For a long time, Sydney Dolezal honestly believed she wouldn’t survive her teenage years.
She turned 20 at the end of November, and now she finds herself fronting Doll Skin, the fast-rising, all-female rock 'n’ roll band. They started touring when she was 15 years old, just two years after she was hospitalized following a suicide attempt.
With the power of distorted guitars, fuzzy bass, and roomy drums, she and her bandmates, Alex Snowden, Nicole Rich, and Meghan Herring, preach the virtues of persistence and self-reliance to their rapidly expanding fanbase.
“It's really hard to talk about it a lot of times, but I feel like someone's got to do it,” Dolezal says. “I just try to be the person I needed.”
The band signed to Hopeless Records a little over a year ago. Last month, they contributed a rocked-out, double-time cover of Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out” to the label’s second edition of the Songs That Saved My Life compilation.
Proceeds from the record go to Crisis Text Line, Hope for the Day, The Trevor Project, and To Write Love on Her Arms, organizations that are dedicated to fighting mental illness and suicide.
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Drummer Herring, who’s dealt with severe bouts of debilitating anxiety, says she was “deep into Florence” during a time of turmoil in her life. In dark moments, she’d find solace probing her songs’ meanings online.
“Florence is just such a phenomenal lyricist,” she says.
To her, “Shake It Out” is a celebration of suffering, an embracing of the inevitable challenges of life.
“It's kind of like, ‘I know I'm in this bad spot, and I know that it's going to be really tough. It's going to take a long time to get out of it — and I'm going to — but right now I'm saying screw it, and I'm going to dance because that's what I can do right now,” says Herring.
For Dolezal, it’s less about the lyrics and more about the triumphant vibe.
“That whole song just radiates this positive energy. I love it,” she says. “Every night that I sing it, it feels like I'm taking a big deep breath.”
The cover has earned a regular place in their setlist. Each night, it’s dedicated to Robb Veloz, a diehard fan who died suddenly just days before Songs That Saved Our Life Vol. 2 was released.
“I felt like I was losing a family member,” says Dolezal.
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Doll Skin take their platform seriously and have a clear understanding of the plight of their fans and the power they have to help them.
“You have a lot of responsibility being looked up to by children,” Dolezal says.
Dolezal and her bandmates are committed to being a force for good, a source of inspiration to their fans — young and old — to carry on and survive as they have.
“Every day after the show and every day on the internet, I hear people tell me how much whatever we've said has helped them,” Dolezal says. “It makes me feel so sure about what I'm doing with myself and my life. It makes it feel really worth it.”