A Conversation With Carrie Brownstein, Author of the Year’s Best Music Memoir

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A conversation with Carrie Brownstein..

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. “Meet your fierce and funny new comrade-in-arms. [Brownstein] takes us on a backstage tour of her life, from quirky kid-dom to angsty teen-dom to the feminist subculture of the riot grrl scene to not quite superstardom… Chronicling Sleater-Kinney’s tumultuous history and her own volatility – the tours that electrified fans, one brutal, ballsy concert at a time; the anxiety that often plagued her—Brownstein illuminates the euphoric highs and crushing lows of a life spent both on the fringes and in the spotlight.”—O The Oprah Magazine “A stand out memoir… A journey to self-possession and a portrait of an era, HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL is Sleater-Kinney’s icon and Portlandia cocreator Carrie Brownstein’s sharply drawn observation of the musician’s life, indelible as a song.” –Vogue “She can play, but man, can Carrie Brownstein write…Her blazing memoir is lit by the same flair for adventure, fearless inquiry, and honesty that mark her gritty licks and trenchant vocals.”–Elle “Few reign power and femininity like Brownstein whose haunting vocals and soul punching lyrics leave listeners rattled, in a good way, the way only truly great music can — something Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is bound to do as well.” —Bustle “Life on tour isn’t all rock ’n’ roll fantasy, as Sleater-Kinney icon and Portlandia cocreator Carrie Brownstein attests in her corrosively honest, impossible-to-put-down memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl—both a journey to self-possession and a portrait of an era, as indelible as one of her songs.”—Vogue.com “A performer through and through, she translates her story to the page with characteristically blunt humor and observational prowess.” —Village Voice “Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Browstein debunks the nostalgic clichés of rock-star life on the road.

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. Her memoir delivers on all counts, offering a sharp-eyed tale of a singular time in music and culture… Her voice on the page is as distinctive as her music, packing a similar punch—introspective, complex, both funny and sad, ending with the band’s breakup in 2006 and a particularly painful personal sequence. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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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