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Dolls on Fire

Artists on Trial: Dolls on Fire

Dolls on Fire is one of the newest bands to hit the Kansas City music scene—a group of local music veterans with a penchant for melody and a collective ear for sound song structures. We talk to the foursome about what we can expect from its music, including its upcoming debut release Ladies and Gentlemen…

The Deli: Gun to your head, 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

Dolls on Fire: Zach: Vocally-driven, high-energy synth rocktastic explosion of dramatic merriment.
Rachel: Singy, synthy disco necktie rock out!
Mark: Buzzy, fuzzy, synth-rock diversity.
Michelle: A vocally-driven synth rocksplosion.

The Deli: Let’s talk about Ladies and Gentlemen… your upcoming debut LP. What can we expect?

DoF: Zach: Lots of sing-along hooks and dynamic rock n’ roll performance. It's a big, bursting rock record, yet still tastefully crafted and arranged.
Rachel: Sass. Lots of sass.
Mark: The only thing you can expect...is the unexpected. Ever.
Michelle: Stellar songwriting and unicorns.

The Deli: What does “supporting local music” mean to you?

DoF: Zach: Everyone will say "Go to shows. Buy merch. Yell loudly." Those are very true and appreciated, but in these technological times, I would also add social media support. Like and share statuses, retweet, actually follow a band on the Interwebs. We know nobody can afford to go to every show in the city on every night, but people can (more or less) freely navigate the web. The more people that know how much awesome stuff is going on artistically in this town right now, the better. It's the whole "they tell two friends, then they tell two friends, then they tell two friends" kind of thing. Community is more than just trying to impress the people that are already there listening. It is helping others find new people to listen. In turn, they will do the same for you.
Rachel: Screaming “WE LOVE *band name*!!!” during a quiet moment from right in front of the stage.
Mark: Show up, yell and scream, and be unafraid to go outside your musical comfort zone.
Michelle: Unicorns (note: Michelle has answered these questions before, so her answers will likely make no sense).

The Deli: Who are your favorite “local” musicians right now?

DoF: Zach: She's a Keeper, Maps for Travelers, Molly Picture Club, Tiny Horse, Thee Water MoccaSins, Radkey, Antennas Up, and seriously, so, so, so, so, so many more.
Rachel: My fellow Dolls, of course! Those guys are the bee’s patella.
Mark: Zacrachelle (as I will now call my bandmates), Kara Taylor (of Shudder), Julie Berndsen (of The Latenight Callers).
Michelle: Since I already answered this last time, I will just say that I get to work with my two favorite female vocalists in Kansas City, and that makes me feel cool.

The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

DoF: Zach: The Rentals, Nada Surf, The Neon Trees, They Might Be Giants, Lollipop Factory, the Avett Brothers, the Civil Wars, Ben Folds (and his Five).
Rachel: Aesop Rock, Utada Hikaru, Jem and the Holograms.
Mark: Les Claypool and Danny Carey.
Michelle: Due to recent concerts, I’m currently in a Regina Spektor and David Bazan phase. I won’t kill myself, don’t worry.

The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

DoF: Zach: They Might Be Giants, The Get Up Kids circa Yahoo Outloud tour, the Who circa Who's Next?, Queen (really any time for them).
Rachel: Jon Bush-era Anthrax, Morning Musume, and Bjork.
Mark: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Weather Report.
Michelle: One Direction! I actually don’t know what this band sounds like, but they sold out Sprint Center in minutes! That must mean they’re great.

The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
DoF: Zach: The studio. I love playing live, I really do, but I am a crafter. A refiner. A polisher. Put a coffee pot and a cot in the back corner of the control room and I'll see you in six months.
Rachel: Stage. It’s the only time I get to wear my hair in pigtails.
Mark: Contrary to "studio-owner" bias, I prefer stage lights and bandmates to hours of mixing and mastering.
Michelle: Does the studio have nice black or red leather couches? If so, studio. I really like to nap. The couches have to be black or red leather.

The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?

