God I'm a sucker for a big chorus as many of you well know so within hearing the first few seconds of the song 'Because I'm Awesome' by The Dollyrots you just knew I was gonna be hooked! I knew I'd found one of my favourite new bands and once tracking down their two CD's I wasn't disappointed. A great combination of massive choruses, big guitars and melodies for days all made sure that TrashPit needed to find out more about this band and sing their praises. We caught up with singer / bassist Kelly Ogden as the band travelled all over the USA to give us an insight into power pop of the highest order!
We're from the UK and you're kinda new to us over here so could you give us a brief introduction to the band?
We've been together about six years now. I've known our guitar player Louis since about eigth grade and we started the band together in college. We kinda gave up all hope on the world when George Bush was elected president and decided to take the band seriously, we thought that if the world was gonna end any day then we might as well be doing something that we're really passionate about! I decided not to go to Grad school and Louis turned down Med school and we just moved to LA. That's where we met Chris, our current drummer. We used to tour with his old band and it was always the three of us having fun and hanging out so it worked out perfectly. We're a three piece band, I sing and play bass. I think the easiest way to describe the music is that we're very polished and poppy on record then as a live band we're a lot more raw and rock and roll. We get lumped into the punk category a lot when people see us live but not necessarily by those people who only know us through our recordings.
You're currently out on tour - how are the shows going?
Everything's been really amazing except the weather! I think that kinda goes hand in hand cause we went for about six weeks without seeing the sun! There wasn't a single day when we didn't see ice or snow on the ground until the day before yesterday. We've just been really cold, damp and sickly. We play on average like six nights a week so once you catch a cold or get sick you're kinda outta luck!
I hear there are a few injuries and bruises?
It's been really gross! Right now I have what we refer to as 'Zombie Foot' 'cause I slipped and fell on the ice and sprained my anke really bad so it's now at the really purpley gross stage! It think it would almost have seemed cooler if I'd done it on stage but that never happens. We do all this crazy stuff onstage, jumping offstage and onto each other and into drumkits and somehow we do all of that and we never get hurt so I guess it's a good thing 'cause it means I'm not afraid to do that. Maybe my guradian angel gets a kick out of it?!
With such a strong punk background would you like to bring your show to the UK with it's music history?
It would be amazing! I think it's been a huge influence on us, mainly the UK and New York punk scenes. Not so much the West Coast, hard core California scene although now we've gotten to know a lot of those guys I've kinda got into that more. Once I learnt about The Sex Pistols, Generation X, The Banshees and I guess stuff that was over here like Blondie and The Ramones then I guess that's kinda where my musical influences started. All I'd heard before that was on oldies radio and the hippy folk music from my friends parents so once I started finding music on my own that's kinda where I went first. I think it's had a huge effect on the kinda stuff we put out, just very generic. We don't sit down and decide we're gonna be like this kinda band or sound like this, it comes out pretty organically. You're always gonna sound like your influences.
Coming to the UK is something I wanna do so bad. I feel like I've gone around the United States like fifty gazzilion times so I'm kinda tired of it. I love touring so I feel that if I could tour over there it would be a whole new experience. I kinda feel like I need to see everywhere! One of the coolest 'side effects' of doing this is getting to travel a lot so I really really wanna get over there. It has so much history and my family where mostly Irish so we have a lot of family there so I feel kinda connected but I really don't know anything so need to find out about all that stuff.
Your songs are incredibly hooky and pop orientated? What are your pop influences?
I think just growing up my sister and I listened to the radio all the time through the late eighties, pretty much Top Forty radio - I had all these dance routines to Madonna, Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson! When I was in kindergarten, of course I loved Debbie Gibson. I was a little girl growing up around all this pop culture, stuff like The Disney Channel, MTV and the radio so I think no matter how much I could try and beat that outta myself it's part of who I am. I think that's maybe where a lot of my melodies come from - it's engraved, it's a part of me!
Did having the song 'Because I'm Awesome' on TV bring much exposure to the band and did it reflect on your crowds?
We weren't sure what to think about it and how much good it would be for the band because it didn't say our name in the commercial. People had to do some serious looking around or at least pay attention to the lyrics, luckily with that song though it's not too hard to remember. We got an insane number of MySpace messages and stuff like that but it hasn't really changed the touring that much because it was a lot of really young teenage girls who aren't old enough to go out to our shows. But definately it boosted our online interaction with a younger audience which was pretty cool. We also got some hate mail though from people who didn't understand the song at all who thought I was just egotistical!
How did the cover of 'Brand New Key' come about for this record?
When I was about sixteen I went through a hippy stage before I found punk rock. It was because my best friends dad was a total hippy and he had the coolest record collection. My friends said I had listened to crappy music so they introduced me to Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens, I guess a lot of artists who are kinda considered folk rock and in the midst of all that was this ridiculous song by Melanie Safka but I loved it! I think part of it is because her voice is kinda weird like mine. Most people really hate it but it kinda became my theme song when I was sixteen learning how to drive and going through all that stuff. My friends would cringe because I played it over and over again. For our first record we covered The Ronettes 'Be My Baby' which is probably my number one favourite song ever, I love all those old rock n roll girl groups! So it was like... alright, for the second record what we gonna do? I was like, let me do it, let me do it!! It turned out pretty cool, my Mom likes it a lot better than the original!
How are things working out being on Blackheart Records - that must be great to be on a label with such history and so music orientated rather than strictly business which seems to be the direction of many labels these days. Blackheart still seems to have that grassroots DIY Feel....
I've always looked up to Joan Jett you know, the whole woman in rock thing and just doing what she wanted to do whether it was cool or not. She was just a really strong role model so when we met it was like wow, I get to talk to her and she likes our band?!! It kind of made me feel like I wasn't doing something ridiculous and what I had in my head and what we wanted to present was valid so that alone was really cool. Everyone who works at the label from Terry and Julie Rader and Kenny Laguna who have been at the label since Joan started - it's just a real awesome, small hardworking group of people. Having that knowledge and amount of experience is just so great if we're having trouble or just wanna talk is the coolest! As a label they've been terrific and they've been so supportive and encouraging. I feel like they believe in us in a way that nobody else has yet.
Because it's TrashPit, are you cool with being on a Fanzine / Webzine alongside the likes of Poison, Warrant and numerous other hair bands?
I really don't hate any music or musicians. I feel like someone to put themselves out there like that is hard enough without having people hate on it. I have fond memories of a lot of those songs. I can't tell you how many times me and my little sister rocked out to Twisted Sister and Poison. They wrote some pretty good tunes!
Do you rub shoulders with any of these bands whilst out in LA?
There are people around all the time like at the Rainbow rooms. We were on Fuze TV recently and the other guest was Bret Michaels from Poison. So we were backstage and Bret's manager or assistant came up to us and said that Bret wanted to know if we wanted to take some pictures 'cause he thaught we were cool. We were like 'What?!'. So we go over and I was expecting him to be a little more dude-ish or weird but he was really genuine and cool which was really surprising. He didn't cop a feel either! I liked him!