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Cover Story: The Dolly Rocker Movement

Written by James Parker on March 3, 2009

The word pediophobia is derived from the Greek paidion, meaning “little child”. Technically it is not a phobia all of its own, but a subcategory of the broader automatonophobia, or the fear of humanoid figures in general. Whatever its precise psychology analytically speaking, one thing is for certain: I’ve got it bad. I’m a HUGE pediophobe; I’m absolutely petrified of dolls.

Thunderbirds had set me well on the way by the age of about six, but it was one particularly terrifying episode of the X-Files that tipped me over the edge at around thirteen. The episode is based on the Steven King novel Chinga, and in it the object of Mulder and Scully’s investigations is an almost unbelievably satanatic children’s toy that telepathically compels its victims to gouge out their own eyes. Their own freaking eyes, man! I shit you not.

And so it was against all my better judgment that I agreed to speak with Daniel of the Dolly Rocker Movement. “Chill man, they’re just a band,” Mikey the editor had tried to reassure me. “They’ve got this sort of dirty 60s-inspired garage / psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll vibe going on. You’ll love them, I promise.” Still, I couldn’t help but be suspicious.

Turns out Mikey was right. The Dolly Rockers spend barely any of their time rocking dollies these days. Mostly they’re working on getting their new record – which will be their third full lengther since 2006 – to press. “It’s a new direction for the band this year,” says Daniel. “The new record has definitely got a bit more of a hi-fi sound to it.” But it’s not actually the move from their trusty old four-track to the intricacies of pro-tools that constitutes the most significant change for the Dolly Rockers in 2009. Yes, the album’s got a bigger, more layered, more accessible sound to it than previous efforts, but on top of that the group’s whole sound has evolved.

“We weren’t going for that 60s psychedelic sound on this record,” explains Daniel. “We were aiming for something a bit more modern, though with a lot of other influences thrown in to the mix. The single we just released has more of a baroque sound, for example, with harpsichord and strings. We’ve even got a few songs on the record with almost a spaghetti western vibe to them!”

Yeeha! Turns out that Daniel’s a bit of a fan of alter egos actually. When he’s not playing cowboys and Indians, there’s a fair chance he’s doing “Dandy Lyon”, the name he gives to his onstage persona.

“Off the stage, I’m the guy speaking to you here, you know. This is Daniel. He’s about to cook his curry, he’s just done his grocery shopping. But when I get up there that’s when it all changes. A good performer is someone who can hold that frame of mind, hold that ego, hold the crowd for that crucial 45 minutes or an hour or whatever it is. Cos that’s all you get man. You’ve gotta make it worth it.”
What’s the difference between Daniel and Dandy Lyon then?
“Well, Dandy definitely likes to show a bit of skin. Even though I’m rockin a wife beater today. You know, sometimes it’s hard actually. It’s like having a schizophrenic mind, where you’ve got two personalities. Trying to balance them can be hard. There’s the flamboyance of Dandy yon where it’s definitely a world of madness. It’s an inviting world that I like to create but it’s not all flowers and sunshine either. There’s a dark side to me that can definitely creep through.”

So does Daniel ever crack Dandy out in public? You know if someone pulls him over or whatever. Because he’s got more confidence?

“Yeah, that’s worked a few times actually. Then again, a few times I’ve nearly had my head punched in. But Dandy Lyon can get out of any situation, so it’s all good.”

As veterans of Sydney’s garage rock and underground scene, I wonder what bands are impressing the Dolly Rockers right now. Who’s coming up through the ranks?

“Actually, the band that played with us at our show on the weekend – Silver Moon Uprising (who do a sort of garage / post punk / shoegaze sort of thing) – are pretty great. A band hasn’t done that to me for ages, where I’ve just been like wow and my eyes have opened up. And there’s another band from Geelong called the Frowning Clouds. They’re probably the closest thing you’re ever going to get to seeing an authentic 60s garage rock band. They’re amazing. We play with them a bit when we go down to Melbourne.”

And now that I’m finally feeling comfortable enough to confront my raging pediophobia, I just have to ask: how exactly is it that you rock a dolly anyway? “It’s just back and forth man.” Never side to side? “Well, back and forth you get more of a response.” What kind of a response he’s expecting from the poor dolly he doesn’t say. And quite frankly I prefer not to ask.

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