When The Dollyrots left Joan Jett's Blackheart label earlier this year, they went to their fans to help raise money for the band's fourth record of buzzy, catchy punk.
The fans came through. The band set its Kickstarter goal at $7,500, but fans wound up pledging $33,124.
"It blew us away," says singer/bassist Kelly Ogden from Los Angeles, where the band is practicing for upcoming shows and working on the album, which she says is less afraid of pop hooks.
"We're so excited about it."
We spoke with Ogden about working with Joan Jett, Kickstarter, and the new album.
The Dollyrots are scheduled to perform Saturday, December 3, at The Red Owl in Tempe.
Up on the Sun: How are you guys doing, Kelly?
Kelly Ogden: We are doing great. We're in L.A. We've got a little rehearsing and recording to do. We're actually recording our fourth album.
That's what you used the Kickstarter project for?
Exactly. We left our label, and our fans came through way above and beyond anything we ever expected.
What made you decide it was time to strike out on your own?
We felt like we've been a touring band for long enough now that we have our core group of fans, and we kind of know what we're doing. It just feels like the right time to strike out and go independent again. We're excited. It feels like a rebirth, in a way. Blackheart was an amazing label, and you know, we had a really great time working with them and getting to know Joan Jett a little bit. The other bands on the label were really, really cool, but it just felt like time for us to try something else.
And before that, you were on Lookout!, a great label before it fell apart.
When we first moved out to Los Angeles we self-released our first album, and that got picked up by Lookout! We toured on that for about a year and a half, and went back into the studio and recorded the next one, but at that point Lookout had kind of fallen apart. So we were looking for a label which is when we met Joan Jett at Warped Tour.
And you wound up teaming up. What's the new record sounding like?
It's a bit different, and we are really excited. It still sounds like our band, but it's me and Luis [Cabezas] writing, and we're working with the producer that did our first two albums, so the three of us are reunited. We're adding in some new stuff: some synth, we're just kind of doing what we feel. It's turning out to still have an edge, it's punk rock in a lot of ways, but we haven't' been afraid to let the pop hooks in there, kind of have more fun with it instead of feeling like we have to stick to a genre or anything. Each song feels like a new adventure.
You set your goal at 7,500 bucks and ended up with $33,124.
I was terrified that $7,500 was too much to ask. I was like, you know, these are tough times. We needed it, but I feel like its too much, and I don't want to ask for too much. It was an amazing experience.
It was neat, because when we tour, we have fans everywhere we go...but to have them all show support at once? It's like, we're playing one show in the universe, and you're all there. How many people would that be? How much merch would they buy? That's what Kickstarter ended up feeling like. It blew us away.
Some local bands, labels, and venues have really done a lot with Kickstarter. It seems like the end result of the democratization of the internet: now you don't even need a label. That isn't to say that labels aren't awesome, but you don't need them to run a band like a small business, and get funding from the people who are going to care about the product in the end.
I think that the direct relationship is important too, because that way, it's almost like medieval times, like [fans are] patrons of the arts, and when people feel like they are supporting it more directly, it means more to them. If I want a painting of my dog, and I ask someone to make it, that means so much more than seeing a painting of a dog at a store that kind of looks like my dog so I buy it. I know that its directly for me. I think that's really important.
The only concern I have with Kickstarter, and a lot of young bands using it, is having expectations that [aren't] realistic. When we did it, we've had a lot of people ask us how we marketed it, and ask us for tips. We've worked with two labels, we've done radio promotions. We've established a core audience who knows who we are. We didn't come out of nowhere. I think there's value in being a part of something bigger to start out. Even if it's just you and a couple bands having a scene, and supporting each other and touring together. It's a very different thing when you're starting out.
That's a good thing too, for bands to understand you need a reasonable goal. Your first Kickstarter project should be a modest one.
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1,000 bucks for an EP. [laughs]
How about the new split with Bowling for Soup? How did you meet those guys?
The new split is out today on iTunes. They actually messaged us on MySpace six years ago. It was like, "Hey, I like your band, maybe you've heard of us." I was like, "Yes, I've heard of Bowling for Soup." [Laughs] We've spent a lot of time with them since. They are great guys.