Return of the Roar

January 20, 2015 6:02 PM

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A decomposing skull hangs beside Janet Weiss' doorbell: one bulging eyeball, jagged teeth, strips of flesh. Halloween was a few weeks ago, and Weiss hasn't gotten around to taking it down yet – perhaps because other, realer ghosts have been haunting her. Like, for instance, the Ford cargo van in her driveway. "That was Sleater-Kinney's gear van," she says. " 'The Silver Bullet' – we put more than 200,000 miles on that thing, and it's still going." Or take the brand-new vinyl box set perched magisterially in her study, collecting all seven albums by the epochal punk trio that Weiss joined in 1996, that Time called America's best rock band in 2001, and that announced its "indefinite hiatus" in 2006. Sleater-Kinney – Weiss on drums, Carrie Brownstein on windmilling lead guitar, Corin Tucker providing the klaxon-force lead vocals – had sealed their place in the indie pantheon by that point, with their fans ranging from the midcareer Eddie Vedder, who brought them out on a 2003 arena tour with Pearl Jam, to the pre-career Lena Dunham, who saw them live when she was an adolescent and thrilled, she says, to their "amazing mix of chutzpah and pure skill."

But the band was tired. Sleater-Kinney's seventh album, "The Woods," pushed them farther from their creative comfort zone than they'd ever gone, and the arduous experience of making it, in wintry upstate New York, left them spent and raw: "It's freezing; there's 10 feet of snow every night," Weiss s...

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