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INTERVIEW: RACHEL REKKIT of CrashDollz – July 2015

Detroit punk-metal rockers CrashDollz have recently taken their attitude and talent into a recording studio to record the follow-up to their 2013 self-titled debut.  Having just signed with a new label and PR team, as well as a few sponsor deals, this group of Motor City music makers is seemingly on their way up and on to bigger and better things.  Guitarist Rachel Rekkit took some time away from her instrument and the recording sessions to answer a few questions for us…

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Toddstar: Rachel, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule and the studio for us today!

Rachel: Hi! Sure thing and thanks for having me.

Toddstar: As I said, CrashDollz are currently in the studio.  What can you tell us about the new material you guys are putting together?

Rachel: We’ve amped up that “propulsion” factor that CrashDollz are known for with this record. The material is a bit more mature in the songwriting and the collaboration between the singer Nikki Darling and I is deeper, which is making this album a fuller representation of the CrashDollz vision but we’ve really revved up the “punch-you-in-the-fucking-throat” sound. We’ve found an even more complete way to bring melody into it too so we’re really excited for everyone to hear this stuff.

Toddstar: How is the writing and recording process for this album coming along, compared to your previous release, the self-titled CrashDollz?

Rachel: The last record was a fucking nightmare to record. On pretty much every possible level. This one is so much better. It’s not only incredibly productive and pro but also a lot of fun.

Toddstar: Are you sticking to the same method and style of music as your previous effort or are you branching out and experimenting at all?  If so, how?

Rachel: Definitely increasing that kinetic energy we had to a whole other level. There are songs that are like tracks from the first album but on steroids or something but we have branched out into some different ways to transfer the CrashDollz energy. We’ve found new ways to get our identifiable sound into songs that are, in separate cases, more straight up punk or more metal or sleazy or more melodic as well as one song that is more of a jerky spastic song that turns into an anthem. Ultimately, the fans that know and like what we’ve done are going to love this record and we’ve branched out enough to bring in new fans.

Toddstar: Things seem to be coming together for the band on all fronts lately.  You guys recently signed with Radiclea Records.  How does it feel to have a label behind you in this day and age of downloads, streaming, etc.?

Rachel: We’ve been around for 5 years and have done everything up till now on our own. It has been time for a while now for a label to step in. It’s a game changer because of the exposure a label with major label distribution will bring us. Our music needs to be heard and there’s only so much we can do on our own. I can’t get our CD into Best Buy and I don’t have the connections to get us in a movie soundtrack, ya know? A label can do things like that.

Toddstar: It was also announced that in addition to a new PR firm, you guys are now also sponsored and endorsed by Metal Babe Mayhem Clothing – are you guys going all corporate on us?

Rachel: Hahaha. Well, the short answer is no but having said that, at a certain stage of a musical career, those things enter into it. We are now endorsed by about 6 different companies. All of which were handpicked by us because we like their stuff and would (and have) plunked our money down to buy it. I’m not big on the business side of all of this and frankly, a lot of it is a headache to me. I’m a songwriter, a guitar player and a performer. I’m not a business woman. But to move forward, we HAD to get our hands into that cookie jar and start talking percentages and obligations and all that. It’s the nature of the beast and I’m learning to acclimate. I do love the idea of anything that gets our music to more people. I want everyone to hear us and if it’s a kid who loves Metal Babe Mayhem clothing who checks us out because we’re on their roster, that’s awesome as far as I’m concerned. I love their clothes and I’m a ham for the camera so I’m happy to do promotional photo sessions for our endorsements. It’s fun and it helps spread the word.

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Toddstar: Rachel, let’s talk about you for a minute: you describe yourself as someone out there trying to set a new standard for punk-metal players.  Who set the bar and that standard for you?

Rachel: Honestly, I think that bar is fairly low. Most guitar players who would identify as punk-metal are probably more punk and less technically inclined. My goal has been to bring fluidity and technicality to punk rock guitar. The metal players already generally do that but many of them lack the passion I bring and way too many guitar players lack the electricity and palpable emoting that I bring to my live performances so I’m out to make all guitar players see something in what I’m doing that might be lacking in their own style (technicality, emoting, transference of emotion during performance, recklessness). I utilize all of those components and all of that is lying on top of well-written songs so, yeah, I’m setting a new bar. I’m a cross between Eddie Van Halen and an out of control Kurt Cobain so maybe they separately were bars I wanted to bring together and surpass as a hybrid player.

