Photos and interview By Phoenix Romero
What do you get when you cross Lily Tomlin, the variety show antics of Carol Burnett, brilliant musical production and a guitarist featured as one of the Twenty Most Extraordinary Female Guitarists in Guitar Player Magazine? You get One- Eyed Doll!
Kimberly Freeman recently stated that analytics showed One-Eyed Doll appeals to more of an all-ages group, rather than a straight over 21 bar crowd. From what I saw live this band appeals to absolutely everyone. There were parents with teenaged kids, young adults in their 20’s, people I see at all the metal shows, in fact I was at the front of the stage sandwiched in between a big buff biker metal head Slayer kind of guy on my left, and a transgender or transvestite 6’3 in heels on my right side. That is pretty damn diversified if you ask me!
Instantly you got that childlike feeling of Lily Tomlin sitting in her giant oversized rocking chair(am I dating myself here?) every time Freeman shouted out “It’s story time!” But also like watching Lily, you couldn’t wait to see what story Kimberly would tell next, or what song the story would lead you into. Because as we all know every song tells a story. During the show Kimberly would go to her giant magic trunk, and put on different hats or accessories to enhance her stories. I suddenly felt like I was in the middle of the Carol Burnett Show. One -Eyed Doll is a mixture of variety, storytelling, bad ass Nancy Wilson-esque guitar playing and refreshingly new innovative music.
When I discovered that One Eyed Doll was only a two-piece band I was quite skeptical about their performance. Now that I have experienced a One-Eyed Doll show, allow me to clarify, this little two piece band has a HUGE sound, in fact you don’t even really miss a standard bass player or a second guitar player not being present on stage. This show is not only a band playing music but it is true performance art live.
Right after sound check we caught up with Kimberly and Jason (aka Junior) for a quick interview.
HA: What is one thing about the new album that shows how the band has progressed musically?
KF: The producer… (looks at Jason)
JS: We were actually studying modes when we wrote this album. So a lot of this in is some strange modes. Most music is in either a major or a minor key. There an infinite amount of modes but there are actually 5 other major modes that you can use for music. We kind of explored that in this album. We also did a lot of stuff on mandolin and banjo on this album; we spent a good amount of time in the red wood in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California writing.
HA: Kimberly what does Jason (aka Junior) have that the previous 4 drummers have not had?
KF: That’s an interesting question…every line up of this band has brought something special to the group. Everyone has had their strengths. Junior has been with the band since the first album. That’s because he has been recording a lot of our songs, and actually playing on them. He is in the liner notes as a musician on every single album, even before he joined the band. Jason is a multi-instrumentalist, amazing producer, engineer, writer and composer. What doesn’t he bring is the question.
HA: So not only are you a drummer but you are also a producer, do you produce any other bands?
JS: Yeah..I think I’ve made over 100 albums, mostly local bands I started in Sacramento I did a lot of hip hop there. In 2005 I moved to Austin and also recorded a lot of bands there. You probably haven’t heard of many of them.
HA: How did it feel to be recognized by Guitar Player Magazine on their list of Top 20 female guitarists.
KF: Well I’m glad they recognized that I am a female, that was cool … some people don’t see that right away. In fact I can totally pass as a boy if I don’t have any make up and my hair up in a hat, just wearing T-Shirt and jeans. And that they know I play guitar, that’s also nice. Actually they put me on this list of 20 extraordinary female guitarists. There were some really amazing ladies on that list and I am honored and humbled to be listed among such greatness.
HA: What do you consider One-Eyed Doll biggest accomplishment so far.
JS: This has been a really good tour. Our first headlining tour, since we have been out with a bunch of other headlining acts, that have been super awesome to take us out; OTEP, Mushroomhead, and Wayne Static. So this is our first time headlining the whole country, and it has been really awesome. Great turn outs every night and I am really proud of that.
KF: There have been a lot of just moments on this tour that have made me feel like, this is my career right here right now. We have been pushing really hard to have all-ages shows, seeing those kids and teenagers singing along with the songs does something for me that nothing else can do. It is humbling and sometimes it stops me in my tracks.
KF: Hmm, I’m not sure I am the person to give advice to anyone because I have probably have done everything the hard way. It’s taken me this long to get where we are at. Especially when you start out you will run into a lot of misogyny, in different forms, people will try to put to you down. There will be these guys that it’s almost like they’re offended or fearful of seeing a girl on stage being powerful or in control of an audience. They will try to stop you, ruin your shows or ruin your meet and greets, but remember to keep your chin up. Don’t let them or anyone kill your spirit. The best advice I ever got was from my grandpa Bernie Jones, who the band is named for, he was a performer all his life with one eye. I told Bernie I have these songs and I want to be a performer like you, and he said “Play guitar”, I said “ I’m not sure it’s kinda late to start playing now” he said “ You can’t rely on anyone in this world, especially musicians, so you better learn to back yourself up. You write your own music, you perform your own music, and if everyone in your band bails on you, you can still play that gig. Learn to play guitar. So I went and learned that guitar.
HA: What is the one thing you would like to see One-Eyed Doll achieve?
JS: At one point one of my big goals as a musician was to record with a legendary producer, at an amazing studio. We have actually achieved that now with Sylvia Massey.
KF: She is seriously a legendary producer. She actually embraced us and we lived in her studio in between tours. We would play on different albums she was working on, Jason would do some engineering. She is a magical being of music and light.
HA: What will you guys being doing for the rest of 2015?
JS: We are booking another tour right now. We won’t be talking about it because it is not ready to be talked about yet. (smiles) Of course we will be back in the studio writing music for our next album.
KF: Everybody is so excited about how well this tour is working out, that they are already working on what we will be doing for the rest of the year. We have so much music that is not even out yet. (laughs) We are so far ahead. When we are off the road we are always writing and recording. I was asked in an interview recently what are my hobbies… I couldn’t come up with one. All we (points to Jason) ever do is make music. This is what fun is for us, I don’t want to do anything else.