The Dollyrots, Taking Meds
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“Ever wonder what a traditional lounge singer would sound like backed up by a punk band? The Smoking Popes take that concept one step further: They've created a unique kind of music that some listeners are describing as ‘hyperkinetic tear-jerkers’." Los Angeles Times
Bursting onto the Chicago punk scene in 1991, Smoking Popes built a relationship with their legion of fans by melding raw songs about bittersweet heartache with soaring melodies, power chords and infectious energy. From their early indie releases to their critically acclaimed major label albums, Smoking Popes developed a unique blend of buzzsaw guitars, caffeinated rhythms and heartfelt crooning vocals, combining the angst of punk with the smooth sophistication of Frank Sinatra, creating music both urgent and timeless, and influencing a generation of musicians in their wake.
These days, the Popes are tighter and more inspired than ever, having reunited with drummer Mike Felumlee, from the band’s seminal recordings of the ‘90s. Lead singer Josh Caterer describes the reunion, “We’ve been fortunate to have some really great drummers over the years, they’ve all brought something unique to the band, but as soon as we started playing with Mike again, we felt like ‘This is how it’s supposed to be!’ Mike is the one who helped create our sound in the first place. Having him back in the band brings a lot of energy and excitement to what we’re doing.”
That excitement is palpable on “Into The Agony”, the first full-length Smoking Popes album featuring their original lineup since 1998’s “The Party’s Over.” Brilliantly mixed by the legendary Jamie Woolford, “Into The Agony” is a poignant collection of sublimely crafted songs, passionately delivered by a band clearly at the top of their game. If this new album is any indication, Smoking Popes are far from done making waves.
“Into The Agony” is available Oct 12 th 2018 on Asian Man Records. The band will be hitting the road to support the release, with dates covering North America and Europe in the coming year.
“Why are the Smoking Popes important? Because they’ve written your favorite song, whether you know it or not.” – Kyle Kinane, Comedian & Smoking Popes Superfan
When you’ve been a band long enough to release seven albums, play two thousand shows, work with Joan Jett & Stevie Van Zandt, perform live on The Price Is Right, and give birth to two children who are now old enough for guitar lessons, the Punk Rock roadshow turns into a family affair., But even with the addition of their two youngest traveling cohorts — son River and daughter Daisy — The Dollyrots won’t be confused for The Partridge Family anytime soon.
“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.
“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 a couple brand new singles and tours ahead of their eighth full length studio album. In February 2023 the band toured the UK with an exclusive early release of “Still Holding On” on Wicked Cool Records, a digital single which sees a US release April 28th.
The first physical US release, the 7-inch single “Hey Girl”, was co-produced with Steven Van Zandt at his Renegade Studios in NYC, with Geoff Sanoff Engineering. The single was released during the band’s “Hey Girl” Spring US tour. The B-Side “I Touch Myself” - a cover of the Divinyls 1990 hit - was co-Produced by longtime collaborator John Fields (Jimmy Eat World, All Time Low, Meet Me At the Altar), who is responsible for the bulk of Production credit on the upcoming full-length LP. “John Fields is our George Martin,” says Kelly. “He’s pretty much our bandmate that doesn’t tour.”
The Dollyrots are no stranger to success. They have released albums on Panic Button/Lookout and Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records, and are now working with Stevie Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool Records. The band has hit the Billboard Heatseekers and Independent Albums charts multiple times, they’ve been featured in movies and TV shows, and they’ve shared stages with some of punk and rock’s biggest names.
Long a staple in rotation on Little Steven’s Underground Garage, the band’s consistent 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” in Spring 2019 was 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 came out through Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records.
The partnership with Wicked Cool has also extended to the radio, where Kelly has held down the position of morning show DJ since 2019 on The Underground Garage, another Stevie Van Zandt creation. The Kelly Ogden Program airs every weekday morning on Sirius/XM Channel 21. In addition to fronting The Dollyrots, Ogden has also appeared in or shared her voice in TV and film as has the band, including ABC’s Schooled, CSI: NY, Greek, Disney’s Brave, Easy A, The Price Is Right, Dickinson, and Girl Trash: All Night Long. She also shares a side project with Bowling For Soup frontman Jaret Reddick called Jaret and Kelly.
Always active on the live circuit, the band gearing up for extensive Summer and Fall 2023 tour plans. “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 just happens to be artistic, which can be a reach. So these days, we try to find those middle-of-the-night moments where we can create and tap into that indescribable thing that helps us create music.” Kelly remarks, “Making this album took the longest of any yet. We struggled to find creative time during the pandemic, with 2 kids at home for a full school year. And in the end, I couldn’t be more proud of the end result.”
That full length album, tentatively titled “Night Owls”, is set for release Fall 2023 via Wicked Cool Records.
Taking Meds are back with their new single, "Memory Lane." Out now via Smartpunk Records, the new track is a three minute blast of '90s-influenced alternative that hints at what's to come this year from the New York based four-piece. Produced/recorded by Kurt Ballou at God City Studios (The Armed, Joyce Manor, NAILS), "Memory Lane" is the first new music from Taking Meds since the release of their 2021 full-length, Terrible News From Wonderful Men, and it flies out of the gate with big guitars and bigger melodies that never let up. The group seamlessly merge college rock catchiness with the energy and bite of their post-hardcore roots, making for the kind of track that's sure to have you hitting repeat the second it's done. Vocalist/guitarist Skylar Sarkis discussed the new song and direction, saying: "I like retreating into fantasy when I’m feeling dissatisfied with reality because fantasy doesn’t have to consider any downsides. My current favorite is moving into the mountains and never talking to anyone again. However, the most common one for me has always been nostalgia. This song is pretty much about that. Musically, it’s pretty new territory for us. We wanted to write big choruses and big leads because that’s what we want to hear right now. Nobody has ever agreed on a classification for our music so everyone has always just called us a rock band. Now they can finally be right. You’re welcome."
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