Inspired by bands like the Ramones, Pixies, and Green Day that combine the energy of punk with the bubblegum hooks of pop, the Dollyrots started as a scrappy trio aligned with Lookout, and their 2014 debut Eat Your Heart Out firmly places them in the Muffs camp of loud noise with sweet melody. The band slimmed down to a duo of bassist/vocalist Kelly Ogden and guitarist Luis Cabezas, and shifted to a streamlined, more mainstream brand of punk-pop that landed them in commercials and TV shows. Their sunny, hooky songs are easy to digest and albums like 2010's A Little Messed Up and 2017's Whiplash Splash have won them a devoted fan base. Along with raising a family, the duo continue to tour frequently and keep the punk-pop flame alive.
The group started when Ogden and Cabezas were students at the New College of Florida in the late '90s. Initially named No Chef, the line-up included bassist/lead vocalist Josh Harrold and drummer Mike Benbow; the band was something of a lark until Ogden and Cabezas decided to make it a full-time concern. Harrold left the band at this point and Ogden took over vocal chores. Benbow was the next to depart and he was replaced by Frank Beasley. This was the trio that took the name the Dollyrots and left Florida in 2001 in search of a new home. After a long road trip, they settled in Los Angeles and began playing shows as soon as they got settled. After replacing Beasley with Josh Valenti, the trio recorded their first EP, Feed Me Pet Me, and released it themselves in 2003. The band met producer John Fields not long after and went into the studio with him to record their debut album, Eat Your Heart Out. Initially self-released, the record was picked up by Panic Button, a label housed under the Lookout umbrella. By the time it was released in July of 2004, Valenti had left the group and was replaced by Amy Wood. They spent most of the next two years on the road, including a stint on the Warped Tour. In between dates they started working on their second album but were derailed when Lookout went out of business. Luckily, they had a fan in Joan Jett, who was so taken by the Dollyrots that she offered them a spot on her Blackheart label roster. Produced by Jacques Wait and Fields, the band's second album, Because I'm Awesome, was issued on Blackheart in March of 2007. They toured incessantly to promote it and popped up all over the place, recording a version of Jett's song "Bad Reputation" for the soundtrack to the film Endless Bummer, playing themselves on the TV series Greek and doing a commercial for the Kohl's department store.
Their next album was recorded in 2009, with Cabezas taking over some production duties for the first time. A Little Messed Up was released in 2010 and saw the band folding more pop elements into their sound and working with outside songwriters too. The Dollyrots left Blackheart after that release and their next record was an EP on their own Arrested Youth label. Sticking with self-releasing their work, the group turned to crowd-funding site Kickstarter for support, launching a wildly successful campaign that yielded the funds needed to record 2012's The Dollyrots. Working again with Fields, the album featured Ogden and Cabezas firmly in charge for the first time in their career as they played all the instruments (save for a few parts done by Fields) and had final say over all facets of the process. They hit the road after the record's release and only stopped when Ogden became pregnant. That didn't stop them from making a record though, and 2014's, Barefoot and Pregnant was recorded during Ogden's pregnancy. The album fared well critically and reached number seven on Billboard's Heatseekers chart.
The all-acoustic Love Songs, Werewolves, and Zombies was released digitally in 2013 to the band's PledgeMusic supporters, and received a public release the following year. The Dollyrots continued to successfully fund their projects through PledgeMusic and in 2016, they released their first concert album, the ambitious, double-disc/DVD set Family Vacation: Live in Los Angeles. That same year also saw the release of the three-song EP Mama's Gonna Knock You Out. The end of the year saw them working on two new projects; another kid and their next album. The couple's baby girl was born in November and the John Fields-produced Whiplash Splash was released in early 2017. The band continued touring — with drummer Rikki Styxx, who had been with them since 2014 — and raising a family before hitting the studio again. They released a single, "Get Radical," on their new label home of Wicked Cool Records, and followed it in 2019 with their eighth studio album Daydream Explosion. ~ Katherine Fulton & Timothy Monger