Although their debut record just came out, Filthy Friends was a band 20 years in the making.
In 1997, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck saw Sleater-Kinney perform in Seattle and was smitten with the group. “To me, it just felt like there was this world that was on stage and everyone in the audience was kind of part of it,” Buck recalls. “A great band — that’s kind of what happens.”
During a brief encounter backstage, Buck and Sleater-Kinney singer and guitarist Corin Tucker exchanged pleasantries. They quickly moved on, but their lives continued to intersect for years afterward through mutual friends and Tucker’s husband, Lance Bangs, a filmmaker who had worked extensively with R.E.M. Eventually, Tucker would contribute to two of Buck’s solo recordings. And in 2014, the two (along with a collective of impressive Pacific Northwest-based musicians) founded what would become Filthy Friends.
Filthy Friends’ debut record, “Invitation,” is out now on Portland-based label Kill Rock Stars.
Corin Tucker, Peter Buck, Kurt Bloch, Scott McCaughey and Linda Pitmon joined us in the OPB studios and performed six songs from “Invitation” in front of a studio audience. Tucker and Buck also chatted with us about the new album and their long-running musical relationship. Watch videos above and listen to the interview and download MP3s of the performance below.
On their first meeting backstage at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle after a Sleater-Kinney show in 1997:
Corin Tucker: We were introduced, and it was all very polite. I think I was just too nervous to talk to him at the time.
Peter Buck: [Corin’s Sleater-Kinney bandmate Carrie Brownstein] said something a little bit on the snotty side, which was really funny, and I just laughed. And apparently, Corin was mortified. I didn’t know that until 10 years later. [Carrie] acted exactly the way someone in a rock band is supposed to act.
On their own personal curiosity to see where the project would go:
Peter Buck: Collaborations like this — you might know each other, but writing together is getting to know each other in a different way. So we were exploring possibilities. And at a certain point it felt like it was a band, but at first, it was “Well, let’s just see if we can write songs together.” … It’s a relationship in its own weird way.
On the song “Despierta,” which was included in the “30 Songs, 30 Days” compilation — a collection of anti-Trump protest songs:
Jerad Walker: Was that written during the current political turmoil or did you have it in your back pocket?
Peter Buck: Has there been a time when there hasn’t been a current political turmoil? [Laughter] So that’s kind of what that’s about. It might be worse now but it hasn’t been all sweetness and light until recently.
Corin Tucker: It was one of the first songs that we started writing. It was probably written in 2013. Like Peter says, this was something that has been percolating, I think, for a while. When we look at the power shift in the United States, the balance of power is a scary thing to let go of and some people are holding onto it really tightly with both hands. But I feel like that ship is tipping and we’re all getting rocked along with it, and we all get to decide what happens.
Audio recordings and mixes: Steven Kray, Nalin Silva
Editor: Jarratt Taylor
Videographers: Jarratt Taylor, Nate Sjol, Andrew Barrick, Nick Hennessy
Interviewer: Jerad Walker
Executive Producer: David Christensen