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A Recipe For Success – The Dollyrots and Their Fans

The Dollyrots (l-r) Luis Cabezas, Rikki Styxx, Kelly Ogden (Credit: Jacob Thompson / Music in Motion Columbus)

The Whiplash Splash Tour made a stop in Columbus last Monday at the Rumba Café. The Dollyrots are touring to promote the release of their new album “Whiplash Splash” (released March 24), with The Two Tens supporting them.

Kelly Ogden (vocals/bass) and Luis Cabezas (guitar/vocals), with Rikki Styxx on drums, played a great show that night that you can read about HERE.

“Whiplash Splash” is their 6th studio album, and 4th consecutive album that they have crowd-sourced the funding for. A testament to their fans is how quickly they reach their funding goals. They have made fan-funding a vital cog in what makes the band successful.

In other words, they’re doing it the right way and their fans are dedicated because of it.

Prior to the show, the band’s tour manager, Mel Funk, informed me that Kelly had to feed her daughter, and would I mind doing the interview with the band on their RV? So, I followed her out into the chilly evening and climbed aboard the RV.

Kelly gave birth to their daughter, Daisy, in November 2016 (Kelly and Luis’ son, River, was born in 2014), and they decided that both children were coming on tour with them.

I was curious about how they have made the crowd-funding work so well for them, wondering why it’s not more popular with other bands. Most recently, they utilized PledgeMusic to crowdfund the new album. What is the secret to their success in this area?

The Dollyrots at the Rumba Cafe, Columbus, OH (Credit: Jacob Thompson / Music in Motion Columbus)

“I think,” said Kelly, “it’s doing it all ourselves.”

“There are lots of bands that do these fan-funding things,” Luis added, “and they will hire fulfillment companies to do it for them. So basically, they all show up at the same place, sign everything and send it to some warehouse where people put the stuff together. Then the band pays the fulfillment company fifteen cents per piece, or whatever it is, right?

“We do it all ourselves, because we realized that, number one, we offered so much stuff that it would be silly to send it to someone else. And number two, we feel like if we do it ourselves, we can throw in things at the last minute. Every single thing takes some thought, and at the end I feel that it’s better.”

Kelly continued, “It gives us the leeway to personalize things further. Like, if people get the lunchbox thing, I’m baking them brownies. If we know them, we personalize their boxes.

“I wish we had setup a GoPro and done a time-lapse of our house, because it would have been so amazing. It’s like the two of us up at three in the morning packing and signing, packing and signing…”

Luis jumped in with, “Part of you is like ‘Oh my God! We have so many of these.’ And the other part of you is like “Isn’t this amazing that this many people care?’ It’s cool.”

They manage to reach their funding goals in as little as a few weeks. Sometimes, they’ve reached their goal in merely days. This says a lot about both the band and their fans.

“Yes, absolutely,” Kelly said when asked if they’re surprised to reach their goals so quickly. “We’re surprised every time. We spend a lot of time thinking about what we’re going to offer. What would we want from our favorite bands? We think about it a lot.”

“It’s also the way you put it across,” said Luis. “Like the videos (Youtube/Instagram) or the way that you show people what’s really happening. With the Whiplash Splash stuff, she was pregnant, obviously. So, that’s going to be part of it. But yeah, usually within the first few weeks, the project is funded.

Luis Cabezas (Credit: Jacob Thompson / Music in Motion Columbus)

“And as it builds, everything becomes better for everyone else. The posters get better, we’ve got colored vinyl… everything just gets a little bit nicer.”

Kelly and Luis do not pocket any extra funding money that comes in above the goal. They put that right back into items for their fans.

“I think they know that, too,” said Kelly. “We would rather put it into the group than keep an extra bit for ourselves. So, they know we’ll always make it as good as it can be, and then maybe they’ll do it (pledge) the next time.”

“That’s the other thing,” Luis stated, “like… we can’t screw it up. Because then that pledger might not do it the next time. I mean, we’re always surprised. I know that projects tend to get funded, but you can never take it for granted.”

With the new album, they have a more polished “mature” sound, while retaining their pop punk roots.

