By: Amy Freeborn
Date: March 10th, 2009
Punk rock goddess Brody Dalle is back from the depths of The Distillers’ demise with her new band, Spinnerette. Bringing ex-Distillers guitarist Tony Bevilacqua, and with a little help from husband Josh Homme’s Queens of the Stone Age producer, Alain Johannes, on ‘plastic surgery’ duties, Spinnerette is a slicker, more polished beast than anything Dalle has lead previously. The band’s debut EP, Ghetto Love, opens with a title track that immediately portrays her husband’s musical influence. It’s groovier, more mature, and with a less punk rock vocal sound than we’re used to from Dalle. These new songs could almost be considered alt-pop; but she reminds us of her roots with some gravelly screams regularly thrown in. And live, her stage presence is still pure punk: “We’re all about fun”, Bevilacqua says, “What would you say?” To which Dalle replies: “We want to make really original music; I think that’s what it comes down to. Spinnerette in some ways really is gnarlier than The Distillers, you know?”
“I think it’s because of the dynamics. Distillers didn’t really have any dynamics, it was just a train wreck, you know, all the way through. Which is really exciting, too, but it’s difficult.”
“Yeah,” Tony adds, “It was either really loud, or kinda loud. There were maybe a few kinda loud things, and everything else was really loud, and really fast.”
It is three years ago that The Distillers ended, and since then, Tony says, “We caught up on all the sleep we missed for two years being on tour.”
Brody breaks it down: “We broke up, I got pregnant, had a baby. My daughter’s three. We made a record; we lost a few people, and made some new friends. And now we’re back on the scene, man.”
But she admits that the bitter end of The Distillers (she has said: “Things were really fucked up at the end. And the way [Distillers drummer] Andy [Granelli] left, I really felt like he stabbed me in the back, because he joined [another band] and never said anything. So that was painful.”) and the new family role she now occupies, did have her considering musical retirement; but only for a moment.
“Yes, I did think about packing it in,” she says.
“But music is kinda more like a compulsion, something I can’t really help doing. So I do it. It’s how we make a living. It’s what I’ve been doing since I was 13 years old. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t do it. I don’t have any other job… this is it, you know. I don’t know how to fly a plane, or I don’t have any desire to be a nurse…”
“I do,” Tony interjects.
Brody: “You want to be a male nurse?”
Tony: “No, a female nurse.”
“That might be rather difficult,” Brody laughs.
Back to the subject at hand, she continues: “[Motherhood] changed everything for me. As far as the type of music I want to write, or my songs, it doesn’t really affect those kinds of things. Well, maybe the subject matter… But when you have a child it makes you realise what’s important in the world. I.E: the giving of love, that’s the biggest thing. And your family and your friends are the most important. And relationships, and trying to untangle the past and figure it all out so you can go into the future, you know.”
Spinnerette is comprised of Brody on vocals and guitar and Tony also on guitar, with, variously, in the studio and on tour, Jack Irons, Nicole Fiorentino, Bryan Tulao and Dave Hidalgo Jr, and Alain Johannes.
“I write the songs, I bring them in,” Brody explains.
“Then Al (Alain Johannes) gives them implants and a face lift, in the most positive way. And maybe some butt implants too,” she teases.
“And Tony does some jangles and some sprinkles, and writes some great leading things, and rad stuff, and wollah.”
At the end of February Spinnerette played their first official live shows – bar a few home town warm-ups – in the UK. But was Brody worried that her punky Distillers fans wouldn’t like the pop-ier new band?
“I figure that if they didn’t want to be there, they wouldn’t,” she says.
“They’ve heard the EP, I think they understand kinda the direction we’re going in… And you’ve got to give people the benefit of the doubt. People like all sorts of music, whether they have a mohawk or not. I know I did, and I do. Just because I don’t have a mohawk anymore doesn’t mean I don’t listen to, you know, any sort of punk rock.”
Tony says: “It seems like people have been pretty open-minded about it. The response that I’ve seen or read on the internet or whatever – everyone seems to be pretty positive and into it. So that is cool.”
“It’s really exciting,” Brody says.
“But it’s really exhausting (playing live) when you haven’t done it for so long. It takes a lot out of you.”
“You have to get into shape, tour shape,” Tony says.
Brody: “Tour shape takes about a week.”
Tony: “And we’re only here (in the UK) for five days so we’re still… trying to…”
Brody: “We’re still really ragged.”
Tony: “But the shows were pretty rad. The crowds were great both nights. Good turn-outs. I think the shows are pretty loose, but really fun, because the energy’s there. Sometimes you can’t wrangle it if your body’s out of it, if you haven’t played a week’s worth of shows. But (this time) it’s made for good shows,” he says.
“I love playing shows (outside of America). America’s very clique-y, you know, people go to one type of show and like one type of band,” he says.
“In America it’s such a scene, you know, you come out of a show and everyone’s like this [and folds his arms], and it’s like ‘why are you even here?’ ‘You seem so bored, why don’t you just go somewhere else? People (in the UK) are more energetic and look like they want to be here. The UK’s one of my most favorite places to play. The sooner (we can come back) the better,” Tony says.