In this day and age, you can easily write, record and release music when members live on different continents. Chris Damien Doll (Norway) and Sandy Hazard (Canada) have joined forces in order to write some sleazy hard rock’n’roll songs and give birth to DOLL HAZARD. They answered a few questions…
One member in Norway, and the other one in Canada, how did you manage to make this album? How much time did it take?
Chris: It really didn’t take much longer than making any other album. The technology is here and it’s easy to send files back and forth. We’ve been toying with the idea of doing something together forever, but technology hasn’t really been there before. We started talking seriously about it maybe 2 years ago and wrote all the songs in 2 months in the spring of 2016.
Sandy: Technology made it really easy for collaboration. There were times either Chris or I had an idea for a guitar riff overlay or vocal melody. We’d just record it and dump it on the cloud drive and say, hey man…when you wake up, I added a cool riff to that new song you sent me. Everything was so instantaneous due to technology. It really kept the creativity flowing without disruptions.
Did you have any precise idea about the musical direction/image before starting to work on the songs?
Chris: That’s what we started discussing first. We both wanted to make a sleazy rock’n’roll album, rather than any of the other styles of music we have been associated with in the past, but we didn’t want it to be too close to our main bands either. It took awhile for me to work out how to do that, but once the musical direction was there, it all seemed to flow really quickly. The image was never discussed, that kinda goes with the territory with us.
Sandy: I kind of thought with our collaborative influences over the past few decades that we’d come together to create a cool sound. It would be a given that our current bands would seep into the fabric of the record, but they are more like a hybrid with additional influences. We knew we wanted it to be down and dirty and in your face which I think we exceeded in spades.
How did you decide on who was going to sing this or that song?
Chris: We decided we’d roughly write half the album each and that we’d both sing lead vocals, so for the most part, we ended up singing the parts we wrote the lyrics for. As a lot of things with this process it happened organically and wasn’t really discussed. We have our own way of singing and writing and it just felt natural that the one who wrote the words would also sing them.
Sandy: Ya’, I think it was natural to sing whatever you brought to the table. Sometimes it’s hard getting the vibe across as to how you want something sung. You know how it should sound in your head, but getting that across to another person can be a challenge. We really didn’t discuss that much from what I recall. I thought it would be cool to share lead vocals on at least one song “Transatlantic Meltdown” as we thought it would cool to have that in there. Chris wrote the lyrics for the second verse after I told him what the song’s vibe/direction was about. I think the only other tune was the opening track Cat’s Got Your Tongue. Chris had music for it and asked if I wanted a go at the lyrics/melody. He really liked what I came up with and it was kind of a given that I’d sing that tune.
You both have your own bands, SUiCiDE BOMBERS and DIRTBAG REPUBLIC, do you feel that some of these DOLL HAZARD songs could have been written or played by your respective bands too?
Chris: Some maybe, but most not. There are so many projects and supergroups with all the talent in the world, who fall flat on their faces because they save all their worthwhile ideas for their main bands. We knew that if we were to write a great album, we had to focus completely on that for the time it took to write it, and only bring our a-game, and that’s what we did. With that being said, there aren’t many of these songs that would have ended up sounding like they do on the record if we didn’t both work on them.
Sandy: I think maybe Rock n Roll Prostitute and You’re in my Head could be on a Dirtbag Republic record, but honestly Chris and I contributed a lot of additional ideas to each other’s songs. He came up with lots of guitar melodies in my tunes and I contributed some guitar melodies and vocal harmonies for his tunes. He got me to dial back my drumming to make it more stock and straight forward and I pushed Chris to do more guitar work and vocal harmonies. He’s pretty bare bones and I’m more big production wise. Valentine Cards would have had way more harmonies if I had gotten my way….but Chris met me halfway. Same goes for some ideas I added to his songs where Chris was unsure. For instance the vocal overlay at the end of Sci-Fi Child was an off the cuff thing I did, but I thought it added a lot of power to close out the song. Chris wasn’t sure about that at first, then he came to like it…I think, or just gave in….ha ha ha. I got kind of stuck finishing Walk on Water and Chris came up with this killer lead guitar break that fit just perfectly and just really kicked it into another gear.
Do you have any live projects? Or will it stay a record-only band?
