LA pop punk outfit The Dollyrots hit the road across the UK recently with Bowling For Soup.
Following a successful PledgeMusic campaign, The Dollyrots are releasing a new live CD/DVD package titled Family Vacation. At the start of the year, to coincide with the tour the band also released a new EP Mama’s Gonna Knock You Out.
National Rock Review recently caught up with the band at their Newcastle show with Bowling For Soup to talk about the band’s new releases, their favorite live albums and their plans for the rest of the year.
NRR: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, it’s really good to meet you guys.
NRR: You are just starting your tour with Bowling For Soup here in the UK and you played your first show in Glasgow last night. How did the show go?
Kelly: It was awesome. I went through a couple of basses, that was a little bit crazy.
Luis: The airline lost her bass. We thought it was permanently lost for a little bit.
Kelly: There were some tears.
Luis: They found it, but they missed delivering it to us in time for yesterday, so she borrowed a couple of basses and it was like with the first one the strap broke. She got another one and it was weird, I don’t know. She played half of “Brand New Key” on her knees holding the bass with the mic like this. Out of disgust, she just threw down the bass and lead singered it.
Kelly: I handed it off, it wasn’t my bass so I wasn’t going to throw it.
Luis: Jaret said that you threw it down.
Luis: OK, I didn’t see this happen.
Kelly: That’s a better story, I guess I should stick with that.
NRR: Yes, it sounds more rock and roll.
NRR: Obviously following your PledgeMusic campaign you are just about to release your new live CD/DVD Family Vacation. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Kelly: Well we knew we were going out on tour with Bowling For Soup in the States. We wanted to release something and we didn’t think we were going to have time to writeÂ a record and so we were like alright we think it’s time, it’s time to do the live thing.
Luis: We had been throwing around the idea of doing the live thing for years. For at least like the past three or four years. It’s been like alright let’s do a live record.
We need some kind of video too because it’s like do we do a documentary, do we do like I don’t know whatever. So we thought we would combine all these things into one thing, so do like the live album with a concert film and then do it all around the tour. So that they can all kind of work together, and so it was a challenge for sure.
Kelly: More than we could chew at times.
Luis: We had never done the video thing before and we are fully independent so we had to find the people to work with. It’s not like management and our label went out and put together the pieces, we had to put together the pieces. It all came together really nicely and our fans fully funded it and it’s awesome.
Kelly: It turned out great.
NRR: You recorded it in L.A. I believe?
Kelly: Yeah, so it was a home show.
Luis: The next to last show on that tour, and so we were just running on full cylinders and it was a hometown show at a venue we had played at many times over the years. The Roxy is pretty small so it feels like an intimate show.
NRR: What are your own personal favourite live albums?
Kelly: Cheap Trick “Live At Budokan,” it’s kind of like THE live album.
Rikki: I like “Liveage!” by The Descendents, that was like the one that I grew up on. I heard the live album before I even heard any of their actual CD’s.
Kelly: That was how Cheap Trick was for me too.
Luis: I used to have this awful Sid Vicious box set and there was like a live show. It was like Sid Vicious live at the something ballroom New York City and it was just him basically playing a bunch of cover songs and it sounds awful, it’s absolutely awful and it’s so good. The recording quality is so poor, you can tell it’s a bootleg but it’s just like it’s so dumb and the musicianship is so bad, but I loved it.
Rikki: What’s the one that Rodney’s on? It’s like The Ramones “We’re Outta Here!” it’s like they play every song so fast. Oh no, they dedicate a song to Rodney.
Luis: There were two live Ramones records. They were both super fast because they played everything twice as fast as their albums. I kind of like how live albums sounds crappy. It’s not supposed to sound like a studio recording it’s supposed to sound kind of shit.
Kelly: Ours is a little too good then.
Luis: Ours is real, but sonically it’s awesome. We worked with Linus for it and it got mixed properly. It got finished off with the people we make a real record with, so it sounds like a real record but without all the extra record stuff.
Kelly: It’s a record that took 40 minutes to record instead of forty days and forty nights (laughing).
NRR: So out of all of the songs you play, what is your favourite to actually perform live?
Kelly: “Save Me” is my favourite right now because it’s the new one. It’s the one off the EP.
Luis: We are really loving playing that one. We added that one for this tour and it’s just right in the middle of the set. It’s cool it’s got this like silly 80’s/90’s breakdown in the middle of it which we’ve never done before (laughing).
Kelly: I need to come up with a dance to do while I do it.
Rikki: Like a signature dance move.
Luis: The others, we always include “Because I’m Awesome” in the setlist. We always include “Jackie Chan” with some random bit in the middle and then we always play like “Twist …” and like “Satellite” the bigger songs.
Kelly: “Twist Me to the Left” is one of the most challenging songs for me.
NRR: Rikki, you just started playing with the band last year I believe?
Rikki: Yeah I think my twelfth show was when we did the live album. So that was pretty crazy.
Luis: Rikki really worked hard. Rikki’s got her own band called The Two Tens out of California. We know her because we played a show together.
Rikki: Like six years ago. I met them one time, but I’ve always been a fan and I knew in my heart that I fit them. I had a real career and I knew they were working and it’s like you have to love and do music if you are going to be in a professional band like this.
Luis: Seven years go by and we had to make a decision as to who was coming with us on the BFS run. She sent a Facebook message.
Rikki: It was a simple message.
Kelly: I never check my Facebook messages, I’m terrible. It was like hey if you ever want to get together and jam and I was like fly to Texas and we will see how it goes (laughing).
