Dissecting Sleater-Kinney's Role in the Riot Grrrl Movement

Veterans of the Riot Grrrl scene know that sustained success is not always easily defined or found. Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney knows a thing or two about the peaks and valleys of achievement.

Tucker, who plays a fantastic rhythm guitar and sings with a powerful yet lovely voice, was one of the leaders of Riot Grrrl in the early '90s when she fronted influential Olympia, Washington, band Heavens to Betsy. Along with Carrie Brownstein (star of IFC's -hip Portlandia), Tucker launched Sleater-Kinney in 1994 after Heavens to Betsy and Brownstein's Excuse 17 came to an end. The sound they developed is a stunning combination of punk, post-punk, indie, psychedelic, and straight-up rock 'n' roll, but with a gaggle of unique twists, including using a guitar tuning more regularly found in metal and hardcore.

"I really come from a punk rock tradition of making things up. I was mostly playing guitar to suit my own voice in Heavens to Betsy, and I had the guitar tuned down. It was a strange tuning," Tucker says. "When Carrie and I started playing together, we tried to figure out what that tuning was, and that day, it just happened to be C sharp on the chromatic tuner, so we just tuned down and, you know, started playing together."

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Tom Reardon has written for Phoenix New Times since 2013. He's been in several notable bands over the last 25 years including Hillbilly Devilspeak, North Side Kings, and the Father Figures.
Contact: Tom Reardon