Monday, August 18, 2014

Holy City Zoo's Frank DeFranco Gets the Low Down on New Brunswick's The Dollys

Hi again. This is Frank DeFranco of Holy City Zoo and NGHTCRWLRS. I’ve done this once before for this blog and I’ve been given the opportunity once again to blabber away with a kick ass band who fortunately also happen to be buddies of mine. Dollys (New Brunswick, NJ) are a four piece vintage pop band with a breath of fresh air. They’ve currently finished recording their first full length album and have some fundraising going on to press it on vinyl. Below you’ll hear some jibber jabber on this and a fair share of other things. Enjoy or send me hate mail, either works.

Interview with Jeff Lane and Natalie Newbold of Dollys (8/10/14)

Frank: So lets start with…so you guys want to say the name of the new record?

Jeff: It’s called “Oh Please.”

Frank: Okay, so “Oh Please,” where’d you guys get the name for that? Like what was uhhh, howd’ you go about that?

Natalie: Interesting question.

Jeff: Well, it was an interesting thing for me because I realized that it’s one of those weird phrases that people say all the time, kind of like sarcastically, but you know, you could also take it seriously. Just thought it was an interesting concept because it could be taken more than one way.

Natalie: Yeah, it can kind of be like, ya know “ohhh pleeeasse” or like “oh please buy this record.”
(Lots of room laughter)

Natalie: It’s like, it can be taken either way.

Frank: Oh please keep me alive!

Jeff: I mean, it pretty much always comes down to Paul McCartney.  I watched an interview with him and he was talking about how all the early Beatles songs came about, like
“Please Please Me,” “Help,” and stuff like that…he said a lot of that stuff was directly to the fans and I thought that was really interesting.  “Please Please Me” is the first Beatles record or whatever, so it’s a little reference to that, but we just thought it was a nice thought.

Frank: That’s cool. No, no, that’s really cool. Mind if I snag another one of these
(pointing to beers).

Jeff & Natalie: Take as many as you want!

Frank: Thank you.

Natalie: That’s what we got them for!

Frank: Well muchas gracious. Okay, so with this record, you did everything to tape, right?  I’m curious to hear about that experience, I know you have a lot of affiliation with
Lake House (Recording Studio), so kind of just go off with it, what’s the run down on that one?

(Frank cracks open beer)

Photo Credit; Andrew Holtz
Jeff: We really like the Beach Boys and the Beatles and all the records from the 60s and 70s and it always kind of fascinated me how much pop music has changed, and rock music too because back then it was like go in the studio and be a fuckin’ band. And that’s awesome.

Frank: And you had to be good.

Jeff: And you had to be good, because if you sucked everyone knew it and no one bought your record.  Or they bought it and then they burned it in hot fire.

(More room laughter)

Jeff: Because it sucked. And we were like “well, lets see how good we are. Ya know?
Lets see if we can do something that is important to us that sounds good but doesn’t make us want to puke.

Natalie: And I think that Lake House was kind of this perfect fit for us because
John, the owner, loves vintage gear. Like so much. He has incredible stuff that is all super old and they wanted to get a tape machine and we just wanted to record to tape really bad, so it just made sense that we went there to record to tape.

Jeff: And Eric (bass player) working there and always saying “yo, you should buy this thing, the Beatles liked it.”  And so John would buy it.  So we were like, well we like that too, so lets record there.

Natalie: It just was obvious that we were going to do it there.

Jeff: I don’t know where we’ll really end up in the future, but right now it seems like the logical place for us.  We’re super comfortable there.

Natalie: We all work there for the most part.


Photo Courtesy of Cool Dad Music
Frank: Well it’s always nice to feel comfortable in the recording process.
I’m sure you both know that there’s sometimes when you’re recording and you feel like this strenuous pressure and other times you’re just there just being yourself and feeling it, ya know?  So do you have that added pressure, even though you’re in a comfortable place, knowing that you’re doing it to tape, because you have to play it good?  Or was it comfortable enough at Lake House that you could kind of let loose and be yourselves?

Natalie: I think that when we first started recording, we did this one song, like seven or eight takes of it.  It was getting up there.

Jeff: It was shameful, but it was also one of the more complicated ones.

Natalie: Yeah, and I think we would listen back to it and would be like “no, no, no, no, no, that’s not it.” And then something happened, we just clicked that no matter how many times we do it, it’s going to sound like us and that’s why we’re doing this to tape, ya know?
That’s why we’re doing this, because all the records that we love from the 60s and 70s have those weird George Harrison guitar mistakes.

Jeff: It’s always George.

Natalie: (continuing) that we love! (More chuckles)

Frank: Yeah, I think it’s those things that add character to the record that have kind of been lost or are flaws in the digital era.  Like sometimes you hear one of those. (makes fart noise)

Jeff: Like that guitar hero noise.

Frank: Exactly.

Jeff: That’s exactly what it is.

Frank: But like all the weird little hums and guitar hisses.

Natalie: And not so perfect vocals, those vocal takes that give you chills but aren’t exactly like computerized, on point. Ya know?

