The Dollyrots photographed by Leigh Righton

The Dollyrots

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Hometown: Los Angeles, CA (USA)


For the Dollyrots, the first time was the charm, as the Los Angeles–based band's debut knocked it right out of the park, landing the pop–punk trio on two record labels, a number of high–profile television spots and several weeks on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour, amongst many other incredible achievements.

And now the act – Kelly Ogden (bass/vocals), Luis Cabezas (guitar) and Chris Black (drums) – is poised to strike even harder with its follow–up full–length, Because I'm Awesome. Recorded over the past year with producers Jacques Wait (The Soviettes) and John Fields (who produced the band's debut), Because I'm Awesome promises to pack a more potent punch from start to finish, broadening the Dollyrots' scope, in both message and music.

Founded by longtime friends Ogden and Cabezas, whose relationship stems back to their eighth–grade Florida middle school days, the Dollyrots assembled as a fun, diversionary tactic while the pair pressed to wrap their biology degrees. Ogden had just learned to play the guitar and Cabezas, a classically–trained pianist, had just left his band. Ogden and Cabezas graduated college and a few months later, the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida ensued – convincing these musicians that the stage was mightier than the lab.

"We were watching the 2000 presidential election results, and at four o'clock in the morning, when we found out that George W. Bush had won, Luis and I were like, "The world's probably gonna end anyway, and I don't want to go to med school," so we thought, "Let's just do the band," says Ogden. "So that's when it happened. We had no future anyways, so let's just be in a rock band!"

With the microscopes unplugged and the microphones plugged in, Ogden and Cabezas did their homework to find a new home, embarking on a road trip to experience life outside the Sunshine State. They talked to locals, checked out scenes and took inventory of major cities across the country, including Atlanta, San Diego, San Francisco, Austin and Los Angeles. In January 2002, they decided the City of Angels would become their new home. "It was terrifying and awesome," Ogden says of the band's earlier days. "But we found a place that had everything we needed – record labels, venues, other bands. It seemed like the right place."

It was also the right time – the Dollyrots had assembled its debut, Eat My Heart Out, and self–released the album to rampant success and plenty of unforeseen benefits, including high visibility placement on an HP commercial, performing the song "Feed Me, Pet Me."

The attention from the commercial led to the band getting picked up by Lookout!/Panic Button Records, which re–released Eat My Heart Out in 2004. After signing a publishing deal, the Dollyrots' music found placement in other high–profile locations, including a two–song spot on CSI:NY that featured a small acting role for Ogden.

"After getting over the initial weirdness, that's the future of music: you have to get out there in all different ways, it's not just on record anymore," says Ogden. "It's just the way things go now – even Nirvana is played on Monday Night Football now. I feel like music is a part of the media now, more than ever, more than when I was younger. It's just the way things are going. As long as musicians are being taken care of, that might be another way for us to survive. People who watch CSI don't always go to the basement shows in Wisconsin that we play. It helps us get our music out to a lot more people."

Raising the band's stage profile came with a slot on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour, performing alongside a slew of punk acts for six weeks on the Kevin Says, Shira, & Volcom stages throughout the U.S. The tour was important for the Dollyrots in that it allowed them to connect with Warped '06's VIP woman, Joan Jett.

"We had mustered up the guts to say 'hi' to Joan Jett," Ogden recalls. "It was awesome she was there, and was a headliner, because it was good for us gals."

Jett took a liking to the Dollyrots and offered to add the band to the roster of her label, Blackheart Records. The move came just in time, as the members of the Dollyrots quickly found themselves label–less after a downturn in events at Lookout! Records. The band is also excited about a recently–inked deal with Japan's Fabtone Records, which will introduce The Dollyrots to a new Japanese audience in February with the overseas release of Because I'm Awesome.

Assembling Because I'm Awesome began with songwriting that largely referenced the Dollyrots' time spent outside L.A. "We had a lot of songs to draw from," says Cabezas. "Being away from home, coming back home again, all the stuff happening across the country, it was really inspiring. I feel like this record is a little deeper. It still sounds fun and happy on the surface, but if you listen to it, I think it's a bit more meaningful."

The broader reach of material ranges from silly love pop tracks to songs like "A Desperate S.O.S." which Ogden says is about the paranoia created by the media and government. Of course, the title track, "Because I'm Awesome," is also featured, one of Kelly's favorite songs – and one of the most sarcastic they've ever written. The collection even sports a cover of Melanie's "Brand New Key."

Though drummer Amy Wood amicably exited the Dollyrots line–up in 2006, her fiery rhythms propel the tracks of Because I'm Awesome. Black, formerly of Bang Sugar Bang, recently stepped in and took over on the drum throne. "We had lived together in a van for like two months, both his band and our band," says Ogden. "We knew that we all got along and we knew all of our weird quirks, so there was none of that, 'Are we going to get along–"

With the new album and line–up in place, Ogden anticipates longtime listeners and first–time rockers will both find Because I'm Awesome, well, awesome.


The Dollyrots Eat My Heart Out

The Dollyrots

Eat My Heart Out (2004)

Panic Button

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