Photo Credit: Recording Academy: Grammy Awards
If you’re a woman in the music industry, you know that the phrase “women in the music industry” is thrown around a lot. Talent favors no gender, and female rockers have proven this to be true countless times. Yet most of the people we see shouting into microphones, strumming guitars, and banging drums in gritty concert photos are men. This is why I’m over the moon when I get the chance to chat with Meghan Herring, Nicole Rich, and Alex Snowden of Doll Skin, three of the amazing (and, unfortunately, few) women on Warped Tour.
Doll Skin is the only all-female band I’ve ever interviewed throughout my two years of music journalism, a fact that blows my mind. Doll Skin is also the only all-female band to play every show of Warped Tour this year, following a successful run on last year’s tour. The band members joke about wanting to dress up like the Powerpuff Girls for Halloween, and the concept makes sense. They’ve got colorful style (their awesome hair says it all), and they know how to pack the perfect punch with their punky tunes. Turn up their most recent album, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and you’ll feel like you’ve been teleported to a show in a crowded club as you jam out to tracks like “Road Killa” and “Puncha Nazi.”
When I meet Herring, Rich, and Snowden backstage at Warped Tour Columbia (lead vocalist Sydney Dolezal isn’t able to join us), it’s clear that I’m talking to great friends in the middle of a great journey. Soon, I’m caught up in their laid-back banter, and we’re all marveling at Merriweather Post Pavilion’s impressive backstage area—the high-tech fridge, the weird bouncy chairs hanging from the ceiling. Then we launch into a conversation that covers everything from Greek mythology to the challenges of being a young woman in the industry to the feminist value of Beauty and the Beast.
TYF: What have your favorite memories from this year’s Warped Tour been?
Nicole Rich: I think just all the new people we’ve met, honestly. All the people we get to say “hi” to.
Alex Snowden: All the new places, too.
Rich: Yeah, it’s been really cool.
Snowden: We’ve never been to Maryland.
TYF: Oh, really? Welcome!
Doll Skin: Thank you!
Snowden: We had never been to Canada. That was a super cool day.
Rich: Canada was definitely a highlight.
Meghan Herring: A highlight of today is that I took a really nice shower, and when I was done with the shower, I went to the amphitheater and saw Less Than Jake play.
Rich: Every day, there’s all these really small, wonderful events.
Herring: You have to take it day-to-day, or else you’ll go crazyyy!
TYF: How’s Canada? I’ve never been to Canada.
Snowden: Canada was gorgeous.
Rich: So beautiful! Everyone was so polite.
Snowden: The stereotype was true, but in the best way possible.
Rich: There was a man parking his van next to our RV, and it was gonna be too close, and I was like, “Hey, your van…” And he was like, “Oh, don’t worry about it!” And he kept going! He was like, “How’s your day going?” It was the last thing I would’ve expected. Someone in America would’ve been like, “Fuck you! I’m parking it here if I want to.” Everyone was nice.
TYF: Bucket list: Go to Canada.
TYF: You guys were on Warped Tour last year, too. How would you say that this year compares to last?
Snowden: It’s longer.
Herring: We’re way more prepared. I have hard cases for my drums. Yay!
Rich: This year, we got our shit together a lot faster than we did last year. It was only the last day on the tour last year that we felt like we finally had our shit together. This year, it felt like we came to Warped Tour with our shit together, which was nice. Honestly, this year’s been incredible. I didn’t expect the crowds we’ve had this year.
Snowden: Oh! That has blown my mind, just to see how many people sing along. I really had no gauge on that. At all. It’s crazy.
Rich: There’s been certain crowds where Sydney will start singing “Daughter” and it’s loud enough where she will step away from the microphone and people will start singing loud enough that you can hear it. The first time it happened, I was like, “I am going to cry on this stage right now.”
Snowden: It was crazy.
Herring: Sometimes I’ll think people will be singing, and then I’m like, “Hey, that’s the crowd; that’s not Sydney.”
TYF: That’s really cool. Who did you guys find yourselves hanging out with the most, this year and last year?
Rich: Last year, we hung out with Creeper a lot.
TYF: Oh my gosh; Creeper’s the sweetest.
Rich: They’re so fun. I love them.
Herring: They’re, like, our band soulmates.
Rich: They invited us to the UK to play some shows with them later this year.
TYF: That’s amazing. My phone died in the middle of their interview because of heat exhaustion, and I was like, “I’m so sorry, guys; this has never happened,” and then Will [Gould, lead vocalist of Creeper,] was like, “There’s a freezer inside!”, and he grabbed my phone and put it in the freezer.
