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The Distillers

Distillers ready to strike with 'Coral Fang'

In the bio for the Distillers' new CD "Coral Fang," the CD is billed as the "culmination of perfect chemistry between four top-notch musicians who hate each other."

That line is quite a zinger. Of course, it was meant as a joke.

"We were just kind of screwing around," drummer Andy Granelli said. "We don't hate each other."

In fact, Granelli said life within the band is actually better than ever.

"I think we've just become a lot closer, better friends," he said.

Even without Granelli's comments, one would have to think it's a good time to be in the Distillers. For starters, the group, which includes singer/guitarist Brody Dalle, Granelli, bassist Ryan Sinn and guitarist Tony Bradley, is enjoying the benefits of a major-label deal with Sire Records, part of the Warner Bros. family of record companies.

The move to Sire — the band previously was signed to Hellcat, part of the Epitaph Records family — gave the Distillers a recording budget that allowed the band to spend about three months recording "Coral Fang" — a sharp contrast to the way the band had to make its second CD, the 2002 release "Sing Sing Death House."

For that CD, the Distillers had all of two weeks for recording. And Dalle, in several interviews, has said several days of recording time were lost because an engineer for the session went on a crack binge, leaving the band unable to do any meaningful recording during that time. With Sire bank-rolling the "Coral Fang" project, Granelli said the band took advantage of the extra time for rehearsing and recording.

"I think it just gave us the opportunity to really know exactly what we were going to do," Granelli said. "It gave us time to really make the record as good as we could make it, at least for that time."

The time and effort was well spent. "Coral Fang" is one of the year's best punk CDs, as it brings the group's blend of pop sensibility and punk-rock aggression into full focus. Songs like "Coral Fang," "Die on a Rope" and "Dismantle Me" barrel along behind the driving rhythms pounded out by Granelli, as the hooky guitar lines and Dalle's grainy, yet full-bodied vocal give the songs plenty of melodic punch.

The release last fall of "Coral Fang," coupled with the Distillers' place as the hot new band on this past summer's Lollapalooza tour, has only intensified the buzz that had started building with the "Sing Sing Death House" CD.

Dalle, in particular, has been a magnet for attention. As an articulate, outspoken and attractive front person, her interviews have made for good copy. She's also been at the center of a highly publicized breakup with her husband, Rancid guitarist — and owner of Hellcat Records — Tim Armstrong.

A 24-year-old native of Melbourne, Australia, Dalle, met Armstrong at age 17, then married him a year later. By last summer, her split with Armstrong was public knowledge, as was a relationship with Queens of the Stone Age guitarist/singer Josh Homme. Dalle gained plenty of attention when she was pictured in Rolling Stone magazine in June swapping a tongue-to-tongue kiss with her new beau.

Dalle's mushrooming profile has been perhaps the one sore point for Granelli and the other boys in the Distillers during what has otherwise been a period of fast artistic growth and rising popularity. While Dalle's provocative appearance alongside Homme in "Rolling Stone" might suggest otherwise, Granelli insisted that Dalle doesn't crave attention or want to steal the spotlight from the other members of the Distillers.

Dalle herself has voiced similar sentiments, but the issue of her public profile is touchy for the other band members mainly because it leads some writers to characterize the band as Dalle's creative vehicle and Granelli, Sinn and Bradley merely as supporting players — or "Brody's Bunch" as they've been labeled on occasion.

In truth, there's no getting around Dalle's pivotal role in the band. She is the songwriter, and as such takes the creative lead.

But Granelli said each band member usually comes up with his own parts for the songs and is fully involved in the arranging of the songs. In that sense, the Distillers are as collaborative as many — if not most — other bands.

"That's the part that sucks, is people, I think, don't realize that," he said. "That's what pisses me off the most, because it is a (bleeping) band and no one cares."

The Distillers headline an April 13 show at Pop's, 1403 Mississippi Ave., Sauget. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show, which also features the Icarus Line and Lot Six, cost $12.

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