Pop-punkers The Dollyrots play the Hi-Hat this week, the album release show for their band new Daydream Explosion opus. We chatted with frontwoman Kelly Ogden about that show, the record, their nightmare with PledgeMusic and having the family on the road…
L.A. WEEKLY: The new album Daydream Explosion is about to drop — how has the band evolved, if at all, since the last record?
KELLY OGDEN: The couple records before this one (Barefoot & 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’re 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’re 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 [Cabezas, guitars, vocals and Ogden’s husband], 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 confidence about where we are headed.
You have kids on the road — how are you managing to travel with the whole family? Does it affect the vibe / sound of the band?
Ha! Well we’ve got some great crew who are family to our kids. It is definitely a different way of touring… and we’ve done it all! Started out going cross country in a mini-van, then van, then van and trailer, then in buses with our friends Bowling For Soup and weird double deckers and European Sprinters! But now… its 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 more easy going than in the past. There’s 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!
Why the jump from Pledge? How was the DIY funding experience?
Oh man, what a mess that was. We launched our PledgeMusic pre-sale in December and had hit 60 percent of our funding goal by the time we hit the studio. Our last morning of tracking, in the midst of the elation of finishing up what we felt was our strongest effort to date, at the vibey studio where Nirvana cut In Utero, we got a call asking if we could make a statement to press about whether we were staying or leaving Pledge. That tons of bands had come out saying that the Platform wasn’t paying money owed to its artists. It felt like a gut punch. We had no idea what they were talking about since we had been in the creative bubble of the studio. So we chose to finish up recording and ignore it for a few days. By the time we got home it was clear PledgeMusic was on shaky ground and, since we hadn’t hit our goal, our fans hadn’t been charged for their preorders. So with knots in our stomachs we walked away from the campaign. It was awful to be so far along and have to ask fans to mentally buy the album again but… our fans are amazing and almost all of them totally did. And more followed. In the end we hosted our own album project page and had an amazing pre-sale even with all the bumps along the way. We love making albums under the crowdsource/pre-sale platform. It means the fans are engaged before we even start. They get to see the album come together from before the songs are even written. It’s also more fulfilling for us having them cheering us on. There’s a bigger sense of responsibility since we can’t let them down; we try that much harder to deliver a solid album. And to top it off… we sent the album to Wicked Cool Records and the people at Underground Garage… and they loved it! Little Steven gave it his seal of approval. They asked if we wanted to partner up and have them put it out. Having released a 7 inch single with them in 2018 we knew we could trust them. So we got to make the album the way we like to and have the benefits of having a label partner to help release it now.
What can we expect from the Hi-Hat show?
Dollyrots shows are a place where we hope people can feel free to be themselves and let loose. On stage we are more raw, sweaty and powerful than in the recordings, which are purposefully polished and as close to perfect as we can get. But our idea of a rock show is more visceral and in the moment. We’re tight as hell and a lot of fun. And our fans are a fun and inclusive bunch. L.A. is a homecoming for us so there are always a lot of friends, family and biz friends there so it’s an extra special show for us. We will also have a cameo by our son River who insists on playing guitar the whole show but is limited to an impromptu jam sometime during the set. Our friends The Darts, Not Ur Girlfrienz and Tidal Babes are playing and Jaret Reddick (Bowling for Soup) my BFF and bandmate in another project (Jaret and Kelly) will be our MC and DJ for the night. It’s going to be a party for everyone!
When it’s done, what else do you have coming up this year?
After the L.A. show we’re playing the Warped Tour 25th Anniversary show up in Mountain View, CA and couldn’t be more stoked to be included in that line-up. We’ll get to see so many friends and fans! After that it’s an East Coast tour from FL to NYC and down with two weeks of stops along the way. A weekend in Colorado in September and FEST in Gainesville and I’m sure more shows! And of course we’ll be putting new music out for our Patrons and playing StageIt shows online for people we don’t get to see on tour.
The Dollyrots play with The Darts, Tidal Babes and Not Ur Girlfrenz at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 13 at the Hi-Hat.