Doll Skin: (Laughs)
Herring: They’re such good people.
Snowden: “Let’s put it in the freezer.” Oh my goodness.
TYF: Then he was like, “You want some nachos?” And he gave me some nachos.
Snowden: And you’re like, “Yeah, absolutely.”
Rich: They’re so nice. They’re so funny. They’re incredible.
Herring: This year, we’ve been hanging out with Sharptooth, As It Is…
TYF: Oh my gosh! I just interviewed Patty [Walters, lead vocalist of As It Is].
Rich: He’s so nice.
Herring: Aw! One of the most genuine, respectful guys on Warped Tour.
TYF: We talked about John Hughes and Studio Ghibli and stuff for, like, 30 minutes.
Herring: Really? Oh my God!
Herring: He’s so good.
Rich: As It Is is really incredible. Recently, we’ve been talking with the Chase Atlantic boys.
Herring: Chase Atlantic!
Rich: Such little sweethearts.
TYF: Has their set happened already?
Snowden: No. They play at, like, 6:00 today.
TYF: I’ll try to go see them.
Snowden: They are very worth it.
Rich: Very fun.
TYF: I like their song “Cassie.”
Snowden: We made them a very custom music video for that song.
Herring: We just followed an ant around.
Rich: We didn’t get much of a reply, but we were like, “Um, indie? And innovative?” Well, it was halfway between that and a straight-up meme.
TYF: (Laughs) Wait, what is this video?
Rich: None of them acknowledged it, so it’s a little embarrassing.
Snowden: It’s just the music to that song and us following an ant around really close-up.
Herring: We thought it’d be a good idea for a music video.
Rich: It didn’t get a whole lot of traction.
TYF: Oh my gosh. I can just picture an ant going up a hill with that saxophone part in the background…
Rich: Maybe we’ll let them know about it and maybe they’ll do a live performance with an ant.
Snowden: Just an ant onstage.
Rich: The video on a giant screen behind them as they play.
TYF: Yes. Get it on a jumbotron.
Rich: We’ve also been hanging out with Broadside, too. They’re just funny.
Herring: Oh, Broadside! They’re sweet.
Rich: There are lots of bands on our stage on our stage that we’re close with.
Herring: We love them!
TYF: Did you guys ever go to Warped Tour as fans?
Rich: Very hard.
TYF: What are the bands that made you go, “I’ve got to see them today”?
Rich: The Used. And then we played this summer with The Used, which was a mindfuck.
Herring: Yeah! The first half of Warped Tour, The Used was playing, and I love them! What else?
Rich: I remember I saw Imagine Dragons at Warped Tour, and they were playing to, like, maybe two rows of people at, like, a port-a-potty stage. And then two years later, they totally blew up. It was just funny that they were playing Warped Tour to, like, nobody.
Snowden: I went one year just to see the band Dead Sara, and they played to like, four people, and it was just me and my mom and Meghan and her guest. We were, like, the only people in the crowd watching them. I went just to see Dead Sara, and I’m almost positive we left immediately after we saw them.
Herring: At that same one, I saw Pierce the Veil, You Me at Six, Less Than Jake. And I just watched Less Than Jake! And they’re so good!
TYF: Full circle. Now let’s talk about your album, Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Your song “Shut Up (You Miss Me)” has a really cool music video.
TYF: I love Scott Pilgrim [vs. The World], so as soon as I saw it, I was like, “This is amazing.” How’d you guys come up with the idea [to base it on that film]?
Meghan: You know, it wasn’t our idea.
Doll Skin: (Laughs)
Herring: It was the guys who were filming our music video. They were like, “We want this to be very Scott Pilgrim-ish,” and we were like, “Abso-frickin’-lutely.”
Snowden: It was perfect. It wasn’t our idea, it wasn’t our creative input, but it worked so well.
Rich: One of my favorite music videos, honestly. It’s just fun. It’s my favorite.
Herring: Like, the camera direction and the sound effect things that they do and everything… Very Scott Pilgrim.
TYF: If you guys were to make a music video based on another movie, which one would it be?
Herring: (Large gasp) Kill Bill! (Laughs) I think that’d be amazing.
Rich: No. No.
Snowden: High School Musical.
Rich: Ratatouille! Shark Tales!
Snowden: I second Shark Tales.
Herring: Mean Girls!
TYF: If you guys were in Mean Girls, who would play who?
Rich: I’m Regina George.
