‘Broad City’ to Sleater-Kinney: “We Could Not Be a Show Without You Guys”


A true meeting of the feminist minds took place Friday night in the dimly lit basement of New York’s Ace Hotel, when Broad City duo Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer joked about “vag badges” with Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss. To celebrate a great couple of weeks for lovers of woman-powered pop culture — namely, the premiere of Broad City‘s second season last week and tomorrow’s release of Sleater-Kinney’s powerful new album No Cities to Love — NPR got the ladies in a room for a group interview led by Glazer and Jacobson. It was nothing short of inspiring.

Some questions were for comic effect, others — like how many tour stops — novice, and many insightful about creating while female. “Eventually men will solve feminism and we’ll all be fine,” Brownstein joked at one point to the intimate crowd, which included her Portlandia co-star Fred Armisen, Natasha Lyonne, and comedian Jon Glaser.

NPR will release video of the interview this week — and it’s indeed worth a watch — but in the meantime, here are ten highlights from the 90-minute chat.

1. Sleater-Kinney has its own gravitational pull among the band’s members.

“There’s an inevitably to this band,” Brownstein said, explaining that once they even start thinking about making music together again, it pretty much seals the deal. Tucker compared this force between them to wild horses.

2. That said, No Cities to Love wasn’t comfortable to make.

“I’m never super happy while we’re making new material,” Weiss said. “We can’t just settle in this band.”

Brownstein described herself as being in a “constant sense of agitation about the world,” and that S-K is her soundtrack of our tumultuous times. She had a few other poetic phrases to describe the act of being in Sleater-Kinney: “an unapologetic obliteration of the sacred,” “the conduit through which I can empathize with struggle.”

3. Sleater-Kinney members are sick of having their gender pointed out — like in the New York Times.

Weiss admitted frustration with seeing terms like “all-female band” show up in New York Times articles. (A recent Times profile also felt the need to dedicate three sentences comparing and contrasting members’ looks.) Brownstein pointed out the absurdity of another aspect of the job: “No one’s ever asked the question, ‘Why did you decide to be in a band with all men?'”

Weiss called it the “Women in Rock” ghetto, referring to some publications’ perception of women musicians as a specialized interest, and only comparing them to other bands with female members. “Who wants to be a white male? I don’t,” Brownstein added.

4. Likewise, Ilana is tired of Broad City being compared to Girls.

Brownstein related, wisely surmising, “If you’re an ‘other,’ they want you to beat up the other ‘other.'”

5. Don’t expect to see Sleater-Kinney to play the festival circuit.

While festivals have grown into one of the music industry’s few saving graces during S-K’s decade off, don’t expect to see the group making the rounds, especially not billed as a reunion. They view their shows as events, and they lose that excitement at a festival.

6. Also a no-go: Sleater-Kinney in commercials

“I have a no-commercial policy for every band I’m in,” said Weiss, also a member of Wild Flag and Quasi. “I want people to value it so I need to value it.”

“It ruins the song,” she added, calling the placement of Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” in a ’00s Carnival Cruise commercial “gross.”

7. Carrie’s greatest gift to Janet: her HBO GO code

Weiss doesn’t own a TV, but thanks to Brownstein’s HBO GO, she finds herself indulging in binge watches every once in while. Though it’s not on HBO, Homeland is a favorite of hers.

As for Brownstein’s and Tucker’s cultural recommendations of the moment, Carrie had a long list including The Comeback, Black Mirror, Kim Gordon’s forthcoming memoir (Girl in a Band, out Feb. 24), and Miranda July’s recently released debut novel (The First Bad Man). Corin shared praise for Anjelica Huston’s 2014 memoir, Watch Me.

8. The Broad City duo asserts they “could not be a show” without Sleater-Kinney having furthered female empowerment before them.

It was all-around inspiration love-fest, with Tucker telling Broad City, “When we watch your show, I wanna write a song.” Despite her love for Sleater-Kinney, Jacobson admitted that she’s recovering jam band fan who came to their music just a couple years ago.

9. Amy Poehler had questions for Sleater-Kinney.

Sleater-Kinney helped Poehler get through her formative comedy years in Chicago, so she asked her mentees in Broad City to ask some questions on her behalf:

– Were there any weird instruments used on “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”? (She’s referring to Brownstein’s “squealing pig” background vocals in the chorus.)

Answer: Nope!

– Will they play “Little Mouth” at her funeral?

Answer: S-K demand that Amy outlive them all and play it at Carrie’s funeral instead.

10. Sleater-Kinney and Broad City made an SNL pact.

“I’m gonna text Lorne [Michaels] after,” Jacobson joked, with the two groups dreaming of tag-teaming host and musical guest duties for Saturday Night Live for their first times.

Photo via NPR.