5 things we learned from Carrie Brownstein’s conversation with Questlove

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 things we learned from Carrie Brownstein’s conversation with Questlove.

Carrie Brownstein kicked off her star-studded book tour for her new memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl Tuesday at Brooklyn bar St. We live in a golden age of the rock memoir, in which a quick trip to the bookstore can yield a toteful: Kim Gordon’s elegiac Girl in a Band, Grace Jones’ spiritual/political/aesthetic manifesto I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, and Chrissie Hynde’s brash and brassy Reckless. Instead, she candidly recounts the panic attacks and stress-induced shingles she experienced on tour.” —New York Magazine / The Cut “The surprisingly earnest account of an artist’s making and constant remaking reflects the movement Brownstein joined, which in her words replaced the elevated sense of mythos of Smith’s punk ’70s with an aesthetic in which “the mystery was in the plainness, the starkness.”—Vulture / New York Magazine “[Brownstein’s] memoir, looking back on those formative years with the band, offers the kind of intimacy and insight fans and enthusiasts will eagerly devour.”—Biographile “What would it be like if all your dreams come true? For Carrie Brownstein, who grew up in the Riot Grrrl movement in the Pacific Northwest, they did: She started out playing in countless punk bands until settling on one with her BFF and romantic partner, Corin Tucker, which they eventually turned into the best rock band of all time, Sleater-Kinney.

Here are five things we learned: The Roots drummer, who released his memoir Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove back in 2013, started his conversation with Brownstein by saying, “I don’t know if we would’ve been friends growing up, but I definitely know that we’re the same person.” Brownstein echoed the sentiment, and said she felt that Questlove’s book reads as a companion piece to hers. They weren’t kidding when saying that they felt like the same person — the conversation went on to prove their similarities from impassioned sidebars about The Affair to recalling the humbling personal embarrassments that came after their biggest successes. On the page as in her songs, Brownstein finds the right words to give shape to experience.”—Kirkus starred review “A candid look at life in rock and roll in a deeply personal and revealing narrative of her life in music, as ardent fan, pioneering female guitarist, comedic performer on TV’s Portlandia, and luminary in the independent rock world.” —Publishers Weekly “Fans of Brownstein, cofounder of the seminal riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney and cocreator of the IFC comedy series Portlandia, already know she’s smart, sardonic, and, yes, modern. Questlove shared that the day after he won a Grammy, he came home to his electricity being shut off, which prompted Brownstein to talk about how she was in a traffic class the same day that season 2 of Portlandia premiered. The pair also talked about their celebrity idols, Madonna for Brownstein and Prince for Questlove, who had huge impacts on their childhoods and discovery of music.

A strong, engaging pop culture memoir: personal detail, a little dish, and a well-written look at what made the music, and the culture that spawned it, matter.” –Library Journal starred review “Brownstein flips easily from brainy ruminations on nostalgia, fandom, and record labels to trenchant stories about sexism, music journalism, and how a soy allergy—not drugs or alcohol—brought her to her knees on tour… her vivid Sleater-Kinney stories and descriptions of their albums are downright irresistible. Questlove talked about how awkward he was when he met Prince. “He’s like 5’1” so I missed him, and Q-Tip kind of ambushed me and I ran into him, and this is when you couldn’t call him anything!” Questlove said.

Sleater-Kinney fans went nuts late last year when the trio broke their years-long hiatus, and Brownstein’s memoir will give them more to salivate over.”—Booklist “From her rocky childhood to becoming part of the feminist punk-rock movement to her days as a comedic writer and actor, Brownstein brings us into the most intimate moments of her life.”—First Slice “Carrie Brownstein’s local history as part of Sleater-Kinney is, for many of us, our own—and she has long been an articulate and funny and intelligent voice behind piercing guitar that left tatters behind.”—Willamette Week “For decades, the guitarist for the legendary Sleater-Kinney has been celebrated for her unapologetic queer politics and general bad-assery. With her bands Excuse 17, Sleater-Kinney, and Wild Flag, she built queer and feminist communities from the ground up—communities that she and Fred Armisen gently lampoon in their TV show Portlandia, and that she probes with a more jaundice eye as a cast member of Transparent.

But present in all her work is a fearless execution of polyphonic narratives, the way her voice and guitar intertwine with Corin Tucker’s in Sleater-Kinney, for example, until four stories are being simultaneously told. Brownstein has yet to meet Madonna, but that may change soon thanks to Questlove. “I remember sitting on my bed and crying to my mom about how I’ll never be friends with Madonna,” Brownstein recalled, to which Questlove replied, “Oh, she’s kind of my manager actually,” referring to The Root’s move to Madonna’s record label Maverick. “We’ll write a book about your dinner with Madonna,” Questlove offered. “Carrie Meets Madonna.

Hunger, though, is hers and hers alone, tracing her roots as a wired and ambitious kid in Olympia, Washington, with an anorexic mom and closeted dad through Sleater-Kinney’s triumph, self-destruction, and return in 2014. You write a lot about day-to-day life in Sleater-Kinney, and how despite what looked like major success, the three of you were still carrying your own equipment and crashing on strangers’ floors. No matter how big the light show is, how fantastical the production design is, a group of people is getting on stage and doing the same thing the smallest bar band does. You don’t shy away from talking about your private life, though—your relationship with Corin and its impact on the music, your dad coming out, and your own experience being outed.

There’s a devastating moment in Brussels as the band is breaking up, where you’re literally punching yourself, punishing your body as your life is going wrong. As traumatic and heart-breaking as it is to think about people hurting themselves, there’s a totally different stigma attached to hurting someone else—then you’re a monster, like if I had punched Corin or Janet [Weiss, Sleater-Kinney’s drummer]. Fortuitously it did give me an end to the book, but I assure you I wasn’t like, C’mon guys, we gotta make another record because I really need a good ending and then we can break up again, I promise!

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