INTERVIEW: Luis Cabezas & Kelly Ogden – The Dollyrots

Photo Credit: Abbey Plumb

WORDS: Dean Martin PHOTOS: Abbey Plumb

Distorted Sound had the opportunity to sit down and talk with pop-punk duo Luis Cabezas and Kelly Ogden, or as we know them, THE DOLLYROTS! We spoke to them about the pop-punk family as well as all their work with Jaret Reddick from BOWLING FOR SOUP and also about their recent releases.

What’s it like touring with BOWLING FOR SOUP?

Luis: It’s awesome. They’re our best friends in the world so it’s just like getting to go on vacation with your friends and family.

Kelly: A really exhausting, cool vacation.

Luis: Yeah, no days off…

Kelly: I think we got over the hump yesterday, like yesterday everyone was really tired.

Luis: You get like fully into it and just get better and better and better at it and then once everything is perfect, everyone goes home. That’s the way it works.

Photo Credit: Abbey Plumb

Over the last five years or so, you’ve done several albums with BOWLING FOR SOUP, can you tell me about them?

Kelly: We did One Big Happy and that was one late night bus talk where Jaret was like ‘hey, let’s do an album together’ and we were like ‘hey, let’s do it right before we go over to England, us, you and PATENT PENDING’, you know we can use it to promote the tour, the fans can get introduced to each other.

Luis: The way that we see it is, we’re friends, and if we’re likeminded people then our music will have similar feelings which means our fans…

Kelly: Should overlap

Luis: There should be overlap, because we’re around each other a lot…

Kelly: We all have the same influences…

Luis: Yeah, so we did a seven inch with them. It all stems from random conversations, and random ideas we have.

Kelly: Well, we don’t say no to pretty much anything when it comes to music and band adventures and so anytime Jaret’s like ‘Hey, you wanna do (fill in the blank)? We’re like YES!

Luis: Well we don’t say no to BOWLING FOR SOUP. We say no to things, but basically, if it’s Jaret’s idea, it’s gonna work. Anything for them.

I’m interested by the fact most of your projects, such as albums and your live film, have been funded by crowd sourcing websites, what made you chose this route?

Kelly: When we started out, we self-released our first album, Eat My Heart Out, then it got picked up by Lookout Records, and then they kinda folded, so we decided okay, let’s get our next album ready…

Luis: We had two albums by then on another label so we were on Joan Jett’s label for two albums. And then it was like, we had seen the way indie labels had worked…

Kelly: We learned a lot…

Luis: Especially working with Joan Jett’s label, because they’re basically a family business, it’s a small operation. They only have a few bands on their label; it was just her, us and a couple other bands. So, seeing the way they functioned, and knowing the strength in owning your own music.

Kelly: Yeah, we decided, because we’d been doing this for like fifteen years and were a little bit older, if we’re gonna keep doing the band thing we’re gonna have to grow the business somehow. We have to make a living doing this or we can’t do it anymore. If we go on tour and couch surf, you know, we try to do it on a more professional level now, and the only way to really make that happen was to make really good business choices. Part of that means owning our own music. And after having the experience of being on a couple of really awesome labels we learned how it works, and we also gained a really good fan base.

Luis: We also busted our asses and toured the country…

Kelly: Over and over…

Luis: and over and over again. We basically lived in a van for ten years. It’s pretty much what happened. And by doing that, and getting out there, meeting the fans…

Kelly: We grew our email list…

Luis: We ran around just busting it out, we had all these fans who were like, alright, I believe in you…

Kelly: We’ll preorder or whatever…

Luis: We’ll preorder an album you haven’t even written yet cause we know we’re gonna love it. So that’s where all that came from, all that and doing Warped Tour in 2004, or whatever, those people are still on board. Those people still pledge, and still support what we do. It’s because we met them, we hang out with the people who like what we do.

Kelly: There isn’t a huge barrier between us and the fans either and I think that’s something that sets us apart from a lot of bands. I mean we’re not the only band to do that now but we really do know a lot of our fans. The core group, you know, I could recite addresses for some of them even cause like you write it down so many times! It’s a really cool relationship.

Luis: It’s like a family or something. It sounds cheesy to say that, if we just say ‘be part of our family’, but it really is.

Kelly: We’re together, and we had a kid, and we were trying to determine what role does he have in this. What do we say? How do we tell our fans? Do we hide him? Is he allowed to be in pictures on Instagram? Like, what do we do?

Luis: And we were like, screw it. They see everything else that we do!

Kelly: Our fans named him the Dollytot! It really is like a family though, he brings them joy in the same way we like seeing their baby pictures. It’s funny but it’s really the way it is.

Photo Credit: Abbey Plumb

In a similar vein, how do sites like StageIt affect your relationship with your fans?

Kelly: It’s incredible! StageIt is actually as important as touring.

Luis: That was Jaret again.

Kelly: Yeah, that was Jaret, he was like ‘you gotta do this thing called StageIt!’ But it allows us to be closer to the fans who we don’t get to see on tour. Like fans in Norway, and Paris, and Switzerland, all these places we haven’t visited yet. They actually get to know us as people and I think that makes music more enjoyable when you know who it’s coming from.

You’ve just released Save Me, from your new EP Mama’s Gonna Knock You Out. What are you aiming to do with this record?

Luis: We wanted it to be something new. Initially, it was like, aright the people who pledged for the live record they’re essentially getting the live greatest hits.