Toddstar: You guys have been at this for a while.  With the different bands you have toured or shared a stage with, what have you learned from watching other bands perform or interact with their fan base that you have been able to utilize in your performances or interactions with CrashDollz fans?

Rachel: Playing with Jello Biafra and Negative Approach was a great experience. I think I was just more in awe than anything really. Most of the bands we’ve played with, if I’ve picked up anything, it’s been a reiteration of what NOT to do. Don’t treat other bands like shit, don’t ignore your fans, etc. but we already know that stuff. We are very accessible to our fans. I think a lot of bands learn from us how to grab a crowd by the throat. I see bands change what they’re doing after playing with us so it’s probably more common that bands pick stuff up from us. Sometimes it pisses me off actually.

Toddstar: Speaking of live performances, you have been quoted as saying you channel “the most reckless broken-doll stage performances…”  When it comes to stage persona, how much of it is Rachel that one might run into around town and how much of it is CrashDollz Rachel?

Rachel: Increasingly, there is less of a demarcation line between the two. Originally, I constructed a persona to hide behind because deep down, I’m really a timid girl with a huge nerd streak. This bands music though…it throws a switch in me on stage and I become something totally different. The bigger CrashDollz have gotten, the less the “normal” Rachel even surfaces. For the time being, I’m ok with that but I anticipate trouble down the line. I have no balance and have given myself over to Rekkit. Maybe the truth is that that is more who I am than anything else. It’s just scary ‘cuz Rekkit is a character and that can and has created a disconnect about bad behavior.

Toddstar: Who out there would you like to share the stage with that you believe CrashDollz would match well with from a sound and image standpoint?

Rachel: I don’t know. Maybe Barbed Wire Dolls or maybe a tour with In This Moment or someone. I think whoever we play with, their fans are gonna get their fucking heads blown off no matter what.

Toddstar: Let’s talk about you individually once again.  What or whom in your life created the want or need to get on stage and be a punk-rock star for a living?  Was there a defining moment or influence that is to be thanked… or blamed?

Rachel: Broken home, troubled past, busted spirit, mental illness, and trauma. There isn’t one but many. I always wanted to make other people feel the way I did when I heard great music that set me on fire. That’s at the core of what drives me musically. To share that exhilaration with others. Personally, the need to be on a stage channeling rage and emotional torment (and joy as well) probably comes from being a broken person with a lot of issues.

Toddstar: When was the last time, and by whom, were you star struck?

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Rachel: I don’t get star struck. Nikki Darling impresses me sometimes. She has that larger than life fills up a room with her personality kind of thing, but I do too. I’ve met a ton of huge rock stars. I’ve never felt star struck. I’ve had some pleasant conversations, I’ve had a fling or two and I’ve met some douche bags that let me down. Now if I met Paul McCartney, I would fall into a crying puddle of tears on the floor.

Toddstar: When it comes to leaving home for a tour, whether it is a one-off show or a multi-show run, what are the items you look around your place and decide you cannot leave home without?

Rachel: A picture of my Mom, at least one good book, and I always bring a special stuffed animal to sleep with if I’m home sick.

Toddstar: If you were to leave your music playing device (iPhone, iPod, iPad) behind at a venue, what musical selection(s) might a fan of the band find to be odd on your device?

Rachel: Bjork, XTC, Beach Boys, Radiohead, Skrillex

Toddstar: If you were given the opportunity to go back through the history of time, what piece of music do you wish you could put your stamp on musically or just be a part of the process?

Rachel: The Beatles Revolver album

Toddstar: If you could use one song name to describe your life, what would it be?

Rachel: “Punks in Amerika”

Toddstar: What was the first disc, LP, cassette, 8-track (or whatever mode of music you were into at the time) that you remember owning or purchasing for yourself?

Rachel: Revolver– Beatles

Toddstar: And the last you purchased (physical or download)?

Rachel: Queen Adreena – Ride A Cock Horse

Toddstar: A final thought from you personally, at this point in your career and life, with everything going on, what are you most proud of and want to be remembered for?

Rachel: Originality. I want to be remembered as a musical maverick that played by my own rules and made a musical stamp that was unique and started a musical revolution.

 

CRASHDOLLZ LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

 

all photos: Sweet Marie Photography

Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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