DoF: Zach: Pete Townshend—the work that man did with synthesizers is still just stupid impressive. John LennonPlastic Ono Band is probably the pinnacle of songwriting as far as I'm concerned. Michael Jacksonsay what you want about any of the non-music crap, that man had absolutely no holes in music repertoire. And John Linnell, for proving that even quirky, slightly goofy-looking white guys can be rock stars.
Rachel: Keyboard Cat, Maru, Lil’ BUB, and Hello Kitty because… cats.
Mark: Jaco Pastorius, Buddy Rich, Jimmy Page, Ella Fitzgerald—for unique, timeless, unquestioned talent.
Michelle: My last one was silly so this one will actually be serious—Beethoven, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dave Brubeck. All musicians that will transcend time.

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?

Twitter: @dolls_on_fire

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

DoF: Zach: You can always, always, always try harder. "Good enough" is neither good nor enough. Life is short, so get on with it.
Rachel: The turkey vulture’s main defense mechanism is to projectile vomit. So, always carry a poncho.
Mark: Always forgive, never forget. Every minute is precious—spend each one accordingly, as it is forever gone afterwards.
Michelle: More Ovaltine, please.
Dolls on Fire is:
Zach Hodson – lead vocals, guitar
Rachel Jaggard – lead vocals
Mark Johnson – drums/bass, vocals
Michelle Bacon – drums/bass
Kelly – background noises and things (Kelly could not be reached for comment)
Dolls on Fire will be releasing Ladies and Gentlemen… this Saturday at The Brick. The show kicks off with The Hillary Watts Riot at 10, followed by Dolls, then The Quivers. (Facebook event page) Sure to be damn good times for all.

--Terra Peal

Terra is a musician who has been around the Kansas City music scene for over 22 years. She is the singer and bassist for The Quivers and holds down the low end for Drew Black and Dirty Electric. She is also the official calendar girl for The Deli Kansas City. She's a lil pep, a lil spice, and a lil Ginger.

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On The Beat with Michelle Bacon

If you've been wanting to know a little bit about The Deli KC's very own editor-in-chief, now's your chance. Michelle Bacon shares with us her views on smiling, Phil Collins, and why she loves Kansas City's music scene so much. Oh, and playing drums. Catch the beat right here!

On The Beat is a weekly interview brought to you by drummer Sergio Moreno (of Hillary Watts Riot and Alacartoona), and features some of the many talented drummers in the Kansas City area.

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On The Beat with Michelle Bacon


Michelle Bacon is super rad. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because she’s my editor-in-chief. I’m saying it because it’s the truth and if you know her, then you know I’m not lying. This week I had the distinct pleasure of asking her a few questions, and I think she may have smiled…although, we’ll never know for sure because I interviewed her over e-mail.

The Deli: It appears that some have made a sport of capturing a photo of your elusive smile…

Michelle Bacon: There's a Facebook group called "I saw Michelle Bacon smile and no one believes me," started by a certain drummer who I won't call out, but I'll give you a hint: his name rhymes with Journey Moogan. Don't believe him. Ever since I was a kid, people would tell me I didn't smile enough. It turned me into a bitter and angree drummer, and then I got to hear later that I make the angriest drummer faces. So, in other words, no, I do not smile. Any so-called "proof" to the contrary is Photoshop. That is, unless I'm with my awesome 98-year-old grandma or a handful of other very special people.

The Deli: Well, thanks for setting the record straight. Tell us, how are things since the release of Deco Auto's EP and what’s next for the band?

Michelle: We played a bunch to support the EP release, which was a huge success. Thanks to Pat Tomek for recording us and for everyone who has been supporting us! Since then, we've taken a little break to enjoy our summers and I've been focused on other projects. We've got a couple shows coming up though, and we hope to hit the road when our schedules allow. We definitely want to go in the studio again, and have thrown around the idea of releasing a split 7-inch with a certain local band that will remain unnamed for now. I won't even tell you what their name rhymes with.

The Deli: So, how did the drums find you?

Michelle: Like any self-respecting Asian child, I played piano from when I was 4 until I was 12. Then I pretty much did nothing musical again until picking up the guitar in college. In maybe 2004, I decided that drums would be fun to try out (and hide behind so I wouldn't have to talk to anybody), so I bought a cheap crappy Pulse kit (it was awful). I got in my first band [on drums] in 2006, and ever since then it's become my passion, and my primary instrument.

