Text: Alec Coiro
Photo: Christian Something
Do you pine for the days of melancholia conjured forth over distorted guitars? Did you blow it and move to Portland looking for the sound, only to find they’re on their own Portland thing? What you should have done is gone down to Richmond where the scene is thriving, and churning what was old into something new and unique. A case in point would be Richmond’s own, Doll Baby.
Consisting of the brother’s Kelly, Eric and Dan, Julie Storey, and Jason Snider, Doll Baby begins with the alchemy of growing up with a mixture of what ‘90s marketing teams called alternative rock and the punk music it grew out of. They then use that starting point as a basis for expressing themselves in a raw and immediate way. The result is the deeply felt, powerfully delivered vocals by singer, lyricist, and guitarist Julie Storey that ride over the top of a guitar, bass, and drum melange that is as straightforward and classic as it is refreshing.
We talked to Eric Kelly to get the scoop on the band, it’s inner workings, and Richmond writ large. For the interview read on. For the immediate experience, check out the new track “Softee” that they shared with us.
You seem quite inspired by the some of the music that came out of the ‘90s. Are there specific bands from the era that stand out for you?
Some notables for us were definitely The Pixies, Weezer, Green Day, The Smashing Pumpkins and, of course, Nirvana. We were definitely influenced a lot by music coming out of the ’90s punk scene as well, like Rancid and AFI.
Your live shows sound quite legendary. How would you describe the vibe to someone who has yet to attend?
That’s a tough question. We’re not really sure what people are thinking when they listen to our music. People seem to enjoy it and have a good time. The vibe seems pretty positive.
As brothers, have you (Dan and Eric) always played together?
Both of us have always played in bands, but Doll Baby is actually the first band we have played in together. When we were kids, our parents basement was almost always the practice spot for any bands we were playing in. We used to play old punk covers down there together. Usually Misfits, Minor Threat or Kid Dynamite. Haha! It’s actually kind of crazy that it took us this long to play in a proper band together.
People here have been very supportive of us. We've been very fortunate to play with some great bands that have come through town in recent years.
Can you describe your songwriting process as a band? And at what point in the process are the lyrics created?
Julie and Dan are the main songwriters. The lyrics almost always come first. Usually, when one of us has an idea for a song, we come to the other with lyrics and a basic idea of the melody. Julie will hash out the rhythm guitar and the song will have its basic structure. We’ll bring it to practice and Eric will start working on writing the lead guitar parts and riffs. We’ve had a couple bass players since we started. They have all written their own bass parts.
Speaking of lyrics, much of what you write evokes your hometown of Richmond? What’s it like there in terms of the music scene and in general?
Richmond is an interesting place. It seems to be constantly evolving. It has an incredible music scene! It seems like you hear about a new band almost every week. People here have been very supportive of us. We’ve been very fortunate to play with some great bands that have come through town in recent years.
Richmond is a pretty laid back place for the most part. It’s certainly not perfect and not without tension at times. In general, though, Richmond is our home, and we try to see it as a good place to be.