An Interview with Brody (singer and guitarist) and Ryan (bass) of The Distillers by Kristin Belmonte. All photos also by Kristin Belmonte...
February 14th, 2002 - Valentines Day... Also the day the Distillers started their tour with the Suicide Machines and Sick of
It All in New Haven, CT. But for being some mushy day all about flowers n love n shit, it hadn't been going so great for anyone.
The Distillers were missing their guitarist, Rose "Casper", everyone looked tired and ...well just kinda haggard, and the day hadn't
been going so great for me either. I know the band was supposed to do a sound check and I don't think they did. I wonder why?
I walked into Toadís Place (the club) about 2 hours before showtime, and the band was just kinda sitting around in the middle of
the floor, with their equipment all over the place, just talking and what not. One of the other bands was doing their sound check, so
it was pretty noisy. Brody was happy to show me her guitar which had just gotten a make-over; she spraypainted it white ("Thereís
white all over the place outside!").
So me and Brody went over to a corner table and started talking, but didn't even get 10 minutes into the conversation; it had gotten
so fucking noisy we couldn't hear each other. So we went down a flight of stairs, and found the band room. "Nah". Down the hall,
she found Ryan, the bassist. "Hey Ryan! Wanna do an interview?!" "OK".
We settled on the women's bathroom, and since Brody had to take a piss, it was convenient. Ryan was equipped with a bottle of
nail polish, and set to work on painting. He was very intent on his nails, I noticed. I think he was painting them maroon....
Sink Hole Kristen-So, you just released a new record last week, do you have an explanation behind the title, ďSing Sing
Distiller Brodie-I was watching a documentary on ďSing Sing Death HouseĒ, the prison. I really liked the title as a reference for a
person. Like in dream books, a house represents yourself, your body. Thats where it came from. Sing Sing Death House is not a
catharsis, its just a representation of dealing with shit, like problems. SHK-It came out (the CD) on my birthday, by the
Brody-Really? Happy Birthday!
SHK-Thanks, it was a pretty nice present.
SHK-So what was the scene like, and people in general, back in Australia?
Brody-Australia is funny, theyíre really good at goofing on themselves...Itís a lot different though, thereís only 18 million people
in all of Australia compared to billions in America over the same amount of land. The scene is good, but its small. I used to hang
out at this punk club called the Art House. Really, I donít know how it is-I havenít been over in a couple of years. SHK-Do
you miss it?
Brody-Yeah...I miss my family and my old friends.
SHK-Which do you like better, Australia or the U.S.? Brody-Theyíre similar and different. America is one big Colossus. I
think Iíd find it hard to go back and live in Australia after living and living so much over here.
SHK-Coming to America-did you just up and leave Australia-how did that happen?
Brodie-Me and Timothy (Armstrong) had been going out for about a year when I moved to America to be with him.
SHK-Thats sweet...but sad cuz itís Valentines Day
Brody-And Iím here and Iím not at home...
SHK-Not exactly how you want to spend Valentines Day?
Brody-You miss a lot of shit when your away on the road. You miss peopleís birthdays, anniversaries, all that shit.
SHK-So how are things with you and Tim?
Brody-Great, we just had an anniversary. Four years of marriage.
Brody-(while checking out my bag) I love this band (pointing to an Unseen patch).
SHK-Yeah, I saw them a couple weeks ago... Brody-Theyíre pretty great, I was just reading an interview with them.
SHK-So your drummer is from the Nerve Agents, are you sharing him, or whats up with that situation? Brody-Well, the Nerve
Agents just broke up (this was breaking news at the time). They broke up less than a month ago and it really sucks cuz they were
one of my favorite bands. Iím really still kind of delirious. Itís fucking shame, cuz they were so fucking good. Anyway, when Andy
came to the band it was meant to be permanent, but itís definitely permanent now.
SHK-So who are your other favorite bands? Brody-Well, like I said, I like the Unseen alot. I like the Death Wish
Kids, I love Blitz. You know, the standard punk rock lineage-The Exploited, The Ramones. I like Rancid. (of course!) I canít really
think of any new bands I like.
