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Dulli Rocks a Little Harder


By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

When the first Twilight Singers record was released three years ago, the band was a side project for Cincinnati alt-rock kingpin Greg Dulli. Then in 2001, he ended his main band, the critically acclaimed Afghan Whigs, which made some of the best rock records of the ’90s, including the classic Gentlemen (1993).

Now the Twilight Singers is Dulli’s primary musical outlet. The group’s sophomore CD, Blackberry Belle, was released last month.

Tuesday, Dulli, who now lives in Los Angeles, brings the Twilight Singers to the Southgate House. We asked him about the new album and his lyrical fascination with sex and death.

“Blackberry Belle” rocks harder than the Twilight Singers debut and sounds more like an Afghan Whigs record. Was that on purpose?

What I wanted was songs that could be played live and I ended up liking the organic sound. Not saying I won’t do something way out and freaky again. I probably will. But with this bunch of songs, I have to come to grips with the fact that I was the primary songwriter and architect of the Afghan Whigs, so if it’s gonna sound a little bit like that, well, please forgive me.

What’s “Blackberry Belle” about?

It’s probably about me and Ted (Demme, the late film director and a good friend. He and Dulli worked together frequently, most notably in Beautiful Girls. Demme died of a heart attack at 38 in 2002).

The best way I can probably describe it is how much I kind of depended on Ted and didn’t realize it until he wasn’t there for me to depend on anymore.

I couldn’t listen to that other record (the unreleased Twilight Singers project he was working on) and I couldn’t play for a while. I felt like I had to document the moment. And that’s what I did.

Along with sex, death always has been a favorite theme of yours, but “Blackberry Belle” seems to mix those partying/mortality metaphors even more. Is that Ted’s influence?

I’m 38 years old. I don’t plan on kicking it anytime soon. But when your best friend, who’s your same age, drops dead on a basketball court, you tend to take notice.

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