The Dollyrots won’t be confused for The Partridge Family anytime soon, but it took the addition of their two youngest traveling cohorts — son River and daughter Daisy — to turn their Punk Rock roadshow into a grownup family affair. “Sometimes you get bored with the party,” says bassist/vocalist/mom Kelly Ogden. “We toured for over a decade being ridiculous, drinking too much, being crazy. Honestly, I was ready to throw in the towel more than once.” Things have changed since that earlier pre-parental era of the band, the longstanding artistic collaboration between Kelly and her husband, guitarist/dad Luis Cabezas.
“That’s kinda why we decided to have kids, to get away from the boring party and do something exciting and new,” Kelly continues. “Our kids are totally normal at home but are so easy on tour. They just know what to do. It’s a part of them.”
The next adventure on the now-expanded Dollyrots caravan is the campaign for their seventh album, a thrill-packed joyride called Daydream Explosion. The July 12 release on Wicked Cool Records is poised to build on the success of 2017’s breakout hit Whiplash Splash.
Whiplash indeed made a splash in Billboard, debuting on the Heatseekers chart at #13 and on the Independent Albums chart at #31. The band’s 2016 live album/DVD Family Vacation: Live In Los Angeles hit #15 on Heatseekers, while previous studio album Barefoot And Pregnant peaked at #7 on the same chart. Long a staple in rotation on Little Steven’s Underground Garage, the band’s recent output perked up the ears of Wicked Cool founder Stevie Van Zandt. “Their songwriting has reached a consistent level of greatness,” he says.
The alliance with Wicked Cool, which began with the singles “Get Radical” in 2018 and “Everything” this spring, is a return to a label after several DIY, fan-funded releases since 2012. Their 2004 debut was released by legendary Punk label Lookout! while the next two were on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records. “We have an incredibly loyal and supportive fan base that enables us to keep making records, but we feel this album is special,” says Luis. “If we want to reach more people, it makes sense to partner with something bigger than ourselves.”
Kelly shares: “It threw us for a loop in December when my dad passed away [of complications from heart disease and a type of dementia]. We had just a handful of songs written. But we managed to keep our kids happy through the holidays, and then every night we’d go into our studio and write. Somehow we wrote the best group of songs of our career in those few weeks.”
Full of the fast-paced melodic Punk tunes that are The Dollyrots’ trademark, Daydream Explosion bursts out of the gate with the one-two punch of “Animal” and lead single “Everything.” Follow-up single “In Your Face” is a midtempo rocker with a wallop of a chorus, while stylistic variations are all over this collection of 14 brand-new songs written by Kelly and Luis (one co-written with producer John Fields). “Watching The Storm Go By” is a ’60s girl-group homage so spot-on it includes a spoken interlude worthy of The Shangri-Las, while the lounge vibes on the verses of “Flippy In My Red Dress” are balanced sweetly by the revved up chorus. Album closer “Daisy’s Song” is an affectionate ode to Kelly and Luis’ now two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. The album is their sixth with longtime collaborator John Fields, also known for his work with Jimmy Eat World, All Time Low, and Busted. “John Fields is our George Martin,” says Kelly. “He’s pretty much our bandmate that doesn’t tour.”
Daydream Explosion’s striking cover art is a pastiche of illustrations on a pastel background, all framing the outline of a skeleton image from the shoulders up. “After performing a private acoustic house party earlier this year, we were on our way home to our kids and got into a car accident,” Kelly recalls. “We got X-rays, and the image was just so cool we posted it on Instagram. Lots of fans suggested we use the image for the album cover, and we listened.” Always active on the live circuit, the band will announce their extensive summer 2019 tour plans shortly. “At the core of this,” Luis says, “we are a married couple with two kids and a small business that we need to keep afloat.
“That business also happens to be artistic, which can be a reach. So these days, we try to find those moments where we can create and tap into that indescribable thing that helps us create music. It was a tough year for us and I think the album creation was cathartic. And in the end, it resulted in our best album yet.” Kelly further sums it up: “This is the album of our dreams.” The latest release in Wicked Cool’s ongoing partnership with The Orchard as distributor, the album is a top priority for the label during its busy 2019, with new albums also on the way this year from Jesse Malin, Ryan Hamilton and The Harlequin Ghosts, The Jellybricks and Richard and The Young Lions. “We have something very special as a DIY band, and Wicked Cool has the same spirit as an independent label,” Kelly remarks.