What We Do Is Not Normal

Brody Dalle and the art of Distilling

A Cliff's Notes version of the Distillers' history:

Before she was LA's reigning scarlet-lipped and husky-voiced punk rock savior, Brody Dalle was a rough-around-the-edges gutter punk in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Spending her early teens swimming against a tide of drugs and misery, she found salvation in music.

After a short stint playing guitar with British hardcore crusties Discharge, she started the all-female Sourpuss at age 14. A few years later, Dalle met Rancid front man Tim Armstrong at a music festival in Australia, and it was love at first sight. Two years into their very long-distance relationship, Dalle was on a plane to LA to live, rock and become Mrs. Armstrong.

But she was no housewife. Not long after her move to SoCal, Dalle formed the Distillers, recording an album for Armstrong's Hellcat Records. They toured with Rancid, went through lineup changes and put out their second release, Sing Sing Death House(which spawned the radio-friendly "City of Angels" and gained the band a whirlwind of well-deserved recognition). Their new album, Coral Fang, reveals Dalle's maturity as a writer and the band's willingness to experiment with their music.

Oh, yeah—and there's that much-yakked-about divorce from Armstrong and the new love in Dalle's life, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme. But that's really none of our business. . . .

OC Weekly: Coral Fang sounds much more melodic and harmony-laden thanSing Sing Death House.Brody Dalle: It's a little more obvious [with this record], but I think the harmonies on Sing Sing are really prevalent. There're also a lot of background stuff on Sing Sing most people probably can't hear that are so sickeningly melodic, which is why I kind of covered them up. But I wasn't afraid to do that on Coral Fang. On the first record we made, I was listening to so much Blondie it was ridiculous! You can actually hear some Blondie lines and melodies in there. You're doing the "Rapture" rap.

Yeah, kinda, but just really fast. This record is slowed down a little. I think that's why it makes it more obvious.

What do you find is the perfect writing situation for you? Do you write on tour?

I tend to not write on tour because I don't have the space. When I write, I do so with a typewriter, and I usually like to go somewhere at night where I have a view.

A typewriter? Like peck-peck-peck?

Fuck, yeah! An old-school one. I had a '70s Smith-Corona that I typed on so much the engine burned out. They didn't make the spools anymore to put the ink on, so I had to buy the ink and unravel all the tape and re-ravel it. Then I'd get ink all over my face and stuff. It was a total nightmare! I love the idea that I'd be writing, like, a small novel, and at the end, I'd have this thick fuckin' pile of paper with disjointed words and rewrites and edits. It's interesting to me because I can look back and feel like I accomplished something.

Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?

Yeah, it was "City of Angels."

Was that trippy?

Oh, my God, yeah! It sounded bizarre to hear it coming back. It was KROQ's Top Five at Nine, and it was No. 1, and I couldn't believe it, but it was really exciting. I wondered how other people were reacting to it. I'd love to be a fly on the wall and see it. Or a fly in the car on the freeway.

Do you ever go online to see what people are saying about you and your band?

I don't because I've learned my lesson. It's sort of a double-edged sword, y'know? I haven't been on our message board in a year because every time I go there, I want to smash my laptop. I do! I've thrown it across the room just out of pure disgust and frustration. It's like, 'Don't you people have anything better to talk about than who I'm fucking, or a picture of me that makes me look fat, or something I've said that's been misconstrued?' I just don't read it. That's my way of dealing with it.

It's not really about the music anymore.

It's not. It's about my personal life, and these people don't know me, and I don't know them. It's about my persona, which is so different from who I really am. Which is actually kind of great because it protects me a little bit. It makes me out to be this real hardass. It's cool. I'm a pussycat.

Is it tough to be gone so long on tour and be away from home?

All the time. But I'm a person who can adapt really to any situation. But the older I get, the more I want that stability, my own space, or just to fuckin' act like a normal person for once [laughs] because what we do is not normal.

After being in a band with all girls, do you like it better being in a band with your boys?
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