Herring and Snowden: You’re Regina George.
Rich: Ultimate Regina George.
Herring: I would be Lindsay Lohan’s character.
Snowden: I would like to be the mom.
Rich: No, you’re Janis. Totally Janis.
Doll Skin: (Laughs)
Snowden: Who would Sydney be?
Rich: She’s Janis too. No, Sydney’s Janis’s friend. What’s his name?
Herring: Who’s the girl with the boobs that can tell the weather?
Doll Skin: Um…
Rich: Karen. Meghan’s Karen.
Herring: I’m Karen!
Snowden: I’m gonna break my back laughing so hard.
TYF: Amazing. You guys also have the song “Road Killa.” That was inspired by a real crime. Why’d you guys decide to write about that?
Herring: It was something we were talking about in the car on the way to recording our first full-length. We were talking about it with our manager David [Ellefson], and I just started writing, and I tied it together with The Shining, and the mentality of the guy who was performing the crime, I guess. I thought it would be something interesting to write about, so I did it.
Rich: Yeah. It happened about two years back in Arizona. There was this guy who was shooting people on the highway. It was just crazy. Like, every two days, there was someone who got shot out on the highway by this random guy.
TYF: Something like that happened around here, too, a while back.
Rich: It’s just crazy. It’s just such a weird crime to do.
Snowden: It happened a couple times. There was, like, a couple different individuals. It was very weird.
Rich: I don’t remember what his name was.
Herring: It was just a whack point in time.
Snowden: And we were like, throw a pun on that and call it “Road Killa.”
(Doll Skin repeats the name of the song several times, enjoying the sound)
TYF: You guys also have a song called “Puncha Nazi.” Have you guys been seeing activism alive in the punk scene? To what extent would you say it’s out there?
Rich: I feel like people are speaking up a lot more about it, and not being as complacent as before. I feel like even us, personally. This summer, we’ve grown a lot, and when something pisses us off…
Snowden: We speak up.
Rich: We speak up for sure. Like, somebody was like, “Oh, you guys are good for an all-girl band.”
Rich: And straight-up, we were just like, “Don’t you mean for a band?”
Snowden: This happened, like, three hours ago.
Rich: And we were like, “Maybe you should not phrase it like that, or just keep your mouth shut, or think of any other way to say it.” Like, yesterday, this guy… It happened a few times, when people just assumed that I wasn’t in a band, assumed that I was just a random girl backstage. And Patty from As It Is found out about it, and he said something onstage like, “I don’t wanna speak for them, but I feel like it’s important to use my voice”—to let people know that because we are small, teenage girls—well, I’m not a teenager anymore, but I’m a small girl—that people don’t take us as seriously. They just assume we’re not in a band; we’re here to hang out our something. So it’s really important that people are using their voices and platforms to speak up about it and let people know that it’s happening. I feel like so many people are like, “Yeah, there’s sexism in the music industry,” but maybe they don’t have an actual, concrete example of what happens, so it’s hard for people to relate to it or understand exactly what’s going on. It’s like, when they hear about some dude, some stagehand, being like, “Oh, this toilet is for stagehands, bands, and crew only,” and I’m like, “I’m literally in the band that’s playing”…
Snowden: “And I’ve literally been here all day, unloading gear.”
Herring: “You’ve been around me all day.”
Snowden: “Same with every dude, but you just didn’t realize.”
Rich: Like, if some really tall dude just came up and was going to the bathroom instead of me, you would’ve handed him the key instead of being like, “Are you playing this stage?” If he had enough tattoos and was wearing black, you wouldn’t question it.
Snowden: No, absolutely not.
Rich: And just because we are not that, and we are small, people just assume that we’re not supposed to be there.
TYF: It sucks.
Snowden: It’s a weird thing.
TYF: Very weird. I’ve had somebody literally laugh at me when I was like, “Hi, I have a photo pass; I’m supposed to be here.” And it was another woman, too.
Herring: That just makes me so uncomfortable.
TYF: Yeah! She was like, “Sure you have a photo pass!” And I was like, “Yeah; please open this envelope.” And she opened it and she was like, “Oh my gosh; I am so sorry.”
Rich: I feel like one of the worst things, too, is as we talk about it with more girls, everybody has a situation where it has happened to them—where somebody has second-guessed them because they are a girl. Which I honestly think is so fucking heartbreaking.
Snowden: It comes out very quickly. You start to tell a story, and someone is immediately like, “Oh yeah! Same! Ditto!”
