In a musical era where electronically produced sounds constitute a majority of the most popular songs, Grecian classic/punk rock band, Barb Wire Dolls, takes a sledgehammer to that standard with their homage to a time when guitar riffs and raw vocals corralled crowds. With an upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. on Halloween night, lead singer Isis Queen shared her thoughts on the band’s rise, evolution and against-the-grain existence with the News-Press.
The Barb Wire Dolls started on the island of Crete, Greece in 2010 when Queen and lead guitarist Pyn Doll were living outside of an artist commune. Being constantly surrounded by artistic individuals coupled with their affinity for classic and punk rock guided the two toward starting a band. Given both of their novice experiences of the band life, the live-and-let-live attitude of punk rock was a natural attractor.
“It was easy for us to start a band because we were into punk rock,” Queen said. “You don’t really need to know your rules or instruments…That kind of music gave me the encouragement to do what I do because of the no-rules aspect.”
Soon after the duo recorded a demo, the Barb Wire Dolls got some airtime on KROQ-FM in Los Angeles. Positive feedback from their American radio debut led Queen and Doll to come stateside to perform and eventually where they sold out their first show at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood. It was clear early on that the two were tapping into something in the American market, and after self-releasing their first two EPs, a Kickstarter campaign helped the band put out their next album, Slit, in 2012.
What followed was stretch of intensive touring that spanned most of the continental U.S. and Europe from 2012-14, all in the name of promoting Slit. And while the duo had become a more well-rounded band in the process – adding drummer Krash Doll, bassist Iriel Blaque and rhythm guitarist Remmington Pearce to the mix – they also engineered an international following that was beginning to take after their devil-may-care approach on stage.
“We don’t compromise on our music,” Queen continued. “We allow ourselves to grow artistically, and our fans grow with us. It’s a rollercoaster because you never know what’s going to happen around the corner, but that’s good — it keeps it exciting.”
By 2015 more important heads were starting to turn when the Barb Wire Dolls came to town. A prime example being the late-Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, who went on to sign the band to his record label, Motörhead Music. Kilmister’s interest was a huge vote of confidence for the group and was also a sign that their music resonated with a broad swath of humanity.
Though you wouldn’t believe it if you looked at the Billboard Hot 100. Outside of the Imagine Dragons, who themselves are more alternative rock than a tried and true rock band, there are few representatives of the genre in mainstream music anymore.
This would normally leave popular opinion to decree rock “dead” (again), which is why the Barb Wire Dolls’ ascension is all the more impressive.
“Punk rock’s an attitude at the end of the day, it’s not a genre. A lot of the bands forget that and then it becomes stale and boring and, yes, it could inevitably end up dying because of that,” Queen added. “When [Kilmister] signed us, he didn’t sign us because we were a punk band. He signed us because we were rock and roll, and that is what we are.”
The Barb Wire Dolls will be playing at the The Pinch (3548 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C.) Tuesday, Oct. 31. Tickets can be found at bandsintown.com/BarbWireDolls.