In just two years, Doll Skin has gone from playing its first show at a high school talent show to being managed and produced by Megadeth’s David Ellefson, having an EP distributed by legendary Megaforce Records and touring the United States with high-profile supporting gigs and as a headliner. Did we mention its four members–vocalist/guitarist Sydney Dolezal, guitarist Alex Snowden, bassist Nicole Rich and drummer Meghan Shea Herring–are all teenage girls? Yeah, and these girls know how to rock. As they cross the country on the “Generation Doom” tour–also featuring headliner Otep, along with Lacey Sturm, September Mourning and Through Fire–Doll Skin has released “In Your Face (Again),” an expanded edition of the EP originally issued in fall 2015 and already has material prepared for a full-length album to be recorded later this year. Sydney recently called in from the road to talk about the tour, the band’s formation, David Ellefson and more.
LIVE METAL: Just a couple days ago, the “Generation Doom” tour started up, with Otep and a bunch of other great bands. Where are you today?
SYDNEY DOLEZAL: Actually, today is an off day because we’re driving from Sacramento to Portland, which is like 10 hours. We’re playing in Portland tomorrow night.
How have the first few shows gone on the tour?
The first few shows have actually been pretty good. It was a rough start, ‘cause they were figuring out how to work our set times and how quickly to load off and on, and everything. But I think now we’re kind of getting into the swing of things, which is really nice. Everything is kind of smoothing out and getting easier.
Yeah, it’s got to be kind of complicated with five bands on the bill.
Yeah, it’s a little hard. There’s a lot of different people to squeeze into a few hours every night, but we make it work.
It was just a couple years ago when this band got together to play a high school talent show. Tell me how it all came together.
All of four of us went to a place called School of Rock in Scottsdale, Arizona, and we all kind of went there for a while before we got together as a band. Meghan, in her junior year of high school, was like, “Hey, I want to do the battle of the bands at my high school, and I feel like getting some girls together. I want to make an all-girl band, so we can kick some ass being an all-girl band.” We didn’t really expect anything to come of it. We were just like, we’re gonna do this and then we’re gonna go home; it’s just gonna be a one-off thing.
But after we got first-place the first year, we were like, “Hey, maybe we should stay together. Maybe we should make this a thing—like, keep going, play more shows.” So for the next year, we played a couple local shows, started writing a couple more new songs, and then we did the battle of the bands the second year. The second year was the year David, who was a guest judge for both years, was like, “Hey, I really want to work with you guys,” and that’s when the management started.
Did you know who David Ellefson was at the time? Did you know he was going to be there?
None of us knew he was gonna be there. We were standing there, and they were introducing the judges, and all of a sudden, David stands up. He’s the last one to go, and he’s like, “Hi, I’m David Ellefson from Megadeth.” And we’re all like, “No way!” You kind of have to know who David Ellefson is. If you don’t know who David Ellefson is, you know who Megadeth is. We’re all standing there, like freaking out. We’re like, “Oh my god, David Ellefson.”
Was that intimidating when you knew someone like that was going to be there watching you play?
A little bit, but I was pretty confident with myself. We only had to play three songs, and we had practiced a lot. We felt really ready. I was like, “You know what? We’re gonna impress the heck out of David Ellefson right now. He’s gonna think we’re so cool. Let’s do this.” At the end of the set, he was like, “I gave you guys a 10 out of 10.”
Working with him since then, how involved, how hands-on has he been in the past year?
He has actually been pretty hands-on. He’s done a lot for us. We name drop him a lot to get us into doors. He wants us to do that. He says that if we need to drop his name for anything that we should do it. If it opens a door for us, it helps him and it helps us, it helps his label. He just really wants to see the best outcome for us. So he has been amazing. It’s so funny, ‘cause whenever we’re home—he can’t go on tour with us sadly, ‘cause he has his own family and Megadeth—but whenever we’re home, we always have meetings. He comes over, wearing khaki shorts and sandals. He’s just this sweet, super normal guy. He’s so cool, so awesome.
Where did the name Doll Skin come from?
Honestly, we always wish there was a better explanation for it. We were sitting there, like a week before our audition for the battle of the bands, and we were like, “Oh my gosh, we don’t have a name.” So we sat there and were like, “What about the Dolls?” And we thought, “What if we make it creepy? What if it’s cute but creepy?” So we came up with Doll Skin, and after finding that no one else was named Doll Skin, we decided that that’s gonna be our name.
Did you play in any actual bands before this, or was it just playing at the School of Rock?
Yeah. At the school, you played in the performance program, and if you got in, you played in the house band, which kind of played all around the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. I played in this other band that was really just a cover band for one show, and then we broke up. And then we formed Doll Skin.
What got you not just into music originally but actually wanting to play it?
Well, don’t laugh, but I was a giant fan of One Direction. Ever since I really got into listening to anything—I was listening to One Direction, Hannah Montana, kind of the stereotypical pop music—I was like, “I want to do that. I want to play in front of hundreds of thousands of people, and I want to make my own music–all that fun stuff.” Once I got involved in the School of Rock, I got introduced to a lot of classic rock music and introduced to heavier aspects of music, and I was like, “Oh, screw pop music. Why did I ever want to do that?” I got into rock ‘n’ roll, and I was like, “This is better. This is a lot more me.”
Who are some of your favorite rock bands now?
