Tatone: Let's talk about why and how you chose to include the additional musicians [Steve Fisk, Sam Coomes and Stephen Trask].
Weiss: We usually have one or two extra people playing on some songs, like some things that we can't play that well, [though] we can all kind of hack our way through some different instruments. Actually John Goodmanson, the producer, had the idea of contacting some people outside of our musical circle, people that we maybe didn't have a friendship with. So that was the impetus for us getting some other people involved. Steve Fisk has played with and produced a lot of Unwound records, so he's not so far outside of our neighborhood. It was really hard for us to think of people we wanted people we didn't know, like anyone, the most famous musician. It's hard for us to think of incorporating someone who we've never sat down and had a meal with. It's kind of bizarre, so we came out with these people who are not totally unrelated to us but would bring something original and different.
Tatone: Did you decide what actual kind of contribution you wanted before you chose the person?
Weiss: Sort of. Like we would think, "Oh, we want keyboards so we want Fisk to do it." Or, "we want a theremin," so we got Sam [Coomes] to do it. Steve Trask, we just let him go crazy; we wanted his energy more than anything.
Tatone: I felt you managed to experiment with new sounds, like the keyboard for example, without straying too far from your rock sound. Like having a little new-wave feel, especially on "Combat Rock." But it's still really Sleater-Kinney. I thought it was a good balance, trying to add something new without abandoning your rock sound. Were you hesitant about doing that? Or was it easy to keep that balance?
Weiss: I realized, on this record especially, if you really want something to sound totally different, you have to completely abandon... as long as we're playing guitars and drums, it's gonna sound like us. So I don't think we're afraid of it not sounding like us. We would have to be playing, like, the clarinet, different instruments. If Carrie played a trumpet and we were, like, a trumpet, tuba and autoharp, it may sound really different [laughing]. The idea was not "Let's hold on to what we have," but "Let's move forward."
Tatone: Do you have hopes on how it will be received?
Weiss: Well, you just hope people are gonna get it.
Tatone: You mean like the subjects?
Weiss: I dunno how to explain that in more detail. But sometimes when you read a review of the record, you're so outraged when everything they say is so far from what you're attempting to convey. That's why it's best not to read press, 'cause you have an idea of what it means and then you'll read something and be really excited that someone got something really different. And then some you read are just disillusioning, like, "That's not what we meant." Hopefully it will be received.
Tatone: You decided to continue with John Goodmanson as producer what sort of characteristics and qualities does he have that lead you to continue working with him?
Brownstein: He's just really easygoing.
Weiss: He never gets mad.
Brownstein: Yeah, and he has really good intuition about our music, and he comes form a similar context. He went to the Evergreen State College in Olympia. He came of age in the same milieu as us, so there's a sense of historicism when it comes to the relationship between us. And we progressed at the same pace and time, so I think he's able to nurture and accentuate all the things that are really positive about us. But he also knows us; he can push us in the right direction, and he knows when to not push us.