Interview: Dorothy’s 28 Days in the Valley, Sobriety & Spiritual Well-Being

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If you’re into a classic, pounding rock sound led by howling female vocals, you’ll be into Dorothy. You may know Dorothy from the popular 2016 anthem, “Raise Hell.” Their debut album, Rockisdead, set a pretty hefty precedent to follow up with. Their latest release, 28 Days in the Valley, not only lived up to its expectations – but surpassed them.

Starting in January, Dorothy embarked on “The Freedom Tour” in support of the new record. Along with frontwoman Dorothy Martin on vocals, the album features Nick Maybury and Leroy Wulfmeier on guitar, Eliot Lorango on bass, and Jason Ganberg on drums. It was produced by Linda Perry.

After catching two shows, I finally had the chance to get on the phone with Dorothy to chat about the new record, which lends quite a different experience than its predecessor. We talked about the sound, the meanings behind some of the songs, and the struggles she’s overcome and used as inspiration to write it.

Hey Dorothy! How are you?

Hey Lauryn, how are you!

I’m good! Excited to be talking with you and getting this interview!

Yeah!

Well, congrats on the release of 28 Days in the Valley.

Thank you!

I saw it went to number 2 on iTunes within just a few hours of its release and right behind Stone Temple Pilots, too. That’s awesome!

Yeah, it’s pretty cool!

So before we get started, I just wanted to tell you that I think one of my favorite videos on the internet so far this year is when you kicked that drunken loser out of your show.

(Laughs) That was so funny, I don’t know what came over me!

Oh my god, you just started screaming at him like hysterically (laughs)! It was so funny.

(Laughs) I was like, first of all you’re distracting. And second of all, everyone else came here to have a good time so if you can’t handle your booze, you need to leave.

Yeah, “only mosh gently at my shows!”

(Laughs)

So, when I last saw you in Nashville, you said you were down to get pretty deep once we had the chance to do this interview. Are you ready for that?

Yeah.

Okay, cool. First we’ll start with the surface. 28 Days in the Valley is your sophomore album. What are you most proud of about this album, and is that any different from what you were most proud of about Rockisdead?

What I’m most proud of about this album is probably being able to dive a little deeper lyrically into the personal aspects of songwriting, and also taking a risk in the sound and allowing this album to be a little more spacey, a little more mellow and feminine. And that’s a risk because you know never if people are going to like it. But I try not to think that way, I’m just going to put out the best music I can and it was awesome working with Linda [Perry]. So taking that risk with the sound and shifting everything like literally the whole band, the lineup, the whole vibe has shifted and that’s a big risk to take and it can be scary. So I’m proud of that and I’m proud of being more personal and really bearing a little more of my soul. I don’t think we’re all the way there, I definitely think I can go deeper and I plan on doing that on the next record. I think it’s totally different from Rockisdead and I have to say I feel like I was much more involved in this one.

Awesome. I mean I think that you can definitely hear that there’s a lot deeper of an element lyrically on the record. So that’s really interesting when comparing the two. I think Rockisdead had a lot more of a fun, singalong feel to it and this is almost in a way a concept album of what you’ve been through.

Totally.

Focusing on the vibe of the record, Rockisdead was a very bluesy, in-your-face powerhouse and 28 Days in the Valley is more of a deserty, psychedelic musical journey. Did you intend for that shift in sound or did it kind of come that way on its own?

No, we completely intended that. We kind of had an idea, Linda and I. She looked at me and goes, “I don’t feel like you’re being genuine to who you are right now.” And that I’m putting on this tough girl, badass front. And you know Linda, she’s brutally honest. Not verbatim, but she said something along those lines, and I kind of have to agree with her. It was my first album and it was just kind of like going in blind like, what are we gonna do? So this time around, we put more thought into what I naturally tend to gravitate toward. Growing up on a lot of folk music and a lot of more of that psychedelic rock, it really influenced me and this time I’m allowing it to influence me and be part of who I am and where I come from. I am a California girl, we live in the desert technically. I love going out to the desert and that’s more of who I am. Before I was kind of trying to find myself. And I think that the evolution is going to continue, I really do. If you stay the same person your whole life, how boring is that? It was a fun evolution, I just feel lighter as a person like this big weight has been lifted off of me. I went through a lot of changes in a good way – spiritually, emotionally, and physically, and I feel like this album really represents that. So the sound reflects that and it was totally a conscious thing on our part, and I think we tapped into something really cool. I love the ‘60s influence, I think it’s awesome.

Yeah, absolutely. You can definitely feel it you’re at your shows. Art is not meant to be concrete, it’s meant to evolve. As a big Doors, Pink Floyd, and Zeppelin fan, it’s refreshing to hear those older influences being channeled in new material.

