Sleater-Kinney guitarist/vocalist Corin Tucker says the inspiration behind the indie rock trio's seventh album, "The Woods," its first for Sub Pop, can be traced to the experience of opening for Pearl

Sleater-Kinney guitarist/vocalist Corin Tucker says the inspiration behind the indie rock trio's seventh album, "The Woods," its first for Sub Pop, can be traced to the experience of opening for Pearl Jam in 2003.

"We would start with a song and do improv into [the title track from 1997's] 'Dig Me Out' and it was really fun and exciting and weird and awkward and bizarre," Tucker tells Billboard.com. "And we'd do it in front of 10,000 people who weren't there to see us and it was uncomfortable and cool and it was something that I think caught our interest in what we could play together."

"I think we sort of followed that spark of interest into writing our new record," she continues. "I mean, it's our seventh record, so if we're going to do another one, we should at least be interested in how it's going to turn out."

Despite the fact the band changed labels, a move that presumably would result in releasing a new album, Tucker says there were times the threesome questioned whether they had another disc in them.

"Yeah, it was very frustrating," Tucker says. "It was like, 'Ugh, I don't know if we're going to make another record.' It was definitely a weird, tenuous journey for this record. I think [new track] 'Entertain' is definitely the song that was great. We kind of clung to that song like, 'Okay, we've written this one really great song and there's got to be more in there somewhere' but we all had to get there."

As previously reported, "The Woods" (due May 24), finds Sleater-Kinney taking its sound to new and unusual places with the assistance of producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev).

"I definitely think we wanted to do something that was challenging and creative and kind of took our musicianship up a notch, where we were doing things that weren't straightforward and weren't really easy for us," Tucker says.

Among the many projects Tucker says the group is considering for the future are a greatest hits disc ("Yeah, I don't know -- it's obviously not that exciting to us"), a live album ("I really think we should do that. But I have enough on my plate") and full-length DVD release ("We probably should").

On the trio's upcoming tour, which begins May 31 in Seattle, fans can expect a career-spanning set, including new B-side "Everything" and maybe even a cover of a '70s rock tune that Tucker won't reveal.

"There's going to be some cool stuff on this tour; improv, lighting, backdrops," Tucker says. "There's definitely going to be some interesting things and some oldie moldies from all of the records."