May 2014 21

by Nicole Powers

Brody Dalle has been the main attraction and driving creative force behind the last two band’s she’s founded and fronted –– The Distillers and Spinnerette –– so it’s about time she stepped out with an album under her own name.

Beautiful and badass, the 35-year old singer, songwriter and musician has been rockin’ hard for over two decades. Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, she escaped a dysfunctional family home by joining the all teen rock band Sourpuss in 1993, when she was just 14. Two years later, she met her future ex-husband, Tim Armstrong of Rancid, while doing a festival gig.

Dalle married Armstrong, who was 13 years her senior, at 18 and moved to Los Angeles, where she formed the highly respected punk outfit The Distillers. One EP and three albums later, after forces from inside and outside the band tore it apart, Dalle regrouped under the moniker Spinnerette, releasing the Ghetto Love EP in 2008 and an eponymous album in 2009.

By this time, she’d divorced Armstrong, and had married Joshua Homme of the desert rock bands Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal. Though the relationship with Homme provided the emotional stability and creative support she craved, postnatal depression following the birth of the couple’s first child, a daughter called Camille, seriously impacted the development of Spinnerette. Dalle began work on what would become her debut solo album, Diploid Love, shortly before she found out she was pregnant with her second child, a son called Ryder. The first song she’d written for the project was intuitively entitled “Meet The Foetus.”

Now fully formed, Diploid Love will be released digitally on April 29 and more tangibly on CD and vinyl on May 19. Though motherhood greatly influenced the gestation of the album, it hasn’t mellowed Dalle’s melodic punk rock power pop. The album is everything fans could want from Dalle, who wrote all the songs and played all the instruments bar a few notable exceptions involving guest players such as Nick Valensi (of The Strokes) and Michael Shuman (of Queens of the Stone Age).

SuicideGirls caught up with Dalle by phone before a rehearsal for her upcoming solo tour.

Read our exclusive interview with Brody on

Nicole Powers: You’ve been making music for a long time but this is the first time that you’ve stepped out as Brody Dalle. Why has it taken so long for you to do that?

Brody Dalle: I don’t know. I guess the Spinnerette Record probably should’ve said Brody Dalle on it, you know.

NP: Yes.

BD: I was still holding on to the romantic idea that I could have and function, in and with, a band. I just don’t have the time to devote to a band where I collaborate with people. The other thing is that I like to play the drums, and I write a lot of music on the bass, and I want to experiment with all kinds of instruments. I would love to just be able to sit in a room and play drums for weeks on end. Unfortunately, I don’t get that kind of time, but I’m going to start allocating time to do that so I can get more proficient at playing certain instruments. Because I love writing songs and being in the studio –– that’s my favorite thing.

NP: Right. And being solo you can experiment without fear of stepping on anyone’s toes.

BD: Yeah, I don’t want to deal with any egos, except for my own, which is sometimes really big and sometimes shattered. I just want to do my own thing. I feel like the older you get, the more you know what you want and what you don’t want, and what you will put up with and what you won’t put up with, and what your place is and how you want to do things –– you know what I mean? I’ve been through the gamut…It’s just easier and it’s funner, for right now.

NP: With bands, so much energy can be spent on the inter-personal relationships that it almost detracts from creating the music.

BD: Exactly. That’s probably what stops me the most. I have two children and a husband, I don’t have anything else to give to anybody. I rarely even call my mom. And friends, forget about my friends, I never see them. This is just how life is right now.

NP: The album is called Diploid Love. Explain the title…

BD: Well, a diploid cell, it’s the chromosomes from your parents: 23 from your mom and 23 from your dad. So a diploid cell is the first moment that you become a human, when all that aligns. I think about human shit — not human shit, that sounds really weird –– but human issues, human emotions. I talk about a lot of intensely emotional stuff and some of that has to do with my ancestry and where I come from. Some of it has to do with my kids and my relationships with people and where we’re going as a human race. So Diploid Love, I kind of used it in place of ‘human’ and I also like the word ‘diploid’ –– it’s a cool word to say and look at.

NP: In one of your songs, “I Don’t Need Your Love,” there’s the sound of kids playing in the background. Is that your kids?

BD: Yeah.

NP: Why did you use your kids in that song? It seems like a strangely titled song to use your kids in.

BD: Well, I can see how that could be confusing, because it’s not directed at them at all. It’s far from them. It’s actually a song I wrote for my biological father and he had a lot of kids with different women and he didn’t stick around. He didn’t love us or take care of us or take responsibility. He left this trail of destruction and it’s taken me years to come to terms with it. When I had my own kids, I kind of fell apart again, because I just don’t understand how you can leave your own child. It’s directed at him: I don’t need your love, I’ve got this, and that’s my children laughing in the back, you know. That’s what that song is about, pretty much.

