Everything about One-Eyed Doll screams “passion.” From their music to merch, every fan out there can have a little piece of the spunky singer/songwriter, Kimberly Freeman. Who needs pyrotechnics when you have Kimberly’s energy explode on stage? With her lengthy pigtails flailing around like whips, it’s hard to believe she has yet to fly away like a helicopter while headbanging. And then you have Jason Rufus Sewell’s (aka Junior) mad drum beats and chill sense of humor—and, of course, both members of the two-piece band will most-likely be decked out in some sort of Halloween makeup.
However, it’s no wonder these two have captured the hearts of so many music junkies. One-Eyed Doll’s wicked, must-see performances are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg—after speaking to Kimberly and Junior for half a minute, it’s clear that they offer so much warmth and love to their adoring fans. So, after jamming out to their sweet-yet-sometimes creepy tunes, there’s always a rush to get in just a second with the dynamic duo.
And it doesn’t stop there. Kimberly makes her own merch—band tees, necklaces, and even perfumes. So, on top of writing such hauntingly beautiful music and relatable lyrics, she puts her crafting skills to use. I was lucky to catch Kimberly and Junior before they set out on their 2016 Visions Tour and get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be on the road with One-Eyed Doll.
How’ve you guys been doing?
Jason Rufus Sewell: Good! Good—we’re just getting ready for the tour. We’re in the studio making new music… And we’ve been making new merch…
So, how do you guys prep for the tour? Last tour, Kimberly, you built an entirely new website.
Kimberly Freeman: Uh, we’ve been doing a rock squat.
You said the exact same thing last time!
JRS: That’s what we do!
KF: (Laughs) That’s all you really need to do before you go on tour. Just rock squat. And there are some other small details. You know, all the booking stuff, promotions, rehearsals… Mainly it’s the rock squat that makes it happen.
JRS: And then if you’re talking about putting the tour together, we work with an agency called TKO and they’re a really great agency. They’ve been booking for us since 2011. And with this one, they put us together with Eyes Set To Kill, which is another really cool band that we love and they love us.
So we kinda started conceiving the idea for the tour back in October during the Halloween tour and that’s that! We all agreed on the name of the tour and some of the surprises coming up that we’re not gonna talk about yet. And Aaron Bordner who does a lot of out artwork made the poster design for the tour, so that’s really cool.
Yeah! A lot of new things are out. I saw that there’s a new shop out from you guys called Kimberly’s Magical Charm Shop. What inspired you to do that?
KF: Well, I’ve always made stuff. But a lot of our fans know that from way back in the day, our first merch was stuff that I dumpster dove and made art out of. I started out with absolutely nothing so I had to really work to create things that I could sell at my shows. I’ve always been kinda crafty and before music, I was making jewelry and sold it. So I got back to it a few months ago before the last tour and I put out a few pieces as an experiment and that went really well.
So I decided, “Hey! Why not just put out my own line?” And stuff that’s not necessarily One-Eyed Doll branded, but “me” branded, so it’s kind of the same thing. But it’s not really One-Eyed Doll related.
JRS: It’s not really music-related.
KF: Yeah. Well, some of it is. Some of it is inspired by songs and stuff. I just decided that it would be cool to have a shop that’s more focused on what I wanna make. It’s gone really, really well. I’m really happy with it—especially seeing that other people are happy with the idea. And if I can keep up with it, I think it’s gonna continue.
Keep it up! They’re so cool. But when on tour, what is one thing—aside from your instruments—that you absolutely need?
JRS: Well, since 2013, we’ve had a really awesome tour bus. That’s been really cool. Like, you’ve kind of made it when you can tour around in a tour bus (laughs). But it’s pretty cool. It’s got a shower and a toilet… It’s got a stove, an oven, and all of this kind of stuff that makes it so that life on the road is—well, when you’re on the road in a van, it’s really difficult. I mean, it’s still kind of difficult to tour, but having some basic amenities is something that I personally really feel like touring without that now would be really difficult.