Kelly: They already have all those songs.

Luis: They already have those songs so we wanted to give them something new as like a bonus. So we took some of the fundage from the pledge thing and put it towards recording this EP with the intention of making it like a bonus for those people, for like the core people but it turned out so good that we were like…

Kelly: We wrote and recorded it in like a total of five days…

Luis: Yeah it was like an afterthought.

Kelly: We were completely unprepared. We stayed up all night, I was scribbling in the studio at the microphone as I was singing the final words, trying to make sure it made sense. It was the most last minute thing.

Luis: We did the whole thing in two days, recorded, done, mixed, two days everything. And it turned out really well so we were like let’s release it for the tour! The reviews have been really good, and we’ve been playing that song as part of the set and every night it goes off really well. People like it so we thought maybe this is a single, a real single. We should do a video for this!

Is there anything you wanted for it that hasn’t happened?

Luis: Well the primary thing has been the live thing, we haven’t even released the live thing to the public yet. We did this live album slash DVD so everyone who pledged for it has already got it but the public release isn’t until next month.

Kelly: March 11.

Luis: So, yeah, we kinda working two releases at the same time so it’s good that one isn’t a full thing, let’s just have the smaller thing.

Kelly: Yeah, just a tasty bite,

Luis: And then there’s a big, giant film production alongside it which is very different. But we’re both really happy with them.

What are your plans for 2016?

Kelly: We’ve gotta get home from touring and do the record label stuff.

Luis: We’ve been touring consistently for the last year because of the whole live thing kinda happened around these tours and BFS asked us to the US with them and of course we had our own dates in the US and then we came over here so it’s been like a year that we’ve been travelling a lot. We just need a few months to regroup…

Kelly: Stay put…

Luis: Hang out with our baby, come back to the UK sooner rather than later, maybe do a headline tour.

Kelly: Maybe start a new release at the end of the year.

Luis: We’ll see.

Kelly: I sat in the pregnancy chair in Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem today and it worked last time! That’s how River happened. It’s true!

Luis: That might happen too.

Kelly: That might be our plan, but shhh.

How has River affected your musical life? And tours?

Kelly: He just makes everything better. He makes us work harder and be better people. It’s the best.

Luis: We do it for him, because we want him to have a good life, you know? So, we figured if we’re happy then he’ll be happy so we just bring him with us everywhere we go and he can just observe and as long as he’s stoked and learning…

Kelly: He doesn’t get to go everywhere, but you know.

Luis: Everywhere within reason, but he also having him around makes us better. Makes us wanna be better.

Where’s your favourite city/country to play? And why?

Luis: Oh my god, it’s hard not to say here because every time we play somewhere I’m like ‘You know, maybe this one’s my favourite.’

Kelly: No, really, Rock City is pretty much my favourite venue, in England at least. Like every time we come here, we walk around the city, we go take our picture with Robin Hood, and this is the only city we do that.

Luis: And the venue’s stage sounds amazing! We just did our sound check and we were like oh my god.

Kelly: Today, they let us go down into the tunnels under the venue, it was amazing because everything was vibrating down below.

Luis: It was crazy because you could feel it vibrating your gut! So this venue’s cool. On this last tour Portland was amazing.

Kelly: Yeah Portland was good.

Luis: Because they still love the 90s rock

Kelly: It’s like the spirit of the 90s is alive in Portland. I felt like I was on stage looking out into 1993.

Luis: They were dressed in flannels and crowd surfing, we were just like YES! This is so great! So Portland’s cool, Dallas is always good and it’s BFS hometown. Then LA’s our hometown.

Kelly: I love LA. New York is take it or leave it sometimes, but overall, New York is pretty special. The smaller venues are better in those bigger cities.

Luis: They get hot.

Kelly: Chicago’s fun. I usually hate Philadelphia but I liked it last trip. It was my birthday, they were really nice.

Luis: There’s like a thousand cities we’ve played in and we have really strong opinions on all of them!

Kelly: I really like Basements in Appleton, Wisconsin. But yeah, it’s hard to say. Dublin!

Luis: Oh Dublin! Dublin’s amazing too!

Kelly: Dublin’s probably my top three for real.

Luis: That’s a hard question.

Kelly: We’re really bad at that answer.

Luis: And it all kinda melds together, so it’s really hard to tell sometimes. You kinda like, go with the flow.

Photo Credit: Abbey Plumb

Is there anywhere in the world that you really want to play but haven’t got to yet?

Kelly: We gotta play in Japan!

Luis: We’ve been saying that we gotta go to Japan forever because they love us in Japan.

Kelly: I wanna do Europe too, like Spain, France, Germany.

Luis: We haven’t really done mainland Europe and I think that that would be good for us.

Kelly: I do all our mail orders and I see packages go out and I’m like dang it, we need to go there

Luis: We have friends that go over to Europe regularly and it seems like they always do pretty well. And we’re like similar-minded, similar genres so we could probably do that. We could probably work it out. The trick is travelling.

Kelly: And now it’s more complicated.

Luis: It’s a little more complicated to travel and having your two year old around.

Kelly: He can’t be in smoking venues, he can’t be in loud places, he’s gotta have the same bed each night if we can so it’s tricky.

Luis: But we always figure it out.

That’s everything from me, thank you very much.

Kelly: You got it.