Behind the Territorial Band Name Sleater-Kinney

Today, many know Carrie Brownstein for her role in the sketch comedy show she co-created, Portlandia.

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In it, Brownstein, along with comedian and musician Fred Armisen, poke fun at the peculiar and unique place known as Portland, Oregon.

But Brownstein has room to needle in this way, she is from the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, she was born in Seattle, Washington. But even before her comedic fame, the now-48-year-old artist came to be known first as a singer, songwriter, frontwoman, and rocker in her band Sleater-Kinney.

[RELATED: See Sleater-Kinney, Courtney Barnett, and Fred Armisen Cover Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”]

But what is the background of this group? And where does that odd, hard-to-pronounce name come from? Let’s dive in.


Driving between Seattle and Portland, about an hour south of the Emerald City, you’ll see a sign for Sleater Kinney Road. Seeing this and knowing where the band of the same name is from, makes the light bulb go off.

Formed in 1994 in Olympia, Washington, the state’s capital and the home to the progressive (even experimental) Evergreen State College, the band Sleater-Kinney was founded by Brownstein and guitarist Corin Tucker. Later, drummer Janet Weiss joined and became the group’s longest-running kit player.

Early on, the group practiced at a space near Sleater Kinney Road, which is located in the town of Lacey, Washington, off I-5.


With the band moving forward, Tucker and Brownstein decided to take a vacation in the summer. When Tucker had graduated and with Brownstein still having three more years to go, they flew to Australia in 1994.

[RELATED: Sleater-Kinney and KT Tunstall Join Brandi Carlile: “2022 Was Maybe the Best Year of My Life”]

In Australia, they traveled around and on their final night in the country, they stayed up all night and recorded what would end up as their debut self-titled album. Sleater-Kinney released its follow-up in 1996, Call the Doctor, and their third album, Dig Me Out, in 1997.

Espousing the values of the Olympia-born riot grrrl movement, Sleater-Kinney has grown to become one of the faces of the PNW feminist rock movement. Known for its, at times, lo-fi rock and biting lyrics, Sleater-Kinney is a crucial addition to the Seattle rock scene and its history.

Photo by Frank Hoensch/Redferns

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