The Dollyrots' Kelly Ogden On Daydream Explosion, The Love Boat, Parenthood, And Cookies

Following the July 12th release of their Daydream Explosion album, The Dollyrots' Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas will kick off their Pin...

Following the July 12th release of their Daydream Explosion album, The Dollyrots' Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas will kick off their Pink & Black & Fun All Over Tour with The Pink Spiders with two North Carolina shows at Charlotte's Milestone on July 30th and Chapel Hill's Local 506 on July 31st. We sat down with Kelly Ogden to talk about the new album, parenting on the road, Andrew W.K., The Love Boat, and many, many cookies.

Let's talk about your upcomming album, Daydream Explosion. What is a daydream explosion?
I'm definitely a daydreamer. It's probably one of my worst and better qualities. When we were making this album, a lot of writing is mystical, and we were trying to pull from thin air at times because of life and circumstances and time constraints. In order to create it, sometimes we just had to let our minds go and follow the muse, whatever that means. The result is a daydream explosion.

I love the new album, especially the leadoff tracks, "Animal" and "Everything." What is the songwriting process like for you guys?
We have a studio in our backyard. We will usually sit down together with an acoustic guitar, with a recording session live, and we'll put down some instrumentation. While we're doing that, I'll work out a melody with grunts and noises. From there, the lyrics grow and then the song grows around that usually. Sometimes, you lose the night. We have a five-year-old and a two-year-old and sometimes we can't be in the room at the same time together because life. Sometimes, he'll put down instrumental tracks for me and we'll tag-team each other in. I'll go in and write some melodies and lyrics and he'll go in and see what I did. Sometimes they come together that way. A lot of the time, the stronger ones write themselves or they happen when we're together writing.

This album, in particular, was difficult. The two before it, Barefoot and Pregnant and Whiplash Splash, I was pregnant so I was feeling all kinds of different emotions for those. But my Dad passed away one month before we were booked in the studio. It became very, very difficult in those weeks after for me to write. I was having trouble in general. It wasn't a huge shock, but it's never easy to lose a parent. Luis and I, we would put the kids to bed, we would go back outside, and we would try to work in the studio. Somehow, the rock 'n' roll gods smiled upon us. Every time I went out to write, I gained a little more confidence. I was able to get outside of the head space I was in and be artistic. The result is an album that is looking back with joy and gratitude and looking forward with anticipation. There's a lot of reflection just because of the circumstances.

How did "Flippy In A Red Dress" come about?
That song is actually really old. Luis and I have an idea for a side project that we'll do someday and that song was actually written when we were messing around for that side project. I was on drums, yelling, and Luis was playing guitar. It doesn't sound anything like what the end result was. The chorus was kind of fun and the melody was kind of fun. We showed up to John Shields, our producer, with that one not even half-baked, just an idea. Noah Levy, who drums with Brian Setzer, he drummed on this album for us. He's an old friend of our producer. When we knew it was him, we were kind of joking with John in the studio, "We should do a Stray Cats cover!" And [Shields] was like, "No way, man! Let's write a Stray Cats song!" And I'm like, "Flippy In A Red Dress!"

It all came together. We wrote that one with John in the moment. The idea was to make a throwback-y sort of song. The chorus was already there, but the verses were born from me and Luis watching an episode of The Love Boat for the first time in I don't know how long. I totally didn't understand the innuendo the last time I had seen it. I was probably 10. So we watched that show with jaws dropped through the eyes of adulthood. So in the song, all the references are kind of Love Boat-y innuendo.

There is also an X-rated version. The guys were teasing me, "Can you do it a little more flirty?" So I went full-on, not even ok, x-rated version. And they're like, "Ok. That's a little too far." So I dailed it back a little bit.

Is "I Know How To Party" an homage to Andrew W.K.?
Absolutely. It didn't start out that way. It was a more serious song, believe it or not. But then we decided to make the verses more funny with literal things I screw up at all the time. In the studio, the chorus just kind of begged for that. John Shields actually produced that Andrew W.K. song ("Party Hard"). We put down the "I Know How To Party" thing, but then we took it away. But then we're like, "It has to stay!" I don't know if he's going to get pissed about this or we're going to get sued, but it has to stay now. It wasn't the intention of the song, but it just kind of accidentally happened.

What does your daughter think about "Daisy's Song?"
She doesn't quite get it yet. She will. Our son is quite mad because there isn't a "River's Song." I explained to him that there are many "River's Songs" because when I was pregnant with him, the song on Barefoot And Pregnant, the song "Nightlight," his little fetal heartbeat is in there from one of our doctor visists. We put it in there under the music and it was at the right tempo. It was really awesome. So he has a song, too. It's just not called "River's Song." So I guess we're going to have to write a new one.

