Tina Schlieske is nervous about her gig Saturday at First Avenue. That’s surprising for someone who has rocked more Minnesota barrooms than probably any other woman.
Of course, her clubland prime was the 1980s and ’90s, when Tina and the B-Sides ruled the Twin Cities scene. Now that her band has released its first album of new material in 15 years, Schlieske is apprehensive.
“It’s kinda scary,” she admitted last week from Santa Barbara, Calif., where she moved about 10 years ago. “First Avenue doesn’t change at all for any musician who’s from Minneapolis. It’s such an accomplishment to play there. I was surprised at how frightened I am to play there again. So far, ticket sales are pretty good.”
The smooth move was getting back together and recording the album.
After a successful reunion concert at the Minnesota Zoo in 2009, Schlieske “was so surprised as to how easy it was playing with these guys again, and how much fun it was. We only broke up out of frustration and probably grinding it down to the point where I didn’t really have much more to put into it. We never broke up because we didn’t get along or because somebody had substance abuse issues or whatever.”
The gig made her realize how much she “genuinely liked these guys as people.” So after a few solo albums, she decided to “write with the band mentality again.”
She spent about a year and a half crafting material for “Barricade” — trading files and ideas with the B-Sides and co-producer Patrik Tanner. The songs were more structured than the create-a-song-out-of-a-jam approach of old. Then, last summer, the album was recorded in 10 days at the Terrarium studio in southeast Minneapolis.
Schlieske, 48, did not want to be another ’90s band rehashing its old sound. “Creatively I want to move on, and I think we did that with this record,” she said.
While still demonstrating Schlieske’s rock ’n’ soul heart, “Barricade” is a little more Americana and occasionally twangier. There is a hint of Glen Campbell in “Blue” and a whole lot of Hank Williams Jr. in “I Hope I Pass Your Audition.” With its echoes of Janis Joplin, “Let It Be Me” is classic Tina.
The closing selection is a version of Bob Marley’s “Guava Song,” which Schlieske learned from — of all places — Barbra Streisand’s 1974 album “Butterfly.”
When putting together “Barricade,” Schlieske asked fans on Facebook for recommendations for covers. “One person wrote in ‘Guava Jelly,’ and I remembered we played that song in the very early B-Sides days,” she said.
The Apple Valley-reared Schlieske started the band in 1984 as Tina and the B-Side Movement. It became a mainstay on the Minnesota bar scene with cranked-up covers of the Stones and AC/DC.
The group self-released the albums “Young Americans” in 1992 and “Monster” in ’94, selling more than 50,000 copies, an impressive total for a regional indie group. That led to a contract with Sire Records — home to Madonna and Talking Heads — and the albums “Salvation” in ’96 and “It’s All Just the Same” in ’98. The band disbanded in 1999, exiting with the live collection “The Last Polka.”
Schlieske has since released solo recordings, including 2008’s “Evil Gal Blues” and this year’s “One of the Boys,” featuring songs by such Minnesota stars as Bob Dylan, Prince and the Replacements. She continued to perform in her hometown with her cover band Lola and the Red Hots.
As for the B-Sides, vocalist Laura Schlieske, Tina’s sister, moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., about eight years ago, and runs an acupuncture clinic and sings with two groups. Guitarist Troy Norton plays with a Carpenters cover band; drummer Ron Caron plays in the Melismatics and with ex-Prince sideman Matt Fink, and bassist Jeremy Plumb does production work for commercials, TV and film.
The group tested the concert waters this year with a few performances in Austin, Texas, during South by Southwest. They will rehearse this week in the Twin Cities after Schlieske arrives Monday.
The First Avenue gig — the band’s first appearance there since ’99 — is essentially an album release party. Schlieske is trying to figure out how to integrate the new material with the old. “It’s a matter of getting the right set list together, which is what I’m stressing about right now,” she said.
By the time Tina and the B-Sides undertake a fall tour of the Upper Midwest and the East and West coasts, she’ll have the set list — and her nerves — under control.