The “Portlandia” star and Sleater-Kinney rocker, who grew up in Redmond, is in town promoting her new book, “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.”
You can go home again.
It’s just that when you reach the level of fame that Carrie Brownstein has since leaving Redmond — forming the band Sleater-Kinney, creating and starring in the IFC hit “Portlandia” — well, coming home includes stepping on a stage, and family and friends in the audience.
Brownstein was getting ready to come up to Seattle to talk about her new book, “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl,” Nov. 6 at the Neptune Theatre, when her sister, Stacey, called and asked if she could skip it.
Brownstein understood. Earlier this year, there were three nights at the Showbox with her band, Sleater-Kinney, which had just put out its first album in a decade.
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And now this night, when she will talk about the new book with “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” author Maria Semple.
Brownstein, 41, predicts the night will be “an ersatz family reunion.”
“There have been so many aspects of my life that have put me on stage in front of people who mean a lot to me,” she said. “And when I’m up there, I tend not to think about it because it’s crippling or overwhelming or puts me in a mentality that doesn’t serve the event.”
Much of the book takes place in and around Seattle. Brownstein grew up in Redmond, where it was clear she wanted to be heard. She sang for her parents’ friends and put on plays. She went to her first concert (Madonna at The Paramount) and was so electrified she couldn’t sleep. She bought her first guitar at 15 and formed her first band, Born Naked, before moving to Olympia to be part of the Riot Grrl movement of music, writing and empowerment. It was there where she connected with Corin Tucker and formed Sleater-Kinney.
Their band’s most recent album, “No Cities to Love,” was released earlier this year after a decadelong hiatus, during which Brownstein made her mark as co-creator and co-star (with SNL’s Fred Armisen) of the quirky sketch series “Portlandia,” which just completed its seventh season. She also has a supporting role in the Emmy-winning Amazon series “Transparent,” which just finished production on its second season.
“I am surprised, more than surprised,” Brownstein said of her success. “I just feel gratitude, and now I’m stuck here. I’ve bored a hole into the center of this creative universe.
“I work really hard at it, but if I am spit out tomorrow, it will be very disorienting. But I feel lucky that each decade of my life — my 20s, in particular — have been defined by something that means a lot to me.”
Her part of the Riot Grrl movement has continued with bands like Pussy Riot and the #ShoutYourAbortion movement.
“It’s interesting to see all these permutations of feminism and the ways it’s challenging and dismantling viewpoints,” Brownstein said. “It’s exciting to watch the ways that people are threatened by this female force in the world. It makes certain people very uncomfortable. And you have to shift when you’re uncomfortable.
“So I see society is adjusting in its seat,” she said. “It’s a clumsy process, but it’s a great thing to feel part of and observe.”
Brownstein splits her time between Portland (where she has had a home for the last 12 years) and Los Angeles, a place she never would have considered in the ’90s, when she was entrenched in the Northwest.
“I was having a conversation with someone the other day about growing up in the Northwest,” she said. “We used to take so much pride in differentiating ourselves from the slickness and shine of Southern California. Now I would argue there is so little that differentiates the entire Western seaboard.
“Everything on the West Coast has ocean, mountains, outdoor activities,” she continued. “Now we each have a neighborhood that is characterized. There’s a homogeny to it.
“Ten years ago, if I told someone I moved to L.A., there would be repulsion. Now I say, ‘Listen, Portland is almost identical.’ The Northwest is more verdant, but I’ll be honest, there is a sameness that is strange.”
Returning to Seattle as an author will also be.
“I don’t know if I can really take into account the weight of that,” she said. “I have a feeling I will leave Seattle and then have this sense of an emotional moment.
“But I think at the same time, it comes down to practicality and a job to do.”
The book tethers Brownstein to Seattle in a way that “is much more exposed and vulnerable and transparent, and I won’t have the cloak of volume or music,” she said. “There is something more stark about words.
“But I always feel a sense of pride, being from here,” she continued. “It’s a homecoming, and there is a circular journey to everything. And it’s like, you step down and you realize you’re on a welcome mat.
“And that’s good.”