There’s a magazine cover that I have so firmly etched in my memory that it’s basically part of my DNA. It’s not from NME, but rather a 2004 issue of the gone but not forgotten style mag The Face, where I was interning at the time. In the picture stands a woman in front of a Phoenix Nights-style glitter foil curtain, her face heavy with eyeliner and nonchalance, casually licking the head of a guitar. She’s wearing leather trousers and a polka-dot bra, and her scruffy jet-black hair is swept into an acceptable mullet. In all honesty, it’s the kind of magazine cover you probably couldn’t get away with in 2018, what with its almost shameless conflation of female musicians and out-and-out sex, but when I saw that image, I knew I had a new hero. I went out and bought the very same Agent Provocateur bra, even though it cost something stupid like £70 and then I was too scared to wear it in case something happened to it. It remains in my underwear drawer, like some kind of bizarre tribute to the days when Camden Town was my everything.
Anyway, enough chat about my underwear. That hero was Brody Dalle, frontwoman of The Distillers, a caustic punk band from Australia by way of Los Angeles, the city she’d moved to as a teenager and where she still lives now. She was tough, talented and the perfect foil to the sugar-coated American pop princesses of the time.
After releasing records under her own name and as Spinnerette, earlier this month Brody announced that she’d be reforming The Distillers and playing a run of a US gigs and festivals. I was so happy I almost whooped out loud in the office. Oh, who I am I kidding – I definitely whooped out loud in the office. Expect that noise to be even louder when those UK dates finally come in.
In the early 2000s The Distillers were every teenage punk fan’s fantasy band, releasing three albums across four years, fusing Brody’s guttural vocals with her serrated guitar and angry, post-apocalyptic lyrics. Brody never sounded like she was having a good time, but the sheer intensity of her emotion made for a totally joyful release. Her music was the perfect diversion from another night of revision or for breaking in a new pair of Vans. Sadly, the group were not long for this world – The Distillers’ major label debut ‘Coral Fang’ was their last record and the greatest punk band of the early 2000s split because of “a lot of infighting and [general] unhappiness”, according to what Brody told Rolling Stone in 2009. She’s almost certainly in a better place now. We can’t wait to hear her channel her old-school rage later this year.