The angst and nervous energy are barely contained in “Control Freak,” the newest single and video released by the Phoenix band Doll Skin. Sydney Dolezal shuts their eyes, jumping and singing, as Meghan Herring headbangs while she hits the drums, both illuminated by a red glow. The video bounces to images of bubbling water, Dolezal in a straitjacket, and the illusion that someone is drowning.
The video, directed by Smile Bomb Production, is pretty great, but if you're familiar with the group, the first thing you'll notice is that there are two, not four, band members on screen. This is the new Doll Skin and it still, as Dolezal says, “slaps.”
“We’re still trying to figure out what this new Doll Skin is,” Herring says, but “'Control Freak' is "just a little darker, warmer” than some of their earlier music
Dolezal and Herring, with past members Alex Snowden and Nicole Rich, formed Doll Skin at Scottsdale’s School of Rock while they were teens. Discovered at Desert Mountain High School by Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, they were promptly signed.
The current members of the band insist they’re on good terms with Snowden and Rich, each of whom left for different reasons. Snowden, who handled lead guitar and backing vocals, now plays guitar in the metal band Tallah. Rich, the former bass player, moved to Los Angeles and opened a jewelry business called Shop Strawbaby.
“I’m wearing her jewelry now,” Herring says as she smiles and lifts her hair to show a small dangling earring. “When Alex left, that was kind of expected,” Herring says. “She was kind of venturing out into new music anyway. Nicole was kind of unexpected.”
“Control Freak” is the first single released after the other members departed.
“As stressful as it was to figure everything out,” says Dolezal, “I definitely feel like Meghan and I are on a good page together, and the labels love having less people with opinions to work with.”
Herring says the song is a collective effort: Doll Skin had help from L.A. producers and hardcore guitarist Max Calkins, who came up with the riff heard in the intro and throughout the song.
“The lyrics stem from my poetry book about anxiety and trapping yourself within your own anxiety unintentionally. It’s a daunting thing when you don’t have it under control," she says.
Neither member of Doll Skin is a stranger to overcoming emotional crises. Both Herring and Dolezal have spent time in a mental hospital, and Dolezal is celebrating two years of sobriety.
“I think we’ve used our platform a lot to talk about mental health,” says Dolezal. “We both have our mental health struggles and we’re open about it.”
Now that the dust has settled and this new iteration of Doll Skin is in place, the duo are eager to see where this year takes them.
They're anxious to tour again. Their tours have been pushed back two to three times because of the pandemic, but Herring says they're working on rescheduling a headlining tour for the end of the year.
They're also writing a lot and holding themselves to a higher standard than before.
“We have to make sure we’re not only making good songs, but hits every time,” says Dolezal.
They plan to release another single sometime soon, which they say is totally different from "Control Freak." The change-up is in keeping with their philosophy of keeping Doll Skin musically interesting.
“If you thought the whole next era was gonna be like ['Control Freak'] — more rock-oriented,” then you're mistaken, Dolezal says. “We’re going to keep jumping around. We’ve always been the band to not stick to one genre.”