It's been a wild decade for Brody Dalle, who has has a deep, husky voice and a tough attitude. The punk band she led, The Distillers, dissolved in 2006, and she subsequently went into recovery from a crystal meth addiction. After getting divorced from Tim Armstrong of Rancid, she married Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, with whom she has two children.
If Dalle's latest solo effort Diploid Love has a theme, it's motherhood. We spoke to her in advance of her show Friday at The Troubadour, about the challenges of becoming a mom. She's no longer performing under the short-lived Spinnerette moniker and is revisiting old Distillers songs in her live sets.
Recently, you've been more open about your battle with meth. You've said getting pregnant essentially pulled you out of that. Was it really that easy for you to stop using, or was it more of a process?
No, well, I had been struggling to stop for a while, and I'd gone back to Australia to get away from it and people that were associated with it. So, I'd just come back from Australia and had some time under my belt, and I started to implement changes in my life…I knew something was weird. You know, you can just tell. I think I got out of the shower, and I looked at my boobs, and I was like, “Whoa! What's going on?” [Laughs]…I went down to the RiteAid or whatever, and I bought a bunch of pregnancy tests, and I peed on like six sticks, and they all said positive. I was like, “Holy shit.” But I needed something massive. I needed a life change, and it wasn't just because of the drugs. It was because I'd hit a wall on every level – creatively, emotionally, psychically. I was empty.
Were you ever afraid that having had a troubled past might affect your ability to be a mom?
You struggle with not wanting to project your shit onto this tiny little person. You don't want to damage them. You don't want any of your shit to get on them. You know what I mean? Like, your personal trauma and your damage. It's a big thing that comes up because, when you have a kid, it brings everything up from your own experiences.
How did that manifest for you on a day to day basis? What did you go through?
My relationship with my own mom was still really difficult, and in my pregnancy, I gained a lot of weight. I gained about 65 pounds. So after I'd given birth to my daughter, I felt like I didn't know who I was, just like unrecognizeable. Emotionally, it's exhausting going through a birth, and then there's this tiny human, and it's yours. You're it. This is all you. Now is your chance. You've got to step up to the plate. You don't have a choice. So, I had post-partum blues pretty bad. I cried a lot, all the stuff that's very normal. But about four weeks after Camille was born, my husband [Josh Homme] went on tour for two years. It's not like he went on tour to get away from us. That's what we do, and that's how we make our bread and butter, so it was just a brutal reality starting to come together.
It sounds like you were mostly on your own, without a support system.
It was lonely. I had my mama- and papa-in-law, but at the time, I was kind of just getting to know them. I'd known them for a couple years, and they were really supportive and helpful with me, but they live a couple hours away. So yeah, it was rough. But I got through it, you know? The more you do something, the better you get at it. At least I hope so…It was painful to look at your faults and your past. It's painful. I think once you deal with it, you come out the other side.
The energy of your live shows now feels very different from your shows with Spinnerette in 2008 and 2009. Do you sense that change?
Yeah, I feel differently. In Spinnerette, I was having a hard time getting my shit together, and I really didn't want to be there because I was away from my daughter, and she was little. She was probably two years old. I was really struggling with that, so I'm sure that showed. And I think I was probably struggling with my own body image. There was all kinds of shit going on. I feel better than ever. I'm actually enjoying playing, so it's a totally different scenario.