Concert preview: Reunited Sleater-Kinney still about 'motion and energy' on No Cities to Love

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

It's often said certain things can't be unlearned - like riding a bike or driving a car with a manual transmission. According to drummer Janet Weiss, playing in Sleater-Kinney does not fall among these more easily memorized tasks.

"It was awkward," Weiss said of the initial rehearsals that followed the trio's eight-year hiatus, which started in the summer of 2006 and stretched through 2014. "We played a few old songs, and they sounded pretty bad [because] our timing was off. It was not at all like picking up where we stopped … but the foundation for what we could become was there, and the desire to keep going was there. It just took a lot of work and a lot of pushing and a lot of exploring different ideas to get there."

Weiss chalked up Sleater-Kinney's extended hiatus to the need for some time apart and an increased desire to pursue outside interests. For her part, Weiss spent the years away from the band drumming for everyone from Wild Flag to Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, while singer/guitarist Carrie Brownstein logged time as both a musician (in Wild Flag) and an actor (she and Fred Armisen developed, write and star in the sketch comedy series "Portlandia").

"I don't think we thought, 'Oh, this is absolutely the end.' We just really needed a break, and how long that was going to be was a mystery," said Weiss, who will join dual singer/guitarists Brownstein and Corin Tucker for a concert at Newport Music Hall on Saturday, Dec. 5. "Sleater-Kinney is like no other band I play in; it's very special and very dear to me, and we wanted to wait until we could do it full-on again before we even entertained the idea."

Along these lines, the musicians entered into the reunion determined to craft an impactful, high-energy album that could stand up to anything in their deep catalog, with Weiss describing sessions for the band's 2015 comeback,No Cities to Love, as intensive.

"We didn't want to come back after 10 years and have it be like a reunion record; we weren't at all interested in that whole nostalgia thing," she said. "We worked super hard editing and throwing things out that weren't good enough, and starting over and redoing parts. We were sort of brutal on ourselves, and I think that's why the record sounds so concise. We just didn't want any filler on there. We wanted it to feel undeniable."

This momentum has carried over into the trio's live shows, which, unlike those initial rehearsals, have displayed the same power and presence the musicians flaunted nearly a decade ago.

"We're a band about motion and energy," Weiss said. "Sleater-Kinney is like a freight train. It moves along on its own, and it's bigger than us. It feels very important and meaningful, which is something I still really love."

Newport Music Hall

7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5

1722 N. High St., Campus

ALSO PLAYING: Waxahatchee