its share of problems, all of which came to a head in 2006 as the band arrived at a club in Brussels, Belgium. 

Brownstein was suffering from stress-induced shingles, the show was about to start, and she couldn't feel a thing.

As she writes in the prologue to her new memoir "Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl," "Sleater-Kinney was my family, the longest relationship I had ever been in; it held my secrets, my bones, it was in my veins, it had saved my life countless times, it still loved me when I was terrible to it, it might have been the first unconditional love I'd ever known. And I was about to destroy Sleater-Kinney."

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

On her first band, a Duran Duran cover band called "Lil D"

I was absolutely Simon Le Bon. I was a little bit of the neighborhood impresario in terms of getting everyone together to put on plays, or do some dancing, or we might sing a little song, and so I naturally cast myself in the lead role. That's what you get to do when you're in charge.

On the double-edged sword of touring

There is just this duality to touring, to being in a band, both in terms of how people perceive it, and in terms of your own experience. I mean, it does vacillate between the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. 

For me, the sense of home was always very uncertain... and I was so desperate to tether myself to something that felt sturdy. And it's hard because a band, by nature, a creative partnership, there's a volatility to it... and that all came to a head on tour and through performance.

On the breakup of Sleater-Kinney and why it came at the right time

I think Sleater-Kinney broke up at a great time. I mean there's so many bands and musicians that you feel like they're starting to drag the contents of the band around with them... You know it feels like it's just this weight, or then, it's like there's a hole in the bag and all the good stuff is kind of falling out. And you're like wait a second, why are you guys still a band? I mean, I'd rather stop while we were ahead... But also I'm so grateful for the 10 years that happened subsequently where I was allowed a moment of reprieve from what was a continuous cycle that I had little perspective on after a while.

To hear the full interview with Carrie Brownstein, click the link above.