For the duo known as One Eyed Doll, they learned how to build up their band from the ground up on their own. Since starting the band in 2006, they have released 11 records total, including five of their first six full length recordings were released on their own (their latestWitches was released on Standby Records) under One Eyed Doll.
Vocalist and guitarist Kimberly Freeman and drummer Jason Sewell do all of the band business themselves. They shared some of the ins and outs of what they are working on, aside from constantly creating music and not necessarily intended for a record.
Touring is one of their lifelines of keeping One Eyed Doll going, and have shared stages with Orgy, OTEP, Wayne Static and Mushroomhead.
“Thanks to all of these bands for bringing us out and helping us build what we have now. We will always be grateful for all of that,” says Freeman.
“We go and we know there’s always a lot of One Eyed Doll shirts in the audience. People always line up at the merch table for autographs. You never really know if they’re really going to come just for us,” said Sewell.
“Do they really like us or are they coming for the other bands?,” wonders Freeman, with a smile.
“It’s really nice to know we can go out and headline and pack the house,” added Sewell.
Of the tours they ventured onto, Freeman talked about a recent tour with Orgy they took part on. “We shared a lot of fans. I really liked the Orgy tour. There were a lot of girls and a lot of…I don’t know. I really liked that scene. I really liked their fans. The whole band was sweet to us.”
“He has been so encouraging to us and he’s just an amazing person and an amazing performer.”
One of Freeman’s favorite pastimes is drawing, which ironically is also tied into the band’s business. Whether it involves designing merch or otherwise, she enjoys what she does and sees it as a part of them.
“I wouldn’t call it art work. I doodle. Everything is involved with the band. It’s merch. I make and design our merch so that has to do with music. If you’re asking totally removed from the band what are my hobbies then I couldn’t tell you really. I don’t collect wine or anything. I write songs. I love writing songs. I just play guitar, piano or banjo.”
“It takes up 120 percent of our time. One Eyed Doll is a business. We pretty much handle all of the nuts and bolts of the business. We have a really cool team of people. We have a booking agent who helps us book shows. We have various members of the team, but for the most part we handle the day to day, ins and outs of making the merch. We collaborate with different artists and then Kimberly will design the merch based on their artwork. Kimberly also handles the web design stuff. I do all of the recording. We both handle a lot of promotions. We’re always working to keep ourselves funded so that we can continue making music and touring full time,” added Sewell.
Through the band, they have ended up working with a number of producers and musicians who had been influential in shaping their band and their career. One person is producer Sylvia Massey, who they worked with on some recordings that had yet to be released. But ironically, she is making a book and they shared the news about being part of it.
“Sylvia Massey is making a book. We are going to be in that book. We just found out. Sylvia Massey, legendary producer who made the first couple of Tool albums, System of a Down, and worked with Johnny Cash, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and One Eyed Doll of course. She’s making a book on recording outside of the box – being creative with the recording process. She’s been talking to us about it. It’s really cool!,” said Sewell.
“She’s one of the most creative producers of our time, if not the. She’s just gets it done. She knows what she wants to hear and she makes it happen. It can come out of some really weird places. We so enjoyed working with her. If you get a chance to work with Sylvia Massey, do it,” added Freeman.
Another person they befriended is Martin Atkins, the one time drummer for Public Image Limited, Killing Joke, Pigface and Ministry, and the one time founder of Invisible Records. Now he teaches music business via SAE School and included One Eyed Doll as part of his lectures and his book Welcome To The Music Business – You’re Fucked.
Sewell plays down how well the band is truly doing despite how the lecture makes them look. “I don’t know about making money but we can eat! We don’t have a day job.”
“We do this full time. He is such an awesome, encouraging supporter. He is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met – so much respect. He’s such a great drummer,” said Freeman.
Sewell shared Atkins’ contribution to one of their songs. “He did a drum solo on one of our songs on Into Outer Space called ‘Live Or Die.’ “
“It’s a great song. He just helped tell the story with his amazing crazy beat that he did. The whole bridge is this drum solo and Jason’s playing this weird bass over it. He is awesome. We love him,” added Freeman.
Lastly, both of them gave a lengthy set of advice for any musicians who are indie artists and how to work their way up the musical ladder of life. Freeman shared her thoughts on the matter.
“Don’t sign a contract you don’t like. Make it your terms and don’t worry about that. Get out there and play shows. Play shows and get one fan at a time on your email list. Get out there and play, tour outside of your home town, [and] build your following. The other stuff and all of that record label bs, it’s probably not going to help you out that much. Just keep playing shows, do your thing and run it like a business, take it seriously and make sure everybody is putting all of their energy into that.”
“[With] record contracts, when it comes time for that stuff, you just take it one at a time and check them out. Don’t just sign that first thing that comes by you. You say no if it’s not what you want. Half of the time they’re not going to live up to those contracts anyways, just so you know. Don’t rely on that. That’s not the goal. Your goal is to build your following to be strong and to have your back whether you’re independent or you sign, you have something to bring. That will support you. No record contract is going to support you. Your fans will support you. So that’s what you need to build.”
“The philosophy I think you can live by as a musician is when you need the help, it will be there for you. If you’re still able to handle stuff on your own, then do it. If you get to the point like, at this point we needed some help on some things…so if you need the help since you don’t have enough time in the day to handle all of the business that you’re getting – to handle all of the fans that want merch, handle all of the shows that want you to perform at…,” said Sewell.
“There might be a point where you need to work with an agency or a distribution deal or a manager or a record label,” said Freeman.
“You don’t want to jump into it,” said Sewell.
One area they mentioned was the use of a publicist and when a good time to employ one will come in handy. Once again, Freeman shared her thoughts.
“A publicist is a big one that we grabbed onto that early on before we were on with anybody. We need publicity because we can’t schedule everything that’s coming in and we’ve got the blogosphere but we don’t know how to talk to bigger magazines and they don’t want to speak to us. We were at a point where we needed to hire a publicist.”
“Just to give you a ball park thing that worked for us. We had gotten to the point where we’ve toured enough and we’re selling enough merch off of our website. We were getting our iTunes stuff was getting to about $1000 a month. That’s how much we could afford to pay for a publicist at that point. A publicist might cost as much as $3000 a month. That’s all we could afford at the time was around $900 and we asked someone if they would give us a deal and they said yes. That was one of the best things this band has ever done, even though it was hard times for us to be able to have to take all of the money we were generating at the time and shuffle it around.”
“We had to eat rice and then pay our publicist. That’s what we did, but that brought us to the next level. The publicist can really help you out if you find the right one,” said Sewell.
“They got the attention of all of these other business types who wanted to work with us after that because they were able to see what we were doing. Before it was like they would have never been able to see it at all,” said Freeman.
“I would recommend before a label or a booking agent or any of that, it might be a good idea to invest in a publicist. Give it a month or two and if it’s not working out, then try someone else. That’s the cool thing about a publicist – you’re not in it for a long contract. You can hire them just for one month and see what they could do. Most of them will let you do that, especially if it’s around an album release – you’re putting an album out, there’s a story….you want to have something to talk about – a tour, an album…or else there’s no reason to hire a publicist. But if you have something cool coming up, save your pennies, put it into a publicist and see if you could make some national news happen,” concluded Sewell.