Yeah totally, I love those bands!

It’s funny that you say you love going out to the desert, that just reminds me of Jim Morrison and all the songs he used to write when he would go out there.

(Laughs) It’s so peaceful out there. You get away from the noise of L.A. and the city, unless you’re at Coachella, then they bring all that with them. But it’s so calm once you get out there, and I’m totally fine with my cell phone not working. We shot some videos out there and played at Joshua Tree a few times, it was really cool.

Awesome. I like to say this album is like Dorothy underwent a stylistic and musical metamorphosis. And it’s kind of ironic because one of my favorite tracks on this record is “White Butterfly.”

Yeah, that one, specifically, really talks about this change.

Yeah it seems really focused on the struggle and the expedition to rediscovering yourself and that can be applied to people in so many different scenarios.

Yeah. That song, specifically, has a lot to do with my recovery. I know that’s not something that too many artists talk about, either because they don’t have a problem or they’re silently suffering, or maybe they just want to keep that part of their life private and quiet. I mean, I can totally relate to the shame of a relapse, and if it’s public it’s just quadrupled. When you have people and you can hear their opinions and they watch you go through it. For example, Demi Lovato did a whole documentary based around that, and I think that’s really awesome and brave. “White Butterfly” is specifically about that, and I don’t mind talking about it because it keeps me in check. It holds me accountable and also if somebody needs to hear that message, they can just come here and hear it if they’re going through the same thing. Because the problem with this illness that I deal with is that we tend to feel really alone and isolated, and we tend to isolate ourselves. That’s the worst thing to do. And when you feel supported and you feel heard, that can really help somebody who’s struggling with something like alcoholism or addiction.

Absolutely. That’s actually what I was going to ask you about next. How do you think becoming sober has affected your songwriting, your performing, and your overall perspective of life in general?

Well, I feel less anxious. Not always, but in general, there’s more of a sense of peace. But I feel everything like ten times more, and I’m already really sensitive to begin with so that’s fun. I feel more clear and connected to my higher power and my creativity. So that whole stereotype that artists need drugs or substances to be creative – it’s not really true. I mean, if it works for you, great, but in my experience I feel like all of that kind of clouds you and weighs you down. I just feel clearer, and it takes time to get your body back to normal and your mind. There’s definitely bad days where I struggle. But I take a tip from Linda Perry. When she has a day like that, she uses it and she’ll write something great that will come out of that. So I’m trying to use creativity and art and music as the drug instead as a coping mechanism for the feelings and emotions that you don’t always understand.

Definitely. I think your sobriety is something that can be really inspirational to people dealing with addiction because you’re proof that it can be overcome and that you can do even greater things once you reach it. Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone that may be reading this who is going through a similar situation?

Yeah. Well, you can’t really do it alone. And when you think I got this, and I’m going to do it my way and I’m gonna do this alone, don’t be surprised when you relapse. You can’t do it alone. For me, I had to relate to other people that were going through the same thing and hear that story over and over again. Because it can be really baffling and confusing…like basically, if you’re allergic to peanuts, you don’t eat them because they can kill you. You can go into anaphylactic shock and die. So in this way, I happen to be very allergic to alcohol. So if I put alcohol in my body, I get an allergic reaction to it where I can’t control the outcome. And it’s always a gamble where I might have a few and go to sleep, or I might go on a bender and end up looking for drugs or maybe doing and saying something I wouldn’t do normally. I drink to black out, I’m not a normal drinker and I can’t control it. So for me, it’s never a good idea to put that substance in my body. And I personally have to hear that story from other people many times to convince myself, because admitting that you have this difference in the way your body reacts and the way you are made, is really hard to do. So for me, it was very humbling to be like, I’m not superwoman and I cannot live my life this way. But, it naturally seems to be that it’ll get bad enough for them that they will decide they don’t wanna live that way anymore. And that’s kind of what happened to me.

Well we’re really glad that you were able to overcome that kind of obstacle and to turn your experience into art to share with the world. Too many musicians lately seem to be losing their battles with, not only substances, but mental health issues as well. What do you think about all of the big losses we’ve had to suicide in the past year and what message do you have for people that are dealing with that particular struggle?

