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Janet Weiss

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Janet Weiss
Janet Weiss performing with Wild Flag at Coachella 2012.
Janet Weiss performing with Wild Flag at Coachella 2012.
Background information
Birth nameJanet Lee Weiss
Born (1965-09-24) September 24, 1965 (age 58)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresIndie rock, alternative rock
Instrument(s)Drums, guitar, vocals, harmonica
Years active1989–present
Member ofQuasi
Formerly ofSleater-Kinney, The Jicks, Junior High, The Shadow Mortons, The Go-Betweens, Goldcard, The Furies, Motorgoat, Wild Flag, Drumgasm, Slang

Janet Lee Weiss[1] (born September 24, 1965) is an American rock drummer, a member of Quasi and former member of Sleater-Kinney. She was the drummer for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, leaving after the album Mirror Traffic, and contributed to the Shins' fourth studio album, Port of Morrow (2012). She was also the drummer for the supergroup Wild Flag.

Weiss is highly regarded as a drummer; Stylus Magazine listed her in 2007 as number 48 of rock's 50 greatest drummers, while in 2014 LA Weekly placed her at number 12 in the top 20.[2][3] In 2016, Rolling Stone placed her at number 90 on its list of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time, and in 2018, New Musical Express ranked her as number 25 of the top 32 rock drummers.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Weiss was born in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California to a Jewish family,[6] and began playing guitar at the age of 16. According to her interviews, her two elder sisters introduced her "to good music".[7] She left Hollywood aged 17.[7] She attended San Francisco State University and graduated with a degree in photography.[8]


Weiss (right) with Sleater-Kinney bandmates Carrie Brownstein (left) and Corin Tucker, backstage at SXSW 2006.

The Furies[edit]

While in college in San Francisco, Weiss became involved in the local club scene, following local bands such as Camper Van Beethoven and the Donner Party, and absorbing their punky/DIY ethos.[9] When she was 22, Weiss was invited to learn the drums to join an all-girl trio called the Furies as their replacement drummer for a West Coast tour. The Furies' guitarist found Weiss a drum kit at a local pawn shop, and with one drum lesson and about two weeks practice under her belt, she became the Furies' second drummer.[9] Self-taught as a drummer, Weiss learned her technique by watching the drummers at innumerable live shows, and by studying rock and punk greats like John Bonham and Topper Headon.[9] She moved to Portland, Oregon in 1989 and soon after began playing with former Donner Party leader, Sam Coomes, in a band called Motorgoat. (Motorgoat disbanded and reformed as Quasi in 1993; Coomes is Weiss's ex-husband.)


Weiss started playing with Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein in Sleater-Kinney in 1996, after seeing them play a show. Tucker and Brownstein then played her a new song they were working on at the time, "Dig Me Out". Her bandmates later said that she made up a beat so solid "you could practically bang your head against it." Weiss eventually became the band's drummer; she was the fourth in the band's history.[10] Brownstein has described Weiss as "one of the most musically intelligent people I know" and "certainly the most musically gifted member of the band, the one with the largest musical lexicon and sphere from which to draw influence and reference."[11]

On July 1, 2019, Sleater-Kinney announced via social media that Weiss would be leaving the group and would not be joining their upcoming fall tour. Weiss said that the band was taking a "new direction" and that it was time for her to exit.[12]


Weiss and Sam Coomes formed Quasi in 1993, and the band has remained active both as a duo and a trio, featuring Joanna Bolme from 2007 to 2011, for the past 30+ years.

The Jicks[edit]

Upon the dissolution of Sleater-Kinney in 2006, Weiss joined Quasi bandmate Joanna Bolme in Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. She performed on two albums, Real Emotional Trash (2008) and Mirror Traffic (2011). She left the band prior to its tour in support of the latter album.

Wild Flag[edit]

Beginning in September 2010, she drummed in Wild Flag, with Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney), Mary Timony (Helium), and Rebecca Cole (the Minders). By December 2013, Wild Flag had disbanded.[13]

Other work[edit]

She has also played for Bright Eyes, Junior High, the Shadow Mortons, the Go Betweens, Sarah Dougher, Elliott Smith, and one Goldcard song.[7] She is in the band Slang, with her partner Drew Grow (formerly of Modern Kin, Careen, Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives, and Five O'Clock People).

Janet Weiss of Wild Flag

On June 4, 2007, she performed with Bright Eyes on the Late Show with David Letterman before joining the band for their summer European tour.


Weiss was part of the production team on the TV show, Portlandia, working as the permit manager; bandmate Carrie Brownstein was one of the show's creators and lead actors.[14]


Weiss performing with Bright Eyes in 2007.

Weiss plays a vintage Ludwig kit (ca. 1973) in natural maple finish. Specs. as follows:[15][7]

  • 6.5x14" Craviotto Snare
  • 9x13 rack tom
  • 16x16 floor tom
  • 14x22 bass drum

She played a similar kit at Coachella in April 2008, except the Ludwigs were the Blue Oyster 'Bowling Ball' finish. The Craviotto snare was still natural maple.[16]

Cymbals: Zildjian

Hardware: DW


  • Remo coated Ambassadors on snare and toms, Powerstroke 3 on bass drum batter.


  • Silverfox MR

Album appearances[edit]

Weiss (right) with Quasi bandmate Joanna Bolme at The Green Man Festival 2006


  1. ^ "American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers". ASCAP. Archived from the original on 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  2. ^ "Stylus Magazine's 50 Greatest Rock Drummers". Stylus Magazine. 2007-07-30. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  3. ^ "The 20 Best Drummers of All Time". LA Weekly. 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  4. ^ "100 Greatest Drummers of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 March 2016.
  5. ^ "32 of the best drummers to grace rock 'n' roll". NME. 21 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Meet Carrie Brownstein: A Triple Threat". Jewish Women's Archive. March 28, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  7. ^ a b c d Hansen, Candace (2017-09-22). "Sleater Kinney Drummer Janet Weiss Brings Hard Hitting Flavor to Music Tastes Good". OC Weekly. Retrieved 2017-09-23.
  8. ^ "Interview: Janet Weiss, Drummer of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks | The Village Voice". www.villagevoice.com. 15 July 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  9. ^ a b c "The Cravioto Drum Co.: Artists – Janet Weiss". The Cravioto Drum Co. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-01-26.
  10. ^ "The Official Website of Sleater-Kinney". Sleater-kinney.com. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  11. ^ Brownstein, Carrie (2015). Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir. New York: Riverhead Books, p. 127.
  12. ^ "Sleater-Kinney Drummer Janet Weiss Quits as Band Moves in 'New Direction'". Billboard.
  13. ^ "Indie Rock Supergroup Wild Flag Are No More". 5 December 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-13.
  14. ^ Rob Owen (2015-01-05). "'Portlandia' tries a new approach for Season 5". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2015-01-26.
  15. ^ "The online presence of Modern Drummer Magazine". Modern Drummer. 2011-10-20. Archived from the original on 2011-01-08. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  16. ^ "Janet Weiss of the Jicks | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. 26 April 2008. Retrieved 2011-10-30.

External links[edit]