Doll & The Kicks are one of the most exciting bands to come out of the UK this year. I had a chat with Doll, Chris and Olivier from the band, a few hours before they took the stage at Liverpool’s Echo Arena in support of Morrissey.
Supporting a legend like Morrissey seems like a big deal, but unsigned indie rockers Doll and The Kicks are taking it all in their stride. They’ve been touring the world in support of the former Smiths frontman and even found time to do a successful UK tour of their own. Like I said in my review, how these guys remain unsigned really is beyond me. I asked them some questions, they answered them. Why don’t you take a look?
Anthony Barlow: Hi guys, thanks for doing this. First of all, I have to admit, I had no clue who you guys were before Morrissey’s Manchester gig, but i’ve been a fan ever since and it seems like a lot of the music press are too. How does it feel getting such high praise and even being compared to bands like Blondie?
Doll: It’s really nice to be compared to people who’ve had as much success as Blondie. I am a big Blondie fan as well, so it’s nice to be compared to people of that stature.
AB: Do you like that sort of praise and hype or does it put more pressure on you?
Chris: I don’t think it’s really so much hype. You’re naturally going to get compared to bands, every band does, that’s just the one they’ve picked out for us.
AB: How would you guys describe your sound? I’ve tried to tell people about you guys, but when I try and pinpoint your sound, I can’t.
Olivier: Sort of, indie, dancey, sing along pop songs I guess really.
Chris: Definitely with a bit of a rock influence too
Doll: Yeah, there’s definitely a bit of a 70’s punk kind of edge too.
AB: You are an unsigned band. Correct?
AB: Is that likely to change any time in the near future?
Doll: Not in the near future, not as far as we know *laughs*\
AB: That surprises me actually, you’d think being on a big tour like this one someone would be watching and would’ve snapped you up.
Doll: It’s definitely increased our fanbase loads, but I think it’s difficult with the current climate and how the music industry is at the moment as well. I think the most important thing at the moment is to try and build up our fanbase and get our music out there.
Chris: At the moment we haven’t really had any better offer than what we could do for ourselves at the moment. What we’re doing, it’s working so we might as well keep on doing it until somebody comes along with an offer we like.
AB: Fair enough, seems like a wise choice really. Not to talk of such unnecessary things as money, but how have the sales been of your album since you started on this tour?
Doll: Really good. We’ve sold, pretty much, 4,000 physical copies of the album since we started the tour in April and we’ve sold a lot online and on iTunes as well. Obviously, that doesn’t count all of the illegal downloads *laughs*
AB: Do you think illegal downloading affects you then?
Doll: Being a band of our size now, yeah it would actually directly affect us. Saying that, we don’t mind illegal downloading. Not that you should do it.
Doll: Because we’re of that generation who are used to sharing music with others and I think the music industry has just got to find another way of making that money they might be losing in sales.
AB: I interviewed Frank Turner a few weeks back and he said that, basically, the whole economy of the music industry needs to change before all recorded music goes free, because it’s not free to record an album and instruments e.t.c. aren’t free, so for now they [the music industry] need to find a way to stop illegal downloading.
Doll: Well, they’re never going to stop it, so they need to accept it and then find other revenues. Like, quite recently, there was talk of a five pound tax for everyone on the internet. If some of that could go to the entertainment industry, then that would help to combat that loss of revenue.
AB: Where do you think the music industry will be in five to ten years. Do you think recorded music will be given away free?
Doll: Eventually I think there will be some form of, legal, free downloads.
Chris: People are always coming out with new ideas everyday. We just need to wait for the next one to come along really and then to implement that on a bigger scale. That’s why I think the tax idea or a liscense is good.
Doll: Or things like Spotify.
Chris: Yeah, getting people to pay for live streaming and stuff, rather than the traditional way of handing over money and buying something. I think that’s what will happen in the future.
AB: Yeah definitely. Like you said, you are unsigned, so how did you catch the attention of Morrissey or Morrissey’s people and get on this tour?
Doll: Our manager, Jennifer, used to work for Sanctuary Records, which was Morrissey’s old label, so they were friends. She mentioned to him that she had begun managing a band and, one day, he decided to come and watch us. He really, really liked us and, so much so, he came a few more times. Then he asked us join the tour.
AB: So he asked you personally then?
Doll: Oh yeah, we wouldn’t be doing it if he hadn’t asked himself.
Chris: He’s known for hand picking bands that he likes, but not who everyone else necessarily likes.
Chris: and, well, he picked us.
AB: How do you think the response has been from the Morrissey crowd?
Olivier: It’s been great so far.
Chris: Much better than expected, actually.
Doll: Yeah, we were expecting it to be really, really tough judging from what we were told about other acts, but they’ve been so supportive. Even, so far as, helping us out personally with things we need. They’ve, generally, been really good to us.