Sandy: Highly doubtful, maybe if we lived closer, but being 4385 miles apart kind of puts the kibosh on anything like live shows. Chris and I are also both working on new stuff for Suicide Bombers and Dirtbag Republic, so that’ll be next on the agenda. If somebody offered us a bunch of cash to put something together, I wouldn’t rule it out…but given the economy in music these days it’s highly unlikely.
Since 10 songs is the perfect format for a vinyl record, do you have any plan on releasing a vinyl version?
Chris: We’d love to, but we’d have to get a deal for that. There’s no way we can carry the cost ourselves unfortunately.
Sandy: We spared no expense in making this a killer album, so if any record companies want to do a vinyl release, get in touch with us at http://www.dollhazard.com We will promote the shit out of it. I would love to see this get a vinyl release.
Chris: I think we both really like the whole album and I can say for myself that it changes all the time. I really like Fire & Gasoline which I think is just a great kick in the face tune. No Valentine Cards is another fave, with a great melody, lyrics and arrangement. Cats Got Your Tongue is way cool, as is Rock N Roll Prostitute. Hell, I could go on… I like all of them.
Sandy: The album as a whole i’m so proud of. I love them all, but I’d say Fire & Gasoline for it’s non stop onslaught…Rock n’ Roll Prostitute for it’s message of despair for musicians…ha ha…Doghouse for it coming out so killer when at times it was frustrating for me personally and Cat’s for a great collaborative effort to kick the album off like a firecracker….Full disclosure, this may change week to week…ha ha
If I’m not wrong, you guys met along time ago on Glitzinet, right? Can you tell about it to people who have never heard of Glitzine and Glitzinet? Do you think that a place like this could still work nowadays in this Facebook groups era?
Chris: Glitzine was a web-site dedicated to Glam. It had a very strong following in the 90’s when glam was underground. There were shitloads of cool bands who pushed the envelope and did various forms of Glam Punk and Bubblegum, as well as more traditional Hard Rock based glam bands. The site had one of these old fashioned forums where people hung out and discussed music, a lot of the bands hung out there too. It was a great place and one of the only places you got information and news about the scene during the grunge era. I think Sandy and I struck up a friendship there while he was in the Mcrackins and I was in Trashcan Darlings and we have stayed in touch ever since.
I’m not sure if these type of forums are popular anymore. Glitzine kinda died with the whole glam punk scene and it seems most other old fashioned forums are gone too. At the moment it’s Facebook, who knows what will be next.
Sandy: Ya’ that’s right. I think I found Glitz in the early 2000’s and would send Mcrackins albums for them to review. Chris posted something about his band at the time Trashcan Darlings and I was intrigued so I looked them up on YouTube and found the song “Peggy Sue Is Dead” and “I Just Wanna Die (On A Chemical High)” and fell in the love with the band instantly. I think we struck up a conversation on there and when I posted some tunes from the new Mcrackins album, Chris said he really dug the stuff. We gradually became great friends over the years…sharing war stories, sending each other demos that we are working on and pooling our resources together to help each other out doing promo and magazine send outs etc. Cool thing about Glitz was I got to meet 4 different people on there when I toured Europe in 2007, which was awesome.
Some strong glam punk influences can be heard on your album. Unfortunately, the style has been dying out these last years? Any recent bands you like in that style?
Chris: When I think of Glamour Punk, I think of Ramones-type songs, Mickey Mouse voices and extreme over the top image. Great bands like Heart Throb Mob, Queeny Blast Pop, The Glamour Punks and I can’t say I have discovered any new bands, as brilliant as those, playing that kinda music lately. The last CD I bought in that style was probably the Glamour Punks CD released a few years ago. But I do listen to sleazy rock’n’roll bands with a kinda unwashed, almost punk edge. The LoveShocks from Germany is a good new band I’d recommend.
Sandy: I get really annoyed when people say there are no good new bands these days and are stuck in the 80’s/90’s and listen to same old thing ad nauseum. I have always been a fan first of music and that hasn’t stopped. I like bands with a bit more grit to them, but they need to have great melody to keep me interested. Some great sleazy bands/artists I’ve come across in the past few years are Wyldlife – Grittier version of the Biters and just killer song writers, Hunters – Fantastic new band from Finland who have a dirty Hanoï Rocks vibe. Double Crush Syndrome – Killer German band who are like a cross between early Mötley and Sweet. Hard Luck Street – Strange Gentle’s (Trashcan Darlings) new band…heavy Hanoï vibe with great catchy songs. Dr.Boogie, The Tip and WATTS all three are down and dirty Stonesy/Aerosmith groove styled bands with very hooky tunes.
