CARRIE BROWNSTEIN & CORIN TUCKER
In a three-piece band with no bassist, you’re going to need some pretty tasty guitar work to fill out the sound – and the key, as Brownstein learned, was to tune down to C#.
She later told Rolling Stone: “It’s one-anda-half steps below standard tuning, which creates a sourness and a darkness… So even when we’re getting toward something with a little bit of catchiness or pop sheen, there’s this underlying bitterness to it.”
That was how Tucker got her unique sound as the leader of Heavens To Betsy, of whom Brownstein was an obsessive superfan; when they formed Sleater-Kinney in 1993, they were equally obsessive in working to find the gaps in each other’s parts. As the band developed, their roles would somewhat settle – while never hard-and-fast, Tucker usually plays the meat of the song and Brownstein does the rest.
Their unique bass-free sound also had certain advantages for recording. As frequent producer John Good mason said of recording their breakthough third album, Dig Me Out, “The awesome thing about having no bass player is that you can make the guitars sound as big as you want. Usually, you have to clear all that room out so you can hear the bassline. With no bass there, you can just go for giant guitar sounds.”
Axe-lovers, take note.