Ask The Artist: Barb Wire Dolls

Ask The Artist
December 22, 2017

This month On Air with NRG joins forces with Barb Wire Dolls. Personally signed by Lemmy Kilmister himself, the rock group embodies the spirit of rock n’ roll as much as they do the sound. Described often in terms of hard rock, punk, and even grunge, Barb Wire Dolls care more about performance, energy, and bravado than they do labels, categories, and genres. The group hails from an artist commune in Greece and took root in LA after their breakout show was cancelled. Clawing their way to the top of the LA rock scene by force, Barb Wire Dolls are a presence in modern rock music that cannot be ignored. The group comprises of Isis Queen (lead vocals), Pyn Doll (lead guitar), Xtine (rhythm guitar), Iriel Blaque (bass), and Krash Doll (drums). Now, the band has several highlight residencies under their belt that let them claim the Los Angeles rock scene as their home away from home. Catch the exclusive interview with the band recalling their incredible DIY international journey below.

How was your experience coming to LA from Greece as a band?

PD: Well the band started in this artist commune called Ikarus up in the mountains. And there was no Roxy or punk scene at the time. Especially up in Crete. But we ended getting discovered by Rodney Bingenheimer from KROQ who found us on Myspace, believe it or not. He invited us to America, saying that we could come play a KROQ show. So we sold everything we owned, everything we could, and came to America. And as soon as we get here we meet him up that night and he tells us the show is cancelled.

All: We were so bummed.

IQ: Yeah we were so bummed and we didn’t have anything to do. We had to sell literally everything we owned to come to LA and no one from Greece had ever played in LA, so we were essentially making history. We sold everything we could, because we couldn’t say no to this opportunity. But we ended up having to find something to do because we couldn’t just sit around. And luckily we had been staying with a fan who had seen us back in Crete. He told us whenever you guys want you can stay with me. So we started contacting venues before we could play our first show. But it was very difficult because no one wanted to book us. We had no fanbase here. No one knew us.

PD: We had no fanbase anywhere. We had a little bit in Greece and that’s about it, 200 people.

IQ: So then when the Roxy Theatre contacted us back and said we could play a 10 o’clock slot on a Saturday that was like, huge, for us because first of all that’s the Roxy Theatre. And we finally got a gig after contacting so many venues and getting so many no’s.

PD: And the story with that was we actually had to pay up a lot of money, about 1200 dollars, to go and play this show. So our plan was to play the gig and then go back to Greece. Because we could at least say we played America and we couldn’t wait until February to play this KROQ show. And we thought, well what did they do back in the day? So we printed up about 10,000 small flyers and she passed them out. For three weeks.

PD & IQ: 10,000 flyers, in three weeks. Three weeks!

PD: Three weeks every night she was passing out flyers in front of the Roxy saying come check out my band. And the morale of the story is that she passed out 10,000 flyers and we sold out the Roxy in our very first show in America. And we made history as the first rock band from Greece to play out here in America. So I think anyone could really, probably do it if they were really willing to do something that drastic. And that’s that—the rest is history. Over 900 shows, 25 countries, and just sold out the Whisky our last show which was awesome.

Is Whisky a Go Go one of your favorite places to perform? Where else are your favorite places to perform?

PD: Yeah, the Whisky is awesome. It’s a really good place with a really big stage and a great PA. And then, I love playing London, Paris, lots of towns in Germany. The crowds are very alive in Europe.

IQ: It was a big thing for us to play the Whisky and sell it out because it’s the most legendary venue of its kind that still exists in this day and age. Which is a huge thing for them to be alive in this day and age. And you know everyone from Led Zeppelin to the Rolling Stones to Black Sabbath to the Ramones played there…

(The Doors, Jimi Hendrix…)

(Was it the Ramones that did a residency over there?)

(PD: They played like 70 straight in ’77 with Blondie.)

IQ: And you know, the whole LA punk scene, too, played there and put there own little history into it. So, for one to have done residencies in the past, then being the house band for the Whisky, and finally coming back from this two month tour to a sell out show at Whisky A Go Go really cements a big cherry on top of it all.