SHK-What did you listen to when you were younger, when you first started getting into everything? Brody-I had just turned
12 in 1991 and Nirvana and Sonic Youth were blowing up and that whole scene was huge. I really liked Fang alot. Do you like
Fang? SHK-Never heard of Ďem.
Brody-Ahhh...ya gotta listen to Fang...(the sound of drums and guitars suddenly got really fucking loud) Maybe we should find
someplace else to talk. Brody-(still) Where were we? Oh, I was telling you about Fang, youíve gotta hear this band. They
influenced so many bands. I swear Kurt (Cobain) listened to Fang, you can really hear it in early Nirvana. They were great, then
Sammy (Fangís lead singer) killed his girlfriend and everybody denied that they listened to them. He was a crazy motherfucker.
Yeah, you should get a hold of a Fang record. I think its where all the grunge bands got their ideas from.
Ryan-Totally, I think that whole Seattle thing kinda came from them.
Brody-Cuz Fang was constantly touring up and down the West Coast all the time.
SHK-So whats your deal (to Ryan), you were working in a record store when they found you? Ryan-I really hate work, but
you got to do it, so I always tried to at least work in record stores. It was a record slash comic book slash toy store, so it was fun for
a little while. Iím really glad Iím not doing that shit right now-really glad.
Brody-I liked that store. They had a really good collection there, good selection.
SHK-What was it? (insert commercial here) Ryan-It was called Axis Records and Comics and it was just full of things that
you wouldnít find anywhere else. All kinds of odds-n-ends.
Brody-Are you from here? (New Haven, Connecticut)
Brody-Whats the scene like?
SHK-Thereís a good amount of people depending on where you look... Brody-We got here last night and we were trying to
find someplace open, like a magazine store or anything, and they were all closed. We had to drive to New Yawk... Ryan-The
one thing Iíve noticed is all the buildings turn out to be college buildings. I see something that looks like a church, nope its a
SHK-Its all Yale. All the dorky college Yaleyís walking around....
SHK-The song ďDesperateĒ is about heroine addiction-is that about you, or someone you know?
Brody-It was just in general. It affects a lot of people. A
whole lot of people in the punk rock scene especially. That
shit is fucked up and evil. Itís the devil, its not cool at all,
donít do it. Yeah, thatís what I say-Donít do it!
SHK-Sourpuss...Tell me about that whole experience.
Brody-(under her breath) god, I hated that band... SHK-Oh, you hated the band, okay.
Brody-(playing air guitar) No, I didnít hate it, it was just my
first band. It started when I was 14. It only lasted 2 years. It
was a girl band, punk rock girl band. You know a bunch of 14
year olds trying to play really fast and we didnít really know
how to. (the air guitar playing gets REALLY fast) We all
learned together, so it was cool, but it was really just a
SHK-How old were you when you first listened to
Brody-I was 13. My first band (that I heard) was Discharge. Thatís really my favorite punk band, still. Fucking Discharge.
Ryan-Me? About the same, 12 or 13. There was this guy who
worked in the guitar store I worked at who got me into the
Germs and The Bad Brains. I was a little skate rat when I was
younger, so I was into that whole obnoxious Red Hot Chili
Peppers shit, I guess that was what got me into it.
SHK-Around here most kids start out with metal and graduate into punk.
Ryan-Iím the opposite, I love metal!
SHK-So are you involved at all in Hell Cat?
Brody-Me and Timothy sometimes go check out bands
together. Kids send me their tapes all the time...
SHK-How long did you last in catholic school? Brody-3 years. I went to the first one, got kicked out, then the 2nd one lasted
until about 3 years. I dropped out of school in the 9th grade. I hated school. It fucking sucked. I think everyone hates it. Is there
anyone who likes school? I canít function properly sitting in the same fucking position for a fucking hour.
SHK-I used to go to catholic school for a while and it really sucked. Brody-Were you baptized?
