I'll begin by saying I love the Dollcanoes and I have since the first time I heard them. They are, aren’t they, the greatest, most entertaining band in Birmingham right now. They possess the magic essence that made The Shop Assistants so great, that make Sacred Paws so special. Somedays all there really is, is those two bands and the Dollcanoes. They are astonishing and not just in that good for Birmingham way. Way better than that.
Last time I saw the Dollcanoes was at the fundraiser for the Cocomad Festival, in a brewery car park in Stirchley. Their sound is a popjoy to hear. The band features (in alphabetical order) EmDoll (vocals and geetar), JoDoll (vocals and occasional tambourine), KeysLouise (vocals and keyboard and sometimes cowbell), OllyDoll (drums and vocals) and RoxyDoll (bass in the place/yo’ face). They are on a mission to entertain and you could easily see them spreading around Aquabats levels of joy.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Dollcano Emma after the show, and I began by wondering how they’d come to be, and where they are based, because I have an interest in geography. Here’s how that went… “Well,” Emma began, “two of us are related, and have known each other since birth; two of us went to school together, so since double English (shout out to the great Mr Malcolm Williams- a legend in the world of teaching); three of us met through the local alternative music scene, at gigs, watching mostly Misty’s Big Adventure, Kate Goes…, The Nature Centre and Bom and his Magic Drumstick. Then four of us found our missing link rising out of the embers and ashes of the now infamous Pineapple Road volcano- rock ‘n’ roll, eh?! Where apparently, they’re building a train station now… So, if they need a band for the station’s opening party, we’re available. We’re based in Kings Heath and Stirchley and always ready to gig with minimal practice, but a tight rhythm section which props the rest of us up a treat!”
Emma and I agree that The Dollcanoes is an utterly inspired name, “It can be read one of two ways,” Emma says, “depending on whether you’re into hot lava or water sports!!!”
With most bands, most entertainment, most everything, the Dollcanoes got a little shunted from their tracks during the height of the pandemic. But Emma says it wasn’t all so bad for the band. “Keys and Em did a mini-Dollcano-set online for a lockdown partay, alongside the gorgeous Bethany Kay (who set the whole thing up) and the formidable Burt Bacharackhams. We were then down to only four of us for a bit too, which made things tricky, so after another re-shuffle (we’ve had a few), we’re back! Which is fab! Even more exciting; we’re finally putting new songs together and we’ve got a few gigs coming up over the summer.”
Their debut LP Dollcanic Rock is available on vinyl and can be ordered from Bandcamp. Emma describes the record as one of pure, classic punky-poppy DIY fun and nonsensical gorgeousness! “The record was made the best way, on vinyl and recorded and put together for us by the Northeastern master talent that is Martin Fairbairn.” “If you don’t have a copy,” Emma suggests, “ you need one in your life!”
Their influences? “...ranges from The Go Go’s to The Slits, Pussy Riot, Le Tigre, Stereolab, Shonen Knife, 10,000 Maniacs, Blondie, The Popguns, the B52s, Wet Leg, Boards of Canada, Pavement, Idles, Fat White Family, Joy Division, New Order, M.I.A., Talking Heads, Squeeze, Warmduscher, The Smiths, The Human League, Altered Images… That and anything from the Brummie/Midlands back and current catalogue; Misty’s Big Adventure, Bom and his Magic Drumstick, Dogfood, The Nature Centre, Kate Goes, Bethany Kay, Broadcast, Pram, The Primitives, Fun Boy Three, ELO, UB40, Black Sabbath, Musical Youth, The Beat, The Specials, The Selecter, Dexys Midnight Runners, Duran Duran, The Nightingales, Toyah…”
“Each to their own obviously,” Emma says when prompted about whether there is anything to hate, “...but Mick Hucknall has always most definitely been a ‘Simply No Thanks’ for us.”
When I first saw the Dollcanoes, from a distance, I thought WOW! (It was one of those occasions when I think in capital letters) This is a bunch of middle-aged housewives playing punk rock. This is the greatest. Because you know, someone as old as me rockin’-outrageous is what I call entertainment. Up close though, I am guessing, maybe they are way younger than that. My eyes are bad! “Thanks!” Emma says, “Erm, we think?! Just checking. Middle-aged housewives? It is 2023 isn’t it, right? Hah!”
The Dollcanoes will be spending the summer they say, spreading their lava love with a hefty sprinkling of Dollcanic Rock ash to the masses, whilst also fighting the fight against continued outdated misconceptions about girls in bands. “C’mon!” You’ll find them at The Rock n Roll Brew House, Jewellery Quarter, CoCoMad, Cotteridge and Lakeside Live, and Walsall Arboretum so far.
It’s the Dollcanoes world now, we’re just going to be milling around it and so we asked what are the Dollcanoes Big Birmingham Landmarks… See them all! “The 10 wonders of the Birmingham world and its landmarks, mostly: The Ramp, The Back of Rackhams/Pigeon Park, The Rotunda, The Jug of Ale, The Hummingbird, The Old Snobs, Mr Egg, Spaghetti Junction, Perrott’s Folly and The Hare and Hounds.”
Check out the Dollcanoes website: thedollcanoes.co.uk or their very few and far between social media posts for any other Dollcano news.
You can find the Dollcanoes on Spotify here⇒