Spinnerette's Brody Dalle Talks Music, Motherhood and What Happens When A&R Guys Cross the Line
Photograph by Kii Arens.
A few months back I had the pleasure of premiering Spinnerette's first single "Valium Knights" on Indie 103.1 FM during my stay as producer of SuicideGirls Radio, and let me tell you, cueing singer Brody Dalle's vocals fresh and loud over the airwaves felt powerful, like delivering something hearty to the hungry. From the jump, I was reminded what a force Dalle is and how much I'd missed her presence as a frontwoman since the Distillers disbanded in 2006. She's got one of those voices that sounds like it breaks hearts and breaks laws with every raspy note. After taking the last few years to regroup and start a family with husband Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), Dalle joined forces with ex-Distillers bandmate Tony Bevilacqua, Jack Irons (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Eleven) and Alain Johannes (Eleven, Queens of the Stone Age) to form Spinnerette, their self-titled debut slated for February release.
Last week I met up with Dalle after soundcheck at Spaceland, where Spinnerette was gearing up to perform its third show ever. We talked music, motherhood and what happens when A&R guys cross the line.
L.A. Weekly: You first released "Valium Knights" as a single on your Web site for fans to download. How did this Spinnerette album come together for you?
Brody Dalle: Well, I wrote a lot of it on bass. I was looking to demo myself and get it out of my brain and into my ears or someone else's ears. Alain Johannes said he would record my demos for me and so we started recording them and it was like kismet. He started playing leads over my stuff and it was so magical that it kind of happened by accident. That's how it kind of came about. The record label, Sire, was like, “What the fuck's going on? We need to hear some demos.” I said, “Well, you can come and listen to them,” and afterward I found out that they were going to drop me. Sire dropped 15 bands that day and they came over and heard my demos and were like, “Well, just keep on doing what you're doing.” They didn't have much involvement in the record making process except this [A&R] guy came in and sang harmonies to my producer, which was insanely ridiculous that an A&R guy would try to get involved with the musical aspect of something. Like, fuck off, you know?
That reminds me of the Metallica documentary, Some Kind of Monster, where their therapist starts giving them suggestions for song lyrics.
[Laughs] Yeah. It's a terrible idea. Those lines should never cross... so we parted ways [with Sire] and they gave me my record, which was one expensive fucking record. I was really grateful for that because they could have told me to fuck off. I would be in a very different place right now if they hadn't allowed me to walk away with it. So we made the record and here we are, starting to play shows. This is just the beginning. We finally found the right group of people.
Besides A&R guys thinking they're going to sing on your record, what have been some of the biggest public misconceptions about you or your music?
There's always the obvious sexist one, that whoever I'm married to at the time wrote my record or wrote my music, which I think is just totally insane. It's really frustrating.
Since the Distillers, has it become easier to push [those misconceptions] aside and have people hear you the way you want to be heard?
I think that's about to happen. I feel like the Distillers were just the foray in... getting in the door. I feel like I'm in a good place now. I have more clarity now than ever and I know exactly what direction I want to go in, whereas before I was getting pulled in all sorts of directions and felt like I was flailing about, like I couldn't keep it together. Now I have something beautiful to live for and that's my almost three-year-old daughter. I feel like I'm finally grounded.
Is she playing music yet? Drumming around the house?
We bought her a drum kit. She wrote her first song the Christmas before she turned two called “Star Star Star.” We recorded that. She likes to sing at the studio. Her first word was “octopus.” If that isn't a picture of things to come, I don't know. She's a really intense kid.
Any fears about what the future holds?
I feel like fear is for the superstitious. I really want to stay away from that shit. It's deadly; it's poisonous. I'm trying to have a positive outlook and just stay grounded. It's going to be interesting to see what happens. I'm always going to make music. I've been making music since I was eight-years-old. It's just in me.