Proving that the supergroup concept knows no barriers, once-and-present Sleater-Kinney singer/guitarist Corin Tucker hooked up with former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, longtime Seattle music stalwarts Kurt Bloch and Scott McCaughey, and drummer Linda Pitmon (taking over from another Seattle face, Bill Rieflin), to create Filthy Friends. They’re hitting Neumos on Thursday, May 9th; and their second album, Emerald Valley, is out now. Ms. Tucker was kind enough to take some questions.
NWMS: How did you initially make contact with the other Filthy Friends, and what led you to do so?
Corin Tucker: Peter was making his first solo album, and Scott McCaughey wrote me and asked if I wanted to sing a song on it. The recording went really well. Peter ended up calling me and asking if I wanted to make a record together. I was a little surprised, but I think we both felt like there was an opportunity to do some cool songwriting together.
NWMS: How did you pick the name Filthy Friends?
Corin Tucker: You mean, why? I think we thought it was funny. And The Velvet Underground was already taken.
NWMS: What were your thoughts on the music of R.E.M., prior to meeting and working with Peter Buck? How did meeting and working with him change your ideas on that subject?
Corin Tucker: I’ve been a big fan of R.E.M. for a long time, so I was both curious and a bit nervous about working with Peter. But even when I sang on his solo album, he was so chill and open to suggestions it put me at ease. It takes work to get to the best version of a song, and I see Peter doing that all the time. No wonder those R.E.M. records sound so good.
NWMS: How do the Filthy Friends go about writing a song? How does songwriting in this band compare and contrast to your other bands?
Corin Tucker: Peter or I come up with a song idea, on guitar, and get together and throw ideas around. Sometimes I try a vocal melody, or we might just try guitar ideas. It’s really similar to how my other bands write. I’m open to all avenues as a songwriter, and I find Peter is too.
NWMS: How did the writing and playing on this album compare and contrast with the first album?
Corin Tucker: With Emerald Valley, we wrote over a longer period of time, trying different songs with different arrangements. I think we recorded a few extra songs this time that didn’t actually make the record.
NWMS: You started playing live with this band in a series of Bowie tributes. What Bowie music did you focus on, and why? How did Bowie influence your own work?
Corin Tucker: Bowie passed away right before we were doing some shows in Mexico. Everyone just felt really wrecked by his death. He was a huge influence on all of us, especially me as a singer and lyricist.
He really pushed the boundaries of gender identity and sexuality, all while being so witty and clever and charming. I think we covered “Jean Genie” and “Rebel Rebel.”.
NWMS: Which influences and favorite artists of yours would surprise the average fan the most, and why?
Corin Tucker: I’m not sure…it’s hard to know what people would expect of my taste. I grew up listening to the Beatles and Prince and Kate Bush.
NWMS: How do you relate to the other Filthy Friends, and what are each person’s strongest points, musically and/or otherwise?
Corin Tucker: I feel super lucky to work with all of them: Peter – his writing and his guitar playing and always really passionate. Scott McCaughey – incredibly versatile musician who comes up with the coolest parts for every song, Kurt Bloch – smoking guitar player who is a very unique player, Linda Pitmon – deeply talented drummer with great instincts and arrangement ideas!
NWMS: What’s in the future for you and the band, after this tour?
Corin Tucker: I hope that we will continue to work and collaborate when everyone has time!