The Doll Skin Experience Part I: Talking With Nicole Rich and Meghan Herring

Last weekend I went out to Easton, PA to catch DOLL SKIN doing a headlining show on their current Shut Up! Tour. In addition to seeing the lovely downtown Easton area I was fortunate enough to sit and chat with two of the members, Meghan Herring (drums, vocals) and bassist/vocalist Nicole Rich. They are two of the four amazing young women who make up this band, and our conversation was a lot of fun. Check it:

Amps: So, a lot’s been happening for DOLL SKIN, huh? Like having David Ellefson signing you, how was that?

Meghan: It was awesome. He created a label (EMP Label Group) just to sign us. And when that happened he was like, “I’m gonna manage you guys, too.” We were blown away because label owner and manager is a double whammy, especially when he’s the bass player for MEGADETH!

Amps: The album is doing well and there’s lots of praise going around. That must feel good.

Nicole: It’s very exciting. We’re happy with that. It was on Billboard Heatseekers at #6, then it moved to #5 just this last week.

Amps: And the crowds, how have they been on the road so far?

Nicole: We just got off Warped Tour. That was really, really cool. It was great to see such a big turnout every day. These past few days have been  a few headlining shows and we’ve gotten to play with really cool bands and have a great time.

Meghan: On this tour you’ll have good days where a lot of people come out and some where maybe it’s a weekday and people have to work the next day, so there’s not as many. Warped Tour was the biggest turnout for sure, and that’s definitely our target crowd, the young ones.

Amps: Tell me about the songwriting. Who does what and how do the songs take shape?

Meghan: It’s a collective process. We spent the winter writing these songs. I focus on the lyrics and Sydney (Dolezal, lead vocals/guitar) is really good at coming up with melodies, and Alex (Snowden, guitar/vocals) and Nicole focus on instrumentation and Sydney hops in on that, too.

Nicole: It’s a very collective effort. One person brings something in and everyone goes off of that, it’s a big snowball effect. And when that happens it’s really cool. For example, we wrote “Puncha Nazi” in literally 15 minutes. We were mad and decided to write a song about it. Meghan popped out lyrics in like, a minute (both laugh) and the other 14 minutes was just like, “Okay, let’s do it!”

Meghan: Some others take longer, though.

Nicole: Oh yeah, “Road Killa” and “Persephone” are the two oldest songs and those were a year in the making. Those changed a lot from when they first started to the way they are now. “Shut Up (You Miss Me)” I feel was a quick one as well. We wrote that in a day or two. It was a very natural song and it just kind of happened.

Amps: The thing about “Shut Up” is that it sticks in your head for hours, sometimes days. Did you know it would be that type of hit when you wrote it?

Nicole: I feel like we all kind of knew it was gonna be a catchy song. Because Meghan came up with the melody and we were all like, “That is such a catchy melody! We have to write a song with this!” It kind of came out of nowhere.

Meghan: Evan Rodaniche (Cage9) who recorded and executive produced everything, he took its potential and shot it up to a thousand. He helped a lot with that song. it’s just a fun song, and it’s really bouncy.

Amps: Any particular songs you consider favorites?

Nicole: “Daughter” and “Rubi” are two of my favorites. I just love those songs so much. But I find it changing from day to day, too.

Meghan: For me it’s “Daughter” and “Puncha Nazi.” I know for Alex, she likes “Baby’s Breath” a lot, and Sydney LOVES “Persephone” because she gets to scream.

Amps: What’s next after this run you’re on?

Nicole: We’re gonna be doing headlining dates for another month, then we have another tour announcement that we can’t share just yet. We are doing Shiprocked in the new year in January. We got invited back and we’re so excited! STONE SOUR is gonna be on it along with some other great bands.

Meghan: NOTHING MORE is gonna be there! I love the new songs, they’re fantastic. I love how they’re always progressing. The first time I saw them live was the best show I’ve ever seen, period. I didn’t know it was gonna be that good. I love their music, but live it’s another level. So just knowing that they’re gonna be on the boat with us I’ll be following them everywhere (laughs).

Amps: Outside of the band, what do you do to relax or unwind? Pick who answers first, or you can fight to the death, I don’t know (both laugh)!

Nicole: I don’t know. I used to draw a lot, but now that I’m doing this I feel like I’ve founbd a new art form. I feel like I’m boring at home. I just work, go to band practice, and sleep.

Meghan: I do Postmates, which is a food delivery thing. So I drive around in my car all day. Other than that the thing I love, and thought I would fall back on if the band didn’t work out is photography, like concert photography. I love going to shows anyway, so to shoot, edit photos, then send them to the bands would be pretty cool. I write poetry and stories, too. But nothing I can make money from (laughs)!

Nicole: It’s so funny because Sydney’s the sensible one, she’s like, “I want to be a forensic scientist.” and I’m over here like, “Uhhh, I like art” (laughs).

Meghan: And Alex is always reading books on how to be successful. She loves houses and cars, so she wants a big mansion and a BMW someday.

Amps: The four of you are stranded on an island. Who does what jobs to ensure survival?

Nicole: Okay, Sydney has to build everything for us because she’s the one that keeps calm and figures out everything. Something breaks and we’re like, “Sydney!!” and she goes, “Guys, don’t worry about it, I’ve done this three times before.”

Amps: So then who’s the first one on the island to freak out?

Meghan: Oh, me! I would cry the second we were stranded!

Nicole: Alex would be the first one to turn to cannibalism for sure. Easy, easy, first day. She wouldn’t even have to be hungry. She’d be like, “Fine, I’m just gonna eat you guys.” I don’t know, what would I do?

Meghan: You would kill fish for us (laughs)! Alex would be telling us to keep it together and I would just sit behind a palm tree and cry.

Amps: The majority of your fans are young people. And a lot of those fans are young girls. What would you hope they take away from Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

Nicole: You can do ANYTHING.

Meghan: That’s what Nicole always says anytime a little girl comes up to us, like at Warped Tour. She goes, “You can do ANYTHING.” It’s so nice to tell that to someone so young. People have been messaging us telling us how our music helps clear their heads. One of our fans has Asperger’s Syndrome and he told us our music helps him focus. And to know we can help motivate someone is pretty awesome.

Nicole: We’ve had people message us saying that we inspired them to pick up a guitar for the first time or maybe go back to it, or learn any instrument. That’s exactly why we started playing music. We saw people that influenced us and we wanted to play because of them.

So to have people say they want to play because of US is the craziest thing. It’s important for young girls to come to a show and see four girls up there rocking. It’s really important to me. The message of the album is about a strong and powerful girl.

Amps: What do you want to say to all the DOLL SKIN fans out there?

Nicole: Go buy our new album on iTunes, Amazon, anywhere. Manic Pixie Dream Girl is our baby and we put a lot into it, so we want everyone to hear it. Also, come see us out on the road. Buy merch from us, because we have such soft shirts (laughs).

I told you these girls were cool! DOLL SKIN went on to rock the shit out of One Centre Square that night, and spent time afterwards talking with fans, posing for pictures, and signing everything put in front of them. They also signed a CD for Mini-Amps, who loves them. It’s great to see people that young be that driven and have such a work ethic. The sky’s the limit for this band, and even that might not be high enough. Pick up a copy of Manic Pixie Dream Girl wherever you buy your music and be sure to get out and see DOLL SKIN live!

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