By: Dani Oliva –
A decade ago, at the pinnacle of their success, The Distillers, fronted by Brody Dalle, unexpectedly went on hiatus after the release of their critically acclaimed album Coral Fang. The album served to bridge the vast gap between mainstream and punk rock, a tremendous feat for any band, with Dalle’s corrosive female vocals at the forefront.
Now sober, married to Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme, and mother of two, Dalle is back with a debut solo album, Diploid Love, her first new material in five years.
Diploid Love, Dalle’s fifth release, may be her most introspective. The album is a mature meditation on new beginnings, with Dalle’s signature anthemic choruses, dirty bass-lines, and that in-your-face kick. Featuring a stunning list of collaborators, Diploid Love is part of the wave of releases bringing rock ‘n’ roll back in to focus.
Your previous band, The Distillers, broke up in 2004. I don’t think your fans realized that you were as devastated about the split as they were. What were you feeling at that time?
My world came crashing down … I found out that Andy Granelli [The Distillers’ drummer] was playing with Darker My Love and for some reason he was afraid to tell me. So I felt very betrayed. There was all this secrecy and stuff going on behind my back. That was also the end of a two-year cycle of full on touring and working. I think the band and I coped like a rock ‘n’ roll band on tour, by basically numbing ourselves. We had a great time, and we had not so great times.
We were exhausted at the end of 2004. We were wrecked. We were uninspired. I had a couple of songs, but I really wasn’t interested in making a record at that moment. Our record label was setting us up meetings with all of these producers but we had nothing and no reason to go into the studio.
After I found out about the Darker My Love thing, it made the gap even larger. It made me feel so alienated from [the boys], especially from Andy. I couldn’t believe he would do that to me and not tell me. I don’t have a problem with anyone being in a band. Sometimes bands are really incestuous, you know? You go over here and play with this band, and collaborate and stuff. I didn’t understand why he didn’t tell me.
[Andy and I] spoke on the phone, and it was very tearful. We couldn’t see another way for it to be other than to just end it. I think I cried for a week straight. I didn’t think I had any tears left in my body. It absolutely crushed me. It was devastating. That was my life, you know? Those boys were my best friends. And then I was like, where do I go from here? What do I do? I didn’t know what to do. I had never been in that situation before, not knowing where I was going or what I was doing. I had always been in a band. I always had a direction that I was headed in…that was the beginning of the next chapter of my life.
The last Distillers album, Coral Fang, was a tremendous record.
We were at the height of our success! It was like wow, what a place to go out.
Why did you decide to bring The Distillers’ songs back and perform them now?
The most important reason is that I wrote them and I have this catalogue of songs. Why wouldn’t I be able to play them, you know what I mean? They sound great with my new songs and it just works. Also, I couldn’t give away my whole [unreleased] record and I needed content to play.
I hear everything from Sourpuss to Spinnerette in Diploid Love. Were you intentionally self-reflective or is the sound of the album part of your growth as an artist?
I rarely look back. I’m always going forward. I mean it makes sense, I wrote the song. No, I don’t look back.
What about your debut solo album, Diploid Love, is new for you?
I played most of the instruments on the record. Whether it was the drum machine, or synths or bass. My main instrument is guitar. I played probably 80% of the music on [Diploid Love] and I really wouldn’t want to do it any other way anymore. I want to do it all.
It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t collaborate or have guests. That’s the other thing; I’ve never had guests on my album before. That was really cool too. It was a new experience, where anything is possible. It’s so exciting and fresh.