Most songwriters would be thrilled to have Linda Perry’s career. Over the past decade the former 4 Non Blondes singer has become one of the most sought-after writers in the industry, penning Pink’s “Get The Party Started” and Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” in addition to hits by Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani and many others. “I’ve just been really bored,” Perry tells Rolling Stone. “If I hear another label tell me that they need a song for the radio I’m going to poke out their eyeballs with a fork. Nobody I work with wants anything out of left field. They just want to keep following the same game plan.”
This frustration led Perry to form Deep Dark Robot, her first band since she quit 4 Non Blondes in 1995. The idea came to her when she began writing intensely personal songs she realized nobody else would want to record. “Basically, I fell in love with a woman and really quick it turned into an emotional tsunami,” Perry says. “She ended up being an incredible muse, even though things didn’t work out between us.”
Perry spent six months recording 8 Songs About A Girl with her longtime friend Tony Tornay, who plays drums in the California rock band Fatso Jetson. The songs are considerably more stripped down and raw than those on any of her previous albums – and songs like “Won’t You Be My Girl?” and “Fuck You, Stupid Bitch!” leave little doubt as to what inspired the material.
Deep Dark Robot are now in the middle of their first tour. “We just played in Washington, D.C. and there were 30 people in the crowd,” Perry says. “It kind of bums me out and hurts my ego. But that’s the good part. It’s like starting from scratch. I’m really enjoying playing music – and eventually the crowds will come.” Reliving the relationship onstage every night has been a struggle though. “It’s kind of torturous,” Perry says. “I’m actually finding myself getting kind of depressed in the middle of the set.”
Fans coming to the show hoping to hear Perry sing the 4 Non Blondes 1993 hit “What’s Up?” are going to leave disappointed. “Deep Dark Robot doesn’t cover 4 Non Blondes,” Perry says. “I’m not supposed to tell you this and my publicist said to me ‘please don’t say this’ – but I wasn’t really a big fan of my band,” Perry says. “I didn’t like the record at all. ‘Drifting’ was the only song I loved. I did love ‘What’s Up?’ but I hated the production. When I heard our record for the first time I cried. It didn’t sound like me. It made me belligerent and a real asshole. I wanted to say, ‘We’re a fucking, bad-ass cool band. We’re not that fluffy polished bullshit that you’re listening to.’ It was really difficult.”
Perry plans on devoting most of her time in the near future to Deep Dark Robot, but she hasn’t completely shut the door on writing for other artists. “I love Pink and I love Christina Aguilera,” she says. “Something about Christina always inspires me to do things that are really different. I’ve learned a lot and I appreciate every fucking thing I’ve done. This is not about me being unhappy. I’ve just hit a plateau and I’m starting to realize that there’s less inspiration for me out there.”
One project Perry has committed to is a Broadway version of the 1996 Nicole Kidman movie To Die For. “I’m really excited about it,” she says. “I’m going to start on it as soon as the tour ends. It’s right up my alley. It’s going to Broadway and the team is being put together now. It’s going to be another adventure for my music journey.”
Perry hopes Deep Dark Robot makes people see her in a different light. “I want to be a producer, and not a songwriter,” she says. “I would love for Radiohead to give me a call and say, ‘Hey kid, we wanna see what it’s like working with you. We want you to produce our next record.’ I would probably fall on my face and freak the fuck out and run through the city screaming if that happened.”