CrashDollz Are Bringing Back Rock n’ Roll In a Big Way!
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Photos by Sweet Marie Photography
CrashDollz released their second CD ‘Punks in Amerika’ on Friday, March 18th and are planning some record release shows in May, as well as dates throughout the midwest and east coast. I am honored to have the chance to talk to Rachel Rekkit and Nikki Darling about their band, new CD, live shows, and touring plans, and to be working so closely with them via Metal Babe Mayhem. Rachel and Nikki are so hardcore and rock so hard that you have to see it with your own eyes to believe it!
Metal Babe Mayhem: Congratulations on the release of your second CD, ‘Punks in Amerika.’ What can fans expect from this release?
Rachel Rekkit: There’s been a desperate need in the music industry for a fresh, original, raw, rock n’ roll vision and there’s been a terrible absence of rock stars. We’ve put together the formula for exactly what people have been waiting for and this record puts it together in a complete package that’s undeniable. Fans can expect to have their heads blown off. If you like what we do and the kind of songwriting watermark that the first record set, you’re going to be very satisfied with this CD.
MBM: That’s awesome.
Nikki Darling: The same thing they would always hope to expect… High energy, strong emotion grabbing you outta your seat, and a kick ass show!
MBM: How does it compare to your debut self-titled CD from 2013?
Rachel: It’s a slightly more mature record with a deeper collaboration between Nikki and I. That resulted in a collection of songs that capture all the propulsion of the first album but meatier hooks and a bit more expanding the boundaries of our sound. That can be one of the traps of being a band with a very unique sound is that often that becomes a box you can get stuck in. So we took the time to make sure this time around that we expanded our writing into a bigger CrashDollz world than we were in before. Plus the production and sound is a bazillion times better. We got captured moving air in the studio like we do on stage and captured perfectly. Then to have it produced by Scott Lea and mastered by Roger Lian (Slayer, White Stripes, etc.) took the overall sound to a whole other level.
Nikki: I think we felt as women in rock and from Detroit, we had to prove how hardcore we were, how talented we were! People just assume if you wear a skirt you can’t rock. We needed to prove the first time around we could rock and were serious! This time around it’s really less about us proving anything and more about Rekkit and I collaborating. It comes through in the music, which is much more mature and a little less aggressive.
MBM: Tell me about the title track, “Punks in Amerika.” It definitely seems like a CrashDollz anthem.
Rachel: That started out as a music demo that I had and when I brought it to Nikki, she just started putting these amazing lyrics and melodies to it. I hardly could keep up, but the main hook we were stuck on for a bit until I hit on the phrase Punks In Amerika and it fit right in. It is our punk anthem and it had to be the album title. We’re both really proud of that one.
MBM: Perfect. What’s it like having the support of RadicLea Records and a distribution deal through Sony, CEN, and RED?
Rachel: Honestly, so much changes for a band like us, who have basically been a midwest and east coast road warrior band for years now. We’ve been called sell-outs. I mean the punk scene gets pissed off at the word “Sony,” but we couldn’t stay in that box. We had to grow. We had to go beyond what we’ve done and now it’s happening. Realistically, this band needs and deserves to be heard by millions of people. That isn’t selling out. That’s bringing our art to people. I don’t give a damn about the money. I want people to hear us. Hear the genuine emotion and raw power and originality that are CrashDollz. Being involved with larger sections of the music business machine is the only way to do that. The Internet has flooded the industry with bands, which is cool in one sense but makes sticking out of the crowd difficult. We had to do what was necessary to make that happen. CrashDollz are a force to be reckoned with and signing recording contracts and distribution deals is the best way to get that brand new Detroit sound out there to everyone.
MBM: It’s interesting how people look at it. I’m really happy for you guys!
Nikki: It’s nice to have support from people who believe in us.
MBM: Definitely. CrashDollz really stand out and makes an impression on anyone who hears your music or sees you play live. What type of impression are you trying to make?
Rachel: So much of that is intrinsic within Nikki and I both separately and together. By that I mean, much of it isn’t a planned or calculated “impression” so to speak. We do this weird thing when we are together making music that is like the 21st century female Jagger and Richards. That’s all down to chemistry and like a magical once in a lifetime rock n’ roll collaboration. Much of what comes from that is raw and very very real and on the night, at the moment and honestly, very unpredictable and dangerous. All of that is her and I riding on this sonic wave of what we do and just letting it come through us. The only impression I personally want to make is that there is a new voice for rock n’ roll and we’re it and that women can rock just as hard and harder than the guys.
Nikki: personally I don’t feel as though we’re trying to give anyone any impression. I think that’s what does make us so different. We just don’t care. Like us, love us, hate us. Doesn’t matter.
MBM: I love it! I am so excited to see you guys play a live show! How would you describe your music and style to someone who isn’t familiar with the band? What are your biggest musical influences?
Rachel: Man, that’s such a hard question. How do you describe an orgasm to someone who has never experienced one? I can try by saying that we seamlessly merge punk and metal into a very Detroit-sounding hybrid that is extremely kinetic and fiercely emotional. I think saying that is missing much of what we are though. I know we really don’t sound like anyone else so comparisons never hit the mark. Maybe if you crossed a demented Iggy and the Stooges with heavy vintage Van Halen then added in a dash of the Plasmatics and a big scoop of serious mental illness you might have CrashDollz. I’m influenced by Eddie Van Halen and Regan Macneil (while possessed.)
