LEFT TO RIGHT: JOSH BAROCAS, JACK BYRNE, MALCOLM FORD, AND KYLE OLSON
Save for their name and core members—frontman Malcolm Ford and guitarist Jack Byrne—The Dough Rollers are a very different band than they were a couple years ago. Once boys you’d proudly bring home to your mother, they are now the sort you’d sneak off with in the night on the back of a motorcycle. Joined by Josh Barocas on bass and Kyle Olson on drums, the group has traded in their neatly pressed suits for jeans and t-shirts, exposing arms full of tattoos. The southern blues influence remains, but these days they sound less rockabilly and more rock. Perhaps it has something to do with hanging around Jack White at his label, Third Man Records, in Nashville where they recorded their latest 7″, Little Lily, as part of Third Man’s “Blue Series.” Or maybe the boys were always whisky drinkers and weed smokers—with hearts of gold, of course.
When we met with Ford and Byrne at Ford’s New York apartment earlier this week, they were all grins and charming banter, particularly surrounding their record release party tonight at The Slipper Room. It’s a gritty, infectious record—sex, sweat and rock-‘n’-roll. As Ford attended to his leaking air conditioner and ate a nutritious meal—Velveeta macaroni and cheese—we discussed Dough Rollers version 2.0, the record, and how to find weed on tour.
ALLYSON SHIFFMAN: Can someone please tell me what a dough roller is?
MALCOLM FORD: The Dough Rollers is a name we made up for our band.
SHIFFMAN: Come on, it definitely means something.
JACK BYRNE: It’s what they would say a long time ago either for… not really your girlfriend but the girl you were banging, or the actual act of banging that girl.
SHIFFMAN: [laughs] So it’s an extremely sexist band name, basically.
BYRNE: It’s just sexually charged.
SHIFFMAN: Let’s talk about how everything about your band has changed recently.
BYRNE: So many things have changed. The people have changed… The people have changed many times.
FORD: We’re like Brian Jonestown Massacre, except me and Jack are both Anton.
SHIFFMAN: Also, you sound different.
FORD: It was a natural progression. Hopefully our band has changed, it’s pretty boring to stay the same.
SHIFFMAN: You even dress differently. Why did you stop wearing suits?
BYRNE: People said, “Nice suits, faggots” one too many times, and we were over the suits.
FORD: It just became a pain in the ass. One day we accidentally played a show not in suits and we were like, “Wait, this is way more comfortable.”
SHIFFMAN: How did you come to be working with Jack White?
BYRNE: From playing the Queens Of The Stone Age tour. I guess they are friends with him and we hung out one night after we played in Nashville.
FORD: He came and saw us play at The Ryman.
BYRNE: And a year and a half or two years later, he called us and said, “Do you want to record a single?”
FORD: Then it moved very fast. Their whole process is like, “OK you want to make a record? Cool, can you be here in 25 minutes?”
SHIFFMAN: Malcolm, are you eating Kraft Dinner?
FORD: It’s Velveeta.
SHIFFMAN: Maybe they’ll sponsor you for that mention.
FORD: I’d be so down to be sponsored by Velveeta. I could go into cardiac arrest at 30 years old.
SHIFFMAN: What music did you guys listen to growing up?
FORD: I didn’t grow up with music in the house, like every kid had “Blackbird” playing when they got home from school or something. My mom would have Wagner on sometimes, but I got into punk music first. My first cassette was Green Jellÿ. That was the band I was really into.
SHIFFMAN: What the hell is that?
FORD: Green Jellÿ was some really hardcore, weird shit. I definitely wasn’t listening to Robert Johnson when I was 13 years old.
SHIFFMAN: In what ways does living in New York influence you as a band?
FORD: I think just the fact that you go nuts here if you’re not doing something because it’s so fucking boring. What the fuck else are we going to do?
SHIFFMAN: Well, that’s my next question. What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
BYRNE: I have no other skill set.
FORD: Life of crime or a police officer.
SHIFFMAN: What advice would you give your 16-year-old selves?
FORD: Get a fucking job and don’t play music, honestly. I’d tell myself to be a cop or start being good at crime. No offense to Jack. We’d be partners if we were cops, obviously.
SHIFFMAN: I’ve seen you both play a breadth of instruments. Who taught you to play music?
FORD: Jack taught me how to play guitar. I paid him with weed.
BYRNE: That’s true. “The green plant.”
SHIFFMAN: [laughs] Who calls it that? That’s awful.
BYRNE: Once Malcolm wrote, “Bring the green plant,” on Twitter before one of our shows.
FORD: I was trying to find us weed. What was I supposed to say? Bring us weed?
SHIFFMAN: Did you succeed?
BYRNE: No. We found a meth rock and a bloody coat hanger in the parking lot though.
SHIFFMAN: Tell me another weird tour story.
FORD: Jack got robbed in Canada once.
BYRNE: A guy in a fedora and a suit stole my briefcase off our luggage cart. It had two passports, all our money, medicine… It was awesome.
SHIFFMAN: [laughs] What your least favorite thing about being on tour together?
FORD: You just said “aboot,” by the way. [laughs] What was the question? [pauses] Okay, the worst part I guess is not having consistent drug flow. [laughs] Really! That’s the hardest part. Not being able to get weed stresses us out more than anything else on tour.
BYRNE: That’s true. Also maybe eating McDonald’s three times a day.
SHIFFMAN: Malcolm does that in New York anyway. Who in your band gets picked on the most?
BYRNE: Kyle is old, so he gets a lot of hate from everyone. He’s also really tall.
FORD: He’s the biggest one. [laughs] He could beat the shit out of every member of the band fighting him at the same time. I’ve only seen him get angry one time and it was at me… let’s just say you don’t want to see Kyle angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry.
SHIFFMAN: Who keeps the band organized?
FORD: Jack keeps it together. Usually I call a practice and everyone but me shows up. There’s always something wrong with someone and it’s usually me… but it’s always a real problem.
SHIFFMAN: They’re not fictional.
FORD: You know, I’ve been trying to figure out if fiction or nonfiction is fake for so long and now I know fictional is fake. I was too embarrassed to ask that question to anybody.
SHIFFMAN: [laughs] That’s what the Internet is for. You’re a New York band. What are your New York recommendations?
BYRNE: Village Farm Deli on 9th Street [recites phone number to deli].
FORD: The guy there thinks my name is Mike.
BYRNE: …And Grey’s Papaya, that’s my real recommendation.
FORD: I hate that place. It’s like they’ve always just swept a dead homeless guy out of there. I would go against Grey’s Papaya. My recommendation is come to my house, I’ll make you Velveeta.
SHIFFMAN: So tell me about this show on Thursday.
FORD: It’s the album release party, at The Slipper Room, at 7 pm.
SHIFFMAN: And I heard there might be naked ladies there.
BYRNE: Maybe one. We’ll pull together for one stripper.
SHIFFMAN: Is that provided by the venue, or do you guys bring a stripper yourself?
BYRNE: We bring a stripper ourselves.
FORD: I’m requesting that she wear nipple tassels. My mom is coming.
SHIFFMAN: Do you want people to bring you anything other than weed and Velveeta macaroni?
FORD: Bring smiles!
BYRNE: Open ears.
THE DOUGH ROLLERS WILL PLAY TONIGHT, JULY 25 AT THE SLIPPER ROOM IN NEW YORK. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE BAND OR THEIR LATEST RECORD, LITTLE LILY, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.