Interview with Kelly Ogden | By Kara Kulpa
The Dollyrots’ music has been gaining momentum over the past few years. Gearing up for the February release of their fifth studio album, Barefoot and Pregnant, this three-piece pop-punk band from Los Angeles, CA has once again entered the studio with producer John Fields (Jimmy Eat World, Andrew WK, and Miley Cyrus). The result of their efforts is a punk rock record that was made with the help of fans through the crowdsourcing platform, Pledge Music. With entertaining lyrics, searing guitar solos, and ballsy baselines, this album is sure to become a favorite amongst new and long-time listeners. With their little dog, Quito, and new baby, River, proud parents, Kelly Ogden (lead vocals/bass) and Luis Cabesas (guitar/vocals), plan to hit the road to play a variety of venues.
How is motherhood treating you?
It’s awesome! It’s even cooler than I had imagined. We’re only three weeks in. I hear it gets easier, so I’m stoked!
What, if anything, inspired your son’s name?
I was definitely a hippy child in my early days that were prepunk rock. I still pretty much am a hippy, and I think Luis is a bit too. We had a list of about six or seven names [picked out], but we liked “River” generically. [Ironically,] it was like every cool name we thought of had a negative rock and roll connotation, so that was kind of troublesome. After [our son] was born, we just spent some time with him. I was like, “I think his name’s River….” Luis totally agreed. The name just suited him.
For your last album, the band utilized Kickstarter, and for this album you used Pledge Music. Was there any particular reason for the switch?
We were happy with Kickstarter, but a few of our friends, Bowling For Soup in particular, used Pledge Music for their most recent album. Pledge helped to direct our campaign, the charity option is built into the platform, and their backend, which includes shipping [of items bought by fans] and the printing of mailing labels, etc. is really well organized.
The band is donating a percentage of the album’s proceeds to MusiCares, could you explain what that charity does?
MusiCares is the charitable arm of the GRAMMY Foundation that provides money for musicians. I think the requirements are that you have to be on at least six commercially released tracks, or that you have been an active musician for at least five years. They will help to provide assistance for people who need to go into rehab for alcohol or drug abuse, as well as help to cover medical expenses for musicians in need.
With our self-titled album we decided to make each song unique. We really wanted to see how far we could push our writing and stylistically see what we could do differently. We know that we can be a three-piece punk rock band, that’s easy. We worked so hard on the last record and people really loved it. Afterwards, we were like, “Alright! Lets get back to what we’re really, really good at!”
In a video update, you gave your pledgers an inside look in to how songs are constructed. You discuss coming up with a riff, which eventually turns into the instrumental portion, and then the lyrics are written and added later. As an artist, what inspires the ideas for those lyrics?
A lot of the songs on this new record came from what we were feeling at that moment. The first song that we wrote was “Come and Get It.” Luis had guitars and drums already recorded. We knew we were going to make a record, we knew we were going to do Pledge with our fans, I was pregnant, we knew the way our life was heading, and our relationship was out in the open. It was kind of freeing in a way to just write exactly what we were feeling and not over think anything. With this record, we had far fewer rewrites on lyrics than ever before. “Puppy Dog Eyes” ended up being “Puppy Dog Eyes”. We realized that we hadn’t written a song from Quito’s perspective yet, so we did! “Nightlight” was a song about when I was missing my family, and I was thinking about having a kid. We wanted to write a song that was about missing the people that you love.
That’s really cool! “Barefoot and Pregnant” is pretty obvious.
Uh, I was in such a bad mood [for that song.] We were all in the studio doing a drum session with Stacy Jones and he was joking that we should do a “Dead Kennedy drumbeat!” So he started messing around and our producer, John Fields, recorded what he was playing. On the way home from the studio, we wrote out a bunch of lyrics. Then later that night we went to see The Pixies. I remember being very hungry and frustrated, but I didn’t want to miss the show. That song [reflected my] pregnancy rage and hormones!
What about “First World Anarchist?” Is that The Dollyrots version of The Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK?”
It’s definitely a nod to “Anarchy in the UK,” and punk rock is anarchy. But, it’s basically a commentary on first world problems and] the stupid things that people who are comfortable in life consider to be anarchy – jaywalking and wearing sunglasses at night, etc. The lyrics are really silly because anarchy here [in the US] is really different than in a lot of other places [in the world] where it’s truly trying.
What was it like working with Stacy Jones and being reunited with former member, Amy Wood? What made you decide to invite them to drum on this record?
John [Fields] was like, “Hey, Stacy’s around. Do you maybe want him to come in and do some tracks?” We gave him a call and he was like, “I love you guys! I’d love to play drums!” He’s off drumming with Miley Cyrus right now. We also wanted to have Amy be part of a few songs, because what’s a Dollyrot record if Amy isn’t part of it somehow?
Will The Dollyrots ever get a new permanent drummer?
For the foreseeable future, I think we’ll be playing with Aixa Vilar (Go Betty Go). She’s a really great drummer and a really great friend. We all get along great!