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Interview: Band of the Week – The Dollyrots

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Punk-pop band The Dollyrots may go down in history as the only good thing to come from the 2000 US Presidential elections, and by extension George W. Bush's presidency. So the story goes, Kelly Ogden (lead vocals, bass) and childhood friend and fellow student Luis Cabezas (guitar, piano) are attending New College Florida, preparing for medical school. On the night of November 7th they were watching the election results, when at four a.m. they found out that Bush had won and thought, “The world's probably gonna end anyway, and I don't want to go to med school.” So they decided to take their part-time college band full-time because, “We had no future anyways…” They may as well just be in a punk band.

So formed they began touring and creating their fun, poppy-without-compromising-punk sound. An accessible mix of fun bouncy melodies and harmonies but with all the ass kicking power and attitude of punk music. Their sound is a unique blend, precisely what pop-punk should be, honest, in your face, and accessible. If The Dead Kennedys and Gwen Stefani had a love child, they would have named it The Dollyrots. Punk music with pop sensibilities.

Much like Kelly Ogden herself. At first glance she could be mistaken for a pretty little thing with lots of curly blond hair, big doe eyes, and a baby-doll pout, and yet according to The Dollyrots website, Kelly just “might sucker punch you if you're dumb enough to try her patience”. In fact after interviewing Kelly I believe I am in the midsts of a full-on girl crush, she is an intelligent, witty, dirty-minded woman with a tough-girl attitude. Now before you get the horn imagining some Suicide Girl-on-girl action, I'm not talking about re-thinking my sexuality. No, just a good old fashioned, I-want-to-be-like-her crush. When we chatted, she was in the middle of the frozen Midwest at a truck stop on the way into Chicago on the Dollyrots latest tour. She was without sleep, wayworn, and coming down with a nasty cold, but still we laughed and talked like old friends, such was her friendly, open manner.

So tell us about your second album, Because I'm Awesome. Where did you get that name?

It's actually from the title track which is one of the more fun songs. It can be taken in different ways. When we wrote it, it was kind of a big F you to everyone who thinks they're better than the next person. When really they are just a big pile of crap. They've got no right to treat other people bad. The verses are meant to be sarcastic, the chorus is kind of a retort. But it's kind of hilarious because the song has been picked up by Radio Disney for example, as an empowering song for young girls. I was like “Oh! Okay. That's kind of interesting.” Not what we planned or anything. Then it's also been picked up by like punk-rock stations and XM Radio and mainstream alternative radio. So the song can be interpreted in different ways. Which is always cool, I think, in a song.

So how did you come up with the name The Dollyrots?

Well, when we first started out the music was very, very raw and punk-rock, it was really fast, very hard punk rock. Then I sang and my voice is so sweet. The words that I sang, a lot of time sounds like I'm being sweet, but it's not exactly the meanings. So we wanted to find two words that summed up the juxtaposition between my voice and the music. I feel like it's a good descriptive term. I hate when band names don't mean anything at all.

It does match your sound very well too. It's a bit, cheerleader with an attitude problem.

The thing is the recordings… the pop sensibilities come across much better on our recordings I think. Then live we're more of a punk-rock band. Yeah we're kind of a band that sounds really good, and polished and pop on our recordings, then we're this really good raw rock band live. Some people probably like the recordings better. Some people say that they like shows better.

So how long have you been on tour?

We've been on tour six or seven weeks. We have three more left. It's been a long cold one, it's kind of awesome. (laughing) I haven't seen a lot of snow in my life, I think I'm getting it all in right now, these two months. I think I will see enough snow to last a lifetime.

How has your tour been going?

It has been fantastic. The first night, I broke Chris' (Black, drums) nose.

(Laughing) How did you do that?

Well it was an accident. When it's a really good show, or a really crappy show, or sometimes just for fun, I like to jump into the drum kit or we jump off the drum kit or off of the stage. It just feels like a good time when you have a nice jumping ending to the set. And I jumped over the drum kit and I accidentally hit the wall with my head. Then I was still wearing my bass guitar and I let go of the bass to check my head because I thought it was bleeding, and as I let go of the bass I dropped it on Chris' face.

He said he felt like two crunches on his face and then all of the sudden he was like “Broken, broken! My nose is broken. My nose is broken!” I looked down and he was just pouring blood out of his nose. So we had that happen. Then a few weeks later we were in Columbus, Ohio, and I'm walking around on the ice and everything was fine and dandy, everything was cool. I was actually wearing snow boots but I didn't have them tied up. I went to get in the van, and I fell, like old-lady style, under the van. I sprained my ankle really, really badly. Then I got zombie foot. It literately looks like a zombie's foot. Right now it's yellow, purple, grey, and black and not very cool cause it hurts a little too. And I've had a cold the whole tour too.

If you would like to learn more about The Dollyrots, you can visit their website. To hear a few tracks from their album Because I'm Awesome you can visit their MySpace space.

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About A.L. Harper

  • c mancuso

    Good article on The Dollyrots. I also enjoyed your 2009 Top Albums list. I also write occasionally on music for Blogcritics. In fact, I wrote about “Girl in a Coma”. Love your writing. Carl

  • http://www.alharper.com/ A.L. Harper

    Why thank you Carl! I love hearing that. *smile*

    A.L. Harper