I spoke with Jaret Reddick a few months back about Sittin' In A Tree and he told me it took several years for the two of you to record the album. What do you remember about the process?
Initially, I was pretty nervous because I had never written music just me and someone else who isn't Luis, who's been my musical partner since I was seventeen. Luis and I have written with other people, but I doubted my skills as a writer. I had serious Impostor Syndrome. I was like, "I shouldn't be doing this. I don't know what I'm doing." My confidence was at negative something. Jaret was like, "Are you kidding me? I wouldn't have done this with you if I didn't think you were awesome." We've written with him together, too.

I was still pretty nervous. He came to Florida the first time. We went out back to the studio, started, and within three hours, we had three songs completely finished with bridges and everything. So Luis was like, "How's it going out there?" I said, "I think it's time for lunch. We've got three songs down."

It was easy when we were together. But it's a matter of two people in bands with families trying to schedule trips. We wanted to do it all in person together. We could've done Skype or traded vocal recordings on our phones, but it's just not quite the same. We made an effort to get together to write every single bit of it. I think in the end it gave us more confidence to try different things because it's not just a pop-punk record. It's got a lot of different styles of songs and I think we encouraged each other to do that. If we were sitting in separate rooms by ourselves talking on a screen, I don't know if it would've happened like that.

You guys offered a lot of items that your fans could purchase to promote the Sittin' In A Tree album. How many cookies did you end up making?
I haven't made them yet and I'm afraid to look at the number. That's what I'm doing on Sunday. Those are getting boxed up on Monday. I will need a small army of helpers in the kitchen on Sunday, that I do know. I did it for Christmas last year and I need to remember to get cookie sheets tonight. I had random cookie sheets. I borrowed my neighbors'. I borrowed my moms', my sister's. They were all different. Some were really dark, some were really light, some were really light with high sides so every batch was completely different and it was a total nightmare. I did burn a good amount and those were my favorite. I either like them brand new, out of the oven, kind of soft or burnt ones.

I think there will be at least 300 cookies.

I noticed you're also offering a homemade treat in one of the Daydream Explosion fan packages. Do you have dreams of a punk rock cooking show on Food Network one day?
Honestly, we have a Patreon project that runs all the time for our closest fans. Sometimes, for a live hang, I do cooking shows. I'll set up the computer and do a live hang and show them what I'm cooking. Truth is, I do like cooking. Both my Mom and Dad worked when I was a kid, so as soon as I was like seven or eight years old, I knew how to cook. I would go home and go, "It's baked chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and green bean night" and me and my little sister, we totally knew how to cook dinner. Thank you, Mom and Dad. Both of my parents cooked, too. I grew up cooking. When I was twelve, I decided I was going to be a vegetarian. My mom was a nurse and at that point my Mom was like, "You better really learn how to cook because I don't know how to give you proper nutrition so you need to do a lot of research. You're going to need to make us dinner sometimes because I don't know what to feed you." So I did. My parents had a lot of ground tofu, crumbled in spaghetti, vegetarian chili and rice dinners, those were my early recipes. But I love cooking. Luis does, too. We have our kids help us all the time. But I also love not cooking because time is sparse in these parts here.

You and Jaret also penned "Those Were The Days," the theme to Schooled. How cool is it to write a theme song?
It's like the Holy Grail of being in a band. It used to be the iTunes commercial, but I think it's changed. Poor Luis, I tease him about it all the time. "You must be nice to get your theme song!" But ever since we were a young band, we were like, "Wouldn't it be cool to get a theme song for a TV show?" It's just cool. It's something that reaches an audience that hopefully becomes its own thing. TV shows have their own fanbases and the song is a part of that. It's a way to reach people that would never hear your band. And they may never know who sang it, but it's really really cool and exciting.

The Dollyrots will be playing at the San Francisco Warped date. How psyched are you for that?
I'm really excited. We played the farewell one last year and it was really cool. It's special to be included in that bunch of bands. When we were learning how to be a band, a lot of it was Warped Tour. One summer, we did eight weeks of Warped Tour in a van. There were four of us: me, Luis, our drummer Amy, and our merch girl Fuzzy. It was brutal. We would show up at Warped Tour at 7:30 in the morning so that we could put up our tent in a good spot at 8 o'clock. Then lay in the sun next to our van in a tent. Play our show whenever they said to play it. Hang out at the merch tent, sign stuff, meet people, and then at 7 o'clock, we would have to drive maybe ten hours to the next venue and then sleep a few hours, and then do it all over again.

