2017 played out to be a breakthrough year for Arizona pop-punk rockers Doll Skin. A headline tour, a slot with Vans Warped Tour, and the release of their first full-length album Manic Pixie Dream Girl were all a trailblazing testament to the fiery rockers’ ambitions. Achieving the perfect mix of personal and political, Manic Pixie Dream Girl doesn’t hold back. Featuring scathing responses to sexism, intriguing guitar tones and vocal efforts to showcase versatility, and with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson by their side, the band has us singing their praises.
We stole a moment to congratulate the band on their successes and to talk about influences and lessons from their life on the road.
Congrats on Manic Pixie Dream Girl and 2017 on a whole! How would you summarize the year in a sentence?
Meghan: 2017 was our most triumphant year yet as a band!
Could you tell us more about your first meeting with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, and how he has mentored and influenced you through your debut LP and tours?
Alex: David was the celebrity guest judge at a Battle of the Band’s that we played as our very first show. He showed immediate interest in us and kept in touch until formally asking to manage us. David is such a motivating individual and has really kept a fire lit under us since the beginning. We maintain total control over our writing process, but whenever he has something to add or suggest, his ideas are killer. His intense touring experience is hugely appreciated when we call him up on some crazy night of tour that seems like the end of the world.
You’ve played at 2017 Vans Warped Tour and shared the stage with many others. Doll Skin must have been the youngest band there, and we’re sure that many of your heroes were on the same bill as you. Please try to explain the experience in words, and let us know one of the most memorable things you saw on the tour!
Sydney: Our experience on Warped Tour is something that’s so hard to explain without fangirling too hard. There was one other band that was around our age called Bad Seed Rising, so it was cool to have a few friends that also couldn’t go to the “big kid” parties. Our short 10 days on the tour were filled with making memories with our new friends and fans all over the festival grounds. It was totally eye opening to see the small city that popped up every morning and got torn down every night. Seeing the amount of work it took and the amount of teamwork everyone put in was nothing short of inspiring. I looked forward to helping out with that because I really felt like I was a part of something huge.
What show/festival lineup were you most excited to be on, and why?
Sydney: We were lucky enough to be on so many amazing shows and festivals last year. The tour we did with One Eyed Doll was all amazing. Her fans and our fans came together under one roof and it was so fun. The last night was extremely exciting because it was at the Whiskey A Go Go and there was so much talent on one stage that night. And, of course, the festival of the year for us was Vans Warped Tour. We didn’t realize something like that could happen for us so early in the game. It was only 10 days, but it was the most rewarding hard work I have ever done.
We hear you’ve also played at Shiprocked 2016, and you’re on the lineup again for 2018. What is that experience like?
Nicole: We got to play on a boat in the middle of the ocean with so many people we’ve taken inspiration from and meet them as well! The fans we gained from playing in 2016 have been some of the most dedicated and was one of the best parts of playing. When we saw the lineup this year we couldn’t believe we were on it with such kickass and incredible bands that we all look up to and absolutely can’t wait to meet all the people attending this year!
You’ve shown that the world that “pure rock fury has no age requirement”. How do your songs differ from other bands, and how do you go about writing them as a band?
Meghan: Our writing process is very much like a jam session. We’ll all bring something we wrote to the table such as a riff, a beat, some lyrics, all that stuff. Some songs come very naturally and are written super fast. Some take lots of time! But we have lots of passion in our songs. It would be crazy to say our songs are different than all other songs in the world, but we love them in our own way.
According to your Facebook page, the entire band is under 21- so how do you go playing 21+ bars around the country? We’ve heard of bands basically loading in and loading out minutes before and after their sets when their members are underage!
Alex: We’ve done just that! It’s nothing out of the ordinary when we have 6.5 minutes to get off stage, break down and load out gear, and get out of the bar. Selling merch from outside the venue is never out of the question. We make it work and love every minute of it, we’ll have the rest of our lives being able to hang in bars past 11pm so we’re enjoying what we have going on.
What have you got planned for 2018? Anything you’re looking forward to in particular?
Nicole: 2018 is absolutely going to be a huge year for us. We’re kicking it off by playing Shiprocked Cruise in the Bahamas and playing some shows to and from Miami in the weeks before and after. Then, we’re heading to Europe for a month for our very first time ever, so so stoked about that! We’re working on some new music that should be coming out during mid summer and also have a super secret tour announcement coming out soon, we can barely contain the excitement about it. 2018 is the year of Doll Skin 2.0.
What was the best lesson you learned on the road?
Meghan: The biggest lesson I learned on tour is to drink a ton of water and sleep at least 8 or 9 hours. I am so much of a sleep stickler than the girls are but I can’t function on a small amount of sleep.
Nicole: For me, learning to go with the flow was one of my most valuable lessons. Everyday ends up being unpredictable and being able to be flexible comes in handy constantly. The more easy going you are on the road, the more fun you have 100%.
Alex: The best lesson I’ve learned on the road is that tour is a perfect opportunity to focus on your own chops. Regardless of what else is going on, who you’re with, where you’re playing, take time to push yourself. I make sure to give myself all sorts of material to study and improve on while on tour and I feel like I come home from every tour with all sorts of new skills to pull from. You are your most important asset!
Sydney: Time management. Work on your time management or else the world will feel like it falls apart every morning.
You get to be a tattoo artist for a day. Who would you tattoo, why, and what design would you do?
Meghan: I would love to tattoo Dave Grohl. I really can’t draw anything at all. I can MAYBE draw a crappy cartoon dog. So I would tattoo that on him.
For more stories on the life on the road, you should check out our blog here.
Photo credits: Rick Triana Photography