Filthy Friends: Corin Tucker, Peter Buck and Company – Rock & Roll Lifers

photo by John Clark

For the majority of her life, Corin Tucker has been making music and in a band. In the formative years, she fashioned the pioneering riot grrrl band Heavens to Betsy. Then Tucker moved on to the indie powerhouse Sleater-Kinney where she became a beacon for independent women everywhere, not to mention making some of the best music of the 1990s. During that time, the talented guitarist and singer formed the side project Cadallaca. After Sleater-Kinney broke up, Tucker kept pushing forward with the Corin Tucker Band. Sleater-Kinney reformed not so long ago and Tucker is once again working outside her “day job” with the supergroup Filthy Friends.

“The whole idea of this band was planted back in 2012 when Peter Buck asked me to sing on a couple songs on his first solo album,” Corin Tucker explained. “So, I did that and it turned out well, then Peter called me a couple days later suggesting we should do a whole album together.

“Of course, I said yes, but I had some parameters I wanted to work out before we got in to deep. I wanted this to be a full collaboration. I didn’t want this to be one of those projects where one person records in this city, and another one here, and another there. I wanted it to be a full band effort. We discussed those ideas and Peter agreed. I think you know, I was a bit surprised, but in a good way. I think that when you have someone like Peter, who is so accomplished. I was…I don’t know…I was so surprised he was open to the ideas I had. It’s a really great opportunity to work with someone who is such a prolific songwriter.”

Once all the details were hashed out between Tucker and Buck, the building of the band began. Tucker fronts Filthy Friends as lead vocalist. She, is joined by the twin guitar attack of Buck (R.E.M.) and Kurt Bloch (the Fastbacks) with bassist Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows) and drummer Bill Rieflin (King Crimson) holding down the rhythm section. Like Tucker, each member of this project has numerous side projects.

“I think that it’s a great thing we are more established as individual musicians so that we can pick out what is priority. But we don’t have to worry about a record label looking over our shoulders telling us about a deadline or the budget. We still have the challenges of getting together for tour, that will be the hard part, but we all knew what needed to get done to make this band a reality.”

Filthy Friends debut album ‘Invitation’ is a passionate, blistering, fun collection of a dozen songs full of boundless pop rock sounds. It would be easy for this quintet to sign to a major label, mail it in and get the quick cash grab, but it’s not like that at all. Filthy Friends kept it local signing to the respected and loved indie label Kill Rock Stars and their sound comes off like a bunch of hungry 20-somethings getting together in the garage to jam.

“I think really, for us, signing to Kill Rock Stars was a no brainer. We thought it would be a better fit because we wanted to make a record artistically focused and work when the time was right for everyone. We didn’t want to be beholden to anyone while creating these songs.”

Fans got a taste of what’s to come from Filthy Friends when their hook-filled track “Despierata,” appeared on the anti-Trump project ‘30 Songs For 30 Days.’ They also offered up the jangly pop single “Any Kind of Crowd” b/w “Editions of You,” a cover of Roxy Music for 2017’s Record Store Day.

“Releasing those songs prior to the album being done and to those two projects was, well, I think it was more motivation for me to be motivated about the project. Because we started all this in 2012 and recorded the basics for the music in six days because Peter likes to work fast and not over think things. Which helped a lot. But that was five years ago and we are sitting on these songs and at some point, I was wondering…is this going to happen or isn’t it? We took the most time on the mixing of the record and when it was done, we thought about getting a song out there early and the songs was a good fit for those campaigns.”

Those two singles were the spark which started the Filthy Friends fire. With a warm reception, the band placed the two previous singles on ‘Invitation’ fitting them seamlessly into the mix of ballsy rockers, moody pop songs, and oh so many sweet hooks.

“There is such a wealth of ideas and talent in this band that we all brought ideas to the table. Peter brought in the song “Arrival” and I brought in the song “Brother” as the first two songs we worked on. Then everything started falling in place rather quickly, I think that made the songs so vibrant.”

As impressive and experienced the Filthy Friends are they did add an extra punch to the songs “Brother” and “Makers” with Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic handling bass. And due to prior commitments, Rieflin was unable to appear in the video for “Despierta” and tour, so the band called on drummer extraordinaire Linda Pitmon (the Baseball Project, Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3, The Minus 5) to take over behind the kit.

“Bill is still a member of Filthy Friends, he’s just incredibly busy with King Crimson. He will play with us when he can. But we lose nothing by bringing in Linda. She is so good on the drums and such a fun person to work with.

“As for Krist, we were recording in Portland and he was in town and came to hang out. We recorded at Peter’s studio and he and Krist know everyone so it was hard telling who would show up to hangout while we were working.”

Tucker, who is known as a consummate singer/songwriter, is also known as a talented guitarist in Sleater Kinney and other projects, but with Filthy Friends she puts down her six string and focuses solely on singing.

“I did play guitar in the studio on two tracks, but yeah, I am just the singer in this band. It’s kind of interesting really. Different, but interesting. When you have two guys like Peter and Kurt in a band, there really isn’t a reason for me to add any guitar work.”

With an extraordinary music career in her rearview mirror, Tucker has the luxury to make an album like ‘Invitation.’ That experience also allows her to become a better songwriter and musician.

“I think that, you know, I am able to rewrite things and edit them now as opposed to when I was writing songs when I was younger. When you are young and impulsive you write in the moment and now that I am more mature I can go back and critique and edit my work. I feel like that growth in my songwriting is beneficial to a project like Filthy Friends.”

With all the groundwork laid, the band had one more obstacle to overcome, the dreaded band name.

“We were going to call the band Super Earth, it sounds so ’70s, doesn’t it? But there is already a band called Super Earth in South Carolina I think it was. They messaged us on Facebook when we were using that name and asked us not to use the name because they were a new band and trying to get established. They made the case that we were already established musicians, which is true. We didn’t want to steal their name. We went back to the drawing board and wanted something that incorporated the togetherness of this band and ended up with Filthy Friends. Just be careful Googling it, I wouldn’t recommend that.”

Filthy Friends’ ‘Invitation’ is the sound of music being made free of expectations, for the art of creating music, for the chance to be around friends, being in a band with them and the freedom of expression. But lately there is a lot of expression going on and not for the greater good. In a time like this under the Trump administration, we need a band like Filthy Friends to get us through.

“Most of the material was written way before Trump was elected, but we have a new song we wrote right after he was elected and it is politically driven. I mean, how could you not write songs about what is going on right now? It is disgusting and horrible. I know it’s inspired us to work on a couple new songs already.”

Does that mean another Filthy Friends album is in the future? We can only hope.

Tour Dates:

8/29 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
8/30 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
9/01 – Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot
9/06 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Bell House w/ Versus