Brody Dalle: Don’t Mess With Her
Praise be to the powers above (or rather, below) for the queen of punk hath returned.
Although it’s been more than 16 years since a young Melbourne-raised Bree Robinson aka Brody Dalle started life anew in the US of A, she still (sort of) calls Australia home.
“When I go to Melbourne, it’s so different, it’s kind of unrecognisable. Like Northcote, Northcote is a happening, fantastic place to be. When I was growing up there, it was a fucking shithole, you know? But… Oh that’s my son!” she exclaims, calling out to her young toddler Ryder, who’s currently roaming about the deck of Dalle’s harbourside hotel in Sydney. In an excellent act of nepotism, the singer is currently touring the country alongside her hubby Josh Homme with the Queens Of The Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails double headliner. Able to have their two young kids in tow, it’s the ideal situation for the alt rock power couple, especially with Ryder and Camille, their daughter, getting a taste of their Australian heritage.
“At school my daughter tells everyone she’s Australian, she’s really funny. And I call her my little roo,” she laughs. “My mum has six sisters, so they send the kids books about Australian animals all the time and we try to watch Australian shows and movies when we can.”
Dalle is the first to admit that she endured a very different upbringing to her kids. After a tumultuous relationship with her mother, at 16 she lied about her age to follow Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong to Los Angeles and carve out a legacy of her own: forming and fronting punk rock outfit The Distillers. With drug addiction becoming something that would weave in and out of her life, is following down that path something she worries her kids might succumb to?
“The thing that led me to things like drug addiction was being sexually abused when I was a kid and that was my way of dealing with it,” Dalle offers with unparalleled honesty. “So the thing I try to do is protect my kids and keep them safe and know where they are and what’s happening in their lives so that that doesn’t happen. They’re gonna have their own experiences and their own lives and I just wanna be there to enjoy it with them and support them.”
Despite how easily she’s adopted the role, you’d be a chump to think motherhood had mellowed the singer any. Known for her husky, don’t-try-this-at-home vocal growl, after time spent in The Distillers and the criminally short-lived Spinnerette, Diploid Love marks the first release under the frontwoman’s own name. And it’s the riotous, potent punk affair that you were hoping it would be.
“I didn’t really have another direction to go in, you know? Honestly, I don’t have the time to devote to being in a democratic band now,” she explains. “I wanna do shit, I’ve gotta get it done. I have two kids – I don’t have time for anyone’s lives or their schedules. I can only do what I can do, so it’s really more of a time management issue that forced me into it and the more I’m doing it, the more I love it. I always wrote the songs anyway, and now I can actually play everything. On ‘Meet The Foetus’ [featuring Garbage’s Shirley Manson], I play the drums, the bass, the guitars, the synths; I do it all, and I’d rather do it myself. It’s just fun to play other instruments.”
And even with Dalle’s place in the scene as a certified badarse, she still encounters male detractors who seem to judge her based on what’s between her legs. The fools.
“Last night when I was soundchecking, it was all these production dudes standing around like, ‘Ughh. A fuckin’ girl.’ Like I could just feel it, that feeling of being judged like, ‘What is she gonna do?’ and I just kind of centred myself and I remembered I never let that stop me, this is what I do. Fuck you. Take it or leave it, you know?”
And then you start singing…
“And they’re like, ‘Oh my god, she’s a man!’” she laughs. “‘How does she do that? She just grew some balls and they just dropped.’ It’s interesting to see afterwards. I like that, that’s satisfying.”