The Distillers are interviewed by the ASU student press

Purifying punk
Dishing with The Distillers drummer about his punk rock roots and his band's constant Rancid comparisons.

By Kelly Wilson

It's amazing when a musician calls on time for an interview, let alone calls early, so naturally we were impressed when The Distillers drummer Andy Outbreak phoned 15 minutes prior to his scheduled time.

The good-natured drummer and his rising punk rock band, which includes Brody Armstrong [vocals, guitar] and Ryan [bass, vocals], are in the midst of their biggest tour to date. They open for No Doubt and Garbage at Cricket Pavilion in Phoenix on Saturday.

"[The tour] is pretty intense," Outbreak says. "This is a big tour for us...we've learned how to stay sane. This is so much different from anything that we've done, so we've had to adapt pretty quickly."

Outbreak, who has been in the band for two of its nearly four-year tenure, says the band went through some line-up changes before finding the right fit.

"The old drummer and bass player left because things weren't really working out personality wise," he says.

Aside from line-up changes, the band has had to overcome comparisons to Rancid over the years due to Brody's marriage to Rancid's Tim Armstrong. The Rancid front man even helped The Distillers put out its first album on his Los Angeles-based label Hellcat Records.

"People still focus on that just for the fact that it's easy," Outbreak says. "For someone to describe a band, they have to think of someone to compare it to and [Rancid] still comes up. ...It's not an insult to compare us to them."

When asked if he's romantically involved with a punk rocker like Armstrong, Outbreak laughs and says, "My girlfriend goes to college and works at a makeup counter."

The band released its last album, Sing Sing Death House, early last year with the help of Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph producing guru Brett Gurewitz.

"Working with Brett was really cool," Outbreak says. "He's really laid back and easy to work with. He squeezed us in. He was super busy at the time."

The band recorded the album in a little more than two weeks.

"Unfortunately, before Brett came in, the engineer we had with us went on a crack binge," Outbreak says. "It kind of put a big halt on everything so we had to kind of speed through the rest of it. It was pretty rushed but I think it turned out pretty well. I think the next record is going to be fucking awesome."

Before he was recording albums for Epitaph Records with The Distillers, Outbreak played in the Nerve Agents, a group that would later pave the way for him to join The Distillers. "One of The Distillers' first shows was playing with the Nerve Agents," he says.

When Armstrong was in need of a drummer, she phoned Outbreak and asked him to fill in temporarily during a tour.

"But as the tour went [we] decided that I should join the band," Outbreak says. "I was doing both [bands] for awhile but then the Nerve Agents broke up."

Outbreak says that music was an outlet for him growing up.

"My parents are divorced and my dad left when I was 2 months old or something like that," he says. "I didn't meet my dad until I was 11 or 12. When I first started meeting my dad, I totally hated it. I met the kid who lived next door to my dad who was 19 and much older than me."

Outbreak's older friend gave him his first taste of punk rock.

"This kid used to go to Berkeley every weekend and go to shows at 924 Gillman Street," he says, referring to a music venue. "He felt bad for me and I kind of befriended him. He showed me a lot of stuff. He gave me my first Black Flag tape. That was my first punk rock band. And I got totally into it. It was cool because it gave me a way to bail out of my dad's house. I wasn't really into music before that."

Throughout the years, Outbreak said he's noticed the rise and fall of punk rock.

"Punk rock is such a broad term now," he says. "They're saying that fucking Avril Lavigne is punk rock but she's just a young Alanis Morissette. Is punk having a Mohawk and a studded jacket - or like shaving your head and being a skinhead? There's a million things to it. I think it's a blanket term for music that's not Limp Bizkit - for something that's more real to kids."

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