Bassist and singer Kelly Ogden, lead guitarist Luis Cabezas and drummer Chris Black comprise the Dollyrots, a punk band with “CDs that are very pop,” as Kelly explains. Although Kelly and Luis have played music together since their college days and were even friends in high school back in Tampa, Florida, the band went through some early growing pains and name changes before becoming the Dollyrots. The trio’s most recent CD, Because I’m Awesome, was released in 2006 and has the power of iconic rocker Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records label behind it.
Kelly is a natural musician. “I took five lessons and then figured I’d learn tab and go from there,” she says, adding that joining a band and rehearsing constantly was the turning point that took her playing skills to the next level. “I found it way more satisfying and challenging to play as part of a group. And I’d really like to learn banjo sometime,” she reveals, “so I can play ‘Rainbow Connection.’ And maybe the fiddle. I love Irish music.”
Among her inspirations are mentor Joan Jett, along with Kathleen Hanna, Ronnie Spector, Madonna, Neil Young, The Ramones and folk artist Melanie Safka. “I really look up to people who know who they are and go for what they want in life,” Kelly says. “I’m most proud when I get an e-mail or MySpace message from someone that tells me the Dollyrots inspired them to start a band. That’s the best part about all of this.”
Luis Cabezas – a self-taught guitarist who would have gone to medical school if he hadn’t gotten sidetracked by music – took piano lessons as a kid, but ultimately decided that ear-training was going to get him further on guitar much faster. “My teachers ended up being a mix of Kurt Cobain, Brian Setzer and Johny Ramone,” he says.
Drummer Chris Black joined The Dollyrots after he discovered that he enjoyed being on tour with Kelly and Luis (he was drumming for another band. ) Chris is a perfect fit in temperament and talent. And according to Kelly, Chris recently got engaged. (Congratulations!)
Although it has been three long years between albums, the Dollyrots next one promises to please their hard-core legion of fans. “Overall, it’s tongue in cheek,” Kelly says. “The songs are normal Dollyrots songs.” But they have taken on a couple of new partners this time around, songwriting with Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo) and Tina Parole.
Twenty-two songs have been recorded so far. After they complete two more, the band will pare the choices down to the 12 final tracks they ultimately like best. The plan is to release the long-awaited third Dollyrots album in the spring around SXSW.
Despite the long lag-time between releases and the break from non-stop touring, the Dollyrots are still crazy busy. On November 9th, they will tape an appearance on The Price is Right. Kelly is not allowed to reveal details yet, but was surprised to be recognized by Drew Carey, apparently a huge Dollyrots fan. “He’s been playing us on his radio show on Little Steven’s Underground,” she confides. If you’d like to be in the audience for the Dollyrots Price is Right appearance and happen to be in the LA area, the taping will be at 12:20 PM. The episode isn’t scheduled to air until January, but the Dollyrots are already planning to release a 7 inch digital single to coincide with the air date.
You can also catch Kelly’s side project, a full-on costumed tribute to the SexPistols called God Save the Sex Pistols. Kelly plays the ill-fated Nancy Spungeon. “There used to be another Nancy but she went the way of the real Nancy Spungeon,” Kelly jokes. Although Nancy Spungeon was a famous crazy girlfriend and never actually in the Sex Pistols, Kelly brings the iconic and tragic punk rock figure back to life temporarily. “I play bass so Sid can sing ‘My Way.’ After the song, Sid and I kill each other onstage,” she reveals. “But we come back to life.” If you are in the LA area, you can catch a perfectly-timed Halloween appearance of God Save the Sex Pistols at Cozy’s in Sherman Oaks, California on October 31st.
And if you just can’t wait until spring to hear new Dollyrots material, they have a gig on October 29th at the Roxy in Hollywood. Check it out.