Nikki: Music that is liquid and pulses through your veins as if we are the heart that is pushing the blood through your body.
MBM: Very cool. Love that analogy too Nikki! You guys put on an amazing, high-energy show. What can fans expect from a live performance?
Rachel: First thing is, get as close to the stage as you can. You will feel air moving that is more than the sound. In that movement also is raw emotion and a twisted sense of danger and recklessness that will make you feel like you don’t know what’s going to happen next. We’re bringing that feeling back into rock n’ roll. If you can’t take it, keep your distance. Get as close as possible and let it take you. Our fans leave the show feeling like rock stars themselves. We viscerally emote straight into our audience. You may feel violated. (LAUGHS)
Nikki: I don’t know that even we know what to expect. Our music evokes emotion from each of us and the audience. So they will leave feeling exhilarated and exhausted. What happens in between is a surprise to everyone.
MBM: I love it. This is exactly what rock n’ roll has been missing! What’s the local music scene like in Detroit? Are there other bands in your ‘scene’ that you play live shows with?
Nikki: Local music is dead. Detroit like any other major city that suffers when the people suffer. Live shows don’t get supported. Bars are the worst. They struggle and when they do, they stop supporting music as well. They don’t advertise, pay, or even serve good drinks or give a good atmosphere. We have played in bars that wanna leave their TV on while we are onstage. That doesn’t fly with us. We command to be respected. F*ck it… We will play in the street for people. We just don’t care. We’re pretty low maintenance. Well… Except Rekkit. 🙂
Rachel: F*ck Detroit and F*ck Nikki Darling.
MBM: I love the chemistry between you two! Totally sucks on the scene though. Do you have a record release party scheduled, or touring plans?
Rachel: We’re doing a soft release first to get the CD to our fans who have been waiting and also to important industry people who have been waiting. Live shows will follow but the strategy right now is to do a few big release shows in May, covering the Midwest and east coast, and then get the big wigs to get us on a big tour so we can reach our fans everywhere with a hard release.
MBM: Awesome. I love how CrashDollz started a Street Team to help promote the new CD. What gave you the idea and how is it going?
Rachel: We had a number of people who just wanted to do anything they could to help and we thought, “why not make a team out of everyone?” That’s become like a community now, which is great. We need as many shoulders as we can get leaning on us so the big doors have no choice but to open.
Nikki: Our fans ask for this stuff from us. So we’re supporting them as much as they are us. Always.
MBM: Great! Give me a little history on the band. From what I’ve read, Nikki was the first one who was looking to form a band in 2010 and that’s how the two of you met?
Rachel: Yep. It’s Nikkis fault. I was happy doing stunt double work for Courtney Love then Nikki came along and said “yo, f*ckface! Let’s make a band and start a revolution. Follow me!” She doesn’t take “no” for an answer with most things. I wanted to do a Josie and the Pussycats tribute band but she was adamant that we get all “artsy.” Whatever.
Nikki: I placed an ad for sexy singles. She answered. (LAUGHS)
MBM: Tell me about Kevin and Garrett, and how they round out the band’s sound.
Rachel: We’ve had Kevin Krank in the band for a couple years now and he’s got such a solid pro background having played with David Chastain and Damien. He just lifted the bass element of the band to a higher level. Our drummer Garrett Krusher is a Toledo, Ohio veteran of bands like Punisher and was known as one of the very top drummers in Ohio. Together they make an unbelievable rhythm section. They totally help round the band out because they’re both sort of normal so they are some kind of anchor for Nikki and I.
MBM: That’s great. What’s the writing process like for CrashDollz? Has it changed since your first CD?
Rachel: Definitely. With the writing of the first CD, I think I had so much music coming out of me so fast as soon as I latched onto the CrashDollz formula that I ended up bulldozing over Nikki with a number of songs. I kept saying “if you hear something else, feel free to write something else” but with quite a few songs, the whole thing just fell out of me complete with lyrics and melodies and Nikki could hear it and didn’t want to step on it (bless her). This time around, the writing has been far more meticulous and in most cases, true collaborations between us. I think the chemistry between us as performers and people is obvious but our chemistry together as writers is just as awesome. We started landing those punches with some of the later songs on the first CD and this one has even more. We also got a bit more picky. No song got on this album that we felt was anything less than 1000% from a writing standpoint. Many songs were discarded before these songs were all finished. By the time we had the full track list, it was clear to us that we had made a true “album” with an organic identity of its own and an ebb and flow to it that we are both very proud of.
Nikki: Everything is different. We have found a groove and a way to work cohesively.
MBM: What kind of background/training/lessons do you guys have?
Rachel: Not much for me. Played drums for a while which lent itself to me being a bit more of a percussive guitar player than most and a more rhythm-oriented music writer as well. When I truly fell in love with guitar, it became my obsession. I’m an obsessive person so I just wouldn’t stop until I had developed a style that was my own which I think is the ultimate goal of any musician. Or should be.
MBM: What final words would you like to say to our readers?
Rachel: Don’t wait to be the last kid on the block to get on the CrashDollz train. Be the cool kid who tells your friends first about the band that breathed life back into rock n’ roll.
Nikki: Rock hard! The world without music would be a world with no heartbeat.
MBM: Exactly. Thank you so much Rachel and Nikki! I’m so excited for your new release and everything that you have in the works. I hope to see you tear up a stage in L.A. soon!
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