Jeff: I mean, anyone who knows anything about music wants to hear real.

Frank: The human element.

Jeff: Yeah, not like the bullshit computer synthesized crap. Because it’s just weird.
It doesn’t sound real.

Frank: Totally. So with this album, you have pursued this Indiegogo campaign. So I’d like to hear about how your experience has been with that, how you feel about Indiegogo, and any advice for bands who plan to go about it the way that you have.

Jeff: Don’t just start one. Plan.
(Those faithful room chuckles return)

Jeff: And tell people beforehand and then hope for the best.  Keep pushing it, keep telling people, keep working.  But don’t let it control you’re wanting to be a musician or artist or however you see yourself, because worrying about money sucks.  It can really suck away a lot of your creativity. So I’ve tried to do a good balance of like saying on facebook,
“why hasn’t my mom bought anything yet?”  Just kidding, she put money in yesterday.

(I’m not sure if we’re laughing more or talking at this point)

Jeff: She waited long enough to give me the sweats but yeah, I don’t know, it’s hard, you have to do a lot of work.

Natalie: I would say just in terms of advice.  If you think you’re going to do it, tell everyone about it before you do it.  Like all your friends and family and get them on board with it.
That was something we didn’t realize we needed to do. We kind of decided in the band this was something we were going to do.  We made it and made a video and within two weeks of it being up, my mom didn’t even know it was.  She was like “what is that, I don’t know what that is!?! You keep posting about it, what is it?”

(Mom quote in Staten Island accent)

Natalie: So its something you kind of have to explain to people. It’s been a very interesting process and the fact that we’ve raised $2000 astounds me, that people

Frank: That’s pretty amazing.

Natalie: Yeah, it makes you feel good about what you do and gives you hope that you can do it.

Jeff: And to answer your first question, Indiegogo is great because they take the least percentage of what you earned.  I’d say the only problem with it is that it is not as immediately recognizable as Kickstarter.

Frank: Well I think that’s because Kickstarter was the first of that kind of thing, unless I’m totally wrong about that.

Natalie: No I think they were the first ones.

Jeff: They were the first one to go ya know.

Frank: Viral?

Jeff: Yeah, whatever that means.  It’s like Kickstarter is like Starbucks…you could see a store that says coffee and if it’s next to a Starbucks, it’s like Coffee whatever, Starbucks,
I know they coffee.

Frank: And I know what their coffee tastes like.

Jeff: Exactly.  But yeah Indiegogo is cool. Everything makes sense on their site.

Natalie: I think one thing that we did differently than a lot of the bands and people we’ve seen use it is that we set it up so that it’s more of a pre-order. It’s not so much of a
“oh donate to us.”

Frank: So we can do this

Jeff: Or else it won’t happen.  Because it’s going to happen anyway, we just figured, it would help us get a jump start on it if people can help put money down on it.

Natalie: Yeah, because it’s done. We’ve already put in all the money to record it. A lot of bands will have an Indiegogo to fund the entire project. We already did that.

Frank: We just want that wax baby.

Natalie: Yeah, we set a really high precedent getting our first EP done to Vinyl.

Jeff: And know we’re broke.

Natalie: We probably should do that again for the record. It probably deserves that.

Frank: Cool, cool.  I personally know some roots about this band, but for the people who will be hearing about you for the first time, just throw me a little bit about the background of how Dollys came to be and what has guided you to where you are now.

Jeff: Oh man. That’s all you dawg.

Natalie: So we were recording a record as Green Paper and things weren’t really panning out the way that we wanted them to.

Jeff: There were a lot of differences creatively.

Natalie: A lot of creative differences, arguing about where the record should have gone. When you’re in a band and not everyone has the same goals, obviously at some point you’re going to have some differences that aren’t going to be fixed. So, Eric, who was engineering the record, and was our close friend at the time.

Jeff: He’s a sick bass player.

Natalie: He’s a sick bass player and an awesome musician.

Jeff: He gets along with us really well, and it seemed like the logical choice.

Natalie: And it was the right thing to do. We were like “hey do you want to start a band?”  We really wanted to take this band in a different direction than Green Paper. Green Paper was a lot more Garage Rock, kind of psychedelic elements and we kind of wanted to do this very poppy but still a little modern interpretation of the Beatles and the Beach Boys.

Jeff: I think the Garagy kind of feel to it was mostly just inexperience, ya know?  I had never recorded actually, and then when we started doing Water I was like “I kind of get like a good feel for this, I want to work with someone who can translate my terrible ideas.”

(More good time hang laughs)

Frank: I don’t know if I’d call them terrible.

Jeff: Well, like weird like “I want it to sound like trees shaving” ya know what I mean?  I want that to actually make sense to someone and Eric for some reason seemed like the logical person, probably because he’d be like “whatever dude, I’m just going to make it sound good, okay?” But yeah, it was a long weird trip in Green Paper. We didn’t try to do anything too poppy, we just wanted to write a really good record that felt right and made people happy instead of sad, that’s kind of what we shot for.
Frank: I mean I loved “Fire” (Green Paper full length) and I enjoyed the singles and stuff, and then I heard the Dollys EP and when I heard it, it had this chilling feeling because it was something that felt familiar, but there was also this kind of fire (whoops) behind it, like this is born out of the ashes of something else and we need to do this.  It had that sense of urgency to it, and it was really cool.  You can feel the emotion that was put into that record.