AB: Looking at the different Morrissey-based websites out there, I think a lot of the fans were expecting a more established act to be supporting and I think you guys came as a surprise. A nice one though.
Doll: As Chris said, Morrissey does handpick his support acts and, quite often, they are quite obscure, lesser known, acts that people really haven’t heard of. So, it’s certainly not an unusual thing for him to do. Maybe because he is such a big act, people might have expected someone more established.
AB: Now these tours are massive, so how many countries have you played to date?
Doll: I think I counted and it was nineteen countries on the last one [tour]. We’re going to Holland this time around, we didn’t go to Holland last time did we?
Chris: Yeah, we’re revisiting a load of countries. We’re doing Belgium and Germany for a second time and then off to the States.
Doll: So it’ll be 20 by the end of this tour.
AB: I do believe you’re off to Europe tomorrow?
Doll: Yeah, we’re going to Folkstone to get the train over to where? I can’t pronounce it.
Olivier: Well, to Calais then on to some place in Holland with a weird name *laughs*
AB: 19 different countries, how’s that been, being on the road for that long?
Doll: Brilliant. We’ve gotten the chance to see so many countries we never though we’d ever be able to see.
Olivier: Russia, for instance. I never thought we’d be going there. We’ll probably never go back either.
Olivier: Not out of choice, the opportunity doesn’t arise that often y’know.
Doll: Yeah, I think we’ve all wanted to visit Russia and we were really surprised that part of the leg was going to be over there so we were really grateful.
AB: Exactly. I mean, you’re now ‘out there’. People know who Doll and The Kicks are. Did you expect that in such a short time? Did you expect to be on a tour of this size too?
Chris: We hoped.
Doll: We knew our manager was a friend of Morrissey’s and the idea of supporting him was banded around, in jest ‘oh wouldn’t it be good to support Morrissey’. Never for a minute did we think that it would ever happen, but it did happen.
AB: There’s a ton of bands that would die to go on tour with someone like Morrissey. Although, in hindsight, dying probably wouldn’t help.
Chris: We know how lucky we are. To think where we’ve been as well. I mean, between the previous Morrissey tour and this one, we actually went away for about 5 weeks and did our own tour around the UK and playing to 20 people makes us realise how much this is worth.
AB: Sort of, a shock to the system?
Doll: Yeah, it makes you realise how important it is to have that kind of backing from someone like him [Morrissey] and to get this kind of opportunity.
AB: Are we going to see another Smiths or Morrissey cover like Hand In Glove by you guys tonight [07.11.09] then?
Doll: No. No, that was a special birthday present for him [Morrissey] and we won’t be doing it again I don’t think.
AB: Is that your Candle In The Wind then?
Olivier: Yeah, I guess it is.
AB: So you’ve no plans to record a version of Hand In Glove then?
Doll: If demand was really that big for it then, yeah, I think we’d do it at some point, but it was meant just as a birthday present.
AB: How was the Manchester gig by the way?
Doll: It was amazing. It was one of my favourite gigs of the whole tour. Manchester Apollo, obviously, a major venue, it was his [Morrissey’s] 50th birthday and everyone got special 50th birthday things with
Chris: The atmosphere in there. Being in Manchester, being his [Morrissey’s] birthday.
Doll: They go mad anyway, but in Manchester it was something else.
AB: Yeah, it was a really good gig. I got caught up in the wall of people and, sort of, collapsed and was dragged out.
Doll: Yeah, you could see people fainting and stuff
[Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, my mate Dan sat in on this interview too, here he is now]
Dan: So, since you’ve been on this tour have you been approached any other large acts wanting you to support them?
Doll: No. I don’t think any larger bands have seen us really.
Chris: The thing is, unless bands know of you beforehand, it’s often a booking agent that will sort all of that stuff out.
Doll: Like we said, it’s really unusual for a main act to be able to pick their support act. It’s only because it’s Morrissey, that he can do that.
Chris: The thing that usually happens is, labels will usually get one of their smaller bands on the bill with a bigger act.
Doll: Yeah, more often than not, a record label will get one of their smaller acts and put them on with someone more well known to try and promote them. It’s really down to the record label.
AB: Yeah, that makes sense. Finally, i’ve had a lot of people requesting I ask you this, where did the big bow come from?
Doll: *laughs* The internet. It’s from a shop called Johnny Loves Rosie. They sell it in London TopShop, but they’ve got a website you can buy them from too. They should be sending me free stuff now *laughs*
AB: Definitely. Well, I think that about wraps us up. Thanks a lot guys for sitting and chatting with me. Good luck for tonight.
Doll: No problem, thanks.
Doll & The Kicks On MySpace