KF: Yeah, but we’ve done it for 10 years, so we could do it—no problem. But it’s very luxurious to have a place to sleep and be able to bring our friends out with us. And that’s another thing. We can have crew now! So, we get to have an excuse to bring our friends out with us who have certain skills and hang out with them on the road. That’s nice. But I think the thing that I do not want to go on tour without is Melinda our merch girl (laughs). That’s my thing. Jason says the bus, I say Melinda.
That’s so sweet! Will she be back on tour?
KF: I don’t know.
JRS: You never know who’s going on tour until we leave for tour.
KF: I hope so! We’re not gonna cancel the tour, I guess, if she doesn’t come with us…
JRS: It’s looking good, though.
KF: Yeah. We have it set up so far. But hopefully she’s coming along. We always invite her. And it looks like we have Riggs on this one—you didn’t get to meet him last tour, but a lot of our fans did. Benjamin, our stage manager and tech. He joined us on tour and jumped on guitar for a couple of songs, so that was a nice surprise. We’ve got Mike who did a few tours with us a few tours ago.
JRS: He’s doing lighting. He’s our light tech.
KF: Yeah. Our light buddy. The man behind the curtains. And Jeff, our NASA rocket scientist, will be with us as well. It’s gonna be a good crew. That’s important. If you’re gonna have a crew, they’ve gotta be quality people (laughs). People you wanna be around. I mean, I love these people—they’re the best people in the world. And they have to be talented. That’s the other thing. We need people that we like, but they also have to be talented and very hard-working and to be able to deal with cabin fever.
JRS: And to have a positive demeanor.
KF: Yes! And it’s important that they can chillax and not wear everybody out around them. But anyway—we’ve got a really great crew so it’s gonna be awesome. And I think every touring band that has been able to bring crews out for several tours has dealt with that and it makes you really grateful for a great crew. But I’m supposed to be the prima donna. If someone else is, and I have to step down, that doesn’t work.
I can’t see any of you guys being like that! You’re all so friendly and giving—you’re always doing giveaways on social media.
KF: Aw. Thank you! I’m in danger of doing too many of them at one time. It’s cool for me, though, because when someone is so excited about winning that thing and then I get to mail it to them, it’s—I don’t know. I like that. But I’ve been told that I have to be careful about giving away too many things… But I enjoy it. But then I always have this fear that all of these people who don’t win and they’ll be sad. And then it’s like, “Maybe I can give all of them something, too!”
Aw. Well you’ve been giving out little gift codes! But getting back to the tour, do you guys have a particular venue you’re looking forward to?
JRS: Well, we like playing at Webster Hall, the one you’re going to be at.
KF: Yeah! I’ll have my Webster Hall t-shirt when we pull up! I am a Webster Hall fan. I love that place. But there are a lot of really great venues on this tour, though. Like the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. They’ve got those pentagram lights that I enjoy, and… Yeah. There are some really cool places.
JRS: Yeah, and we’re gonna start off in our hometown at the Dirty Dog and Fitzgerald’s in San Antonio. And Sunshine Studios in Colorado Springs.
KF: We love them. Highly recommended to bands who get to chose where they can play. We really like those guys.
JRS: And maybe—I don’t know if they’re gonna do this this time, but the last two times, they let us stream the show live. So, if you can’t make it to that show, you can tune in to our Colorado show, which is I think the fourth show in.
KF: Yeah. And we can’t promise that they’ll stream it, but they do have that and it’s a neat bonus for the fans.
JRS: Yeah, they’re kind of a high-tech organization. Their sound guy is a super pro recording/producer—
KF: He’s also a rock star!
JRS: Yeah, he works there between tours… And they have a recording studio there.
KF: Yeah, the past couple of tours, they’ve let us have our VIP party in the recording studio, so it’s really nice. In fact, the tour before the last, our VIP party was a recording session, so they let us use the booth in the studio for that, so everybody got to be in a state-of-the-art booth. That was really neat for them. It was neat for me!
That’s so cool! Can you guys write on the road? Or is that a big no?
JRS: Well, a lot of the times, Kimberly or I will have an idea and we’ll just hum it into our phones. So there’s that, and we have initial ideas. And actually on the last tour, during soundcheck, there were a couple of times where we were just goofing around and we came up with some pretty cool riffs. They will probably end up as One-Eyed Doll songs.
