A rising all-girl punk covers band with roots in Lancashire is set for a rocking year in 2016.
The Dolls - with a not-so-family-friendly-publication full name inspired by the Sex Pistols - were formed after a drunken night in Poulton.
And within a short spell of performing their ‘punk, ska and dirty rock’ act together, the five women are looking forward to an exciting year and some huge performances.
Fronted by Nancy Doll, real name Caroline Beaumont, who moved to Blackpool in the autumn from Manchester, is joined by bandmates bass player Jilly Idol, real name Jill Bethwaite from Bamber Bridge - whose husband Nigel is the band’s stage manager and guitar technician, drummer Anna Key from Nottingham, rhythm guitarist Kitty Vacant from Kent, and lead guitarist Connie Rotter from London.
Caroline was drawn into the nostalgia of the punk scene after a late night watching classic punk clips online with partner Paul Smith, having previously worked as an Amy Winehouse tribute across the North West.
Paul, now the band’s manager, said: “We decided to put a band together and make it an all-girl one and quite attractive girls too.
“Normally with girl punk groups they tend to be a bit grungy, we wanted to glam it up.”
With an initial aim to keep the band local, they struggled to complete the line up, eventually recruiting members from across the country through online auditions.
Such was the hype following a first gig at Blackpool’s The Layton - ahead of which Caroline said they’d only rehearsed a handful of the 30 songs in their set - Paul was called by the bookings team for the national O2 gig venues wanting to sign them up for a tour, which included Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, Leicester and Manchester Academy.
“It went from something fun to ‘Wow, this is starting to take off’,” Paul added. “Over all, the first gig was rubbish though, there were so many mistakes but there were three or four songs that from an audience point of view were magical.
“If we hadn’t had those songs, we’d have packed it in, but we decided to persevere and the whole show is now mesmerising.”
In around 18 months The Dolls have secured a publishing deal for a book of their story, a 48-date UK tour this spring, and the opening set slot at the world-famous Isle Of Wight Festival in June.
They’re also working with top music agent John Giddings, with Paul saying there were talks of The Dolls becoming the ‘biggest all-girl band in the world in the next few years’.
“John’s told us not to book any more gigs the weekend of Isle Of Wight Festival as he wants us for media commitments throughout,” Paul added.
He said there had been some early criticism of The Dolls by traditional punk audiences, but they’ve proven the critics wrong and drawn a large and dedicated national following.
And because of the issues in those early days, Paul says they wouldn’t play Blackpool’s own Rebellion punk festival, held at the Winter Gardens each August.
“People were saying things like ‘Five girls probably can’t play their instruments, they should be pole dancing’,” he said. “It has died down now after the tour and they’re being met by so much adulation that it has shut those critics up.
“It was horrible to read and so personal, so we vowed we would never play Rebellion as we wouldn’t play for that audience.
“We’re not a band to put the Empress Ballroom on our must-play list. If we got an offer for Rebellion Festival we would turn it down.”