Updated: Apr 27, 2021
It can be hard thinking of anything that radiates positivity in 2020. Between a stressful election and a global pandemic, it’s tough finding the ray of sunshine through the clouds. With that being said, enter The Dollyrots. A staple in the punk rock scene for over 20 years, The Dollyrots exude the type of atmosphere we all need right now. Raven and Kanan talked to lead singer and all-around rad human, Kelly Ogden, about her “luck meets opportunity” moment that thrusted The Dollyrots onto the scene, family, and the silver linings she’s found amongst the chaos that is 2020.
According to Ogden, The Dollyrots started as a bit of a joke while in college with her now husband, Luis Cabezas. The twosome moved to California with the intent of going to grad school but after an audition for a Hewitt-Packard commercial one day, the band turned into a serious gig. “They called us and said we got the commercial. We recorded two 30-second bits at Capitol Records and the guy who was engineering the session, John Fields, asked if we had a whole album to record because the studio was booked until midnight. We did, and we ended up recording our entire first album in that time period.”
After releasing their first album, Eat My Heart Out, on Panic Button Records, an imprint of Lookout! Records, Ogden and her crew landed on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records. While she enjoyed the time spent on Blackheart, it wasn’t until she saw a Kickstarter campaign that she and Cabezas realized they could start their own label. “Amanda Palmer put out her first record on Kickstarter and we thought it was a cool way to do things. At this point we had a good amount of fans, and we decided we were going to do it that way.” And so, Arrested Youth Records was born, where they released the next five albums before releasing last year’s album, Daydream Explosion, on Wicked Cool Records.
One thing that Ogden pointed out was the prominence of creative freedom wherever The Dollyrots went. This is especially important to her and Cabezas, as it’s allowed them to build The Dollyrots sound the way they intended to. Ogden’s intention when creating her music is to have something listeners can turn to when they need a sense of peace. While her songs are meaningful and deep lyrically, she wants the music to be joyful, positive, and something people can feel good about. “We want people to just be happy, and not worry about anything. There’s always something deeper in each song, but we like to unite people with positivity.” Uniting people is exactly what Ogden does at her live shows. With these songs comes a fun, upbeat environment at every tour stop and it’s what The Dollyrots are known for. “We’re outwardly very positive, happy people. And our shows reflect the type of people we are.”
This type of environment has proven to be rewarding not just for her and her band, but her kids as well. Ogden’s children accompany her and the band when on tour. While it can be strenuous trying to balance being a parent while having obligations as a musician, it’s incredibly rewarding for Kelly and her family. “They’ve gotten to experience so many places and see so many people. They experience these things, and it doesn’t just disappear out of their minds. They enjoy it, it becomes a part of their little souls and it'll make them better people in the end."
While being on the road constantly can certainly bring a family together, it’s been the pandemic that’s actually created a tight knit unit within their household. With a history of constantly touring and making new music, being in quarantine has allowed Ogden, Cabezas, and the kids to slow down. “We like working because we’re musicians and that’s what we’re passionate about. But with that on top of scouts, and play dates and all of the things, we were just going too fast. It wasn’t good for the kids or us, so it’s been a silver lining being home for so long.”
We ended our conversation with some parting words on how to survive amongst the turmoil we’ve all experienced this year, as well as Ogden’s top songs she’d use to encapsulate The Dollyrots. “Keep being brave. Turn to online communities and find like-minded people you can turn to for support. As for the Dollyrots, ‘Because I’m Awesome,’ ‘Satellite,’ ‘Let’s Be in Love,’ ‘Watching the Storm Go By,’ and ‘Get Weird’ are all great songs to describe us.”
You can follow Kelly Ogden and The Dollyrots on Instagram at @KellyDollyrot / @TheDollyrots, @TheDollyrots on Twitter, and The Dollyrots on Facebook. You can listen to Ogden on SiriusXM Channel 21 Little Stevens Underground Garage every morning from 4:00 am – 8:00 am EST, and on delay afterwards for a few hours online at www.siriusxm.com and on the SiriusXM app.