Gossip Dance Back Into Action After a 12-Year Pause

It’s possible that there are better people to dig you out of an ice storm than the frontwoman of a dance-punk act, but few would do it as resourcefully or cheerfully as Beth Ditto. Since her band Gossip started 25 years ago, its scrappy, D.I.Y. roots have always run strong.

Early this year, when Portland, Ore., Ditto’s adopted home of two decades, was overtaken by a deep freeze, my windshield was a sheet of ice, and there was no scraper in sight (do better, Portland rental car agencies). Over my protestations, Ditto fished out her old ID, hopped out of the slowly warming sedan in her black beret and Chuck Taylors, and shaved the ice off herself. She has never been fazed, she said, by the unexpected.

Though Gossip has been a major label act since 2009, when it made the leap from the storied indie Kill Rock Stars to Columbia Records and the megaproducer Rick Rubin, the trio has carved out a very unconventional path.

“We’re renegades,” said Ditto, who founded the group with her childhood friend Nathan Howdeshell on guitar and bass, chatting with her bandmates in the drummer Hannah Blilie’s minimalist, midcentury living room, cozy against the wintry mix outside. They had gathered to talk about “Real Power,” their first album together in 12 years. Due Friday, its arrival was not preordained, or even serendipitous — it was more instinctual, a product of punk energy, somehow sustained across time, space and adulthood.

“We don’t plan,” said Howdeshell, who grew up with Ditto in small-town Arkansas. “Me and Beth just sit down and made up stuff.” They don’t talk about it, either. That might ruin it, make it feel contrived, Ditto said.

“That’s the magic of our band, I think,” Blilie added. “It just kind of falls into place.”

That is, until it didn’t.

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