Tour

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Music

A Joyful Noise

A Joyful Noise RMX

The Beth Ditto Solo EP

Music For Men (Deluxe Version)

Live in Liverpool

Standing in the Way of Control

Movement

Arkansas Heat EP

And That's Not What I heard

The Gossip EP

Videos

Biography

“Sir, are you in the band Korn?”

That was frontwoman Beth Ditto’s candid reaction to a dreadlocked dude (with nipple rings!) jumping the stage during Gossip’s SXSW performance. But Ditto is no hater. So after playfully shooing off security, she held his hand. They ended up dancing together. “One of her greatest talents,” drummer Hannah Blilie recalls, comparing her to that other charismatic Southern bombshell, Dolly Parton, “is that she makes people so comfortable.” Yes, even crusties.

Ditto is the undisputed leader of this DIY charge—a people’s diva, if you will, who transforms the curious into thralls with as much old-timey charm as boundless gusto. That comes in handy when your band (rounded out by guitarist Brace Paine) is debuting material from its fifth studio album, A Joyful Noise, before an itchy audience of industry types. “We were all nervous,” points out Blilie. (Their last, Music for Men, moved upwards of 1.5 million copies globally.) Perhaps, but it’s hard to sniff out anxiety on performer who’s now-trademark move is stripping down to her skivvies.

Blissed-out defiance has long been a part of Gossip’s M.O., mostly because their success has been so hard won. A Little Punk Band That Could, they dropped a pair of riot-grrrl evoking albums (2000’s That’s Not What I Heard and 2003’s Movement) that garnered them clout as the coolest female-positive band in the Pacific Northwest. It was a mixed bag: While it won them loyal fans, it also shoehorned them into a niche.
“There were some hard times,” recalls Paine, who started the band with Ditto when the two friends high-tailed it from Arkansas to Portland together in the late ’90s. “Me and Beth never went to college, so we worked a lot of fast-food jobs, quit those, went on tour, and found other ones.” It took them seven diligent years to prove they had unbiased appeal, with the 2006 release of the dance-punk Standing in the Way of Control and its thunderous, eponymous single, which vaulted to No. 1 on the U.K.’s indie-rock chart.

Since then, they’ve made fans out of everyone from Kate Moss and Madonna to John Waters. They’ve attracted the breathless attention of the European paparazzi. They’ve inspired Jean Paul Gaultier to use Ditto as a runway model and M.A.C to release a collection designed by her. And they’ve won the approval of fashion’s holy grail, Dior, which licensed Gossip’s explosive 2009 single “Heavy Cross” for an omnipresent commercial spot featuring Charlize Theron.

Live, this success is even more palpable. A favorite at US and European festivals, Gossip manages to make their arena shows feel like old times in punk basements, with Ditto frequently climbing off the stage and finishing sets in the crowd. “We played this show at an 18,000 capacity venue in Paris, and headlined it ourselves,” says Paine. “It was really wild—a sense of, “Wow! This is really bigger than I imagined.”

“To me, we’re still just a live band. That’s what it all boils down to,” adds Paine. “After our shows, kids still come up to us and say, ‘Oh, I started a band because I saw you play.’ And that’s a beautiful sensation.”

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