Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happy Accidents

The Distillers' Andy Outbreak sounds off.

By: Unknown
Date: July 22nd, 2002

If you're down with punk rock music - not whiny, flowers-and-candy-for-my-punk-rock-girl crap, but hard-charging, unrelenting and honest punk fucking rock - you might remember the name Andy Outbreak from his previous band, The Nerve Agents. These days, Andy doesn't care so much about that. He'd rather move on and concentrate on the sound and fury of his new band, The Distillers. This mix-gender four-piece (Andy on drums, Brody on vocals and guitar, Ryan on bass and vocals, and Rose on guitar and vocals) is known specifically for not wasting time or energy on music that doesn't incite passion.

Read the following words carefully but don't read too much into them because, as this talented drummer likes to put it, actions speak louder than words.

The Distillers' first album was much rawer in terms of sound and all the other intangibles. How has the band grown into what we hear on the second album (Sing Sing Death House)?
I think with the addition of me with Ryan…well, I think that, with the old band, Kim and Ryan didn't get along too well at the end, and I don't think they worked too well together. Now we all work together pretty well and it's pretty cohesive and everything seems to work out. We all have a lot of fun, you know? It's all about having fun and not about bringing crazy stress, so we just wanted to make the best record we could, and I think that's what we did.

Is that why the new album came together so quickly?
Yeah, it came about pretty quick, but if you think about it, it had been almost two years since the first album came out to when Sing Sing came out. I joined the band a year and a half ago, when we did the Rancid / AFI / Distillers tour, I think in 2001. That's when I first started playing with The Distillers. Dante from The Nerve Agents was playing bass and he ended up not being in the band full time - he didn't want to do it - so then we got Ryan shortly thereafter.

A lot of The Distillers' songs seem to hold people accountable for their actions. What role does consequence play in your life?
My life revolves around it! Everything I do in life has a consequence. 

How does that translate into the music?
A lot of the lyrics that Brody writes are stories about people she's run across. Everywhere you go there's someone shitty, you know? Bad stuff happens to everyone and it's the kind of thing you learn from. It's the kind of thing you talk about. Consequence, in the end, is the lesson. It happens to everyone.

Do you think that's why people have taken such a strong hold on your music?
I don't know, it's hard for me to say. I mean, I read lyrics but I don't go too far into it. So it's hard for me to say really why people like our music. I know it's something everyone can relate to, for sure. 

So what's different between a band that draws well in their hometown compared to a band that plays out a lot?
I think it's talent. 

You mean like a "local hero syndrome?"
Yeah. I don't know, maybe it's the market that they are playing to or maybe it's label support or lack of label support, or it's who knows (or doesn't know) who, or any number of things. I mean, if you take all the kids in the US as a "market," which is how they are viewed a lot of the times, it seems like a lot of kids are picking up on bands like AFI, who kind of tell stories.

Rather than a band like Dead Kennedys, who advocate changing the system and the acceptable status quo?
Right, but I think that's also changing as well. I heard once that all the really good punk rock music comes when there is a republican president. The Regan era, for example, brought us more good music than I can remember 'cause everyone was so pissed off that everything was so fucked up. The last 15 years have been pretty quiet, you know? Nothing like airplanes crashing into the World Trade Towers. So maybe that's why things are changing again, and maybe that could be it. As far as the local hero thing, I know it's fucking hard to tour nowadays. To become a national punk rock act like AFI…I mean, AFI tours fucking constantly. They're always on tour, their lives are that band and it's very difficult to do that now. Just out of the cost of rent or living at home or going to school like maybe 10 or 15 years ago, you could just sack it and pay a hundred bucks for a room and just tour. But now, you just can't afford it. It's really hard to find that freedom now. 

What inspires you to put it all on the line like that for the music, just to say fuck it I'm gonna play my drums?
Honestly, it's a funny story. I was living in the city [San Francisco] going to college and I was totally bummed, just hating what I was doing. I didn't like school but I had been playing in punk rock bands for a while and I knew that that was what I wanted to do, you know, that was the number one best. So one day I was sitting waiting for the MUNI to come to take me to class, and I was like "Fuck this. If the train comes to go downtown before the MUNI, then I'm gonna go get a job, drop out of school and play drums and go on tour all the time. Instead of working and going to school I'm gonna work and play in a band. So the downtown train came and I took it. And since then it's been a bunch of happy accidents.

That's a great story!
Kind of bone-head of me, but whatever. It seems to be working out.