Phoenix foursome Doll Skin leaves love behind for a more varied approach

Dolezal, second from left, and Doll Skin
Annie Zaleski

Doll Skin vocalist Sydney Dolezal’s most indelible memory of Vegas involves what she thought was a routine gig at the Dive Bar … which turned into a pivotal career moment. “We were just having fun—playing the show, getting the gig done, having a good time,” she recalls. “And then, at the end of our set, Vinnie Paul comes out of the shadows and introduces himself to us. We just all looked at each other and were like, ‘Oh my God!’”

As it turns out, Doll Skin’s manager knew the late hard rocker (and Vegas resident) and invited him out for the show. Paul obviously liked what he heard; his band, Hellyeah, ended up giving the Phoenix quartet a boost. “They took us on a couple tours,” Dolezal says. “They helped give us some footing in a couple different markets, exposing all of their fans to us.”

Doll Skin—which formed in 2013 and has participated on Warped Tours and served as openers for Dead Kennedys and Vegas-associated band Escape the Fate—has certainly leveraged that initial help into great things. The band’s recently released third album, Love Is Dead and We Killed Her, is a polished and confident statement that alternates between melodic pop-rock (“No Fear”), pop-punk (“Nasty Man”) and metallic hard rock (“Don’t Cross My Path”).

Love Is Dead represents a shift for Doll Skin in multiple ways. Not only is the album on a new label, Hopeless Records, but the band’s writing process “was different than anything we’ve ever done,” Dolezal says. The musicians let inspiration flow and “literally recorded as we were writing.”

Dolezal notes that the biggest change came from the topics on which Doll Skin focused, however. “The whole purpose behind this album—and the title specifically—is that we didn’t want to talk about love,” she says. “We wanted to really broaden our horizons and talk about a lot of different things that meant a lot to us, and really be able to reach a lot of people on a lot of different levels. We wanted to reach out and inspire and help, and really make a difference with this album.”

Switching gears and writing about such topics was “a challenge,” Dolezal admits. “And there were a couple songs where we were like, ‘This sounds so cheesy, because it’s not something we’re used to writing about,’” she laughs. But giving themselves space to write about other things—for example, empowerment and reclaiming your self after setbacks—had a surprising by-product for Dolezal, especially.

“This process really taught me a lot about myself. Writing about different things, and trying to inspire others, encouraged me to work on myself,” she says. “There’s a couple of songs where I talk about substance abuse, and finding myself. At the time we were writing them I was still in a weird place. But on the other side of it, ever since we wrote those songs, I really looked into myself a lot more and really paid attention to how I could better myself.”

DOLL SKIN opening for New Found Glory, with Real Friends, The Early November. July 5, 6 p.m., $27-$40. House of Blues, 702-632-7600.

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