Gossip may be on their way to becoming huge. Beth Ditto, the trio's rather large front woman, already is. I don't mean that as an insult, but as a matter of fact. Ditto is five-foot tall and weighs in at more than 200 pounds. Yet she's comfortable in her own skin. In fact, a few years ago, Ditto let it all hang out--and I do mean all--on the cover of British music magazine NME.
Until now, Gossip's success was largely overseas in the U.K. and Australia, but now the Portland, Oregon-based trio is starting to garner a buzz stateside thanks to the band's recently released, Rick Rubin-produced, fourth full-length effort, Music For Men, and the album's first single, "Heavy Cross." The track, which mixes a Giorgio Moroder-style rhythm track with punk attitude, has cracked the European Hot 100 Singles chart overseas. In the U.S., its garnering airplay on alt-rock radio stations, including the influential KROQ Los Angeles. Check out the video for the song below.
Aside from her figure, Ditto has also raised eyebrows with her openly gay lifestyle--she's also posed nude for On Our Backs, a Lesbian erotica publication--and is a relationship with a transgendered person, who was born female but prefers to be identified as a man. She addressed the issue of gay rights in the song "Standing In The Way Of Control," written in response to President George W. Bush's proposed ban on same sex marriages, which became the band's breakthrough hit in the U.K. "Nobody in the States was that surprised or shocked by what Bush did, but it made everyone I know feel helpless and cheated," she said at the time. "I wrote the chorus to try and encourage people not to give up. It's a scary time for civil rights, but I really believe the only way to survive is to stick together and keep fighting." Here's a clip of the band performing that song live at the Knitting Factory in New York back in 2005.
From the sound of Music For Men, Rubin has managed to find the right mix between the band's high-gloss disco influences and its punky roots. Gossip recently posted a message about working with Rubin on the album in Malibu on its MySpace page. "Rick Rubin stroked his beard and smiled while we played drums," the band wrote. "We were in Malibu for quite a while. We couldn't find any donuts there. We camped out in Bob Dylan's old tour bus and wondered why we don't like Bob Dylan that much, actually. We hope you hear you hear our new record and decide to start a band. Get a job, save up and buy a guitar or drum machine, start a band and practice in yr basement/garage."
If you're so inspired, download Music For Men, which is only available digitally in the U.S., and start your own band. Me? I think I'm going to go hunt for some donuts.