Band Bonding: An Interview with Kelly-O of The Dollyrots

I had the pleasure of speaking with the lovely, talented, and and super-sweet Kelly-O from The Dollyrots.  We chatted about everything from their latest album; which drops this August, to cooking vegetables!  Here it is!  I hope you enjoy it!

Me:  How did the band get together?

Kelly-O: I  knew Luis in high school and wanted to learn to play guitar. He was that kind of dark music playing smart kid that knew to play guitar so I asked him to teach me.  After that, we both went to the same college.

Me:   When writing the new album where did you draw inspiration from?

Kelly-O: Lots of places, a lot of it came from rethinking the whole band. We’ve all been doing it for a while and we’ve learned a lot as musicians, grown as individuals, seen people make mistakes, and did some awesome shit. We stay up to date with what’s happening in the world. Some of it comes out of desperation and despair, frustration.  I think a lot of it came from trying to find our place and not over thinking it at the same time.

Me:  What are some of your other interests besides music?

Kelly-O:  I have always loved animals. That’s why you’ll never see us without a tour pet. I have a biology degree and planned on doing something professional, still might. At home I have a cat, a plant, fish tanks, things that I take care of. I like old people, children, punk rockers.  I enjoy cooking awesome vegetarian food, salad and cans of beans.  I’m a really messy neat freak;  I leave crap all over the place yet I’mconstantly cleaning. I’m a Gemini, some people like to know that stuff. I like painting my apartment crazy colors, I craft and bake as well. My etsy store: etsy.com/shop/prettypunkshop . I make them on tour and also take requests.

Me:  What band or artist has influenced you the most?

Kelly-O:  It’s funny because I was asked same question earlier, and ended up going on a long winded speech. I feel kind of weird, I listen to other artists. I’m a music fan, never gravitated towards one person, writer, band, or  individual. It’s kind of strange. I don’t have an idol or band that I look up to. I am a creation of my influence like riot girl, grunge, cheesy 80s 90s pop music. I’ve been thinking about this for 2 hours now.  One thing has not influenced me in any particular way. I suck influence out of other things. I feel like it’s kind of weird. For example, Nirvana! I love Nirvana, but I don’t feel like they made me want to do this. Just me, Luis, and Chris. That’s it.

Me:  Was music always your first career choice?  If not what was?

Kelly-O:  When I was a little kid, I felt like I was going to be a ballerina. I took ballet classes and sucked. I was the fat kid in class. That did nothing for my psyche. After that, I decided to try soccer. I did that for a while, I was not good at it. Then I picked up guitar, it finally felt right. I thought, this I could maybe be good at if I practice for years and years and don’t over think it. I never thought of myself as front woman  or singer. I never sought out spot light. This record makes me feel comfortable. On the front of the record, it’s just me, and only me. It felt weird. The guys were said “You sing, you play, you write songs with Luis, it should be you.” I gradually found my way through. That’s a lot of what this record is about in some strange way.

Me: When my girlfriend found out you guys were opening for Bowling For Soup she and I got really excited!

Kelly-O:  For people to show up and be shocked and excited, it’s awesome. It made so much sense. I’ve been friends with Chris (from BFS)  since our first record. When we were wrapping up recording, we decided let’s get back out on the road. I e-mailed him about a tour, management took over and then there we were. We’re actually leaving again with them soon. We’re like one happy family. We want to have a band marriage soon.

Me: That’d be hot. What is your favorite album of all time?

Kelly-O:  When I was really little it was the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, which there are a lot of really cool oldie songs on there. From there, we went to …I went through my Madonna phase, Cyndi Lauper, and Hole’s Live Through This (Luis actually loaned me that CD to me  when I asked to learn to play guitar). Elastica made me love bass. Nirvana’s Bleach I will always love. So much music, I just listen to my iPod on shuffle all the time.  I have an iPhone and I have an iTouch, I hate them both. I can’t fit everything on either.  Sonic youth, Experimental Jetset. There are certain songs and certain records. Flogging Molly! There’s so much good music.

