Music

Genres collide in Dolly Rotten

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Alberta has a wild heart: a work-hard-play-harder core that’s more at home tearing through mud and shooting whisky than living in buttoned-down office towers. Edmonton band Dolly Rotten, fronted by gravel-voiced Lace Daryn, is the definition of that rough-and-tumble lifestyle.

“Our material is 100-percent Alberta,” Daryn says. “Everything about it. My favourite song on our new album is called ‘Working Class Son of a Bitch.’ It’s just about the pride that comes from growing up here.”

But Dolly Rotten isn’t slick Nashville; it’s a witches brew of outlaw country, punk and metal music with blue-collar roots and rock ‘n’ roll decadence. Thrash guitars and double-kick bass drums groove on the same track as pedal steel and Telecaster twang.

Daryn formed Dolly Rotten with fellow Westlock-Barrhead-area musician Kurt West late last decade, as they shared a bottle of Jack Daniels after hours in a bar she worked at.

“We were sitting on the floor hiding from the cameras,” Daryn says. “We were talking about music, about how the punk-rock bands in [Edmonton] were fading and dying. I was writing country music, then leaning more towards punk rock. Kurt was developing metal bands. We just thought, why does it have to be one thing—why can’t we just do it all?”

Daryn says the band comes by its country-metal sound honestly. A small-town girl, she grew up listening to classic country. Then she left home when she was 16 to join a punk-rock band in Edmonton.

“I was too country for punk rock and I was too punk rock for country,” Daryn says. “When I came home I was like the freak in town, but when I moved to the city everyone was like, ‘You’re a redneck.'”

The band maintains real blue-collar roots: Daryn worked at a lumber mill for five years, co-founding member and guitar player West is a trucker, bass player Tyler Wilson is a hot-shot driver and guitar player Greg Stefishen is a mechanic. It’s only Smokey Fennel—the pedal steel player who keeps Dolly Rotten country in even its loudest moments—who works as a full-time musician.

The band is set to release its debut full-length record, Coming For You. Recorded half in West’s garage and in local producer Brad Smith’s studio, Daryn describes the album as “intense.”

“Don’t listen to it when you’re trying to go to bed,” she laughs. “It makes you want to drive really fast. Every song takes you to this high sort of place—even the slow songs.”

Fri, Apr 3 (8 pm)
With Kurt West Express, the Devil’s Bed, Lonesome Dove
Pawn Shop, $12

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