One-Eyed Doll are one of those bands that are always on tour. I’m almost certain they never stop or take a break. So needless to say finding the time to sit down with one half of the duo, Kimberly (founder, vocals, guitar), was hard work that involved many back and forth emails and tweets, but eventually we got there! With Monster (ReMonstered) out for the world to enjoy, Kimberly took some time – was either this or sift through the 11,000 unread emails waiting for her – to chat about the re-release of the iconic album, their work with Artix Entertainment and AdventureQuest, life as a two person band, Kimberly’s personal influences, and dreams of playing in Australia.
I kept seeing tweets and Facebook posts about you supporting Otep on their Seduce and Destroy Tour in the US last year, so eventually I thought I should have a listen – a decision I do not regret! Anyway, after a lot of listening, I did some research about the band and I noticed that a lot of people know you from AdventureQuest. I’m not familiar with the game to be honest, or really your involvement with it. Could you explain how you came to be quite synonymous with the RPG?
We met some folks from Artix Entertainment at a show we played at DragonCon one year. They just happened to be in the audience, luckily for us! They told us that they had a game and wanted to involve us in it. We were stoked after checking out their great work! They basically made us characters in the game and held a big online event to introduce us to their players. It was AWESOME. We wrote the song, “Battle On” as a thank-you gift for the opportunity they gave us, and they made it their official theme song. Woo! Since then, we’ve done lots of fun collaborations together. We’re now great friends, and I adore and admire them all to bits. Adam (also known as Artix) is seriously one of the kindest, most genuine people ever to exist, in addition to being a genius.
Do you find being a two-person band puts limitations on you, or do you think it provides more advantages than having 4 or 5 band members?
Sometimes we’re not taken seriously by idiots because of the unconventional lineup. The positive result is that we have fewer idiots to deal with.
Fewer idiots to deal with seems like a massive bonus to me! You recently re-recorded Monster with producer Sylvia Massy. How did the opportunity arise, and what was the experience like?
All of the drums on Monster were redone, and most of the other music was remixed, so it’s kind of a blend. We were actually there to record a whole new album that’s not even out yet. It sounds killer, by the way! Sylvia found out about us somehow and contacted us to see if we wanted to work with her on an album. Of course, we dropped everything to take her up on it. She’s a sparkly angel being of some kind. We love her so much and are forever grateful for the opportunity to make music with her and her great engineers. It was a whole new experience for me to work with anyone other than Jason, and I feel like I got a lot out of it. Sylvia is a legend.
That’s awesome! It must feel amazing to be approached by someone like that. Knowing they actually want to work with you. You also released a music video for Be My Friend, which looks like it was super fun to make. And I have to ask, have you noticed anyone at live shows doing the dance that’s seen at 2:20 in the video?
Ahh, Be My Friend. Yeah, I have, actually! Fans crack me up all the time. I never know what kind of adorable thing they’re going to bust into. I seriously have to stop and laugh sometimes, right in the middle of our set!
That’s great! Always fun to see fans and the band having genuine fun at a gig. From what I’ve seen you guys are pretty much always on tour, but you have a new record ready to release. When do you get the time to write and record?
Man, I don’t know. Writing is just a part of my life, and I don’t have a set way to do it. It comes out when it comes out. We’ve recorded in some weird situations, even on tour in random people’s houses and stuff. Jason produces all of our music, aside from the things we’ve done with Sylvia. He’s really good at making any situation work. It’s actually magical to see what he can pull off!! His ingenuity as a producer has become a part of our sound, I think.
Given the opportunity would you ever do something completely different, like release string quartet versions of songs? For the record, I think a string quartet Cinderblock would be amazing.
I like the way you think! 🙂 We absolutely love doing that kind of thing! There’s actually a way that fans can get us to do remixes in various styles. It’s a super fan package that they can get on our music site. We’ve done several fan-inspired remixes now, including Pretty Song in Reggae Style and Battle On in Slayer style. It’s so fun!!! Here’s the link, if you want to check those out: http://music.oneeyeddoll.com/album/remixes
Oh, I never noticed the remixes on your site. Will definitely check those out, thanks! One of the first things I noticed about your music is that it’s a little bi-polar. One song can seem quite manic, which will jump straight to a rather morose track. What’s the intention to having such stark variations all on a single album?
There’s no intention behind it. I guess that’s just what feels natural for me. Not sure what that means, haha.
Mmmm…not sure either, but hey at least great music is created. Speaking of overly happy, manic songs, I’ve been searching for the story behind Ponies for a while, but can’t find anything about it. It’s up there as being one of the strangest songs I’ve heard, but I can’t help but love it. Can you explain the background of the track?
My friend Adam from Artix Entertainment (the one who created AdventureQuest Worlds) asked me to come up with a song for his new game, “Pony vs. Pony”. Play the game, and you’ll understand, haha.. It’s just mind-blowingly saccharin sweet. I wrote the lyrics while staying at his house/castle on tour. The first draft was actually a bit morbid, about demon ponies with glowing red eyes who control my mind and so on.. so I wrote a second G-rated version. The night that we recorded the song, Jason and I visited a small town children’s carnival and were inspired by this nightmarish detuned carousel and the smell of cotton candy. It’s actually one of our favorite recordings. Adam has been such an inspiring and fun person to know. He’s definitely a muse. Ponies, Battle On and Sally wouldn’t have been written without him!
Therein lies my problem. I need to go play these games to better understand! I read that your influences for becoming a musician stem from a traumatic experience just after you graduated from high school. How did it shape the musician you became? You also spent some time teaching in China, what was that like? Did that have any influence upon going into music?
I started writing poetry as a kid. It was just how I dealt with the things that I felt powerless about and couldn’t talk about. I had books and books and books full of secret poems and drawings. I would just cry and write and bleed for hours. I really didn’t know what else to do to keep from going crazy. When I was a teen, I completely lost it over the death of a very dear friend and tried to kill myself. I was hospitalized for some time. My first song happened there, in the hospital. I think it’s because I wasn’t allowed to write, thinking back. Patients there weren’t allowed to use sharp objects like pencils and paper, or even eat with forks. I have a hazy memory of eventually being allowed to use a crayon. I honestly couldn’t tell you if that was real or a dream, though. Anyway, maybe not being able to write that poem down caused my mind to create a melody that would help me retain it. I don’t know. That song is called, “Jeremie”. After I got out and was able to write again, I wrote, “Committed” onto a park bench.
China did indeed have a HUGE direct impact on my decision to perform music. I don’t even know where I would begin with that. It’s a really long story!! But yes, big influence. I’m really grateful for that.
They do that say all great art is born from suffering, though I’m sorry you had to go through that and I’m glad you made it through.
If someone approached you, having never heard you before, and asked to listen to one song to get the best representation of the band. What would you tell them to listen to?
Hmm.. Maybe Committed? I’m not sure. What do you think?
I’d probably say Committed too. That’s the song I tell people to listen to when I tell them about One-Eyed Doll. Either that or I show them Plumes of Death or Break.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Talking to you, of course. 😉
Awww shucks! Now for the question I REALLY want to know the answer to, what are the chances that you’d come play some shows in Australia?
It would be a DREAM. Ahh, someone book us a tour in Australia, please! We played a show in New Zealand once. That’s the nearest I’ve ever been to your gorgeous country!
Maybe some booking agents will read this and decide to book you. *crosses fingers*
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ponies and ponies and ponies and ponies and..
Haha, thanks for the chat, I really appreciate it.