The Deli: Deco Auto and Drew Black & Dirty Electric are very different bands. Is your drumming approach in each of them also different?

Michelle: Absolutely. In Deco, I try to keep a pretty tight, cohesive beat with no frills. Since we do the power pop trio thing, I stay within the structure of the song, but try to make my beats impactful and intense, Ringo style. With Dirty Electric, it's a totally different ballgame. Our sound is much heavier and much sexier, so it allows me to experiment a lot more with different styles. [Bassist] Terra Peal is doing these massive, sensual Queens of the Stone Age-type runs that really challenge me to lock in to her groove to drive a song home. Additionally, I hit harder, which makes me feel much older the day after a gig.

The Deli: Obligatory question: favorite drummers?

Michelle: Besides Phil Collins (laugh if you wish) and Stewart Copeland, one of the most melodic drummers ever, most of my favorites are your standard rock/jazz drummers that everyone loves. I was thinking recently about my favorite drummers in town though. There are several, but I love to watch the ones who play with a lot of passion and, of course, precision. Among them I think of Eric Melin (The Dead Girls), that Journey Moogan guy (see first question), Nan Turner (Schwervon!), Stephanie Williams (every band that I'm not in), Solomon Radke (Radkey), Amy Farrand, Lennon Bone (Ha Ha Tonka), Go-Go Ray... I could go on all day.

The Deli: You also play bass with Dolls on Fire? Why are you and so many drummers also bass players? What's going on?

Michelle: My theory is that we're all really greedy. I should note that I share drumming and bass duties with Mark Johnson in Dolls on Fire, so I like to think I'm extra greedy. As I mentioned earlier, I played guitar in the past and though I might be wrong, I always thought I had a good sense of rhythm. So since I already had the guitar foundation and somewhat know where to place rhythms in a song, I figured I'd try my hand at it. I'm probably mediocre... but I do have an awesome bass stance, which is really all that matters.

The Deli: You're plenty busy making music and yet you somehow have the time and energy to be one of the most fervent supporters of the KC scene. Why are you so passionate about this scene? 

Michelle: There is just so much rich musical talent in and around this city. What's more, I feel like a lot of the musicians support each another. There's some genuinely great people in town that I'm really blessed to have gotten to know as friends and collaborators. When I was asked by Midwest Music Foundation to start The Deli, I was thrilled that I'd get the chance to promote as many local artists as I could as well as find out about other talent I didn't know was out here. Though it's a small contribution, I really want to do my part in continuing to make Kansas City more of an inclusive and significant musical community. Bands should be supporting each other, not competing with one another.

Also, I want more people to know about what's going on in their town. It might sound cliché, but certain songs can seep right into your soul or make you shiver with how amazing they are. And you know what? There are local bands that move me like that. So, if you really love music, why not see what's going on in your backyard? Shell out under 10 bucks and go to a gig. If you like the band, buy their record. Wear their t-shirt. Tell your friends about them. Shake their hands and let them know you appreciate what they're doing. A little goes a long way.

You wanna have your face melted? Then go out and see Michelle rock out with Drew Black and Dirty Electric this Saturday, August 18 at Davey’s with The Electric Lungs and Schwervon! And then catch her again, Saturday, September 1 with Deco Auto at Club 906, sharing the bill with The 1%, Molly Picture Club and The Hillary Watts Riot. Michelle will be the one not smiling. 

-Sergio Moreno

Sergio is a drummer drone for The Hillary Watts Riot and a contraption set buffoon with Alacartoona. He wishes he could get paid to practice meditation, do yoga, and drink white tea all day long. But in the meantime he earns his keep making greeting cards in Spanish.

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Michelle Bacon

Photo by Todd Zimmer

Deco Auto







Kill Your TV local music compilation



A new KC music compilation has been released by Kill Your TV, a new local music and art blog. Features artists including The ACBs, Deco Auto, Molly Picture Club, Dolls on Fire, and Vitae and the Pale Horse. Check it out here!


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