Herring: Last night, we were all sharing stories, and it’s happened to every girl here.
Rich: It sucks, ‘cause it may seem really small—somebody being like, “Oh, you’re good for an all-girl band”—but it just happens so repetitively. It’s just nonstop, people second-guessing you. It’s really frustrating. It’s annoying.
TYF: It sucks, for sure.
Rich: But I feel like the attitude is finally shifting, and I feel like people are realizing that girls kick ass and are supposed to be backstage and onstage. So that’s at least cool—to see a very slow shift, for sure.
Snowden: We’re here to help that. Push back.
Herring: You’re the first person to catch that.
Snowden: Yeah. That’s really interesting…
Rich: We’ve never had somebody ask us about it.
Herring: Yeah. Yeah. We originally wanted the whole album to be flowers, but…
Rich: It was a lot harder than we thought!
Rich: We were like, “We’re gonna get them confused!”
Herring: Yeah. So many flowers.
Snowden: We didn’t wanna force names onto songs that had no relation just to stick with the flower theme. But a couple of them got through appropriately.
Rich: A few of them had different names, too, and they were changed to the current names that they are now. But that was the original theme, to have all the names as flowers.
Snowden: No one’s ever asked about that. That’s pretty cool.
TYF: Well, hey! And in “Baby’s Breath,” you talk about dreams. What are the weirdest dreams you guys have ever had?
Snowden: All I can think of is just gory.
Herring: Yeah, Alex has really gory dreams.
Snowden: I don’t often dream, and when I do, I usually just wake up feeling horrible. I hate dreams. They disrupt sleep. I don’t like ‘em.
Herring: When I was, like, six, I had a dream that I saw the Wiggles, except they were female.
Snowden: Where are the girl Wiggles?
Herring: Where are the female Wiggles?
Snowden: The Giggles!
Herring: That’s perfect.
TYF: You guys should make that your Halloween costume.
Snowden: Aw, that’s actually kind of cute. If we were the Giggles…
Herring: Aw, the Giggles! I like that.
TYF: It’d be pretty easy, too.
Rich: What about the Powerpuff Girls?
TYF: If you guys were the Powerpuff Girls, who would be the fourth?
Herring: I would be the lobster.
Rich: We always say the lobster with the heels.
Snowden: But my question is, would we assign Powerpuff Girls by attitude or by hair color? ‘Cause they don’t totally match up.
Rich: Oh, you’re right. Like, you’re the green one, not the blue one.
Snowden: Sydney might be more the blue one?
Rich: Sydney’s more the blue one.
Herring: If my memory serves me correctly, I think the name of the lobster is “Him.”
Snowden: Or was it “Her”? It was either “Her” or “Him.”
TYF: I think it’s “Him.”
Herring: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That would be a rad costume.
Rich: Meghan is Him.
Herring: I’m Him!
TYF: Nice. You guys also have a song called “Persephone.” If you were all Greek gods or goddesses, which ones would you be?
Rich: Can I Google this?
TYF: Yeah, go ahead.
Rich: Meghan would probably know the most.
Herring: (Laughs) Well, not necessarily. I’m thinking about Hercules, and I’m thinking about that one goddess in Hercules. Her name was Megara… It just makes sense.
Snowden: Meghan and Megara. She wasn’t even a goddess, though. She was just…
Rich and Snowden: “Just hanging out.” (Laugh)
Herring: She was, like, the first sassy Disney princess. She was the first one to be like, “I don’t need a man!”
Rich: I really don’t know a lot about the actual backstories of Greek mythology.
Snowden: I can’t actually come up with a lot of names. (Typing on phone) “List of Greek goddesses…” I know Aphrodite, Athena…
Rich: I want to be something associated with plants. That one’s mine. Bugs. I am the bug goddess.
Herring: I’m looking up “Greek god of plants.”
TYF: Well, there’s Gaea, who’s Mother Earth…
Herring: There’s “Dionysus, god of wine, vegetation, pleasure, and festivity.”
Rich: I’ll take it.
Herring: Gaea is the goddess of the Earth.
TYF: There’s also Daphne, who was turned into a tree, but that’s not quite the same…
Rich: I don’t know if that’s how I wanna go.
TYF: You could be Artemis, maybe?
Rich: Every time I think of Artemis, I think of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so I think I’m gonna go with Artemis. I’m Artemis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Snowden: Sometimes people name their small dogs Zeus, and I think that’s so funny.
Rich: I don’t know about that. There’s Athena. Isn’t she, like, sporty?
