Interview: Dollie Demi

Dollie Demi

Words and Photographs: Gary Lambert

Imagine in the moments before Simon Fuller got the Spice Girls to sign on the dotted line, Geri Halliwell was kicked out of the band and they were then taught to play their own instruments on dirty rock numbers. The result of this would be Dollie Demi. Admittedly with far greater musical accomplishment, songwriting, and method of meeting each other that wasn’t to audition in front of a Svengali with 3,000 others. Dollie Demi have the attitude and individuality of that most nineties of bands (and Demi does love a two-fingered Churchillian V sign), there is no getting away from it; but if you’re expecting anything like Wannabe from them, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Dollie Demi are angry, confident, and absolutely brilliant.

I was lucky enough to spend some time with the four-piece prior to their gig at YES Basement in Manchester. I really did feel lucky spending time with them too as I was able to get to know a little bit about these smart, intelligent, and raucously funny women. As soon as the band was assembled in the basement, they started laughing together and it did not stop. Considering that none of the band are childhood friends, they have come together whilst studying at BIMM in Manchester, there is an obvious, instant chemistry between them. This chemistry creates all manner of synergies and confidence which is obvious to all concerned when they take to the stage later.

I must state at this point that if Demi (vocals and attitude), Ella (guitar and sass), Mia (bass and sneer), or Gab (drums and nonchalance) feel they are misquoted it is not my fault. We conducted this interview with a gin and tonic outside The Pink Room of YES, starting about 15 seconds before Ibibio Sound Machine started their soundcheck. But it was the only place in the building we could find to rest our drinks so win some, lose some.

This was the first gig that the new lineup was playing at a traditional venue. The four piece had previously played at Irregular Choice shoe shop and at Alphabet Brewery. It seemed that the latter particularly went well in the opinion of the gang.

“The gig was for International Women’s Day, and we were really surprised at how many people turned up for it. It was a lot more than we expected – especially considering it was the first one for all of us together. There was one at Wychwood Brewery too with the previous line up which we had a good few people come down for. Our fans must like breweries.

“We also did a set for Dave Sweetmore on MMTV. It was a live Facebook show. There was quite a few people there watching us like Dave Hallam. We were buzzing off it. It was freezing in there though, and at the Alphabet Brewery too”. Apparently too someone accidentally turned the sound off mid-song at one stage…. Oops! Not the band I hasten to add.

In their very short career so far, Dollie Demi have been lucky enough to play with some of the finest acts around. I saw them first opening up for Dream Wife and Queen Zee, and their International Women’s Day gig was headlined by the supremely exciting talent that is Hands Off Gretel. “We didn’t get to see their actual set because we had to go, but in soundcheck they were amazing. And they were such nice people too”.

If, like me, you had been worried about how bands found new members now there is no Melody Maker or NME with a classified ads section, well Dollie Demi’s new line up comes with some rather assuaging news. Mia and Gab were tagged into Demi’s post looking for a female bassist. I’ll let Gab take over from here, “I messaged Demi to say I was interested, and we arranged for me to come down for an audition. I got the role as bassist, but then they recruited Mia and said to me to go on drums as I can play them too. So I shrugged, said ‘I’m down with that’ and just banged away on them. So I really had to do two full blown auditions”.

Like most bands nowadays, the members of Dollie Demi have to juggle studying, working, and living with the demands of rehearsal and performance, but it is obvious where their love lies. “It’s not difficult at all having the band as well as everything else. When you’ve had a stressful day at uni or work, there’s nothing better than going to practice and jamming and having a laugh. Even if you’re spending the daytime cracking on with a dissertation, you can take it all out on your instruments and have a de-stress. And there are so many exciting things going on for the band at the moment, it’s just buzzing”.

At this point, one of the band members (who shall remain nameless in case her boss reads it) laid her cards out on the table as to the hierarchy in her life at the moment. “Work for me is my second thing, THIS we have is number one. I will not pick work over this. If they say to me that I can’t do a gig because they won’t let me have the day off, it’s bye bye and I’m playing the gig”. I think this attitude is important because previously members of the band had chosen to miss gigs for a variety of reasons such as wanting to watch a football match on television and not just feeling apathetic to the idea of getting up on stage. All of the band believe in this mentality too. “It’s the right way to be as we are receiving so many opportunities right now that we have got to give it our best shot and push it as much as we can”.

One of the biggest opportunities that Dollie Demi have in front of them comes with a Battle of The Bands contest at The Bread Shed on 5 April 2019 in association with the festival Merthyr Rising and Musicians Against Homelessness to win the chance to support Black Grape at the festival. “We thought it was a bit of a mad suggestion when we were told about it, but we discussed it and decided to give it a go – and have a good go at it. We all know that we’ve got to try to take as many opportunities as we are lucky enough to get in front of us. Last week at the MMTV show, we were talking to Firouzeh who is in a melodic metal band who was giving us loads of encouragement.”

It is not just the live gigs which are getting the attention of the four piece though. As well as several gigs in April, they are also looking at getting in the studio and turning demos into releases. “It was important after having some line up changes that we allowed the band time to settle and get used to each other. Settling down was an important thing for us. But now we seem to have got to the point where we need to start thinking about releases”.

Releases…. It’ll be like having a Dollie Demi funky punky cheeky monkey live set on my Spotify. Hurry up and get in the studio.

In the meantime you can catch Dollie Demi at the following gigs:

5 April – The Bread Shed, Manchester (Rising Rebels night)

6 April – Jimmy’s, Manchester (This Feeling with Nadia Sheikh)

16 April – The Castle Hotel, Manchester (Degenerate Productions Fiver night)

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