PD: The really fun thing about it is that all of the agents and promoters keep telling us that since the Guns N’ Roses days nobody has been able to consistently sell out the Whisky and the Roxy continually like we have. We’re the first band to do it, with original music, in 20 years. That’s pretty amazing. So when you go around the world people come out to see you because you’ve played the Whisky. I mean if you’re successful at the Whisky, then you can make it in LA, and then you can make it anywhere in the world. It’s just a matter of self-worth. But the Whisky is in my top 3 clubs in the world. And for me the Czech Republic, too.

IB: That’s one of my favorites. Just like you go to the Balkans and the people are just wild. I love the chaos of shows. So I like the urban cities more since people seem to wild out a little more. New York, Chicago… And then in Europe definitely London. They have more of a party..? celebration..? je n’ais se quoi?

(All: Je n’ais se quoi! Quoi!)

What’s it like being on tour? What’s the experience behind touring for so long?

(All: Exhausting.)

IQ: I mean two and a half years was our first tour. Because when we came to the US we played LA for like a year, but like free shows. But we were constantly playing just like, you know, to get the word out there, sign march, blah blah blah. And then once 150 shows were over in LA then we went on tour in the US and we did the states a couple times around. Pretty much all DIY—we had a booking agent but we did it all by ourselves essentially. And then we flew over to Europe and did that for who knows how long. So until we went home to Greece which is where our home is, it was two and a half years on the road. And as enjoyable as it was—obviously we’re living the dream for a lot of people—it still took a lot of mental power to go through something like that, you know? It’s awesome to be on the road, but you have to be made for it. It’s definitely not for everyone.

Would you say there’s a big difference between punk now and punk 30 years ago? And how do you feel about the music industry now? Is rock music coming back?

IQ: Rock music is definitely needed in this day and age. And there are a lot of people picking up instruments. It’s great that they’re expressing themselves through an organic instrument. But I think we’re also waiting for the revival of rock n’ roll. There’s going to be a lot of big changes and shifts once that happens. It depends on the people in suits who control the industry to pick up on something that’s accessible for everyone. Everyone wants rock n’ roll to come back so, I don’t know what they’re waiting for or what they’re looking to find but it’s here in Barb Wire Dolls. And if it’s here in Barb Wire Dolls then it has to also be elsewhere, so hurry up!

And as far as the punk scene, yeah it’s changed and evolved as things should change and evolve. But we are influenced by the first wave of punk rock just because every band was different from one another and everyone brought something new to the table. And the attitude is what made them punk rock. Not sounding like everyone else in the genre. That’s what you get nowadays when you get categorized into a genre, it’s all about what you sound like musically. Barb Wire Dolls has been called punk, but we’re just a rock n’ roll band when it comes down to it. We’re gonna keep on changing and evolving musically, and I think that’s the biggest punk rock thing you can do. To keep on evolving and not follow anyone else’s rules.

How has your experience been recording at NRG and working with Jay?

IQ: Jay is one of our favorite people in the entire world. He’s a mastermind at what he does and he loves what he does. And it’s always important to work with people who love what they do because that just brings out more happiness and joy for what you do. And Jay Baumgardner is the master of what he does, you know? It’s been great. Our two previous albums that we’re putting out on Motörhead Music, both of them were produced by Jay and it’s effortless to work with him. And that’s really important when you want to put your music out and and get it out. The person has to be willing to understand what you want as opposed to telling you what he thinksyou want. But Jay’s not like that.

What’s it like being signed to Motörhead Records and how’s your career taking off because of it?

IB: It’s like climbing Mount Everest and getting to the top and putting the first footprints into it. It’s monumentous, it’s epic, it’s mind-blowing and like, “Holy shit, we did it.” Like we’re doing it, it’s wild. I mean, as a bass player, for Lemmy to—I can’t even finish the sentence. For Lemmy Kilmister, the bassist for Motörhead, to sign us to his label… I have to pinch people, I have to pinch myself because it’s pretty crazy. It’s the best thing ever. It’s the best thing ever. Yeah, it’s huge.

What can we expect from Barb Wire Dolls in the future? Anything you want to tell your fans?

IQ: The future is unwritten, as Joe Strummer from the Clash has said, and we’re gonna keep it that way. There’s a lot of music in us. There’s a lot of great things that are gonna happen. But it’s unwritten.