Date: July 3rd, 2009
Spinnerette centerpiece Brody Dalle has come a long way since her days as the Distillers’ gravel-voiced singer/guitarist, a frontwoman with the balls – and chops – to stare down any man on the strip who thought leather pants and rock music was just for the boys. As the only visible torch-bearer of the rock-chick legacy that Joan Jett tended to through the ’80s (and don’t you dare say Courtney), Brody led the Distillers through three blistering albums and a relentless touring schedule that helped define modern punk, but eventually gave way to the band officially calling it quits in early 2006.
After stepping out of the scene for a few years to catch up with her life, taking time out for motherhood and marriage with husband Josh Homme (Queens Of The Stone Age), Dalle has teamed up with her old bandmate Tony Bevilacqua and, with the help of Jack Irons and production wizard/multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes, put together an album that’s a stylistic evolution from The Distillers and a backhand to the mouth of anyone who previously passed her off as “just a punk chick”.
The new project, called Spinnerette, centers on Brody’s musical vision and features a much wider style spectrum than her previous body of work. In their own words: Spinnerette is the sound of a sweaty black leather glove holding a lollipop’s stick, shoving it into crushed glass before offering you the first lick. If that made any sense, it might be Spinnerette. There is sweetness and there is menace. You will have the desire in spite of the obvious danger.
Celebrating the release of their fantastic eponymous debut earlier this month, Spinnerette has hit the road with an arsenal of new songs – and while they may only be a dozen or so shows into the band’s life, it’s clear that this is anything but a one-off project to test the waters for a Distillers comeback.
Brody gave us a call to shed a little light on life with Spinnerette, the importance of personal evolution and why every kid should start their musical journey with The Ramones’ Rocket To Russia.
Antiquiet: With Spinnerette, you’re playing different tempos and changing it up, giving the song what it’s calling for rather than adhering to the strict punk rock rawness you went for with the Distillers. What brought you to this point?
Brody Dalle: I think that if I didn’t do something different that I’d probably shrivel up and die. You can’t do the same thing over and over. There has to be evolution. Doing the same thing… who wants to do that? Not me. That’s fucking boring. And I was 24 when I made Coral Fang. I was just a kid. It doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna make another punk rock record, it’s just a matter of how you define it. To me, the most punk rock thing right now is fuckin Brüno, you know? That’s the punkest thing that’s about to happen in the whole world.
Antiquiet: Have you seen it?
Brody Dalle: No, I cannot wait though. I’m gonna be first in line. I’m gonna punch people. I’m gonna be there.
Antiquiet: You guys are all over the map with styles on the album. Any particular avenues you’d like to go down next?
Brody Dalle: Yeah, it’s this little thing called folk doom. I’m making it up. I fucking hate folk, but folk doom sounds really amazing.
Antiquiet: Folk doom? Like John Denver meets Cannibal Corpse?
Brody Dalle: (Laughs) Yeah, exactly. Totally, that’s rad.
Antiquiet: Alright I’ll only ask one question about Josh (Homme)… Dave Grohl said something about your husband working with John Paul Jones next… what’s that all about?
Brody Dalle: I’m not at liberty to talk about it…
Antiquiet: Fair enough… I remember reading something Jack Irons (Spinnerette drummer) said a long while back, about all these little living room gatherings people would get together and have – these little acoustic sessions that would blow people’s minds if they knew who were there at the time. If you could hand-pick a group of musicians to put a room together just to work the magic and see what would happen, who would it be?
Brody Dalle: God, I have no idea… there are just too many possibilities. I think the thing that you were talking about earlier, which I’m not supposed to talk about, is pretty fucking amazing.
Antiquiet: Really…. what makes it amazing?
Brody Dalle: Just beats and sounds like you’ve never heard before!
Antiquiet: Alright, I won’t push… so switching gears, there’s no way to stop the leaks and the free traders, so what’s the impact and outlook for a band like Spinnerette?
Brody Dalle: Well, it’s funny how social networking has kind of destroyed the community a little bit. Everyone turns on their computers and goes to this place that doesn’t even fucking exist, and it kind of trips me out a little bit. But as far as music goes, music has become fast food, and I’m sure (file sharing) has something to do with why it is that way, but I don’t know. Our record never leaked, and it was floating around for two years.
