Distillers Promise Refinement, Experimentation On Biting New LP

Band's new album, Coral Fang, expected to drop in October.

The Distillers' major-label debut promises to be a collection punk fans can really sink their teeth into ... or vice versa.

With the addition of guitarist Tony Bevilacqua, the newly formed quartet began recording the dozen or so songs it has written for Coral Fang, the follow-up to last year's Sing Sing Death House, last week at the Site, a studio in San Rafael, California. Gil Norton, who's produced albums for the Pixies and Foo Fighters, and has most recently worked on the new Dashboard Confessional LP, is at the helm.

One of the things the follow-up to a breakthrough album affords a band is more time. While Sing Sing and the members' 2002 eponymous debut were recorded in a couple of weeks between tours, the female-fronted punk group can take its time with Coral Fang. And taking one's time in the studio almost always results in a musical stretch.

"We kinda wanted to do something different, just not the same-old, same-old," drummer Andy Outbreak said. "Something that's more exciting, but at the same time, still who we are — still the Distillers. Don't expect your typical punk rock record from us. We've kind of shown we can do that, so let's explore more of the different styles of music that we're into."

Outbreak, Bevilacqua, bassist Ryan Sinn and singer Brody Armstrong hope to finish recording Coral Fang before hitching their wagon to the Lollapalooza trek from the July 3 kickoff through August 10. The album is expected to drop in October.

Coral Fang was named for one of the album's tracks, though Outbreak won't say much more than that of the title. And it's still to be determined whether the LP will include a cover of the "Walls Come Tumbling Down" by Paul Weller's post-Jam project, the Style Council.

Outbreak did, however, reference a song about one of the band's most preferred metropolises. But just when you're thinking there are already too many tunes about New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, the Distillers pitch one of those curveballs Outbreak was bragging about earlier.

"It's one of our favorite cities," he said of the song "Cincinnati." "Every time we've been there, it's been a good experience. The people there are really cool. It's just so much different than California."

Besides the extended time frame, the other major difference between Coral Fang and Sing Sing is personal. Part of the media's attention toward the LP centered on Brody Armstrong's marriage to fellow funny-haired rocker, Rancid guitarist Tim Armstrong (see "The Distillers: How Stella Got Her Punk Back"). In the time since, however, the couple divorced.

While Outbreak said that the breakup hasn't affected the Distillers' music, it has given them a more honest perspective of the scene. With their singer wed to a member of Rancid and the band signed with Epitaph Records, the Distillers were embraced by all aspects of the "hardcore mafia." That doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

"The thing that was a real bummer was the way some people were treating us," Outbreak said. "There was definitely a change in attitude in a lot of people and it just goes to show you that those people aren't your friends. That was a bigger letdown for all of us than anything else ... It definitely gave us some perspective of where we stand with certain people."