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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Veteran music journalist with 20+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, & B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Stacking The Deck with Kelly Ogden of The Dollyrots
Friday, February 04, 2022

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack. 

The music of The Dollyrots has long been synonymous with good times, and even after two decades as a band the energy level of pop-punk power couple Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas is showing no signs of waning.

Having just released a double album titled Down the Rabbit Hole, which features 20 years worth of b-sides, rarities, and covers, the band will be hitting the road in March for a tour of the Midwest. Shortly after that tour is complete they’ll be heading to the UK for a string of dates with Bowling for Soup, and Lit.

Before The Dollyrots packed their bags, I caught up with Kelly over Zoom to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about eighth grade dances, missing out on meeting Vanilla Ice, and the power of cover songs.

 

 
Vanilla Ice

You said you have a story about the man, the myth, the legend, Cool as Ice himself, Vanilla Ice. What is the Vanilla Ice connection? 

So this goes past the whole, I’m of the generation where I know every single word to his songs. It used to be me and my little friends in middle school singing them in the living room, doing dances, that kind of thing.

The band The Dollyrots started in Sarasota, Florida. Luis and I were both in our fourth year of undergrad at a school called New College, a hippie honors college. Luis had started the band with a couple guy friends, and I was like, “Hey, do you think I could be in the band, too?” They were like, “That would be awesome! A chick in the band!” So I played rhythm guitar, and sang backing vocals.

I didn’t play well. I wouldn’t even consider myself a guitar player at that point, so it wasn’t like they were shoving me to the back, I didn’t deserve to even be in the back.

We played as many shows as we could around town, just as a distraction. We had to write a thesis, and do a baccalaureate exam, and we didn’t feel like doing that, so we decided to focus on being a band all of a sudden.

Play some shows, there’s your thesis! 

Yeah. {laughs} I wrote mine on sea turtle nesting. I GPS marked every sea turtle nest in Sarasota County that year. I was very tan.

But we would play these shows, and we were rehearsing all the time. Many of the songs were covers – it was the Misfits, the Ramones, and The Ronettes, pretty much. We’d throw in a Nirvana cover every now and then. That was kinda what the band was at that point.

We played a whole ten shows before we moved to L.A. It seemed like a lot to me, though, and we thought we were great.

(Before we left for L.A.) we got invited to do a battle of the bands at this place … if only I could remember what it was called, and one of the guests that was supposed to be appearing was Vanilla Ice. I can’t remember what happened. I think he was a no-show. I think we got to play like three songs. We didn’t win. I think the prize was like $100 at the Guitar Center in Sarasota, or something.

We played not great. I think I was playing bass, and singing lead at that point, too, because our bass player, he was working at a local adult shop, so he worked nights, and he couldn’t get to rehearsals.

He’s a lawyer in Atlanta now, but he quit (the band), and we had two weeks before this big battle of the bands thing, so I had to switch from rhythm guitar to bass, and he sang most of the songs, so I also had to sing. So we weren’t good. I didn’t really know what I was doing.

That night ended with us more disappointed that we didn’t get to meet Vanilla Ice, which was promised even if we lost, and also we lost, which did kinda suck.

Have you met Vanilla Ice since then? 

No.

We’re tagging him in this. We’re gonna make this happen. 

We better. Vanilla Ice I still want to meet you. I’ve been waiting. We’re in Florida.

 

 
Heavy D & The Boyz / Tone Loc

When we pulled these cards from the pack you said, “Eighth grade dance.” What was an eighth grade dance like for you? 

So awkward.

We were also going to these PAL dances. The Police Athletic League would have dances on Saturday night sometimes, and my parents wouldn’t let me go until I was like 12.

It’s also worth noting we were in Tampa, so we had like Tone Loc, Heavy D & The Boyz, all that cool ‘90s hip-hop happening, which really is pretty fun to dance to. We would do the tootsie roll, and we were also secretly all listening to … that rap group from Florida that got banned.

2 Live Crew. 

Oh yes! Thank you!

So we wanted to hear 2 Live Crew.

We couldn’t, of course.

They weren’t playing “Me So Horny” in the middle of the eighth grade dance? 

Oh my goodness, I wish.

It was more, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” That was like the slow dance, and then Firehouse, but all of our dance jams were Tone Loc, and all that good stuff.

Still, anytime we have a barbecue, or a party, now that our kids have friends over, we make them listen to all that.

But now that you have kids who have friends over you still can’t listen to 2 Live Crew. 

We still can’t. No. {laughs}

 

 
Jimi Hendrix

Let’s get some rock n roll in here with Jimi Hendrix. 

From middle school to age 17 we go, when I became obsessed with Woodstock, and hippie culture. I was like, I gotta figure all this out.

I started listening to Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors, and reading all of the books I could find about them. That’s when I discovered Melanie Safka, which is why we cover “Brand New Key” in The Dollyrots. It was one of my favorite songs learning to drive.

A lot of that influence was, my friends Kimmy and Ally, their dad had an incredible record collection. Their parents were like hippies, really cool, nice, but now grown up middle class people in the ‘90s, but their record collection still reflected their past, which was awesome. I found all these records, Joan Baez, The Mamas & The Papas.

I grew up on oldies radio, and Top 40 Tampa radio. My parents, we’d always listen to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 every weekend together. I think a lot of my melodic influence is from there, but then a lot of my playing, when I actually learned to play guitar was when I was discovering all of these Woodstock, folk rock kind of bands, and Bob Dylan, all of that stuff, so Hendrix was a very important character in all of that.

