By Anita Stewart, Rock At Night Pittsburgh
INTERVIEW with THE DOLLYROTS
How does this newest album–Daydream Explosion differ from those you have recorded in the past, and what was the inspiration for this one?
KELLY: The couple records before this one (Barefoot and Pregnant and Whiplash Splash) were written and recorded while I was pregnant with our two kids, so I think we were doing a lot of growing and changing and worrying. This album feels a lot stronger and more confident overall. We are in a really cool season of life as a couple and musical partners, and I think that shines through in the music. We were about one-third of the way through writing when my dad passed away in December though, and that did throw us a bit of a curve-ball…he died December 21, and we had flights and studio time booked starting January 23. More than half the album was written in the few weeks after he died and I’m still not really sure how. We are a close family, and he had been ill for a while, but it was still shocking and hurts every day.
But in those weeks, I felt a little out of body or something. Luis, who was also grieving, of course, helped pull me through and encouraged me to try to write every night after we put the kids to bed and we did make music most of those nights. Sometimes I just curled up though. I think the emotional space we were in opened us up to some music magic, though. We just kept getting ideas out of nowhere and, although we were sad, the music was a release and celebration of life and the experiences to come. There is some nostalgia for sure, but there is also a confidence about where we are headed.
The Dollyrots 2017 album Whiplash Splash debuted on both Billboard’s Heatseekers chart at #13 and Billboard’s Independent Albums chart at #31. Your 2016 live album/DVD Family Vacation: Live in Los Angeles debuted at #15 on Billboard’s Heatseekers album chart, and Barefoot and Pregnant garnered you first chart appearance, peaking at #7 on Billboard’s Heatseekers. Highly successful crowd-sourcing campaigns preceded your chart appearance. What made you take the crowd-sourcing route, and what do you credit for your success?
LUIS: After we left our last label, we had seen some other bands we were friends with find success with the crowd-sourcing thing, so we thought, you know what? We can do that too. We had already toured the country, been on many Vans Warped tours, and done the whole punk-rock thing to have built
up enough of a following to ask our fans directly if they’d like to support us. And they did, and we don’t take their support for granted at all.
How did your relationship with Wicked Cool begin?
KELLY: Stevie Van Zandt is the founder of both Little Steven’s Underground Garage and Wicked Cool Records, and he and his team have been supportive of the band for years. In addition to them playing us on Underground Garage, they released the singles “Get Radical” in 2018 and “Everything” this spring.
Tell us a little about the band that you will be going on tour with this time around, the Pink Spiders?
LUIS: We played with the Pink Spiders on Warped Tour. They’re from Nashville. You should all check them out at Pink Spiders or better yet come out to one of the shows.
You’ve toured with a lot of great bands throughout the years, and if you could share the stage with any other band that you’ve not worked with, (active or not), who would you pick and why?
Kelly: Nirvana. Our band was shaped by that band in a lot of ways. They were always vocal about other bands they liked, and their politics. Without them, I wouldn’t have known about Bikini Kill, Buzzcocks, Sonic Youth, L7, Shonen Knife… and Kurt Cobain was the first guy I saw in the media proclaiming he
was a Feminist. Also, it would be wildly fun!
Kelly recently released a Duets album with Jaret from Bowling For Soup. Can you tell us about that, and you give us any hints on any other new musical collaborations you might have coming in the future?
LUIS: Yes… Kelly’s side project with our buddy Jaret Reddick of Bowling For Soup just came out this past March. It’s a quirky and amazing blend of pop, rock and even a hint of country-western. As far as other musical collaborations coming…I’m sure there will be more.
When you all are writing a song, what comes first, the music or the lyrics? Or both? How has your creative approach changed over the years?
LUIS: It really all depends on the day. Kelly and I have been together for so long at this point, we can read each other’s minds. Our approach has changed in a major way. We had our entire adolescence to write the first album, Eat My Heart Out; and the next couple albums were the products of a young,
fairly naive band pounding out ideas on the road and in our practice space over the span of months, even years. Back then, we had the time to second-guess ourselves, rewrite things, and demo songs again and again. There have gotta be at least a dozen recorded versions of Jackie Chan, for example. But since having kids, and kind of as a byproduct of growing up, we have so much more going on in our lives now. Adulting is hard! So, there isn’t really time to go with anything beyond our first gut instinct for melodies and lyrics most of the time. Which I think is better for us at this point. The songs feel immediate. There is an urgency and playfulness to it all. It keeps us from taking things too seriously.
You are one of the few bands with small children that bring your household along while touring. How has traveling and touring with your kids changed your tour lifestyle and any advice for other groups that might be considering taking the family on the road?
KELLY: Well, we’ve got some great crew who are family to our kids. It is definitely a different way of touring… and we have done it all! Started out going cross country in a minivan, then a van, then van and trailer, then in buses with our friends Bowling For Soup and weird double-deckers and European Sprinters! But now… it’s the RV life for us. The RV becomes the kids’ home away from home. Where there is a routine every day (we don’t take days off!) and they have their Legos and their food and a place away from the show. If anything, I think touring as a family has made us stronger, although more
tired, and in a lot of ways, we are more easy-going than in the past. There is only so much you can control, so we go with the flow when possible. It’s really a lot of fun. The kids are 5 and 2 and still look forward to it, so hopefully, they will love it forever!
7/11 • Yucca Tap Room • Tempe, AZ
7/12 • Evel Pie • Las Vegas, NV
7/13 • The Hi Hat • Los Angeles, CA – Presented by Little Steven’s Underground Garage
7/20 • Warped Tour 25th Anniversary – SF • Mountainview, CA
The Pink Spiders will be opening on the following dates:
7/30 • Milestone • Charlotte, NC
7/31 • The Local 506 • Chapel Hill, NC
8/1 • Lizard Lounge | Chameleon Club • Lancaster, PA
8/2 • Milk Boy • Philadelphia, PA
8/3 • Coney Island Baby • New York, NY
8/4 • Cafe Nine • New Haven, CT
8/5 • The Ottobar • Baltimore, MD
8/6 • Gallery 5 • Richmond, VA
8/7 • Radio Room • Greenville, SC
8/8 • 529 • Atlanta, GA
8/9 • Jack Rabbits • Jacksonville, FL
8/10 • The Attic – Rock Brothers • Tampa, FL
8/30 • Moe’s • Englewood, CO
8/31 • Monument Indie Fest • Monument, CO
Site and Socials:
www.thedollyrots.com and @thedollyrots on FB, Twitter and Instagram!
Rock At Night’s interview with The Dollyrots in 2016 (London)
Rock At Night’s interview with The Dollyrots in 2018 (Tampa)
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