Just as the new fourth season of “Portlandia” was gearing up, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen were making the rounds at South By Southwest.
Armisen had only recently been named as the house band leader for “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” reuniting the two “Saturday Night Live” cohorts for another late-night adventure.
A different reunion may run across the minds of Sleater-Kinney fans, who saw video of the band back together playing “Keep on Rockin' in the Free World” with Neil Young last fall. After our interview at SXSW, Brownstein didn't indicate if the trio was set to come together again. But that doesn't mean she isn't playing music…
As another new ep of “Portlandia” rolls out tonight, here are 10 fun facts that came out of our interview to keep in mind.
1. Apparently, Armisen and Brownstein are incapable of getting sick of each other. Plus, “We don't see each other all the time, we only shoot six months out of the year,” the latter smiled.
2. Armisen said that the duo consciously cut recurring arcs to be a little shorter in Season 4, so audiences would be able to watch shows more out of order without getting too lost.
3. “Portlandia” has always been blessed with a big number of surprising (and surprisingly funny) guest stars, but it's not a matter of crossing names off of a list. Brownstein says that often, actors and artists reach out to them because they're fans of the show, and if the fit's good and timing works out, then something “wonderful” always seems to happen
4. The most magic from a guest star so far — or at least in this season — is from Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who stars in tonight's episode. “We didn't know how the sketch was gonna end,” they conceded and yet the fire alarm story seemed to anchor his whole bit.
5. Speaking of tonight's show, the characters Peter and Nance have come back, circling around on Peter's old band The Bahama Knights and their hit song, which has become one of Brownstein and Armisten's favorite original jams from the series.
6. “Portlandia” is now even more scripted than before. Brownstein says “the more infrastructure in a scene or sketch, the more we can improvise.” It's just good for the actors to know that there's an actual, planned ending to each.
8. Yes, they have some current events and Portland hipster idiosyncrasies that they simply can't their way into to make funny.
9. Armisen on putting the very talented band for “Late Night…” together: he made sure that every member “wanted to do it” that each was “in a place in their lives that were ready to do it, and ready to give a lot…. any show asks a lot.”
10. Brownstein is working on some music of her own. “I'm doing a little music right now but I don't know what's going to come of it,” not indicating if it'd be for her own project, for Wild Flag, S-K or beyond. Armisen and she are finding “engaging” with new music disheartening at times, but…
11. … she likes records by Run the Jewels, King Krule, War on Drugs and Angel Olsen. (Good gets, Secretly Canadian, Fool's Gold, XL and Dead Oceans). Between the two, they're big on guitarists and songwriters St. Vincent and Marnie Stern. And, literally, to the rock group Real Estate, Brownstein beamed “What a band!”