Brody Dalle: the take-no-prisoners powerhouse talks inspiration and destinations with a soul mate
By: Shirley Manson
Date: August, 2004
It seems like it's been forever since music has had a new queen of rock, a Joan Jett, a Chrissie Hynde, or a Courtney Love whose primal scream echoes through the culture. But Brody Dalle, front woman of the L.A. rock outfit the Distillers, is making a case for the throne with her offstage romances--including her divorce from Rancid's Tim Armstrong, and her current relationship with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme--and her high-octane onstage antics. After working extensively for the past five years, 25-year-old Dalle takes a break from her European tour and talks to good friend Shirley Manson.
BRODY DALLE: Shirley! Baby, how are ya?
SHIRLEY MANSON: I'm not bad. Your voice sounds all shot.
BD: No, it's okay.
SM: I'm sorry, honey. But just imagine, you could be me, dying to go out on the road when instead I'm home, stuck in studio hell.
So a lot of people label your band "punk rock," but you don't see yourself as solely a punk band, do you?
BD: Not if it's defined by what's current, no. I don't relate to any of the shit that's labeled punk right now. It totally disgusts me.
SM: I find that the definition of punk rock has become so narrow that it is so not what punk was supposed to be about.
BD: Originally, punk was born out of artistic freedom and a really left-wing political sense. It's got nothing to do with that now. I find myself saying to people, "Listen, just because you have a Mohawk and you look punk doesn't mean that you are." One thing that inspires us is something I think Greg Ginn said about Black Flag when they slowed down. Everyone was like, "You guys aren't punk anymore," and he was like, "The music doesn't have to be fast to make an impact." That goes around in my head like a mantra. And besides, we're evolving. I don't have a desire to scream as much as I did. I just want to sing.
SM: YOU sure can knock out all those guitar licks. There are so few women guitarists who can actually play their instrument.
BD: I totally agree with you. There is a definite drought.
SM: Certainly in the pop realm there're a lot of women.
BD: They're all blondes, too. Did you notice that?
SM: All blonde. Not you and me.
SM: But in alternative rock there's the holy triad--you, of course, Peaches, and Karen O [of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs]. It was so unusual for all three of you to emerge at the same time when there had been so little action for so long. Why do you think you've succeeded?
BD: A lot of hard work and a lot of touring. But to be honest with you, Shirls, I don't think my band would be as big as it is if I were a boy. People are always like, "What's it like to be a woman in a band?" And I'm like, "I don't know," because I don't know what it's like to be a man in a band.
SM: You get bashful when I say this, but you have emerged as a sex symbol.
SM: Do think success makes you sexy?
BD: Fuck yeah! Don't you think so?
SM: [laughs] Of course! I know that to be true.
BD: It makes you feel like you're on top of the world. You own your shit. You own who you are.
SM: So in the grand scheme of things, where do you want to be? Do you see yourself touring for a decade?
BD: Probably, but I'd like to do it differently. I'm not going to grind my bones into a fine powder. But I think it's really hard, especially for women. Because all I want to do right now is nest and have babies; I don't want to fucking be on tour.
SM: [laughs] Oh, my God, that is not what I expected you to say!
BD: But you know what I mean? Like, yes, I want a herb garden, and I want to get my nails dirty. All I can think about right now is fucking being pregnant and cooking dinner.
SM: So we're going to do The Actors Studio: Favorite swear word?
SM: Favorite movie?
BD: Betty Blue .
SM: Favorite actress to play you in a movie?
BD: Fuck, I love Beatrice Dalle [the star of Betty Blue].
SM: The best piece of advice you can give to someone wanting to do what you do?
BD: Don't take no for an answer.
SM: Thong, boy shorts or bare cheeks?
BD: I like bare cheeks.
SM: I'm glad you said that. Favorite pet saying?
BD: Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.