Great survivors The Rocket Dolls determined to outlive "financially crippling" lockdown
Brighton-based trio The Rocket Dolls have already shown themselves to be survivors in the music business.
With their new album The Art Of Disconnect newly out amid the coronavirus shutdown, they are confident they can weather the current storm – even if lockdown has already been “financially crippling” for them.
Front-man Nikki Smash said: “We were going on our first world tour. We were going to do UK, France, Germany, Spain, another UK tour, festivals in the summer and then Australia and Japan… and all of that has now gone. Like, all of it gone.
“You want to be able to say ‘This is all your fault.’ But there is just nothing you can say. This is a very strange time. You have just got to say that it is what it is.”
The new album had already been pushed back: “It was supposed to come out last November, but there were a few financial bits and pieces that we couldn’t line up properly, so we put it back. But we felt we couldn’t put it back again now. We couldn’t delay it any longer. We are already three singles in.”
But the impact of the lockdown has still been massive. In terms of visas and travel, Nikki reckons they have probably lost nearly £6,000: “But we can come back from that. There are the little things you can do like Facebook live and YouTube live. We have set up a PayPal tip jar. People can donate as much money as they want, and we have made some of the advertising money back, which is nice. You’ve just got to put aside all the flights and visa stuff and just forget about it and just accept that that’s the way it is.
“We have been going 12 years and we have had quite a few difficulties that we have overcome, such as the market crash around 2010 or 2011. The crash affected music later than other things. We combatted that by instead of doing our own tours, we would go out with other people and just rely on merch, but you can only do that for so long. It only worked for a while. And we were just about to release our debut album when I got pneumonia from a really simple knee operation. It was such a strange thing. I was having routine knee operations and they didn’t get infected, but they took a while to heal and I got pneumonia. That proved to be 18 months to two years. It was supposed to be six months, but it turned out to be nearly two years out. We started recording our debut album at the end of 2010 and it didn’t come out until 2014. But we survived!
“Some people have said to us that the success of the band is that we are still a band. With half of the stuff that has happened to us, a lot of bands would have just decided that they were going to stop there. But we are still going.”
And that means they enter the current crisis with a degree of confidence for the future. As for the album: “I got told that I had a mild mental health disorder called dissociative disorder. I just felt very detached from things. Some things I can connect with very easily; other things I can’t. It is quite hard to explain, but I was just ‘OK, I am glad I know what it is and I can deal with it.’ But I was battling with the conundrum that I was now battling a label. I started to write immediately, and that is what has become the album.”
The album is called The Art Of Disconnect, but as Nikki says, it is more complicated than the title suggests. “It is actually about connection, just like it is now that we are all isolated, but we are all finding new ways to connect.”
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