Janet Weiss Opens Up About Sleater-Kinney Exit: ‘The Rules Changed Within the Band’

“I said, ‘Am I just the drummer now?’ They said yes. And I said, ‘Can you tell me if I am still a creative equal in the band?’ And they said no. So, I left,” drummer said


Janet Weiss with Sleater-Kinney performs at the Tabernacle, in AtlantaSleater-Kinney In Concert - , Atlanta, USA - 21 Apr 2015

Janet Weiss opened up about her exit from Sleater-Kinney and her difficult decision to leave the band for the first time in a new interview.

Speaking to the Trap Set With Joe Wong podcast, the drummer revealed that her diminished role within the punk trio while working on their latest album The Center Won’t Hold led to her departure.

“The rules changed within the band, and they told me the rules changed,” Weiss said of her former band mates Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker. “I said, ‘Am I just the drummer now?’ They said yes. And I said, ‘Can you tell me if I am still a creative equal in the band?’ And they said no. So, I left.”

Weiss said that, prior to her exit, the Sleater-Kinney members entered into counseling — like in 1998, the drummer noted — in an effort to work through their problems as a band. Ultimately, Weiss decided the shift in her role signaled it was “time for me to move on,” as Weiss tweeted in July 2019 after announcing her split from the group.

“I thought about it a lot. I mean, I will never play with two people like that again. They are totally unique, incredible, intuitive players. It’s a lot to walk away from. It’s my sisters, my family. But I couldn’t be in that band and have it not be equal, especially with what it represents to me. It represents equality… How can we be fighting for equality and not have it in our band; it just became a disconnect,” Weiss told Wong’s drummer podcast.

-- PHOTO MOVED IN ADVANCE AND NOT FOR USE - ONLINE OR IN PRINT - BEFORE JAN. 4, 2015. -- Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney in New York, Dec. 2, 2014. The all-female band Sleater-Kinney, sorely missed in indie-rock since 2006, is set to release a new album. (Chad Batka/The New York Times)

“I don’t think [Brownstein and Tucker] saw it like that. They’re not evil people, I just think the two of them are so connected and they really agree on almost everything, they just thought, ‘We’re gonna take this band somewhere and we want to be in charge of that, the two of us.’ I think I was a threat to where they wanted the band to go, and who I am, and that felt bad to me.”

Weiss also expressed reluctance to perform songs from The Center Won’t Hold — an album that lacked the drummer’s usual contributions — on a tour in support of the St. Vincent-produced LP; following Weiss’ exit, Angie Boylan has stepped in as Sleater-Kinney’s drummer on tour.

“The new record was made sort of without me and it would have been challenging to get up there on stage and deliver those songs like they were mine, when they weren’t mine at all. It just got real lonely for me,” Weiss said.

“As band mates and partners and people I’ve had a relationship with all this time, I wanted to be not a threat and not someone to hold at arm’s length, but someone to embrace and to go together where we wanted to go. But they had very specific ideas of what they wanted, and I just didn’t fit anymore. We couldn’t get on the same page. It was really hard, it was not something I took lightly at all… But I love them and they seem happy; they’re doing the thing the way they want to do it. It doesn’t have to be the three of us; it could be this pure thing with the two of them,” she said.

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