Brody Armstrong: diplomat with a lip ring

Here is a show preview of the upcoming Distiller, Garbage, No Doubt show in Long Beach, CA!

By Theo Douglas

Twenty-three years old, and with a headful of liberty spikes, Distillers lead singer Brody Armstrong swears enough to be in blink-182, and uses the word ``amazing'' a lot. But her conversation reveals something behind her mouth ... a brain.

The band will open for two larger groups with female leaders, Garbage (with singer Shirley Manson) and No Doubt (with singer Gwen Stefani), this weekend at Long Beach Arena. By this time, everyone's good friends.

``I love Shirley, and Gwen's great,'' Armstrong said. ``(Manson) calls me her husband and I call her my wife.''

The four-night stint caps yet another U.S. tour for the Distillers, Armstrong said by telephone from Seattle where the band was preparing for another stadium show. The time, she said, has flown on wings of lead.

``Four years ... it went by quick, but we worked our asses off. Fifteen American tours, two European tours and a million shows,'' Armstrong said. ``It's long and quick at the same time.''

Just like Armstrong's meteoric seven-year rise from fronting just another Melbourne, Australia, punk band, Sourpuss, to marrying her hero, Rancid's Tim Armstrong, and boiling down the Distillers into a tight trio.

Brody met Tim when she was packing up the drums after a Sourpuss-Rancid all-ages gig in Melbourne. He thought she was the drummer. She was almost 17, and their encounter marked the beginning of something stable in her life, the end to careening teenage years that still spark her songwriting.

``It was pretty tumultuous until I was 17. Typical teenage girl stuff ... getting kicked out of school, not living at home,'' said Armstrong, who had to settle differences with her mom, stepdad and younger sister. Now she realizes, ``I think you have to get through that, cut the umbilical cord ... kicking out of the womb.''

Time spent growing up found its way out into lyrics on songs like ``The Young Crazed Peeling,'' a semi-autobiography, and ``Sick of it All,'' which tackles the false power in anorexia: ``Give me the award, I conquered food again.''

Today, Armstrong wears her fame like a leather jacket with ``Discharge'' (her favorite punk band) on the back. Critics have emphasized both her vocal similarity to Courtney Love and her relationship with Armstrong, though most have stopped short of labeling him a Svengali.

``I totally draw from him and he draws from me. We're a musical family and so, of course we influence each other,'' said Armstrong, who feels the days of being compared to Love have passed.

``She's a rock 'n' roll casualty now, but she pushed a lot of boundaries. She definitely did her part,'' Armstrong said of Love. ``Now, it's like a new generation (of musicians) is about to emerge.'' The Distillers, presumably, will be part of that.

After just two records, with a band profile and video in rotation on MTV and a song rotating on influential modern rock station KROQ 106.7 FM in Los Angeles, some industry folk say the band has the staying power that will keep it on the airwaves for years to come.

At KROQ FM, deejays began spinning ``City of Angels,'' which is about Los Angeles, four months ago, according to the station's music director, Lisa Worden. The band's second disc was recently picked up for distribution by Warner Brothers, and Warden says she sees good times ahead for the Distillers. MTV officials are similarly jazzed.

``It is refreshing to have a strong female rock artist now that has tremendous vocals, is a talented guitarist and has great stage presence,'' wrote Holly Schomann, director of music programming and talent relations for MTV2, in an e-mail interview.

``It's great,'' Armstrong said in response to the praise. ``But if you believe the positive, you believe the negative (reviews) and you have to take it with a grain of salt.''

Success can be fleeting, and it's up to Armstrong, Distillers guitarist Andy Outbreak and and the group's singular-named bassist Ryan to make sure they stick around.

``You can't write the same record over and over again. It gets monotonous,'' Armstrong said. ``The first record, I just listened to Blondie, and on the last record, it was just such a struggle to make, just because of people ... their actions and consequences.

``I just think that I was so overloaded, being on tour and listening to bands every day,'' Armstrong said. ``I listen to everything, but punk rock is still my favorite genre. But you can't wear the same (expletive) suit every day. It gets dirty.''

Spoken like a true diplomat with a lip ring.

Where: Long Beach Arena, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22, 23 and 29 in Long Beach; 8 p.m. Nov. 30 in Anaheim

href=',1413,204%257E23170%257E1004172,00.html?search=filter' target='_blank'>Visit The Long Beach Press Telegram