Running Rotten: Four Days on the Road with The Dollyrots
I like music. Well, most days.
We don’t do drugs in the van,
is practically the first thing Kelly Ogden tells me after her and her band, The
Dollyrots, kidnap me. But, if you want, I’m sure we could stop somewhere and
find something for you. Those who work entry level jobs in
Yes, it’s just like that movie.
When I have free time, I listen
to everything I can think of and try to enjoy what I hear. But lately, it hasn’t been much. Clear
Channel and radio personalities destroyed any concept of a quality DJ, MTV has focused
itself more with asinine culture than it has with actual music. Even
revolutionary internet applications like Pandora and Last FM failed me when,
no matter how finely I thought I had tuned a station, the programs would find a
reason to stuff Nirvana into every single mix. Clearly there was something
wrong with rock and roll. The music world spins awkwardly when not even pop
music has any pizzazz left.
Which is why I tried to justify my
kidnapping by The Dollyrots a godsend.
Even in the recording I listened
to ahead of time, I could tell the Dollyrots weren’t quite the punch my ticket
needed, but it was a hell of a good start. On a Monday night the Dollyrots
(from herein ‘The Dollies’, or, depending on the context I wish to apply, ‘The
Rots’) at Bender’s Tavern in the heart of Downtown Denver. I could only imagine
the kind of young, supple crowd a girl like Kelly Ogden (lead vocals, bass)
could draw to this 21 and up venue.
The Dollies appeared a little
fragile against the other
One thing The Dollies couldn’t
bring to the stage, however, were the slew of beautiful women and potential
girlfriends that I was counting on. Instead, most of the audience that night
was made up of the usual
A drink later I learn The Dollies
are next driving to
We pull through the Eisenhower
tunnel around two thirty in the morning and the alcohol starts to fade. I’m
told that the band’s next show is in
Everyone’s grandma lives in
I’m not actually a murderer, but I did play one on TV, at this hour, Fuzzy is asleep and I’m having a hell of a time keeping up with the conversation as the last few beers really start to take their toll. All I know is that I am sheltered in a dark van with people who were strangers all of three hours ago, one of them talking about racists and murder. And I can’t help but thinking there is a story here.
Kelly started the Dollyrots
around five years ago with band mate Luis Cabezas. They met in their teenage
years and shared the college experience in
This was the generation that DIDN’T do drugs in the van.
The band struck it big after their
gig at the 2006 Warped Tour. They passed off a copy of their CD to Joan Jett. A
love affair ensued between Jett and the band and the band released Because
I’m Awesome with her label, Blackheart Records. The title track to the CD
went on to be featured in a Khols commercial. Kelly did a cameo on an episode
of CSI: New York to be accused of murder. The Dollies are also featured
on the soundtrack of the upcoming summer flick Endless Bummer for their
cover of Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation.
It is now ten in the morning and
we are at a gas station in
You haven’t slept? Luis calls
from the van.
Nope. We ready? It’s true; I
hadn’t slept the night before. Sitting up right and watching Luis and Chris
trade driving responsibilities didn’t exactly spell relaxation. Luis had even
pulled off the highway at dawn and parked in a city park. The early morning
sprinklers came on and every five minutes, like clockwork, a loud rap of water
landed on the roof of the van. If sleep was had, it was in those five minutes.
Back in the van I’m now riding
shotgun with Luis behind the wheel. The
first thing to remember is to take it out of overdrive, he tells me as he hits
a button on the end of the shifter. He points out other things I should know
speed, turning, mirrors. He pauses occasionally to push a length of gnarly dark
hair back out of his face. We continue across the desolate landscape that has
proven so unwelcoming that no developer dared to touch it.
The highway stretches out in front of us, there is the desert out either side. As so many dozens of movies have portrayed before, the road is a dangerous place to be. The middle of nowhere tends to be where city slickers get murdered by transients and gangsters. Slowly, the hangover sets in.
The combination of male and
female vocals on a recording always makes a much more powerful statement, Luis
explains everything, even when I don’t ask. His dark wardrobe and mane of inky
hair give him the mysterious guitar player guise, but he tops it off with quick
smiles that tell me he still loves a good dick-and-fart joke. Every once in a
while his voice cuts through the hum of the engine with an observation about
the road, the band, or whatever he happens to be thinking at that particular
moment. For as many thoughts that Luis regales me with, very few of them are
actually applicable with other thoughts.
To save fuel, the going is slow.
Luis keeps the van barreling across the
The west is a place that has
always served as a refuge through history for so many outlaws and rebels and
other scums of society. A century ago
across this same landscape there was little use for rules and vigilantism dominated
this realm at the cusp of the law. I find it beyond coincidence that I am
traveling to Warped Tour, what has been heralded through the years as a
At 11 the gates opened and the lot floods with a slew of teenage kids in spandex, denim and elaborate hairstyles. Even though the temperature promised to climb well over 100 degrees that day, fans insisted on dressing in all black. Vendor tables sold enormous watches encrusted with fake gemstones and florescent sunglasses that only Max Headroom should be wearing. Instantly I feel my age double I feel like I’m the chaperone at a high school event.
Reel Big Fish opened things up
with a relatively mellow performance. Their age shows, but Chris Black will
tell you age doesn’t matter in this business.