Jeff: It was a bummer.

Natalie: Having Green Paper break up was probably one of the worst things that ever happened to me.

Jeff: It was one of those things where the band falling apart was pretty sour…it was one of those things that you have to be devastated and not let anybody know.

Natalie: But because of that happening, now I am a much happier person.  I love the music that we are making and I’m so excited for the future.

Frank: That’s where it’s at.

Natalie: Yeah.  For us to get to this point, that had to happen.

Jeff: I don’t even like music.

(Insert you know what goes in the parenthesis here)

Natalie: Just end the interview with that.

Jeff: My boss says that all the time and he owns a music store.

Frank: Soooo you kind of covered this partially in what we were just talking about, but is there a general message you are trying to send as Dollys, or with this record…

Jeff: 4:20 weed everyday. Just kidding. I don’t know. What message did the Beatles send?

Natalie: Peace, love, understanding?

Jeff: Not even, because like John Lennon beat wives.

Frank: I love John Lennon as a songwriter.

Jeff: Oh hell yeah.

Frank: But everyone is always like John Lennon, Hair Peace, this hippie man…back in his Liverpool days, you cross him the wrong way, that guy would fuck you up.

Jeff: Yeah.  But, umm, I don’t think we particularly have a message yet?

Natalie: I think that one thing we’re trying to bring back is

Jeff: Is write good music?

Natalie: Is getting back to this idea of great songwriting or just always trying to write the best songs that you can and this idea of real musicianship again. Having pop music not be the thing that people think about and be like “pop music sucks” because it’s bad or because it’s easy or because it’s not technically difficult because those things don’t equate. Like we’ve all heard “I Want You Back” and that is CRAZY! From start to finish I’m like “what’s happening?!?” ya know?

Jeff: One time I was working at a place and this guy came up to me and was like “I really like Lady Gaga” because this one song she used a diminished chord.  And I was like you could use a diminished chord any fucking time you want, you just got to do it right. And fuck you because you’re stupid.

(Beer belly laughter)

Jeff: I mean, I think that being in the right band and having the right attitude and being cool is important and is something you should work on.  And ya know, playing your instrument well and being able to shred the gnar is important and you should practice that, but I think the most important thing, and this is time tested and proven, is just writing songs that are good.  And are approachable but not fucking lame, like Monkees or something. Even though the Monkees are cool now, back in the day they were not because they were so bubble gum.

Frank: Okay, I’m almost done here. Have you figured out where/when you will be doing the listening party and release show or anything like that yet?

Jeff:  I think Eric did, but we have no idea. We were actually doing interview questions the other day and Eric was saying that we should probably do some of this stuff early 2015.

Natalie: Uh, yeah, we’re timing how it’s going to take it to get mastered and pressed so we’re either thinking early 2015 or towards the end of 2014.

Jeff: And really the most important thing is making sure that everyone who is invited to the listening party can make it.  Because that would be really stupid if they couldn’t.

Natalie: Listening party is at Lake House. Release show is probably going to be at the
Court Tavern.

Jeff: It makes the most sense for us because that’s where I feel like people know us from since the Beach Boys cover set.

Frank: Which by the way that was fantastic. Actually, lets talk about that a sec. What was it like paying tribute to a band that you love so much?

Jeff: It was great.  It was really hard.

Frank: Now I love my fair share of the Beach Boys. I’m definitely not on your level but...

Jeff: We’re stupid about it. I’ve read stupid books on Amazon, like this book is stupid, but I should read it anyway.  I’m sure there’s some information in it that’s important.

Natalie: We had a really great time.

Jeff: It had it’s ups and downs practicing it.

Natalie: For me personally, at that point in time, I was still a little unsure of myself vocally. The transition between Green Paper and Dollys was partly me becoming more of a lead singer and there was still a lot of confidence issues I was tackling in doing so, but that Beach Boys set made me practice, practice, practice on vocals, so much that it made me so much more confident in our own material, singing backups, singing leads, whatever it may be, and playing the drums.  So it really helped me personally.

Jeff: I had more fun fucking up those songs, than fucking up any other thing.  It was like really fun just being like I practiced this for three months which is waaayyy more than I’d spend writing everything.  And then you know I just go on playing “Good Vibrations” and I’m like a whole step off and everyone’s like “Hello” and I’m like “Yeaaaahhhhh” and then all of a sudden I snap into it and I’m like, oh I can actually hear my guitar now, the cymbals have died out, oh I’m totally wrong, cool, this is the last part of the set and I blew it.  And I just found it hilarious instead of like panicking and being like “god you’re awful.”  It was a fun show.

Frank: Jeff, Natalie, thank you for your time.  It’s been excellent to catch up with ya.

Dollys  Band Site
IndieGoGo  Donate Here

No comments:

Post a Comment