“I think that we’ve always had our musical style,” Kelly said, “but I think we are also developing a recording style now. Like, we’re in control of all of the sounds now. We tracked it at our home studio, because I was pregnant. That was the only way that it was going to be doable.

“And then, we took it to Minneapolis and finished it with our producer, John Fields.”

They’ve worked with producer John Fields since they recorded their first album in 2004.

“It was an accident,” Kelly said of how they met Fields. “He was an engineer when we went to record a thirty second commercial. He had just moved from Minneapolis to L.A. and we went in there, and he said, kind of to the side, ‘Tell me if we have extra time you have an album that we can record.’ We were in Capital Records Studio B, and it was booked out until midnight. We were like ‘We sure do!’ We had been preparing and preparing.

“So, we recorded Eat My Heart Out (2004) in four hours with him that day.”

Another long-term relationship they enjoy is their friendship with the guys in Bowling for Soup. The bands have done numerous tours together, recorded a split album and covered each other’s songs on an EP. Kelly and Jaret Reddick (Bowling for Soup) also recorded the single “Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya” together in 2013.

The story of how they all came together is definitely a “tour bus” story that had all of us laughing in the telling of it.

Kelly Ogden (Credit: Jacob Thompson / Music in Motion Columbus)

“Back in the MySpace days,” Kelly began, “we got a message from Chris Burney, the guitar player. It was probably one of the cutest messages I’ve ever seen in my life. It said, ‘Hey, my name’s Chris. I’m in a band and you’ve probably never heard of us, from Denton, Texas called Bowling for Soup. Anyway, I really like your band. Maybe you could come to a show someday, or we could play or something. And I was like ‘Oh my God, Luis, look at this!’ But, we never really crossed paths.

“And then, something random happened and someone said ‘Bowling for Soup is looking for a support act for the tour they’re going on.’ Bowling for Soup were playing in Los Angeles, and we were hanging out with Jimmy Jam (WNCI) because he was there for the Grammy’s. We went out for drinks with Jimmy and proceeded to barge-in to Bowling for Soups dressing room…”

Luis picked up the tale at this point. “Well, we went out for too many drinks. Then we walked across the street to El Rey, and Jimmy Jam was on the guest list. He takes us in and we go right backstage. We were like ‘Hey! You should take us on tour!’ We woke up the next morning thinking like ‘I can’t believe we did that.’ The next day, we get a message saying ‘Can you guys be in Birmingham, Alabama in two weeks to start a tour?’

“I think it was because we showed them that we could hang and we weren’t weirdos. And after that first run, we just asked them like ‘Can we just ride on your bus if you have extra bunks? We’ll just help out and play for merch, basically.’ And, they said yes. So, Kelly was like the only chick on this bus…”

“It was me and like thirteen dudes and Sherman the dog,” exclaimed Kelly. “We had to share a bunk and frickin’ Sherman decided he was going to sleep with us, too. So, that was pretty awesome.”

Being one big happy family, they stay at Jaret Reddick’s house in Dallas when they play there. They also plan vacations with each other, due to their deep friendship.

Luis Cabezas, Rikki Styxx, Kelly Ogden (Credit: Jacob Thompson / Music in Motion Columbus)

Finally, we got around to Rikki Styxx joining The Dollyrots in June 2015. Styxx also plays drums for The Two Tens, and is pulling double-duty on this tour.

“Luis and I were pacing in our backyard,” said Kelly, “because the drummer that we had been playing with, he was supposed to do the dates, but he got a better offer for like the first three shows. And Rikki had sent me, like that day, a message on Facebook saying ‘Hey, my name’s Rikki. If you ever want to get together and jam and see if maybe we could fit together…’ So, I called her after like… two minutes.”

Rikki said, “I always envisioned myself playing with them. And I thought, now’s the time. I was quitting my job and I thought it would be a good fit. And Kelly was like ‘Perfect timing!’ And I thought she was talking about my drumming.” This elicited laughter from everyone in the RV.

Kelly concluded, “We were like “Can you learn the set and meet us in Austin?’ and the rest is history.”

And with that, it was time to head back inside for the start of the show.

The Dollyrots – Babbling Idiot

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