One-Eyed Doll’s Kimberly and Junior talk touring, merch and taking the next step for their upcoming record
After getting over a million YouTube views, touring nonstop and independently releasing album after album of critically acclaimed rock and roll it seems One-Eyed Doll is taking the long route to “overnight success”. The unique Austin, Texas based duo is poised to have an even bigger year this 2013 with a new album in the works produced by Grammy winner Sylvia Massy (Johnny Cash, Slayer) and more touring than ever. I am as late to the party as anyone having just discovered how great this band is but am now a total freak for them. One-Eyed Doll are currently on tour with OTEP and we spoke with Jason Rufuss Sewell (a.k.a. Junior) and Kimberly Freeman about everything going on….
RRT: You guys do a ton of touring and often with pretty diverse bands. Do you wind up seeing a lot of people get into the band who might not have heard of you otherwise?
Junior: Yeah, we get to see a lot of different people and meet a lot of people who are just finding out about us. A lot of the bands who are out touring right now are metal bands and we just end up touring with them even though what we do may or may not be considered metal. We definitely have a lot of heavy songs from our catalog that we can pull out for those purposes while touring. I feel like we can probably put together a set that will probably work with any touring package we’re on. Personally, I feel like after listening to 3 or 4 “screamo” bands, just about everybody in the room is at least open to the idea of hearing someone sing. We headline shows in some areas but have been out with bands like OTEP and others who we know are going to pack the place every night. Hopefully soon we will be at that point, I feel like every show we play we are building to that point. We just played Salt Lake City and we’ve never played there before but there were a LOT of One-Eyed Doll fans there, which was pretty cool. I think one of the really exciting things about being in a band is showing your music off to people for the first time and playing to a crowd of people for the first time. That’s one of the best things about doing this, the fact that even after doing this for so many years we can show up to a venue and play for a room where at least half of the people there are seeing us for the first time.
RRT: You guys have released quite a few albums on your own and maintained that control over your music in the process. Have you closed the door to the idea of hooking up with a bigger record label and maybe getting an even bigger push?
Junior: No, not at all but at the same time I don’t think it’s that unheard of for a band in this industry to be able to do things on their own. We recorded our last album in a big studio and had a big producer in Sylvia Massey which was cool, that was definitely one of the reasons you would want to be on a bigger label. We had the opportunity to record with one of my heroes and Sylvia Massy is definitely at the top of that list. We also landed a big time publicist in Ashley Di Buduo which was another one of our goals and landed a great booking agent We have had a really direct relationship with our fans through the website and social media. They know when we are coming to town or when we have new music out but we are definitely open to dealing with a bigger record label who are really excited about One-Eyed Doll who comes to us with a deal that makes sense. I know there can be advantages to getting that huge surge of interest from a big push but I also know if we would have just had that one really big radio hit on Warner Brothers Records that would most likely be it. Doing it this way is slower but we have been able to build a fanbase and stack successes.
RRT: Kimberly, your insane onstage persona is such a huge part of the show and really makes me wonder what your influences are. I am showing my age here but to me it’s almost like Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Gene Simmons all blended and regurgitated by Hello Kitty. Are any of those artists inspirational to you?
Kimberly: There are a lot of those things in there but I think what a lot of those bands have in common and I have in common with them is their theatrical showmanship. I know exactly where my influence for that comes from and it was from watching my Grandpa perform at a party. My Grandpa’s name is Bernie Jones and back in the day he was part of the Spike Jones group, super cool dude. I was just a little kid watching him and it was so cool. He put on this particular hat and just became this real slapstick,vaudeville character and turned the audience into part of the show and had them singing along and playing all these different instruments; it was very theatrical and funny. It made a huge impression on me and I think that’s where a lot of that comes from. Later on when I decided to get into music I went to him and asked for his advice and I’ve basically emulated him. It’s always in the back of my mind that I’ve got these big clown shoes to fill and that is my big performance influence and where all of the fun and silliness comes from but I think the darkness that comes out is me, that’s part of who I am (laughs).
RRT: You have said that your albums can almost be viewed as manic depressive, one might be real manic and wild while another is much darker and depressive. Have there been points where the two have met?
Kimberly: Yeah, I do but I also think that there are totally ones which are very much one way or another like “Dirty” or “Break”. They tend to spike up and down. “Dirty” is very much all depressive and “Break” is just totally manic. They are kind of like an audience, they have their own collective mood.
RRT: There is a great documentary about you guys which really captures the life of a band on the road, traveling, getting to know your audience and one of the most interesting parts of it is watching how you handle your merch. The money from merch is such a huge part of what keeps a band on the road and it looks like you really approach it as another creative outlet. Do you enjoy coming up with merch ideas?
