The Distillers were an American punk rock band from Los Angeles, CA, formed in 1998 by Australian-born Brody Dalle (vocals, guitar), whose deep, gravelly voice gave the band their distinctive sound. They released only 3 full-length albums, and endured significant line-up changes before breaking up in 2006, but Brody was the band’s core, writing or co-writing nearly every song. The Distillers are my favorite female-fronted punk rock band, and Brody Dalle’s look, then and now, is a vision of punk beauty. Then, her pale skin, darkened eyes, messy black hair, and luscious red lips accentuated by a lip ring inspired many punk rock girls. Now, Brody’s a mom, but, she’s still a punk rock goddess.
In 1995, Brody met Tim Armstrong, of the American punk rock band Rancid, in Australia. She was 16. He was 29, but, Brody lied about her age, and, they hooked up. They eventually married, after Brody turned 18, in 1997. She moved with Armstrong from Melbourne to L.A., where she formed The Distillers. They divorced in 2003, and Brody adopted her current surname, which is taken from her favorite gap-toothed French actress, Beatrice Dalle, who starred in Brody’s favorite film, Betty Blue (1986). The legendary actress is, I’ve read, also the reason why Brody dyed her naturally blonde hair black. By the way, Beatrice Dalle also starred, with Alysson Paradis, in the excellent 2007 French horror film À l’intérieur (Inside), directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo.
The Distillers eponymous debut (2000) was raging with raw angry punk inspired by Brody’s husband’s band, Rancid. But, the music was favorably compared to Hole, and, Brody Dalle to Courtney Love. Nirvana and Hole were early influences on Brody, but The Distillers were definitely more punk, less grunge. “The World Comes Tumblin'” and a cover of New York punk icon Patti Smith’s “Ask the Angels” are standout tracks. The latter, in fact, is one of those covers that is better than the original. “Red Carpet and Rebellion”, “The Blackest Years”, “Colossus U.S.A.”, “L.A. Girl”, “Oh Serena”, “Distilla Truant”, and “Oldscratch” are all great tracks, too.
The follow-up, Sing Sing Death House (2002), was more of the same, but even better, more focused. The bouncy, autobiographical anthem “The Young Crazed Peeling” and the Rancid-ish “City of Angels” are definite gems. I love, in “The Young Crazed Peeling,” when Brody, at the end of the second verse, snarls: “Go on pull the trigger / this’ll be the last time!” Then, at the end of the third verse: “The way you feel, it’s okay / It’s never gonna change anyway!” Oh, and “Sick of It All”, “Desperate”, “Bullet and the Bullseye”, “Young Girl”, “Hate Me”, “I Am a Revenant”, “I Understand”, and “Sing Sing Death House” are all great tracks, too.
Watch videos for “The Young Crazed Peeling” and “City of Angels” here:
The Distillers final album, Coral Fang (2003), was a major leap forward from their previous releases. Brody, the only remaining member of the original band, ditched her Mohawk, and integrated a more alternative rock sound, with bigger production, into the mix. Sure, The Distillers were still punk, but, their sound was maturing, becoming more accessible. But, Brody was angrier, post-divorce, and, it showed in her lyrics and her harsh vocals, especially on the track “Hall of Mirrors,” one of the best songs Brody’s ever written, which is obviously directed at her ex, Tim Armstrong. I love the first line: “I come down like a hurricane sucked up inside / And I spit out the suffer, yeah.” Sure, “Hall of Mirrors” is my favorite track, but Coral Fang, for me, is a near perfect album. Every song is worth listening to, from the first track, “Drain the Blood,” an awesome first single, to, arguably, the very last track, “Deathsex,” a 12-minute hardcore blast of, mostly, guitar noise (which is a nod to Patti Smith‘s “Radio Ethiopia”). I love in “Dismantle Me” how Brody sings the bridge softly, almost whispering, then screams into a Ramones-ish riff. “The Hunger” is a slow burner driven by softer verses that erupt into fiery choruses: “Don’t go!!” Brody screams, passionately. “The Gallow is God” is like Nirvana, circa In Utero (1993), with a female Kurt Cobain. Seriously. “Coral Fang”, “Die on a Rope”, “Love Is Paranoid”, “Beat Your Heart Out”, and “For Tonight You’re Only Here to Know” are all great, too.
Watch videos for “Drain the Blood,” “The Hunger” and “Beat Your Heart Out” here:
Brody Dalle married Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme in 2007. They have two children together. Thus, she’s a mom. And, in 2008, Brody formed the band Spinnerette with Tony Bevilacqua (guitar) of The Distillers.
Facebook (Brody Dalle): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brody-Dalle/