Brody-Not me. I wasnít baptized and that got me in trouble. I got in fucking trouble for drinking jesusí blood and eating his flesh.
ďYour not a child of godĒ theyíd say. Fuck you! I just want to get drunk off this shit. Man, theyíre the same way. Catholics are
drunks! Its kind of hypocritical in a way. Theyíre all pedaphiles, too.
SHK-Do you ever get pissed off about all the comparisons to Rancid?
Brody-No! Theyíre a great fucking band and theyíre my best fucking friends, why would that be bad?
SHK-In everything you read in magazines and shit, people are ALWAYS comparing or linking you to Rancid... Brody-Thats
naturally gonna happen cuz Iím his (Timís) wife, but I think thats really just lazy journalism. People are quick to jump on that
without even trying to get deeper. What are ya gonna do?
SHK-Where did you get the idea for the song ďGypsy Rose LeeĒ? Brody-From Gypsy Rose Lee...Itís really about the women
who brought me up when I was younger. There was this game we would play when I was real little and Iíd be Marilyn Monroe and
my friend would be Gypsy Rose Lee. Sheíd be dancing around with a cape and no underwear on-she was 5...
SHK-A lot of your songs talk about fucked up family life and... Brody-Everyone in this band comes from a dysfunctional
family. A lot of people you meet in punk rock come from a dysfunctional family.
SHK-Thats why we connect to the music.
Brody-Things are a lot better now for my Mother and me. I think that with girls and their mothers you reach a certain age and
thereís this undeniable tension. Your trying to leave the nest, she wants you stay...I think for me, I had to realize that my Mom was
her own person. It was really weird-I mean when you finnally realize that your mother is her own human being with real feelings.
When you realize that even though sheís your mother, sheís a woman with her own identity. Itís a weird thing to go through, but
once you do, youíll be a lot more respectful. I had to become friends with my Mom before we could go back to that
mother/daughter relationship. Iím sure itís like that with Dadís and their sonís, too.
Ryan-With my Dad, I knew he was his own person, so that didnít matter. With us, the problem was him relizing that I wasnít
going to be exactly what he wanted to be. My Mom and I get along great. With my Dad, itís a little weird, but thatís just because
heís highschool football coach guy.
Sink Hole Kristenís Friend(sorry, donít know your name-editor)-What do you do for fun when your not on the road?
Brody-I like bookstores a lot. I hang out with my friends. Iím kind of a homebody. We have 2 little kittens. Iíll cook dinner, chill
out, watch movies, write...
SHKF-What is your favorite movie? Brody-Godfather.
SHKF-My favoriteís Scarface!
Brody-Yeah!!! Scarface is good, I like Goodfellas, too. Mob movies fucking rule! Your (talking to Ryan) the only one who hasnít
seen Godfather! I canít believe that. Ryan-Neither has Andy or Tony (guitar tech). Brody-Thatís unbelievable. Itís one of
the most famous movies in cinema history. Ya gotta see it dude. I donít like the 3rd one, though-it sucked. The 1st and 2nd were
awesome. SHK-Are you not big on mafia movies?
Ryan-No, I love mafia movies! Goodfellas and Scarface are 2 of my favorite movies ever.
Brody-Yeah, aside from the Godfather movies, thereís this French movie called Betty Blue (sp.?) that I like a lot. Itís the story
about a relationship between this crazy fucking girl and her boyfriend and they live in this shack on the beach. Itís a funny
movie-itís all in subtitles, but itís great. You HAVE to see it. That chick is so fucking beautiful! Sheís the reason I dyed my hair
black. Sheís a crack-head now, but back then...She was fucking gor-geous! She had this gap in her teeth and (motions with her
hands to show big tits)
SHK-Well, I know you have to go, but I have to end this interview with you describing yourselves in 5 words. Ryan-We are
Brody-Thatís 4 words dummy. She said words, not syllables. (mumbling) Weíre fuckiní pist as shit.
Ryan-How about ďhey weíre the DistillersĒ?
(editorís note-thatís still just 4)