It actually made Amy leave the band. We got home from that tour and a few days later, she was like, "Hey, can you guys come over? I need to talk to you." We showed up and she was like, "I'm never going on tour again. I can't do it. I'm never going again. Call Chris Black. Tell him to do it."

Fortunately, we don't have to do it that way anymore. We'll be in an RV and we'll be parked for one weekend. But it's really special and it's really cool because we'll get to see a ton of our friends. I think that anyone who looks at that list and doesn't notice there's a lot of female-fronted bands, should probably take notice because it's really cool and it's something Warped Tour and Kevin Lyman have always tried to always do, be inclusive. I think we're getting close to the time when it's just bands, but I can't help but notice a lot of female-fronted bands. That's not always been the case.

After Warped, you'll be hitting the road with The Pink Spiders. How hard is it to tour with two small kids in tow?
It's really not that hard. Touring is always hard. It depends on your schedule, it depends on your crew, it depends where your brain is at that time, it depends how much you drink, whether you do drugs. Touring can be as easy or as hard as you make it. It's always a little bit hard.

We have an incredible crew. We have a tour schedule that we do every year. We always bring a tour nanny. Our kids are a little bit older now, so in some ways that's easier and in some ways it's harder. When it was just one baby, I can't believe I'm actually going to say this, but I think it was easier. He didn't get bored. I could just dangle my boob over him to feed him. It was easy. I needed to have clothes and diapers and my body, and that was pretty much all I needed to take care of him. Now we make sure we have toys and entertainment and books and crafts and worksheets and flash cards and all sorts of stuff to keep them entertained. I think more than anything, the experience is entertaining. They can look out the window and see the Rocky Mountains or they can see the desert or California or New York City. It's pretty wild how far these kids have already traveled.

And they do remember. Our son, River will be six in November. Yesterday before bed, he wanted to read this book, The Littlest Leprechaun, because they were visiting all the holidays. They also watched The Grinch yesterday. We finished reading the book and he was like, "Remember on Saint Patrick's Day, we slept in basement and then we had those green pancakes? I liked the green pancakes but I didn't really like the chocolate chips in them." I couldn't remember where we were on Saint Patrick's Day and slowly my mind began flipping through the memories. We were at our old drummer Chris Black's house in Madison, Wisconsin. They made us green pancakes and they had a daughter River's age and they played. He remembers that. When people talk about travel with children they say, "Don't waste your money. Save it for when they're older and they remember." I don't believe that's true. All experiences help them grow and it's worth it even when I don't want to wake up at 7 o'clock in the morning because it's my day to get up with the kids at the hotel and feed them breakfast. It's still worth it.

As you said earlier numerous times, the other half of The Dollyrots is your husband, Luis. How hard is to balance work, married life, and personal space when your work partner is your husband and a lot of your work happens at home?
Fortunately, I think the two of us are just built for this. We've been together since we were seventeen, we've known each other since we were twelve. It's not always easy and there were definitely difficult times in our lives when we struggled to work together and agree on things and to even keep moving in the direction of the band. We started the band as a joke our last year of college and had no intentions of being musicians professionally. It was just something we were doing for fun because we had to write a thesis for the school we went to, Luis was getting a neurobio degree, go to med school, take the MCAT, I have a bio degree, I was going to be a professional. That all went out the window. We decided to move to California. We were going to establish residency, go to grad school, but then our band started doing good. We had to talk about it a lot of times. What is important to you? What are we doing with our life? We were really young. We knew that we wanted to have a family someday. We also knew that we really wanted to do something different and if were given this opportunity and this ability, we would really regret not pursuing it.

That's kind of still where we're at. We'll look at each other and go, "Are we still doing this?" We're just going to keep doing it as good as we can. Fortunately, we have some incredible loyal fans that continue to support what we do. It's because of them that we're still doing it. It's not for each other at this point or for the music or for the art. It's definitely getting harder and harder to find the time to be artistic, to find the time to practice even now that we have little kids. We pretty much work around the clock. Right now, we're fulfilling the [Daydream Explosion] pre-orders so for the last five nights, we've stayed up until 3 or 4 AM just packing merch. We'll have friends come over, we'll have neighborhood kids come over and help. It's fun. Honestly, I like staying up until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning with Luis, hanging out and sending people little presents with our music in it.

I just really like him. Fortunately, I think he likes me.

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Strange Carolinas: The Travelogue Of The Offbeat: The Dollyrots' Kelly Ogden On Daydream Explosion, The Love Boat, Parenthood, And Cookies
The Dollyrots' Kelly Ogden On Daydream Explosion, The Love Boat, Parenthood, And Cookies
Strange Carolinas: The Travelogue Of The Offbeat
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