Sunday, October 02, 2011

Rock & Roll Takeover At The Troubadour With Spinnerette

On June 24, Spinnerette performed to a crowd of Los Angeles hometown fans at West Hollywood's The Troubadour. Despite battling a case of laryngitis, front woman Brody Dalle's nonchalant stage presence gave no sign that she was feeling under the weather, as she powered through a set list of nearly the entire track listing of the band's self-titled debut, as well as "Borderline," a track she and guitarist Tony Bevilacqua collaborated with LA2DAY favorite Adam Freeland on.

During the gypsy-rockesque "Impaler" (as in Vlad), the audience was treated to a guest appearance by non-touring band member Alain Johannes on cig-fiddle, a double-necked guitar-like instrument crafted from a cigar box by Matty Barratto. Johannes stayed for the remainder of the set, which included a four-guitar rendition of the album's epic closer, "Prescription for Mankind".

Johannes (Eleven and Queens of the Stone Age), produced, played on, and co-wrote the album of tracks that range from rocking, yet danceable ("Ghetto Love") to melodically trippy ("Distorting a Code"). When I caught up with Dalle, she spoke of how fortunate she's been to find Johannes as a writing partner.

"I've been looking for someone to write with for years. It's a really difficult thing because you can get along really well with someone, but you might not necessarily like their taste or style, and I'm lucky to have found both in one person. There's something about the way Al and I work together that's really magical. He can play every instrument, and he's a genius and he's a magician, so I feel really lucky."

The album showcases Dalle's range, not only as a songwriter, but also as a vocalist, whose abilities go far beyond her signature scream that attracted most of the Troubadour crowd to her last band, The Distillers. Despite Spinnerette's less acerbic sound when compared to The Distillers, her lyrics remain aggressively vulnerable in songs like "Cupid" ("Cupid's a heartless angel with cruel composure").

Though the span of styles on this album makes it seem as if no two songs sound the same, one track, the ode to rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson "Sex Bomb," was actually the product of the bass line to "Walking Dead."

"I had too many vocal melodies for the same part, so I just made another song out of it," Dalle explained. (Freeland remixed "Sex Bomb", in exchange for the vocals Dalle contributed to "Borderline", since the DJ that Dalle refers to as a "sweet heart," "didn't have any money to pay other artists.")

Spinnerette are currently signed to Ray Daniel's label Anthem. When I asked Dalle if there were any advantages to working in the current structure (or lack thereof) of the music industry, she could only offer optimistic speculation.

"The format is changing, and it has to adapt, even though it seems really chaotic. It is chaotic [but that] might be a good thing, where you get to skate through and do things your own way before there's a new model put in place. Maybe there won't be a new model, but the record companies are pretty much defunct...We'll see what happens."

When I commented that the general view of the business is pretty pessimistic right now, she explained that it's probably because the old system offered a sense of certainty.

"I think people probably miss the monster because the monster was like clockwork, and in one sense it was pretty reliable. You knew where your next meal was coming from, and you knew what you had to do, and where to go, and what time you had to be there. And it was kind of a guarantee that if you were at a certain level, you would sell a certain amount of records, and all you had to do was kind of be a rock star and go on tour, and get on your bus, and do your thing. And I think now it's so much more involved."

Because Spinnerette are signed to an independent label, they will be able to continue working with Top Spin, a digital media technology company that allowed the band to self-release their "Ghetto Love EP" online last December. Dalle says the company that cuts out the middleman will handle "special packages that go out to the fans, ‘cause that's the point." 

Spinnerette are on tour until September, when they will get to enjoy the month off. After that Dalle will be "trying to figure out my husband's schedule and my schedule... staggering tours basically, because my daughter is numero uno." Los Angeles fans can probably expect Spinnerette's return toward the end of the year.