Musicians are intrinsically built to collaborate and create with others. These unions can often bring more heartache than headway. Egos, scheduling conflicts and label politics are the usual culprits. Not many with the musical credentials of Corin Tucker and Peter Buck get the opportunity to brainstorm on new songs, much less full albums. Both intriguing and prolific, their alt-rock super group is Filthy Friends.
Tucker brings tons of indie cred from her work fronting the seminal rock outfit Sleater-Kinney for more than 20 years. Her cohort Peter Buck is the guitar player for monster rock group and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member R.E.M.
Filthy Friends’ second album, “Emerald Valley,” is on store shelves and devices now. The band plays May 18 at the Earl in Atlanta. Tucker recently had a conversation with The Star.
Q: I’m really interested to find out how a band like Filthy Friends begins.
A: What happened was Peter was making his first solo record, and it was Scott McCaughey that called and asked me if I wanted to sing on one of the songs that they had written. I thought it sounded great, and I went in and sang the song and we all got along and hit it off. Then after that, Peter called me and wanted to make a record together, and that’s basically how we started writing the first album together. He said he had some ideas, and I wanted to do it in person because I just work better that way. So we started getting together in his tiny little rehearsal space, and that’s just how we came up with the first record.
Q: Would you define Filthy Friends as a side project or a continuing thing when you have time?
A: I think it’s more of like a continuing thing when we have time. It’s something that we try and plan out that makes sense for everyone’s schedule, which can be really challenging, but we worked on it for several years until everyone was ready to go on tour.
Q: I haven’t heard that much of the new record, just two songs, but Peter’s guitar playing sounds phenomenal this time.
A: Oh yeah, it’s just such a pleasure to work with him. He really went for it on this record — we all did — and it just kind of clicked for us. It really meant something to all of us, so everyone worked really hard.
Q: The two songs I’ve heard are “November Man” and “Last Chance County.” Is a lot of the new record like those two songs or a recurring theme?
A: Those are two of the more “rock” songs, but it’s definitely got some other songs that are more laid back. In general, I feel like there’s a couple of running themes and it definitely reflects the kind of turmoil that we are experiencing as a country. I think the whole idea of “Emerald Valley” is about the specific place where I grew up, which is Oregon, and its nickname is “Emerald Valley” because of its natural beauty. Which has been pretty affected by climate change, and we have all of the wildfires in the summer. It’s a pretty extreme change that we’re kind of experiencing, so it’s my way of commenting on those issues and what we need to address.
Q: You have a new record out in a few days. After such a lengthy career, are you still excited to put out new music?
A: Yeah, it’s what I love to do, and I still get really excited about finishing a record. It’s more of a challenge when you get older, when you have kids and all that stuff. It’s always so special when you finish something that you’re so proud of.
Q: There is a lot written about you and Peter. I would like to hear some more about the other members of the band.
A: They are really fantastic. So, Scott McCaughey is an incredible musician, songwriter, and he’s in The Young Fresh Fellows and a big influence. Kurt Bloch is an amazing guitar player and just really sensual, flexible guitar player. Linda Pittman, she’s played in the Baseball Project with Peter, she’s in the Steve Lynn Project with her husband, and she’s just all around incredible.
Q: The reason we’re talking is because you guys are coming to Atlanta. That’s home base for Peter, so does that mean he controls the stereo in the van, or how does that usually work?
A: (Laughing) I think that he kind of plays host for the band. Obviously we’ve practiced at his place, borrowed his guitars and all of that stuff, so he’s very generous. So, it makes for a nice support system, I guess you could say. But no, he doesn’t control the stereo.
Q: What does the rest of 2019 hold for Filthy Friends?
A: Well, this is basically it. We are doing this tour, and the record is coming out. We’re doing in-stores, shows, going to Europe, Spain, doing a festival, and we’re all just super-excited. Unfortunately, that’s all that we have time for because everyone is so busy with other projects that there is limited time for us this year.
Larry May is the owner of CD Cellar record store on Noble Street in downtown Anniston.