Kimberly: Yeah, it’s really a fun part of it for me that I’ve enjoyed. I like the challenge of merchandising and marketing of it. Jason and I are really good at brainstorming about it and finding creative ways to make our gas money (laughs). After our set last night, I went back to our dressing room and painted a few things to sell at the merch table (laughs).
Junior: A guy came up and said he wanted some of our guitar straps, he said he had seen these really cool hand-painted guitar straps and wanted one. I told him we only had blank ones but I said “I tell you what, if you buy one now, I will have Kimberly paint it for you after the show” and he was like “Yeah, awesome, I’ll do do it” so Kimberly was sitting there painting guitar straps last night (laughs).
Kimberly: We do a lot of our stage stuff too. In the very beginning of One-Eyed Doll when I was just starting out I lived in my car and I would dumpster dive for stage props and things that I could make art out of and sell at the merch table. I was literally painting lids and things and selling them at tables so that’s something we’ve been good at from the beginning.
RRT: I don’t mean to be rude but you sound earth-shatteringly tired Kimberly (laughs).
Kimberly: (laughs) I am!!!
Junior: (laughs) This is part of the reality of being in a band that your interview can expose to the world John! We drove ten hours from California to get to Salt Lake City for the show last night and we are driving eight hours right now to Denver for tonight’s show and in between we have three interviews. We have to stop at truckstops along the way to do the interviews and we never stay at hotels we sleep in the van at the truckstops.
RRT: Junior, you actually ran for Senate and I wanted to ask you; Do you think that some of these lyrics that seem deeply personal from One-Eyed Doll could also be interpreted as socio-political dialog as well?
Junior: I think we’re all part of the same human race and the same society and we’re all just trying to make it through the world. Hopefully, our personal experiences are something that everyone can relate to because we’re all in this together I guess. I think a lot of our personal issues could also be a metaphor for a socio-political issue and I think one song could be interpreted in many ways and have a broad range of meaning. For example, if you’re talking about rape, that could be very personal but it could also be something that can be viewed from and should be viewed from a national level.
RRT: Your video for “Committed” is friggin awesome. I am so blown away by the riff and the video and have no idea how Kimberly has so much energy to do all of those high kicks! It’s really creepy and crazy and just all around awesome. How much fun was it to make?
Kimberly: Thank you!! It was fun but that was a tough shoot! That song is part of our new album. We have a whole album ready to go, ready to be released and we’re just figuring out the beeswax part of it in terms of how we’re gonna release it but you can expect a really awesome album where every song is as cool as that song.
Junior: It was shot in Centralia, Pennsylvania where the movie “Silent Hill” was filmed and it was December, right after Christmas and it was freezing cold. That smoke that you see in the video is actually real smoke that you see coming from the street. The location where that was shot in Centralia has actually been on fire since the 1950’s. It’s an abandoned coal mining town and there is coal that caught on fire and has basically been sitting there smoldering for like 50 years. If you go back and watch that video again, you will see that isn’t smoke from a smoke machine, it’s actually coming from the cracks in the ground.
RRT: That is some awesome location scouting on your part. There is actually someone on the YouTube comments who swears they see a ghost next to Kimberly at 1:20 in the clip (laughs)
Junior: Yeah, there probably was (laughs).
RRT: Thanks again for talking to us, I really want to check out the band live and the new song sounds awesome. Can I push you for any more info as to when we might be able to get the album?
Junior: We’d really like to release this album on a label to be honest, hopefully a really excited and energized label. We are actually talking to a lot of fancy pants people in L.A. Right now so hopefully someone will step up and wanna put that out for us to a larger audience but if they don’t we will put it out ourselves like we always do but right now we are just kind of holding out a little bit.
DATE CITY/STATE VENUE
Sat 03/23/13 Jacksonville, FL The Roc Bar
Tue 03/26/13 Spartanburg, SC Ground Zero
Wed 03/27/13 Louisville, KY Diamond Pub & Billiards
Sat 03/30/13 West Springfield, VA Empire
Sun 03/31/13 New York, NY The Studio @ Webster Hall
Tue 04/02/13 Pittsburgh, PA The Altar Bar
Thu 04/04/13 Cleveland, OH Peabody’s Downunder
Fri 04/05/13 Columbus, OH Alrosa Villa
Sat 04/06/13 Detroit, MI Harpo’s Concert Theatre
Sun 04/07/13 Battle Creek, MI Planet Rock
Tue 04/09/13 South Bend, IN Cheers
Wed 04/10/13 Joliet, IL Mojoes
Thu 04/11/13 Rockford, IL Bar 3
Fri 04/12/13 Spring Lake Park, MN Povlitzki’s
Sat 04/13/13 Waterloo, IA Spicoli’s Grill
Wed 04/17/13 Albuquerque, NM Hooligans
Thu 04/18/13 Phoenix, AZ Joe’s Grotto