Dolls on Fire, a new synth-pop band stationed out of Kansas City, recently released their first debut LP, Ladies and Gentlemen. Taking a different approach, the band released the album before touring to promote it. At first, the band members' intentions were to only create the best record they could, but their plans went beyond that point. They formed the band in January, started working on the album in February, released the debut this month and are waiting to begin their tour in the spring.
The four-member band also took an independent standpoint by creating the debut from start to finish without any outside help.
“From a technical standpoint, we’re doing absolutely everything,” vocalist Zach Hodson says. “We don’t have any big studio, so we had to use a lot of back-end technical tricks to make the record sound really big and cool like it would in a professional studio.”
As a synth-pop and rock band, the group members use several electronic sound effects throughout their songs. One of the most notable audio effects is presented in their song “Hosanna (On the Radio).” Keeping in mind that the debut was completely self-made, they mashed two sound bytes together that don’t typically harmonize with one another. One part is auto-tuned, while the other byte has a southern rock sound.
Originally, Hodson began creating music with female vocalist, Rachel Jaggard, as a solo project. As time went on, they continued to add more band members including Michelle Bacon and Mark Johnson. Throughout multiple email exchanges, they chose Dolls on Fire for their band name. Their primary focus was for it to be catchy, classy and easily marketable.
Ladies and Gentlemen was an appropriate debut title due to the fact that the band had not presented itself to the public in any way before the release of the record. It was the band’s introduction to its new audience.
“No one had any preconceptions of the band, the music or anything,” Hodson says.
Hodson wrote all but one song for the record — “Minotaur” was co-written by the entire band. It has a darker sound than the rest of the songs on the debut. Instruments include the drums, an electric guitar and a keyboard with an electric organ sound. The lyrics compare a man’s temper to the minotaur, a half-bull, half-man mythological creature. Near the end, the band uses an echoing effect with a radio frequency buzz.
Most of Hodson’s writing comes from his own personal life experiences. He says his only hope is that he will have a pad of paper or a device to record it on when the perfect phrasing comes to him. Besides finding personal experiences as their essential musical influence, they are also influenced by other music styles from Mates of State, Civil Wars and Queen.
So far, releasing the record has been the band’s most satisfying moment.
“We put so much of our emotional and creative investment into the project form February to November,” Hodson says. “We’re excited to get out there and share the stage with a lot of great bands.”