Rikki: It was literally likeÂ because I thought we were going to have a lot of rehearsal. It was fly to Texas for one rehearsal before the first gig and then it’s like and oh yeah we are doing a live DVD, let’s do it, the next tour. I was like yeah let’s do it. It’s just been fun, yeah and it’s a good fit, I knew it would be just because I’ve followed them and you get to know them.
Kelly: We come from a similar place musically.
Rikki: We are like twin souls you know.
Luis: We are all L.A transplants. We all moved out to L.A. to do music.
Rikki: Grew up small town. It’s all similar.
NRR: Apart from the live DVD and CD. You’ve also just brought out a new EP as well Mama’s Gonna Knock You Out.Â Could you tell us a little bit about that and the inspiration behind it?
Kelly: We recorded The Roxy show and then we had one more show on that tour. So we landed in L.A. and Luis because he’s awesome and always pushes us. He was like while we are here, I think we should an EP. I was like you mean an EP we haven’t written yet. He was like yeah next week (laughing).
You saw like we have a two-year-old. We have a really small apartment in L.A. We spend most of our time in Florida where we have a house. I was ready to kind of relax a little bit and it was like no, we are going to write as many songs as we can and then pick the best ones and get into the studio, but it ended up being so inspired sounding. It is pretty fast and I think that it feels kind of I don’t know …. it’s impulsive and I think that’s perfect because it reflects where we are.
Luis: No room for rewrites, no room for too many takes on anything.
Kelly: It was written whilst I was singing on the microphone, most of it.
Luis: It was like alright we’ve got two days in the studio because Fields had to be in Nashville for other stuff and we were going to fly out at whatever point and it just so happened that he had these two days and it was like alright we’ve got two days let’s just record it and we did. Somehow we finished three songs in two days and that became it.
Rikki: It was cool seeing the process in the studio because I saw the whole process with the pledge and leading up to the DVD and then getting to come to the studio was cool, it was cool.
Kelly: We’ve been working with that producer John Fields for over ten years now. He recorded our first album. We don’t even talk, it’s like it’s that thing where we can just look at each other and he will be like yes, no it’s very quick and so easy.
NRR: Where do you find your inspiration for your songwriting? I know you’ve got a young family now, has that made a difference in how you write your songs?
Luis: I think there’s just more urgency to it now because we just don’t have the time to like I said overthink it.
Kelly: I don’t have notebooks full of lyric ideas anymore they just come right out of my brain into the final product (laughing). So it could be anything.
Luis: Those lyrics on the new EP, 80% of them were written in the studio in those days.
Kelly: Like I put earplugs in and like try and write them really quickly whilst he was cutting the guitar and then like go and sing them.
Luis: If you look back on our catalogue, I could point at the songs which are most notable or whatever and most of the times it’s the ones that are the first draught. You don’t really change the good ones.
Kelly: We learnt a lot about that from Jaret too.
Luis: That was Jaret’s method too.
Kelly: Linus produces a lot of the BFS stuff now. We wrote with him a few times.
Luis: It was a Skype session, we did a writing session with them.
Kelly: That’s just the way they are, it was just like the first idea that was decent, it was like ok great, go. Next.
Luis: Kay Hanley kind of like said this too, we’ve written with her from Letters to Cleo. She was like never underestimate the magic of the first take. That really resonated with me, it’s like yeah you can do it again but it’s never going to sound like the first. So we try to remember those things when we’re making an album now.
Kelly: We know that extra means better, whether that’s our voices or like guitar, bass so that gives us a little bit more leeway.
Luis: Like actually being able to play the guitar tight in the studio is different then playing tight live.
Kelly: My first take now is far superior to my first take 10 years ago.
Luis: Not to say that either one is any better than the other. That first album Eat My Heart Out was recorded in four hours. It’s a long story. Basically, we accidently recorded that album in four hours.
Kelly: We would play the song, we had two passes each time. We would play the song, the first time was bass, rhythm guitar and drums and then we would play along to what we had recorded.
Luis: I would double guitars and she would sing lead.
Kelly: And that was it, the whole album.
Luis: That’s why that record sounds so good and it’s not technically like a great …you don’t hear like arpeggios or whatever and her voice isn’t like refined or whatever, were not talking Beyonce over here, but it’s not any worse than something that could have taken six months in the studio to record. We wouldn’t have gotten a better record.
Kelly: We were well prepared for that too. We had been rehearsing what we wanted to record.
Luis: We had been preparing to record, it was like a preparation meets opportunity situation type thing with that but not like not to say you shouldn’t be prepared. If you are prepared then you keep the first one.
NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Kelly: I’ve no idea.
Luis: We honestly have no idea. We’re more likely than not we will do some west coast stuff. In the U.S., we will go to like New York or something like that. We will play the major markets.
Kelly: We are talking about a kids album just because we hear a lot of crummy kids music now.
Luis: What we do know is that the DVD is coming out, we got distribution for it, so that’s coming out in March. We’re going to need to be home to do like the label side of that, because if you are on the road you can’t really do that. So we’re going to leave the next couple of months to that sort of thing and then maybe look towards the end of the year to do some more live stuff. Maybe launch another project, I don’t know.
Kelly: We would like to come back to the UK, to do a headline thing soon, we really, really would. Last time we played Newcastle, we actually played Gateshead, we did a headline gig and it was so awesome.
NRR: Thank you for your time, it was really nice to talk to you guys.