INTERVIEW: Brody Dalle

Published in The Music (WA, NSW, VIC, QLD) | 23.04.14 | Issue # 35



The only thing you need to know about Brody Dalle’s new album is that it “kicks arse”. Returning to music after a project that was destroyed by depression, she tellsDaniel Cribb she’s found a balance.

“I played a terrible show in Perth last time,” Brody Dalle laughs, sitting cross-legged in a green room backstage at Perth Arena and reminiscing – as best she can – on her last venture Down Under. Her last trip to Australia in 2010 saw a short run of club shows in support of her new project at the time, Spinnerette, and shortly after, the project fell apart.

“I think I had drunk a whole bottle of vodka – I was really missing my kid at that point, so I was a mess. I don’t actually remember the show… I’d kind of come out of post-partum depression, and I just didn’t feel like myself; I kind of had a bit of an identity crisis, and it took me a moment to figure it out.”

Since first picking up a guitar over 20 years ago, Dalle’s career hasn’t slowed down, taking turns in every direction. Born and raised in Melbourne, it was at age 18, after several years fronting local act Sourpuss, that she packed her bags and flew to LA where she founded the band she’s most well known for: The Distillers. After eight years of relentless touring which produced three albums, the band came to end in 2006, the same year Dalle gave birth to her first child, daughter Camille Harley Joan, with her husband, Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme. Spinnerette was formed a year later, and its short-lived existence gave the impression that maybe Dalle’s days of touring and making music had come to an end, or at least slowed down. But then, at the end of 2012, she announced a solo album in the works. And now, sitting backstage at Perth Arena, Dalle’s finally back in the country, with a healthy perspective and balance between family and music, touring as the opening support on the Queens Of The Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails co-headline tour, with both of her kids in tow.

“The tour’s been good – I mean, I haven’t been home yet – I haven’t been to Melbourne,” she says. Having left Australia in her teens and living in the US for almost 20 years, most of her Australian accent has dissolved. But, when she pronounces the name of her hometown, her native tongue bleeds in. “And I love Sydney – I could live there.”

The tour sees Dalle supporting her debut solo record, Diploid Love, the first release under her own name. While she still tours with a backing band, releasing music solo has given way to a more sustainable method of writing and recording. “I don’t have the time to devote to a band – I always wanted to be in a band, I always wanted to be in a gang – in a crew of people, but I still do everything anyway, you know. The people in my bands played their parts, but I wrote all the songs – I write all the songs, and I like playing the bass and the drums, so why can’t I record it? I played 90 percent of the music on my record.

“I don’t play horns,” Dalle laughs when queried about the horn section that appears from time to time. “I got Mariachi El Bronx and Mariachi Divas – which is like a crew of chick mariachi horn players that are bad arses – they wear the full regalia.”

Guest appearances from Garbage’s Shirley Manson, The Strokes’ Nick Valensi, QOTSA’s Michael Shuman and more fill the remaining ten percent, rounding out a solid debut.

A lot’s changed, but the punk rock ethos that manifested throughout her teen years as she toured the world as vocalist/guitarist of The Distillers is still undeniably evident, resurfacing in fine form from time to time. “The title [Diploid Love] came from when I was researching foetuses. A diploid is a foetus – it’s the very beginning stage; a diploid cell is the set of chromosomes from the mum and the dad smashed together and then you’ve got a human with a whole unique DNA of its own.

“Everyone seems to think foetus is such a disgusting word, it’s so weird – maybe it’s just in America, maybe not here – but in America when you say foetus, everyone’s like, ‘Ew, oh god!’ so in my video I deliberately put an umbilical cord dropping down on the floor and blood splattering everywhere. If something’s ugly or gross, I like to investigate what makes it so ugly or gross, because it’s not weird or gross or ugly to me.”

Daniel Cribb