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Doll Skin go from butchering Barbies to emoting like Alanis

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Runaway models: “The girls are like, ‘I have feelings too! Just, you know, not a lot of them.’”
  • Runaway models: “The girls are like, ‘I have feelings too! Just, you know, not a lot of them.’”
Hailed by the Phoenix New Times as one of the “10 Best Bands and Musicians in Phoenix Under the Age of 21,” Doll Skin are making a name for themselves as the latest in a lineage of teenage “girl groups” that includes The Runaways, The Donnas and early Go-Gos.

The points of comparison aren’t hard to find. First, there’s that whole age and gender thing, although that hasn’t stood in the way of the band covering Fugazi’s “The Waiting Room” during live shows. Then there’s the fact that all four bands were discovered and championed on the airwaves by the ageless Rodney Bingenheimer of “Rodney on the ROQ” fame.

Doll Skin have also released two albums and spent a huge amount of time on the road — both as Otep’s opening act and as part of the Warped Tour roster. And yes, they’re still under the age of 21.

“Our career has been filled with us playing with bands that are a lot heavier than us,” says Doll Skin’s Meghan Herring the morning after playing a Warped Tour date in Pomona, California.

“There’ll be punk bands and hard rock bands and metalcore bands, and we feel like we fit in because we’re kind of a combination of a lot of those. The hard rock stage has been perfect for us. We gained so many fans in just a matter of eight shows — well, nine shows now — it’s crazy what it’s done for us.”

It was back in 2013 when Herring first hooked up with frontwoman Sydney Dolezal, guitarist Alex Snowden and bassist Nicole Rich at the School of Rock in Flagstaff, Arizona. In addition to playing drums and singing backing vocals, she’s responsible for nearly all of the lyrics on the band’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl album, which was released this past June on Megadeth bassist David Ellefson’s Emp label.

While the band’s music places bratty pop-punk front and center, Herring’s lyrics on songs like “So Much Nothing” are darker and more introspective than you might expect. “I’m sitting here in catatonia, I don’t know what to do / Everything here’s so beautiful, my mind’s so ugly, but what’s new?”
Herring, as you may have guessed, is the sensitive one. “Yeah, absolutely, 100 percent, definitely,” she says with a laugh. “The girls are like, ‘I have feelings too! Just, you know, not a lot of them.’ And I’m like, ‘I have way too many of them, and I can’t control it.’ So yeah, I’m the one that cries the most. And then after I cry, I start writing.”

Herring is aware that this same behavior is shared by every sophomore poetry major who’s ever lived, as well as Alanis Morissette, whose tormented “Uninvited” is the lone cover on the group’s new album. Which raises the question of who’s more sensitive, her or Alanis?

“God, probably her,” concedes Herring. “She writes her own stuff, and I think that she’s probably like that, despite the fact that she’s as legendary as she is. I don’t know. I mean, I would love to meet her one day.”

Fortunately, Herring can take her own anxieties out on her drumkit, on which she’s as adept at classic rock as she is punk rock. “I’m really inspired by punk drummers like Erik Sandin from NOFX and David Sandström from Refused,” she says, “but I got trained in The Police and Led Zeppelin and The Who, which took a good year and a half. I made sure I knew my roots before I went out and found what I like.”

All of which could help Doll Skin stand the test of time in a world of ever-diminishing attention spans. The same goes for the band’s brash attitude; a live video of Dolezal’s confrontation with an audience heckler is pure Johnny Thunders. And then there’s the geeky sense of humor that finds its way into their “Shut Up (You Miss Me)” video — an unapologetic homage to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — as well as a band name that conjures up images of little kids tearing the hair and appendages off long-suffering Barbie dolls.

“We’ve actually had Barbie dolls onstage with their hair cut off and their arms and stuff dismembered,” says Herring, cheerfully. The name, she explains, was a last-minute decision before the band’s first gig that just kind of stuck. “We wanted it to be like something from a horror movie, I guess. Something kind of girly, but with a creepy vibe.”

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