There was a time in my life, shameful as it is, where I thought Creed was pretty hardcore. …………..Yeah. I was feeling pretty dangerous when I went up to the Canadian record store owner and bought Human Clay with my own money. I thought the dirty look he gave was on account of me being from a better country. In my cruise cabin that night, I thought I was listening to screaming audio sin.
Fast forward 5 years and two girlfriends, and enter angst and pent up frustration in my soul (Creed and cubicles had left a scar). The cure was a band called The Distillers; a raucous revelry of brooding smut. It was characterized by the voice of Brody Dalle, who sounds as if she gargled sandpaper during puberty, dated Satan during adolescence then stole his car and guitar. She spoke to me.
Dalle was born in Fitzroy, Melbourne Australia in ‘79, suffered physical abuse at the hands of her own father, was forced to go to an all girl catholic school by her mother (whom she later almost strangled in their kitchen) and subsequently ran off with rocker boyfriends and formed her own band: Sourpuss.
This eventually turned into The Distillers, where she either wrote or co-wrote every single song over their three album career. Their sound ranged from all out Punk to what it rested as in the end; death grunge. Their songs centered around a twisted feeling inside of one’s self that either caused you to want to hurt yourself or others. It’s perfect for a youngster railing against their circumstances. But what made the Distillers great was Brody. She can sit on a barstool with a microphone and a spotlight and croon you to submission, then wail and shred your eyeballs apart. You’d be the happiest blind man in the room.
“The Hunger” is a song that illustrates all of this.
Holy eyes, I never knew I’d beg down at your feet
Hold on tight, I never knew I’d know much more than this
Open sky, the wave of pain, the scent of you is bliss
Hungry eyes, they stare at me..
I know, I know —
Summertime, the taste of saint secretes a perfume mist
Console the mind, I take it in with lips of pink I kiss
Lonely sky, the more you take the more that I give in
Holy eyes, I never knew, I know, I know–
Yet all of it accessible somehow. They had songs featured in the Tony Hawk skateboarding games, appeared on the Conan O’Brien show (remember that show?) and led sold out concerts in Wisconsin. Wisconsin=accessible. Brody Dalle and the Distillers are on a “hiatus” right now while she and fellow Distiller Tony Bevilacqua make music under the guise of Spinnerette. It’s a markedly mature and toned down effort, but she still promises to be “Your hero and your whore” (“Valium Knights”). There’s hope.
So even if you’re a Death Cab for Cutie type of person, there might be an unfulfilled spot in your heart for what Brody Dalle has to offer. If you deem to sing with her, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing. To me, she’ll always be that smirking girl in the red tights.
Note: mp3s below and in our Jukebox.
(Coral Fang is available via Reprise Records)
(Spinnerette is available now via Queen of Hearts Inc.)