Me:  Did you take lessons to learn to play your instruments or are you self taught?

Kelly-O: Luis taught me bar chords and tab. I’m still kind of there. I learned scales. Most of it is instinctual, going with what feels right, sounds right. I never learned to sing but that happens when it has to. Luis has been my best teacher. We have our own language when play things. People ask me to teach them bass, I guess they would have to learn my bass jargin and move on from there. It’s flattering that someone thinks I play well enough to ask for lessons. Luis gives guitar and Chris gives drum lessons. Chris has been known to wake up early in the morning to give lessons while on tour. He’ll do almost anything for money (wink, wink).

Me:  Do you have any tour horrors stories? If so, what happened?

Kelly-O: The first thing that comes to mind is going on tour the end of January, once we did west coast up through Washington state. It was me, our previous drum Amy Wood, and Luis. We drove up, through Tacoma. We were all sunshine kids so none of us had experienced snow. We start getting closer and the snow is coming down heavier. We buy tire chains just in case, but never think to learn how to put them on. The snow gets heavier and heavier, so we put on the tire chains before we go through the pass. We pulled over and it’s not a blizzard but it’s snowing hard core. There’s six inches of snow and all we’re wearing  are hoodies with light jackets,  jeans, and chuck taylors. We get out of the van, and never having practiced putting them on, struggle our way through it. We get up the mountain, and start hearing this fwap fwap fwap noise every time the tire goes around. One of the chains broke and was destroying the fender.  We pulled over where you’re not allowed to pull over and it was the driver’s side tire. We were knee deep in black ice sludge stuff, it’s raining, trucks are going by us at 80 miles an hour, spraying snow on us. We’re trying to undo the chain. Our hands were  frozen, fingers wouldn’t work. We all go on the other side of the van and I’m pretty sure we all started to cry. I figured we’re going to get hit by a truck or have to sleep in the van that night. At this point I’m really mad, I wrapped my arms around the chain and undid it. We drove 15 mph over the pass. I vowed to never do it again in January to February, but we did and that time I sprained my ankle on black ice.  It’s long bad tour story, but my favorite.

Reader questions.

Mary asks:  How does pop culture effect your music?

It’s inevitable. We are all very plugged in, sit on phones, check news apps, go to other tabloid apps. We’re influenced by things around us. We don’t have cable or satellite radio. Through music you always know what’s going on. We always know what movies are coming out. I think pop culture is important, it’s important to know what people think about, care about, the general consciousness. Jackie Chan was written with our first bassist, he was a into martial artists and my mom is a big Jackie Chan fan. He is my favorite celebrity sighting in Hollywood. I took the subway, got off, and see millions of people across the street. I’m walking around, trying to cross the street. Jackie Chan comes running down the street in this awesome beige suit, waving at everyone. I wonder if he knows about the song, I want him to hear it.

Anastasia asks:  What is your favorite vegetable?

Kelly-O: Cucumbers. Actually, I think it’s peppers. I said cucumbers because they’re fresh and good in salads, and they balance beans well. If it’s non-salad, then the pepper family. I carry cayenne pepper in my purse.  I replaced dairy with spiciness any kind of pepper, pickled jalapeno.

Me:  As a little kid and even now I loved to eat bell peppers like apples.

Kelly-O: Now that we’re grownups, red peppers are so expensive! It sucks! Recently I found them for  10 for 10 dollars. I’m not kidding. I bought 10. I felt like it was kind of gross but I ate them all in a few days.

Me:  You’ve been great! I’ve been very lucky to interview so many awesome people for my blog and they were all super nice.

Kelly-O: They’re all people, unless they’re a weird alien artist creature, but that I highly doubt. Most people are just people, which is awesome.


I had a blast doing this interview!  I want to thank the amazing Kelly-O(left) for her time and awesomeness and I want to thank my wonderful friend Mary(right) for helping with the interview.   Make sure you check out their new album which comes out August 17th!  You can find the band on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.  Kelly is also on Twitter

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2 Comments:

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing them live. They play Chicago on Sept 6th.

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