NP: Continuing with the diploid theme, you have the song, “Meet the Foetus.” That’s the track that you did with Shirley Manson from Garbage right?

BD: She sang back-up vocals on it, yeah.

NP: What’s that about?

BD: Well, I started to write the record, and I just liked those words together: meet the foetus. It was the beginning of something, you know. And I found out a week later I was pregnant with my son Ryder, who’s 2 1/2 now. That was the first song I wrote for the record. It’s a love song to both my kids for making me who I am. It’s kind of like, even if I die, you can’t get rid of me. I’m always going to be hanging around you. Having kids, it’s the kind of love that just binds you. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.

NP: Maybe you can relate to this, because obviously you’re a completely badass chick; A girlfriend of mine that’s similarly totally badass was complaining about her child having attitude. I told her, there’s only one thing worse than a kid with attitude and that’s a kid that doesn’t have any.

BD: Yeah, I mean, I guess the extremes aren’t very fun…My kids have plenty of attitude. I understand where she’s coming from.

NP: Growing up you went through your trials and tribulations, you left home at a young age and you more than dabbled in drugs. How does being a mother change your perspective on your past and your future?

BD: Having kids grounded me. I felt for years like I was missing something and I didn’t know what it was. No matter how many tours I went on, or how much someone loved me, or how many drugs I did, I never felt I could fill that void. I didn’t know what it was. I was constantly trying to find out what it was, or where it was, or why it was and how to get rid of it. When I had kids, with my daughter, I had to face a lot of really painful shit. Because it’s your first kid, it brings up everything. Then, by the time I had Ryder, I’d kind of healed. It was really interesting.

NP: You seem to have a very strong family unit. You’ve managed to create for yourself the strong family unit that you didn’t have as a kid.

BD: Yes, absolutely. On purpose, you know. I think you tend to want to try and provide whatever it is you feel like you missed out on or didn’t get enough of. Which means I probably love my children too much, and I probably try to spend too much time with them, but not in a co-dependent way. I just love them. I don’t ever want them to feel like they’re not good enough and I don’t want them to feel abandoned. I always want them to feel safe.

NP: What are the things you love doing with your kids? What are your favorite moments together?

BD: All of them. Today I was driving back from dropping my daughter off at school and I was trying to distract Ryder because of his bad attitude. Like your friend’s kid has a bad attitude, he was having a really bad attitude in the car and I was asking him all these questions. I was like, “What’s your favorite animal?” He’s like, “Party animal.” I was like, “What?” It’s amazing. I don’t know where kids get that shit from. Party animal. It was really funny. He’s two and a half, I was kind of shocked.

NP: That is kind of hilarious.

BD: It’s hysterical. Yeah, just any moment, you know. Any moment I can be with them or watch them or play with them or listen to them, it’s the most fulfilling.

NP: You talk about how you wrote the first track two and a half years ago, so this album has been a long time in the making. It’s probably hard as a mother to be selfish and allow yourself time just for you. Has that been a difficult thing to balance?

BD: Yeah. I think it’s because of the trauma that I have from feeling like a little kid that no one gave a fuck about. The guilt of leaving, it’s my own. It’s my own pain that I’m projecting on them. Because I always come back and there’s nothing wrong. But I still can’t get rid of that guilt. I know most mothers have it. You spend five minutes doing something for yourself and you’re like, oh I’m awful. So I try to cut that out. I was talking to my girlfriend the other day and she was telling me that guilt is like poison.

NP: It is poison. Also kids learn by example and seeing their mom working and creating, that’s actually a really healthy thing for them to see.

BD: Totally. And flourishing,..That’s why I’m saying it’s usually my own internal weird feelings that come up when I leave or when I do something for myself..

NP: The greatest thing that you can do for your kids is to make sure that you’re fulfilled, because they’ll see you as a model, as a fulfilled human being.

BD: Totally. My mom didn’t get to do what she wanted, so I always felt like there was this resentment, or this sadness. I never wanted to have that. I didn’t want to carry that around or be an unfulfilled person.

NP: My mom was the same.

BD: It’s something about that generation. They just bent over and they just took it. I think that’s why with their sexual revolution, they all slept around and did a lot of drugs, and when they had kids, there was a freer attitude towards raising kids. I’ve noticed with my generation, it’s flipped. It’s more about security and safety. It’s also the world we’re in now, I don’t know, it’s just a different time. Each generation is going through a new evolving process on all kinds of levels. I find it really fascinating.