 

 
Dave Edmunds

Your reaction to this card was way more excited than I expected. I didn’t realize you’d just played one of his songs on your radio show (SiriusXM’s Underground Garage, Ch. 21, 4am to 8am EST). 

Every Tuesday I have a song in my New Music Spotlight, so I take submissions at my Underground Garage email. I get a lot of music that sometimes I have time to look through, and sometimes it just sits for a while, and then finally I’ll have a day where I put on headphones and I’m like OK, let’s delve into all this.

I have a guy that helps me with my show, he was actually a Dollyrots fan turned friend. Now he does a lot of research with me, and he was like, “Hey, Dave Edmunds has a new song coming out.” I was like, “Dave Edmunds? Like the producer?” He worked with Rockpile, Stray Cats, Wings, he tours with Ringo Starr’s band.

The song is called “It’ll Be Me,” which is a cover of the Jerry Lee Lewis song. It was the b-side of “Great Balls of Fire.”

This segues perfectly – the song is a cover, and your new album, Down the Rabbit Hole, is a double CD where one whole CD is covers! What inspired you to put together an album’s worth of covers? 

As a band, when we were growing up, Luis and I have known each other since eighth grade.

When you were dancing to Heavy D & The Boyz. 

Yup. We were. {laughs}

And he and his friends were having chode wars. Not sure if that’s a universal guy thing, but they would attack each other, and punch each other in the nuts. I’m grateful that it wasn’t so destructive that he could still have kids with me this far down the line. There was more of that than dancing, honestly, in eighth grade.

But anyway, he taught me to play guitar when we were about 17. He was my first guitar teacher, actually. We started out with covers, of course. First song I really learned was “About a Girl” by Nirvana. Nirvana was a huge influence on us. One really great thing about Nirvana was we learned about all sorts of other bands because they did covers, and they would bring other bands on tour. That’s how we learned about The Vaselines, Meat Puppets, The Breeders, and Bikini Kill. As a band, they educated us in a way that I feel is really really cool, so we felt like it would be really cool to put at least one cover on every album since the start.

This past year, two years now, has been brutal on our creativity. We kept our kids home from school for a year, which means it’s hardcore parenting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s not a lot of time to be artistic, or even to read books, or listen to music, or watch a music documentary. It just doesn’t happen. I love my kids, I wouldn’t change it, but there was not a lot of creativity happening in either of our brains. We were just kind of surviving, and going day to day.

We really wanted to put out a record. Luis had a rough few days. He was really depressed. He was like, “I can’t believe we haven’t done anything!” I was like, “I know!” So he was real quiet for a few days. Then he woke up on a Thursday morning, and he goes, “I’ve got an idea. How about we finally put out the b-sides and covers album?” We had been talking about it for a long time. He’s like, “I’ve got plenty of stuff. We can get it remastered. I can re-mix some of the earlier stuff if we need to.” I said, “Great, let’s do it!” and he’s like, “Maybe we could even have it before Christmas.”

He called Dennis (Mortensen), who runs Wicked Cool, which is the label we partner up with for most of our releases now, and he was like, “Hey Dennis, would you be OK with us using a couple of these b-sides from Wicked Cool releases we didn’t put out yet?” Dennis said, “Yeah, but could Wicked Cool put out the records?” Luis then asked, “Could we have them before Christmas?”

That was it, but it meant that we had three days to produce a track listing, all the artwork for packaging, the mastered songs – everything had to be turned in for it to happen in time. Somehow it did.

But it didn’t happen before Christmas. 

Oh it did. Do you know the story of that?

The story of Christmas? 

Yes. A little baby born. It was a miracle.

Do tell! 

We were supposed to have them December 8th, but first there was an outbreak at the warehouse, then they said there were supply chain issues. We didn’t get the CDs until December 18th, which was the cut off for first class mail for the USPS.

We stayed up around the clock for two days. We really didn’t sleep. It was terrible for our health, but we did it, and our fans deserved it. We promised it. They would’ve probably understood if we didn’t get it there in time, but I couldn’t stand the idea that people got them as gifts, and then they couldn’t gift them. So it happened.

It was another Christmas miracle, aside from the little baby.

 

 
Britny Fox

I gotta go to Britny Fox for two reasons – one is the hair, and two, I just realized the guy in the center is wearing Seinfeld’s puffy shirt. 

Oh he sure is!

Is there any regrettable fashion decision from your past that you would not want on a trading card? 

No, because even the most regrettable ones I do love.

Our very first drummer, we were in Sarasota, his name was Frank, and his mom was actually a costume artist for Ringling Bros. For a period of a few months, in-between graduating from New College and moving to L.A,. we stayed in her attic. Half of it was a rehearsal room, and half of it was all her sewing machines, and all of her fabric, and all that stuff, and she made all of us some costumes. So back in the early days of The Dollyrots we had some pretty wild stuff.

I had these awesome pleather poodle skirts. Luis had these plaid pants that were shaped like JNCOs, and they had fringe on the sides.

I am here for anything that’s JNCO-like. 

You know, yesterday I was on Instagram, scrolling, and I got advertised these pants for women that were like JNCOs. They were jeans, but they didn’t have JNCO pockets. I was like, should I buy these? Are these like a tour thing? Should I be wearing these when we go on tour in March? Is this cool? Will I be cool if I wear that instead of skinny jeans? {laughs}

For more of The Dollyrots, check out dollyrots.com, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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