KF: (Laughs) Oh. One of them—I had a dream and we were at this really tiny venue in Wichita and I just woke up and it was soundcheck time, and I ran into soundcheck and I still had this riff in my head that was in my dream and my dream was that we were the opening band for Iron Maiden on tour. But the lead singer and guitarist of Iron Maiden was Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. So, he was in Iron Maiden and he was playing this riff.
So, I woke up and ran into soundcheck and started playing that riff and Jason was like, “What are you playing?” and I was like, “Oh, it was Dave Mustaine.” I was still kind of sleepy. “It’s not my riff, it’s Dave Mustaine’s riff—no, it was Iron Maiden’s.” So, it’s funny because it didn’t occur to me because I wasn’t awake enough to realize how weird that was with Dave Mustaine and Iron Maiden. But I don’t even remember what the riff was. But we recorded it! We recorded it at soundcheck.
Anyway, stuff like that sometimes happen or sometimes I’ll write and close myself off a little bit and write. There’re no rules. Not like we try not to write on tour. But there’s not much time for it. It happens. Writing happens when it happens. It’s not something I can control. Like, when you’ve got inspiration, you’ve got inspiration.
I completely understand that. But I saw you released a cover of “My Favorite Things” at Christmastime. What made you want to do that?
KF: Well, I’d always loved that song. I’m a big fan. And when I listen to it, I always feel very melancholy, even though the meaning of it is cheerful. So, I always thought it would be kinda cool to try remaking it with some more melancholy edge. There was some Christmas music playing and that came on. It was a cover of that song that was chipper and upbeat. But I’d never heard a sad version of this song because I love to hear it with all minor… Like, I just wanna hear it that way, so I guess we just had to make it that way.
JRS: Yeah. And I went through and took the regular chord progression and substituted in a lot of chords that were not really the chords that are in the song. They’re kind of more of a dark version of the chords that were in the song. That was a fun kind of process, too.
KF: Yeah! And it’s just kind of something that a lot of times around the holidays, Jason will say, “What do you wanna do?” And I’m like, “I wanna record a song!”
JRS: I’m like, “You wanna go to the movies? Do something fun?” And she’s like, “Let’s stay in and record a song!” So it’s like, “Okay. Cool.” So we actually have a lot of music that is recorded and has not been released yet, so there’s still lots of stuff to go.
Huh. So when’s that new album coming out, guys?
KF: I dunno.
JRS: That’s the official answer. It’s a secret. That’s the official answer.
KF: No, not knowing is more like it. We try not to tour during the winter because it’s dangerous and people are sick… So many of my friends are sick! But we tour so much, there’s really only one season we can write and record.
So, winter is my choice for staying off the road. Knock on wood. But I’m really happy to be off the road right now because all of the news coming in from my friends is like, they’re sick, or they’re freezing… (Laughs) And the venues don’t always have a backstage and when they do, a lot of the time, there’s water on the floor and no heat and you get sick.
And there’ve been a lot of gross musicians in there ahead of you and they’ve been sick. Like, the guy in the other band, his girlfriend just has to come to the show even though she has SARS and then everybody on tour gets SARS… This is how I think about it. But I’m happy! I love touring, but I’m happy to be back on the road this spring.
What can fans expect from you guys after this tour?
JRS: More awesome music!
KF: We will be super tired (laughs). I’ll be frazzled-looking. We’re gonna continue with recording and we have another tour that we can’t really talk about yet that’ll hopefully happen next…
JRS: It’s something very cool, but we cannot talk about it yet.
KF: Yes—it’s something that we have not done before. So, no promises, but this is what our people are currently working on. But if you wanna be super cool, you can sign up for our newsletter and keep up with the pulse of the band.
JRS: You know, some members of the band have been accused of being a vampire. So, you can check for yourself if both of us have a pulse.
Check out One-Eyed Doll when they pull into Championship Bar on April 3 and Webster Hall on April 5. Their new album, Witches, is available now. For more information on this duo, visit them at oneeyeddoll.com.