An interview with Deep Dark Robot’s Linda Perry and Tony Tornay

In case you haven’t heard of out musician and producer Linda Perry, she is the voice behind the infectious 4 Non Blondes’ song “What’s Up,” and the mastermind behind hits like Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and Pink’s “Get the Party Started,” among others. For the last 15 years, Perry has spent most of her time in the studio producing and writing songs for other musicians, so I was thrilled to hear about her new band, Deep Dark Robot, with Fatso Jetson drummer Tony Tornay. I was even more intrigued when I heard Perry describe their first album, 8 Songs About A Girl, as a concept album that tells the story of her relationship with a woman who broke her heart. I’m happy to say that both Perry and Tornay deliver. Much like the musicians themselves, the tracks on 8 Songs About A Girl are a unique and textured mix of grit, brains and heart.

We caught up with Perry and Tornay to talk about Deep Dark Robot, their expectations for the tour, and why this “dude rock” album will impress the “chicks.”

photo by Tony Tornay/Aubin Crowell The new song “Won’t You Be My Girl” is hot.
Linda Perry: Cool.

AE: Why did you pick that as the first release?

LP: I thought it was a cool song. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but I call it the “dumbest song on the album.” It’s like dude rock. It’s such a great, fun, dumb song, but then there’s something sexy and dirty about it. It seemed like the perfect song to introduce Deep Dark Robot.
Tony Tornay:
It was a great way to come out swinging. A nice way to say hello.

AE: What’s been the reaction to the release?
I could be wrong, but I feel like we haven’t gotten anything negative. There’s been a couple of people who’ve said, “It’s a little hard for my taste, but great song.” That’s the most negative feedback that we’ve gotten. In general, people seem to dig it because the song is very different, the sound is very different. The vibe of this whole record is easygoing and real and honest and fun. There’s a lot of great energy in it so I really do expect a lot of great energy to come back to us.

TT: I think people aren’t sure what to expect. There’s an element of surprise. But everything’s been really complimentary, which is always flattering and good to read.

AE: Linda, you’ve said that the album was “inspired by a girl who put my heart on a roller coaster and didn’t let me off.” Can you tell us more about that?
LP: I didn’t realize that a record was going to be made. Tony and I met a while back and I had contemplated starting a band. I said, “Do you want to be in my band? It’s called Deep Dark Robot.” He was like, “Yeah, cool.” And I was like, “Yeah, cool.” Then nine months later, I called him up and said, “Hey, do you want to come jam?” We jammed out a couple of songs I wrote about this [girl]. It was so easy to hang out with him and we jammed well. I think by the third song I realized, “Oh god, I’m f–king writing an album about a f–king chick.”

AE: Did you think of it as a concept album or an album that tells the story of a relationship?

LP: I didn’t know there was a concept brewing. Tony brought it to my attention. I was clueless because sometimes I’m not paying attention. I’ll write things and not know what its meaning is for years. He introduced me to the whole concept and I said, “Oh you’re right.” It was also Tony’s idea to do all of these videos to tell the story of it. Basically, it’s all good. [The story] is about this beautiful person, but she’s straight. There was heat and a lot of energy and a lot of love. Many gay women can relate to falling for the straight girl who shows all of this interest and wants to keep you around because, damn, us lesbians, we give good attention. [Laughs]

Women are more attentive and sensitive and romantic. It’s a sexier situation. I’m sorry, but it is. It was one of those things [where] I was getting the attention from this chick. It was hot, but she just didn’t know how to let me out of it. So I wrote all of these songs about it. They’re not all loving songs. They’re basically all about me and how obsessive I got and how hurt I got so quickly. In the end, we’re friendly. [Even] the song “F–k You Stupid Bitch” is actually not harsh. It’s kind of a funny song in a sense because it’s a groovy little number, but it’s more like, “Oh, f–k this, what am I doing?” If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have made the album. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have decided to play some shows. She ended up being a pretty f–king awesome muse.

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