TYF: She’s the goddess of wisdom and justice, and she battles and stuff.
Rich: That’s kinda cool. I like her too. (Laughs) Hera?
TYF: Hera’s the queen.
Snowden: Goddess of the moon. Gimme that one.
Snowden: Really? Done. Cool. I like it.
Rich: What is the goddess of…
Herring: French fries?
Rich: The goddess of food.
Snowden: Goddess of food. Is there such a thing?
TYF: I feel like she’s food, ‘cause she’s the harvest.
Herring: Yeah. Anyway, I need to educate myself more on that.
Rich: I know, ‘cause it’s interesting.
Herring: I always thought it was cool, but then you forget.
Snowden: That’s what happens on Warped Tour.
Rich: You forget everything you ever learned, and then you forget some more.
TYF: Warning: if you go on Warped Tour, you will forget the Greek gods and goddesses.
Herring: Even if you’ve written a song about it! (Laughs)
TYF: Your album is called Manic Pixie Dream Girl. On that note, who are your favorite characters in movies or books who are definitely not Manic Pixie Dream Girls?
Snowden: “That are definitely not Manic Pixie Dream Girls.” Ooh.
Herring: This is something I just realized, actually, ‘cause I watched it recently. Belle from Beauty and the Beast is the first Disney Princess, I feel, who was “supposed” to be depicted as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but flipped that on its head. ‘Cause in the movie, she’s the outcast weird girl, and there’s a song about it in the beginning…
TYF: …And Gaston wants her to be the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but she won’t let that happen!
Rich and Snowden: (Gasp) Whoa!
TYF: I’ve actually never thought of it that way!
Rich: I’ve never seen Beauty and the Beast because the beginning scene scared me so much as a child. I’ve never watched it.
Snowden: I just very recently watched that. It’s funny you bring it up.
Herring: And more towards the end, Belle helps the Beast find himself, but then she’s like, “I’m leaving. Bye.” And then she leaves to go find her father! She’s like, “I don’t fuckin’ need you!”
TYF: She has her own objective!
Herring: Yeah! Which is why I think she’s the queen of anti-Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Because she’s smart, she’s strong, and she is a powerful woman and just doesn’t care what other people think.
Snowden: She don’t give a fuck. (Laughs) I don’t watch a lot of movies…
Rich: Colette from Ratatouille, who is the baddest bitch in the kitchen, okay?
Rich: She was cool. She was like, “Do you see any other girls in this kitchen?”, and the guy was like, “No,” and she was like, “How do you think I got here? By being the hardest working lady here!” (Laughs) That’s my final answer; lock it in. And she owns a motorcycle!
TYF: I feel like we need slogan t-shirts of these. Like, “Colette…”
Rich: “…Baddest bitch in the kitchen!” (Laughs)
Herring: “Baddest bitch in the kitchen!”
Snowden: “Belle: Baddest Bitch in the Castle.”
TYF: I will wrap this up by asking you guys about your involvement with Girls Behind the Rock Show…
TYF: …Which is super cool. You guys have been involved with the Roadie for a Day program; wanna elaborate on that? How has that been?
Snowden: Yes! We get a lady most mornings, and she will help out with anything from grabbing meals to getting drums, wrapping cables, getting guitars ready, everything. It’s really helpful to have that extra set of hands.
Rich: We just really wanted to give opportunities to girls that might not have the opportunity otherwise, because I feel like when we first started out, Otep took us out and gave us a chance that, honestly, no other dudes were willing to give us. And I think it’s important, as girls in the music industry, to try to lift up other girls and give them opportunities. Because girls can be working so hard and doing incredible things, but people just won’t give you a chance. For some reason, they’re like, “Eh, I’ll just go with this guy who has less experience, but is a guy.” I think it was important for us, especially on such an important tour, on its final run, to have a program that helps out girls. And now it’s something that [the girls] can put on their resume to show that they have experience, and people will take them more seriously. ‘Cause honestly, as a girl, you have to work ten times harder than guys around you, most of the time. It’s important to give girls experience and opportunities.
TYF: For sure. Finally, is there anything else that you guys wanna say to the fans and readers?
Snowden: Stay in touch! Social media: @dollskinband on pretty much anything. Look us up. Google us. You’ll find it.
Herring: If you wanna learn about aliens in Alaska, watch The Fourth Kind. It’s on Netflix.
Snowden: So yeah. Aliens in Alaska; follow us on social media!
Rich: Nothing is real; art is a lie.
Herring: Well, that’s sad.