Well, it’s funny that you mention this because I was reading an article on it yesterday. The suicide rate in our industry is just astronomical. Things like post-tour depression are real because you’re coming off this high and everything is just go, go, go and is very structured when you’re out on the road. There is no such thing as a normal life for a musician who is working. Touring is exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally, but it also gives you life. Playing shows is the most amazing feeling ever, but you gotta think of all the in-between time. You’re either on an airplane or in an airport, in a tour bus, in small confined spaces, or in a green room, or you’re getting up early to do radio. So it can be really challenging. So people do end up with issues like that and getting depressed. The rate of attempted suicide in this industry is more than double the average population. So there you have it, and it can be a combination of genetics and (intelligible). Being in the industry, you have to really want this. This is a huge reason why I put self-care first and try to take care of myself the best I can because if I wasn’t, I would probably be way more depressed and way more susceptible to these types of mental health issues. So I think it’s really important that artists and roadies and everyone involved, anyone in this industry, takes really good care of themselves.

Definitely. Well, straying away from the deeper stuff, I want to talk about your music video for “Flawless.” That was so much fun and had so many different elements to it. Do you guys have any plans for any videos for other songs coming up?
Yeah, we’re definitely going to do more videos in the future. We don’t have any immediate plans. Our creative director, Kii Arens, directed that video. I like the way that it almost looks like it’s shot on film. I loved it. The scene at the end where there’s like a layering effect on the beach and you can see my face and then the band running around, that was an accident. It seems like all the cool, trippy stuff that Kii does, he almost like stumbles upon these happy accidents and they end up being really cool. He ended up telling me, “That was totally an accident!” And I was like, I have to keep it and it reminds me of a scene from the movie, Grease. (Laughs) When they’re singing “Summer Nights” on the beach.

(Laughs) Sandy and Danny!
Yeah! So it was fun, we shot that video in two days when we were on our break between both legs of the Freedom Tour.

If you guys ever considered doing a video for “Mountain,” I think that would be an incredible idea. It’s such a fun, earthy song that sounds like it would have such a cool visual component that would go with it.

Yeah, it’s a good song. I don’t know what the video would look like, I let Kii make those decisions. I actually want to do a video for “Pretty When You’re High.”

That would be awesome! That’s actually another one of my favorites on the record. But I’m curious about “We are STAARS,” what’s with the spelling?

Oh (laughs), that’s just because we sing it like “S-T-A-A-R.” That’s just how we spelled it.

Oh okay, gotcha. I wasn’t sure if there was some kind of hidden meaning behind that or whatever. Another one of your really funs on the album is “On My Knees,” is there a particular inspiration behind this song or was it meant to just be like a fun, chick song?

Yeah, well that was a song Linda had worked on, it was a demo for me and she was like “here, work out some of the lyrics.” So, it was kind of already gestated somewhat before I got in the studio to finish it up with her. It’s not about anyone in particular.
Yeah, I didn’t expect you to get that personal!

(Laughs) I was so busy making this album, we were just working non-stop and I didn’t have any time for dating – still don’t. But it’s kind of like my outlet for that because it’s totally a fun, flirty song.

That was the vibe I picked up as soon as I heard it. You start speaking Spanish and then chanting about shaking your ass!

(Laughs) For some reason that part just kind of sounded right…it’s a sample from another song but I was like, for some reason I want to sing this right here. And just kept it.

So, what’s the next step with touring? I know you guys are going to Arroyo Seco, I’m really trying to hit that.

Oh yeah, that’d be awesome! Yeah we’re doing that. We’re looking at other festivals, we’ve got some offers. We’re gonna continue touring, gotta promote the record ya know! There’s some bands that wanna take us out, so we’re deciding what to do.

Very cool. Do you guys plan on going outside the U.S. borders at all?
There has been discussion, yes.

Awesome! Well, I’m glad I got to catch the couple of Freedom Tour shows that I did. I just love the vibe of the show, it was one of the coolest I’ve ever been to. The whole visual and musical aesthetic of everything…I obviously was not around for the counterculture, but it’s kind of the closest thing to experience to that.

Well, thank you for coming it was awesome that you were able to come out.

Absolutely, I think if anyone who is reading has the chance to go out and see you guys, then they absolutely should. And if they haven’t picked up 28 Days in the Valley, then do that as well!
Thank you!

Thank you so much for your time and I’m glad we finally got to get this interview!
It’s my pleasure, any time Lauryn.

Get some rest so you can keep killing it once the touring picks up again.

I definitely will. Thank you.

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Lauryn is a contributing writer for Alternative Nation, primarily doing show/album reviews, editorials, video reporting, and interviews with bands like The Pretty Reckless, Seether, and Greta Van Fleet. First and foremost a huge Guns N’ Roses fan, she’s big on classic rock and grunge, with taste spanning from The Doors to Alice in Chains. You can either see Lauryn at a rock festival, or driving across the country to get to one. Lauryn loves getting feedback and tips. You can reach her at laurynschaffner @yahoo.com , as long as it's related to rock.