That’s a good question. My music taste is kind of all over the board. I like Refused, Avenged Sevenfold, and to get more classic, I listen to a lot of Zeppelin and some Stones and a lot of Hendrix. I’ve been getting into Hendrix recently. But other than that, honestly, I still kind of listen to pop music—only a select few artists. I listen to a lot of Lady Gaga, like her old stuff, and I listen to some of her new stuff, which is a lot more jazzy, which is really cool.
Doll Skin has a new release available this week, “In Your Face (Again).” I guess it’s an expanded edition of the EP that came out last year?
Yeah, it’s a re-release of “In Your Face,” which is why it’s called “In Your Face (Again).” It’s got a new song, a new cover, and we re-tracked one of our songs, kind of a punked version of it, which is really fun. We did it to kind of bridge the gap between the EP and a full-length of all new stuff. We needed to get our CDs into stores for this tour, and the only way we could do that was to get something that had more than six songs on it.
Have you been working on new songs for the full-length?
Yeah. We already have a few good songs, but we are just kind of waiting to get back home to record. We’re always working on new stuff, whether it be Meghan writing down a bunch of new lyrics, or Alex, Nicole or me coming up with new riffs or whatever. We’re always writing.
Is that how is it usually works, you work separately and then come together?
We kind of all come up with different pieces, and then we connect it, like, “Hey, you have a drum beat. I have a riff.” And then we put them together, and then we put lyrics to it. Or the lyrics come first. There are a bunch of different ways for it, but it’s all kind of the same process. It’s always, “I have a piece. You have a piece. Let’s put these pieces together and then add another piece.”
You have a new video out for the song “Let’s Be Honest.” What is that song about?
Basically, “Let’s Be Honest” is kind of a message to people who don’t understand that if you don’t like the way someone is, they’re not gonna care at all what you think. It’s kind of like, we are gonna be who we are, and if you don’t like it, we don’t care. You don’t have to like us. We don’t care. We don’t care if you don’t like us.
I love your choice of a cover, “Weatherman.” That’s one of my favorite songs of the past five years or so. How did you choose to do that song?
That was actually one of the first songs we ever covered together as Doll Skin. We all really liked Dead Sara before we became a band, and when we started practicing together and started trying to figure out songs to play for the battle of the bands, we were like, “What about a Dead Sara song?” Then we went through our different options and chose “Weatherman,” just because of its dynamics and the different things that you find in the song. It showcases everyone, at least at one point in the song. We actually used to cover “Monumental Holiday” for a while, but that song is really difficult on the vocals.
Yeah, I can see that. You said there is another cover on the new release. What song is that?
Yeah, We play it live quite often. It’s by a band called Wolfmother. It’s called “Woman.”
Just before this “Generation Doom” tour started up, you did your first headlining tour. How did that go?
That actually went really well. We did a lot of radio appearances. The shows were amazing. In every city, it kind of surprised us. Of course, there were a couple shows where it was like, “OK, can we just get out of here? I’m kind of horrified for my life.” We kind of played in the middle of bum nowhere for, like, three people that were obviously on heroin. Even those shows, they were just kind of a good practice.
How was Shiprocked? You did that earlier this year.
I could go on and on about Shiprocked. I loved Shiprocked. We look forward to doing it again, of course. It was so much fun. My favorite part was that for five days, not only were you stuck on a ship with some of the coolest musicians in the industry, you could not use your phone, which was, honestly, a huge relief. Being on this boat, the only reason you had your phone was to take pictures. It was so fun. For the first few hours on the boat, I kept checking my phone. I was like, “Oh, my phone vibrated. Just kidding, no it didn’t.” I was waiting for a text message, and I was like, “What’s going on? I can’t use my phone.” As soon as the first day ended, I was like, “Thank god I don’t have to use my phone. This is such a relief.”
Like you said, on that, you got to meet and play with so many great musicians, and at other shows, too. Do you get starstruck when you meet some of these people?
Oh yeah. I’m on tour with one of my biggest idols right now, and I get starstruck every night that I see them play. On Shiprocked, you kind of like, being an artist, go to the same places as Five Finger Death Punch, which is really cool. Obviously, when I first met them, I was like, “Oh, hi. What the heck? I’m meeting you. What the heck? We’re on the same level on this boat. We are both artists on this boat. We have the same privileges. This is really weird.” I’ve never been that equal to such giant musicians. It was really cool. It was a really cool experience.
So now that the band is taking off and going on tour around the country, what do your friends back home think of all this?
A lot of my friends text me a lot. They’re like, “Sydney, I’m so proud of you.” People that I haven’t talked to in a few years are like, “Sydney, I’m so proud of you for what you’re doing. That’s so cool”—which is a really nice thing to hear from people. There’s a few of my friends that are a little jealous, which gets a little annoying. But those weren’t ever really real friends of mine if they’re jealous and being rude. I get a lot of support from my friends back home. It’s really nice to come home and be able to hang out with your friends still. They still treat you like the same people that you were before the band even started.
You’ll be on tour for the next couple months or so. What’s the plan after that?
After this tour with Otep, we go on tour with Hellyeah. And then, about a week or two after that, we go on another headlining tour up to the Northwest. After we’re done with the Northwest run, we plan on seriously recording a new full-length album, really getting some new material out there, ‘cause we have a lot of ideas and our sound is definitely taking shape.