There’s much restless movement in Diesel Forever, Full Flower Moon Band’s sophomore album. Streets are stalked; limos pull up to the kerb; flights are hopped on; shimming highways are ridden. Even when the vignette is set in a nightclub, the protagonists are prowling a determined path through it.
Inhabiting a cinematic scene is second nature for Kate Dillon. As her frontwoman persona ‘Babyshakes’, she walks in many shoes, from snakeskin boots to stilettos. She’s a strung-out supermodel in ‘Waiting for My Car’; on a nefarious mission in ‘You Know the Mayor’; and animates a gang of girls bringing bad vibes to an afterparty in ‘Hurt Nobody’.
“Babyshakes can be whoever I want her to be,” Dillon says.
When it came to writing Full Flower Moon Band’s second album, Dillon took the method-acting approach. Diesel Forever was recorded quickly and under rehearsed, with the idea of infusing it with the spirit of live rock’n’roll. So committed was Dillon to the cause that there wasn’t so much as a click track to clip her wings.
“The last album, Chinatown, was me at my computer at midnight,” Dillon says. “This time I didn’t want to be beating around the bush with experimentation. I wanted to write an album that would have the same energy and sound as our live set, and give them what they want.”
And what is that? “They want it to go hard.”
Full Flower Moon Band was so named to suggest a project that is expansive and fully open to possibility. But as is hinted by the many line-ups – including an all-female crew a few years back – everything orbits around Dillon. It’s a bit like the moment we realised Kevin Parker was the visionary behind Tame Impala.
Diesel Forever, mixed by ARIA award-winner Michael Badger, is Dillon’s first album with a permanent band, bringing the grind, groove and grit: Luke Hanson on drums; Caleb Widener and Christian Driscoll on guitars; and Marli Smales on bass, who has replaced recording bassist Drew Heijden.
Centre of this brew is Dillon’s chameleon-like voice: alternately deadpan, bravado-fuelled, sinister and coaxing. She might even add a lower octave, to become ambiguously gendered. An alter ego can also act as a convenient buffer between the songwriter and their words, particularly when they’re bowing at the altar of excess.
“I grew up a stage kid in a small town and had a conservative, but beautiful upbringing, so I guess this felt like a safety barrier for the people I know and love,” Dillon laughs. “It gives me a bit of breathing space.”
It’s by living vicariously through her band that Dillon explores the themes of hedonism and burn-out. “I’m inspired and disturbed by the rock myth,” she says, “but I’m speaking with a bit of tongue-in-cheek.”
Take the hypnotically dark anthem ‘High Together’ (“Everybody in the house together / Everybody get high together / Everybody wang chung together…”), a kind of twisted playground rhyme that’s bound to be enjoyed in share houses across the land, amid clouds of bong smoke.
Dillon was raised on the out-of-body weirdness of T-Rex, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, and those kind of hypnotic stoner grooves permeate Diesel Forever. Many tracks are saturated with a potent sexual energy, such as ‘Power’, in which our protagonist is magnetically pulled towards a stranger on the street. Then there’s single ‘Trainspotting’, “about men being intoxicated before you make love to them, and then when you do it’s like you’ve killed them because they’re a different person.” In the accompanying video, Dillon strides through an underground carpark and onto the roof, wrenching her guitar around as fireworks explode climatically behind her.
The album closes with the acoustic ‘Take Love’, which acts as a gentle bump back down to earth. “It’s basically saying find your home and find a community that loves you,” Dillon says. “We’ve been on this wild, disturbed journey and then my remedy is to just ‘take love’.”