There’s also some obvious 80s Sunset Strip influences as well in some songs. It seems like the style is only connected to nostalgia or parody in 2017. Do you want to show that these influences can still work without sounding too cliché or too dated?
Chris: We are just continuing the great tradition of Rock’n’Roll. Building on our influences and infusing them with our other influences and ideas. It’s always been from the heart for both of us. No nostalgia or parody in sight. To me it does seem a little like that whole parody thing has passed already. Most of the bands I know that are currently playing Hard Rock, seem to mean what they’re doing and don’t hide behind any ironic distance. I like that.
Sandy: I fucking hate those parody bands. They are basically a one trick pony, but people do like them so I guess there is a market for that thing. I honestly cringe when I see a great new band like Wayward Sons having to open for Steel Panther. I think when you’ve been around as long as Chris and I, those influences are bound to show up in your songs. A songwriter can make that genre sound dated and stale, especially if you write shit cliche lyrics. If I hear something that has shit lyrics I shut it down no matter how great the music is. It tells me the writer has no ideas of their own and took the easy way out. I think I lasted 4 songs when I heard that new Steven Pearcy album and shut it down due to the crap lyrics.
I think we have shown you can insert your influences tastefully into a modern day song and make it sound relevant and not cliche.
The intro/verse guitar riff in “Walk On Water” reminds me a lot of ZODIAC MINDWARP. You probably remember that the band was often laughed at back in the days, but their mix of hard rock/glam/punk/new wave was kinda ahead of its time when you think about it now. They were a bit in the same position as SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK in the media/popular opinion, and I know you’re a big fan, Chris! Do you think that these opened some doors and “history proved them right”?
Chris: I should have known that a Love Missile F1-11 Martin Degville shirt on the album cover wouldn’t get past you, Laur hahaha. I’m a big fan of both bands, but not sure I’d compare them. The similarities were that they both created this whole world of mystique around them. Kinda like you stepped into a different universe. As groups like Kiss had done before them. Zodiac Mindwarp, to me, was pretty much a straight ahead rock’n’roll band who got immense mileage out of Judas Priest’s Living After Midnight riff, so there weren’t really any doors to be opened there, although Tattooed Beat Messiah is a record everyone should own at least one copy of. Sigue Sigue Sputnik took it all a lot further and they were probably first, or immediately after PIL, with a lot of the stuff we see stars do today. Like branching out their brand to other products. Their image was also something that hadn’t been done before and their brand of Electronic Rock’n’Roll hasn’t been done before, or since, either and they were the first to do what U2 copied with their ZooTV tour much later. They are one of my all time favorite bands and I know I learnt a lot from Tony James. He’s such an inspiration. Lady Gaga’s been watching Martin Degville closely…. Who knows? Great band, buy Flaunt It!
Sandy: Sigue Sigue Sputnik was one of those unheard risk albums I bought when it first came out in the 80s. I should have never taken that risk. Chris has tried to get me to revisit them and I attempted with the bravest of face…but I could not get into them at all. They still sound like a bad 50’s band with a drunk guy at the bar inserting random samples into their songs. They looked really cool, but the music did not match at all what I was expecting/hoping. I’m sorry Chris…ha ha ha
Do you have any material that you haven’t used for the album? Can you imagine working on new songs?
Chris: We have one song we didn’t use, but that’s about it. The rest all turned out like we wanted and we knew we had to use them. It’s a little early to think about new songs. At the moment we are busy promoting this album, while working on songs for our main bands next records. I also have the new Ronny Pøbel album and tour starting this month, so there’s more than enough to keep us occupied, but never say never.
Sandy: Ya’ I think that was one of the first songs I sent you “Lianna”, but it didn’t make it as I think it was a bit too pop punk. I may do that down the line as I loved what Chris came up with vocally and added to the music. My current plans are tweaking a pool of new Dirtbag Republic songs for an album in 2019. My goal this year is to hopefully do a few shows and focus on getting the live thing happening. Chris and I are going to attempt to do some videos for Doll Hazard record and hope to get those rolling soon. As Chris said, we are pretty busy with our other bands, but something may happen down the road…and my door is always left a jar for Mr.Doll.
Thanks very much for reviewing our album Laur and helping to support indie Rock n’ Roll!
You can get our album here – http://www.dollhazard.com/buy-cd.html
Join our Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/dollhazardband