One listen to the music of Barb Wire Dolls and you would assume this collection of rocking chicks (and two dudes) crawled out of the gutters of New York City’s Lower East Side or maybe the dumpsters behind the rotting facade of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. Truth is, the band’s lead guitarist Pyn Doll (one of the dudes) and singer Isis Queen actually met in an artist commune on the island of Crete in Greece.
In advance of the Barb Wire Dolls Vans Warped Tour stop at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, Sunday, Mr. Doll discussed the time time he turned down a gig from Iggy Pop and why now is the right time for his band to bring punk back to the masses.
Question: Barb Wire Dolls are a great punk band. Do wish you were born sooner and been around to perform in 1977 when punk exploded?
Answer: Up until now, 30 percent of our audience are 50 years old plus. They saw The [Sex] Pistols, saw The Damned in ‘77 and ‘78. They tell us all the time, “If you had been there in those times, you probably would have blown everyone out the water.”
Glen Matlock and Steve Jones from the Pistols love us. Clem Burke from Blondie too. All the old-school punk rockers love us. I think it is the best thing that we are out now. There is a void in the system we are here to fill.
Q: Is there a different energy being in a band with women?
A: It is absolutely way better. The drummer Crash and I are the only guys. It was just Isis the singer and us for the first three years. Now having a girl play bass and another girl on rhythm guitar makes it only better.
Q: What do you remember about the first time you met Lemmy?
A: Lemmy is the standard of rock ‘n’ roll. He was looking for a band that could tour with Motorhead that wasn’t exactly like Motorhead. And when he said, “Be on my label,” we jumped at that. We were the first band to be on Motorhead Music that wasn’t Motorhead. We had at least 12 companies offer us deals at that point, but we turned them all down. All they were doing was saying, “Change this and change that.”
Q: What did they want to change?
A: Universal at the time kept saying. “You could be the next Paramore. You gotta stop saying the ‘F’ word. And stop playing this punk rock.” I was getting frustrated. I had to tell them, “You can’t tame our singer.”
I couldn’t understand whey they didn’t see what our singer was like and that she is the greatest singer I’ve ever seen live.
Q: Is your singer Isis as wild offstage as she is on?
A: She got so wild on the tour in 2012 and 2013, we were like, “If she doesn’t stop, she’s gonna be a another Darby Crash.” [EDITOR’S NOTE: Darby Crash was the Germs singer known for self-destructive behavior, and who died of overdose in 1980.)
We knew we couldn’t do this. In Texas they arrested her for inciting a riot and indecent exposure. We had to convince the cops to let her go. We had to slow down.
We started finding more “melody” in our lives. Adding the bass player helped. Songs started coming out and Isis started singing. She never sang before, she would just scream. She couldn’t hold a note and stay in tune. Now she has learned to sing by playing 800 shows.
Q: How have you guys evolved as a band from the debut to the new CD, “Rub My Mind”?
A: The biggest evolution for us is the songwriting progression. The songs were written and recorded in three days.
Q: Why so quickly?
A: We had met Eagles of Death Metal. We were talking to their guitarist, Dave Catching, about coming to Crete to record an acoustic album. He suggested we come to his studio, Rancho De La Luna. We had always wanted to record there.
He confirmed we would come before Thanksgiving. This was November 2015. And he gets off the phone because his band is about to play Bataclan in Paris. That’s when the shootings happen. After that we figure that everything is off. A week later he texts us and says, “Are you still coming?” We asked, “Are you sure?” He said, “Yes, the music must go on.”
We wrote and recorded in three days. Then we had to leave because Iggy Pop and Josh Homme were coming in.
Q: Did you try to hide out to meet Iggy Pop?
A: Very much so, because I had opened for Iggy with my old band back in 2001. He liked my band so much, he offered us the whole U.S. tour. I went and talked to the people I was employed with at my day job then. They told me if I did that, they were going to sue me. So I chickened out.
And when I went back and told Iggy, he said, “You’re a f****** idiot.” I said, “I know.” My whole life I was working to do music and I get some job, and I turn down Iggy Pop? I wanted to see him again, but we had to leave because it was Thanksgiving and there were serious security issues.
Q: What can people expect when they come to see Barb Wire Dolls live?
A: You will know the definition of rock ‘n’ roll. You can hear influence in our music, but we don’t sound like anybody else. There is no one like our singer. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to see a band on the rise, you’re gonna love us down the road.
Barb Wire Dolls plays Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, Sunday as part of Vans Warped Tour. Tickets are available by going to Ticketfly.com.