Antiquiet: Two years?
Brody Dalle: ‘Cause no one cared, it was awesome. There’s no such thing as an impact anymore. Nobody’s selling any records. If it was the Distillers days, we sold a hundred, two hundred thousand records in America, and that back then was somewhat of a failure, but now it’s a fuckin’ revelation.
Antiquiet: How do you make your money then?
Brody Dalle: I don’t right now. I mean, I still get royalty checks from the Distillers that are pretty hefty and nice, but you know I pay my band to go on tour. I don’t get paid. I take a cut. So I’m away from my daughter and I don’t get paid… (laughs)… sooo…
Antiquiet: Obviously that’s not sustainable…
Brody Dalle: Right, well I set up my business so it’s more like a partnership, so I’m not a slave to this big conglomerate anymore, and I have artistic freedom. That means more to me than anything else. I don’t really care about selling units because that means more demand and more away time. I’d like to be an artist like Tom Waits where I’ll just make records and occasionally go out on tour. I’ll do it just for the pure pleasure of making records. And if a select few people like them and want to buy them, then that’s amazing. I’m lucky.
Antiquiet: In our review of your show from the other night, I contrasted the trajectory of your career and the structure of what you’ve got going on to Courtney Love, who’s made a complete fucking mess of herself… wait, I hope you’re not friends with Courtney…
Brody Dalle: I occasionally talk to her… “friends” would be pushing it. I don’t know.
Antiquiet: Well, she’s talented, without question, but her batshit reputation precedes her, and there’s a lot of argument over who wrote her songs. That’s on her, but now you’re getting all kinds of shit in that same vein, saying that your artwork looks like something else or that your production sounds suspiciously similar to Queens, whatever the case may be. Does that enter your mind when making artistic decisions?
Brody Dalle: No… I do what I wanna do. I don’t care if there was a half-naked black lady on the cover of the first Queens record? So fucking what? These people are ludicrous. The hourglass is quintessentially female, and that’s why there’s a fucking torso on my cover with a corset.
My production has nothing to do with me. That has to do with Alain (Johannes, multi-instrumentalist member of Queens Of The Stone Age, Spinnerette and Eleven). Alain and Josh have spent a lot of time in the studio together for years, and I’m sure they have a lot of the same techniques.
Antiquiet: You didn’t exactly round up a bar band for the record, either.
Brody Dalle: Right, there’s also the caliber of playing on the record – Alain Johannes, the guy… he’s the best musician in the world, in my opinion. The type of instruments that guy orders off the internet from China and then masters is insane. So I feel like the guitar playing on my record is so good, that if you’re gonna say it sounds like Queens Of The Stone Age, I don’t have a problem with that. (laughs) Because it’s fucking good. My husband didn’t write my songs. He’s never going to write my songs. He asked me for a riff, and a song, recently, but I would never do that because I would get so much shit for it. But hopefully all that’ll go away one day.
Antiquiet: I just saw a screening of a fantastic film called It Might Get Loud that features all these great conversations and intimate moments with Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page, and they made no attempt to hide their love for and derivation of the blues greats. You said in recent interviews that you loved Howlin’ Wolf… what do you pull from that style?
Brody Dalle: I wouldn’t even know how to pull from that. That’s all I listen to right now, it’s all I can listen to – his Chess Box collection, it’s like 73 songs. It’s on in my car, on my iPod, my computer, it’s really the only thing I listen to. It’s really comforting.
Antiquiet: What draws you to it?
Brody Dalle: We have dinners and stuff that we put on, and somebody randomly put on some Howlin’ Wolf. It was a song called Down In the Bottom that did it… it’s one of my favorite songs. I dunno, it just makes me feel safe inside. (laughs)
Antiquiet: Thanks for taking some time out for us – one last question: What advice would you give to a kid sitting in his/her room with a guitar and some inspiration, but no idea what to do with it?Brody Dalle: Go and get Rocket To Russia by The Ramones. Start there. Teach yourself that, because it’s easy as shit, and it’s fun and it’s rad, and it’s a classic.