Date: October, 2003
While it seems like almost every longtime SoCal punk band is taking the major label plunge lately, hoping for mainstream success, only one band has been long overdue in gaining the extra exposure. That band is The Distillers. Fronted by vocalist/guitarist Brody Armstrong (ex-wife of Rancid's Tim Armstrong), The Distillers have been on the rise since the Australian-born singer decided to step foot onstage; its past two albums, 2000's self-titled release and 2002's Sing Sing Death House having earned them a slew of fans and a spot headlining the second stage on this year's Lollapalooza tour. Now with their new album, Coral Fang, due Oct. 14, The Distillers sound ready to refine punk. And after Recoil spoke by phone with drummer Andy Granelli, things became even clearer that The Distillers not only have the history, attitude and bravery, but also the sense of humor to exemplify what punk rock needs right now. Just don't go calling them "the next big thing."
Recoil: I've noticed that on some of your past songs, the city of L.A. itself emerged as a major influence and I've read that you'd gotten out of the city to record the new album. Is the city still an influence on the new songs?
Andy Granelli: No, we kind of wanted to escape from L.A. It's just kind of a distraction with all the other shit to do. It was nice being totally isolated and [being able to] just chill and do the record and not have to drive like half way across town to the studio and be hungry by the time you get there and then get food and then, you know, dilly-dally and then want to go see this rad show that's playing that night.
R: What was it like working on the new album with producer Gil Norton?
AG: It was cool. Gil's rad. He was kind of like a daddy. He's cool. He did a good job. We had a lot of fun with him.
R: What was it about his previous work that made you want to work with him on your new album?
AG: Just the fact that he [produced] all these rad bands. He did the Pixies and Echo and the Bunnymen and the Foo Fighters. We were like into all the bands he did and what he did with them.
R: Have things been working out with your new label, Warner Bros./Reprise?
AG: Yeah, totally. Everyone's super cool and behind us and they're all stoked on the record, so you really can't ask for more.
R: I've noticed that a lot of mainstream press seems to focus a lot of attention on Brody's personal life, how do you think that sort of attention effects people's perception of your band?
AG: I don't know how people are really going to take that. I mean their opinions may change when the record comes out, or it might not, but whatever, that's what they choose to focus on.
R: How was your recent tour of Europe?
AG: The tour of Europe was cool. We actually did two shows with the Red Hot Chili Peppers which was really fucking rad. And we did some festivals in the U.K., which was really cool.
R: Do you have any plans on playing Australia, especially considering that Brody's from there?
AG: Yeah, I think we're going to Australia in January, which is going to be fucking awesome. I can't wait to go to Australia. I'm really excited.
R: Do you know if you already have a fan base down there or not?
AG: I don't know. Brody tells me that it takes a while for stuff from America to get over there, so I don't know. It's hard to say. We'll find out.
R: Do you think the fact that Brody's from Australia and comes from that different background gives you a sort of different sound?
AG: Yeah, definitely, because she comes from a completely different world. From what Brody tells us, Australia seems much more different than America just in the respect of the way people treat each other and how everybody interacts. It's much different than the way people in America interact, I think.
R: Do you think that punk music has been becoming more popular in America as of recently?
AG: It seems like it, or at least the style of music that associates itself with punk rock or whatever, yeah. But you know, whatever, it's just some label, some shit. It's easy to just throw that label on some band that's like a punk band or some dude has like a mohawk in the band or some shit like that, you know. Or they're just like alternative or whatever. But I don't know. Is that punk or not? I couldn't tell you. I have my own idea of what I like and whether it be punk or not, that's cool. I don't really care.
R: Speaking of kind of meaningless labels, a number of people have been calling you guys the next big thing. How do you respond to being called that?
AG: I don't know, we'll see. I thought the new Guns N' Roses was going to be the next big thing, but that kind of petered out.
R: What was it like being a part of this summer's return of Lollapalooza?
AG: It was pretty cool, man. It was like a festival-ish, outdoory, kind of fun, hippie mass mosh.
R: Did you guys learn anything from going out on the tour?AG: Yeah, don't try to buy pot off of a hippie.