In case you missed the memo, the coveted season of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and haunted houses is officially here—that means it’s time for another One-Eyed Doll tour. Rock-metal duo, Kimberly Freeman (vocals, guitar) and Jason Rufuss Sewell a.k.a. “Junior” (drums), are known for their spook-tacular songs and affinity for Halloween year-round. From singing about vampires and serial killers to the Salem Witch Trials, you can usually count on One-Eyed Doll to get you in the Halloween spirit.
With the release of their new EP, Something Wicked, One-Eyed Doll and their beloved crew are taking the States by storm—however, shortly after the announcement of their U.S. tour, the talented pair reached a major milestone and booked their first European tour. I’ve had the opportunity to interview Kimberly and Jason quite a few times, but I was ecstatic to talk to them before they left for this grand adventure. So, in an hour-long phone call with the two, speckled with plenty of laughter and shenanigans, they gave me the lowdown on their feelings toward their first international tour and newest releases.
Kimberly and Jason—this is your first world tour! How excited are you?
Kimberly Freeman: Woo!
Jason Rufuss Sewell: Yes! I think you are the first interview with the topic of us going over there.
KF: Yeah! You are!
I feel special.
KF: That’s because you are.
Aw shucks—but how excited are you? What are you feeling?
JRS: Kinda crazy and stressed out like, “Ah, I hope we have everything in order—all of our ducks in a row!” I’m really excited about actually going to all of these towns and seeing these fans who we’ve never seen and we’ve talked to for years. But at the same time, we’re just trying to get all of our ducks in a row.
KF: Yeah, because we do everything ourselves, pretty much. So it’s so much work that sometimes you stop and get excited about what’s about to happen, but mostly it’s like, just trying to get everything ready so that it doesn’t totally fail.
JRS: [Laughs] Yeah…
Well, I’m so happy for you guys and I know you’ll kick butt this tour.
KF: Aw, thank you!
How’d you get this all set up? This was initially a U.S. headlining tour. What happened?
KF: Yeah! Well, Social Repose is touring the U.S. about when we are. It’s funny—we’re kind of on a similar route, just playing the same places at different times. Then they added on Europe dates to the tour they’re doing and asked us to join them on that. So we’re just gonna join them on the Europe side. And so we’re really grateful for that. It’d be cool if we were doing the U.S. together, too. But it just didn’t work out that way.
Have either of you been to Europe in general or is this your first time?
KF: Jason has! I haven’t.
JRS: Yeah, my dad was in the Air Force and he was stationed in England and I spent the whole summer there with him. My grandparents actually went with me—this was when I was 12 years old—my grandparents went with me and they took me to various places. Ireland, Paris, places like that.
KF: I didn’t have that childhood [laughs]. I was stuck in the Northwest. But yeah, I’m excited. Jason got to see Europe as a kid, but I think him coming back and seeing it as an adult will be a new perspective and exciting for him.
JRS: Yeah, and I think people get the impression that touring equals vacation. It doesn’t. It’s, like, all work. You pretty much see the inside of the club, maybe some gas stations. That’s pretty much it. And on this tour, we don’t really have a lot of time off because we have a show in Hollywood on Nov. 1st and then we have a flight day and then the first show in Europe in on Glasgow on the third of Nov. so basically, we’re just going right into it and we have some days off from the tour, but they usually get taken up with interviews and other work. So it’s not like we’re really gonna have a lot of time to just be tourists or anything but it will be cool to just kinda walk around the neighborhood.
You guys just announced the release of a new EP!
KF: Yeah! The Something Wicked EP! You know I say this every time we put something out. But this is my favorite new thing that we’ve done. The songs are super cool. This is some stuff we’ve been holding out on you guys. And some brand-new stuff, too. But it’s gonna be awesome! But we are planning on playing the entire EP.
JRS: You’re gonna let people know that?
KF: I’m planning! I’m not promising. We wanna try to play the entire EP. Just have an EP section in the set. So everybody needs to get the EP. The download goes out the 22nd and that gives you enough time to memorize the songs so that you can sing along and be familiar with them when we play them so you can help me sing because I sometimes forget the words.
JRS: There are some sing-along moments on the EP for sure.
KF: Heck yeah! And my kazoo debut! I play the kazoo on this album.
JRS: There’s another thing that maybe we can give you the first dibs on the info. There is a compilation CD coming out for Halloween, which will be coming out very soon from a record label called Cleopatra Records and it includes a new One-Eyed Doll song that features Kimberly playing the Theremin.
KF: Yeah! My Theremin debut. It’s a really cool song. But that’s new and we’ve got Secret Lullaby, and you might hear something from that—if all goes well. I’ve been working on that.
JRS: So, we’re actually gonna have three new CDs on the table from that last time you saw us.
KF: Yeah and we got a few more copies of Hole and Sleep in, so until those run out…
JRS: I think we’re gonna have our entire discography on our merch tables.
How on earth will you fit all of your merch on the table? You have so many shirts and records and cool trinkets.
JRS: I know! We may have to bring three merch tables this time.
KF: We’ll have to rent out an extra venue for merchandise.
JRS: Or we can rent out a taco truck and just sell tacos.
KF: Taco Truck!
I agree. Let’s go with that.
JRS: Alright. No merch this tour. Just tacos. Good idea, Sam.
KF: She’s our new manager.
Does that mean I can come to Europe with you guys?
JRS: Sure! You’re the boss. You tell us.
KF: You get to pay for everything, too. Can I have some money?
Think $20 would be good? KF: Sure! Can I have some money and…What else do I want from Sam?
On another note…
JRS: [Laughs] Moving on…
Now, you have the EP and a few months back, you released Secret Lullaby, a Kimberly Freeman album. What separates the One-Eyed Doll songs from Kimberly Freeman music?
JRS: Well, you know One-Eyed Doll music, people know what to expect. It has guitars, drums, and vocals. Rock music. There’s a particular genre of music that even in One-Eyed Doll we kinda branch out into with things here and there. But for the most-part, it’s rockin’ music that you’d see at a One-Eyed Doll show.
KF: Yeah, it’s mostly like guitar, drums, bass.
JRS: But Kimberly and I make all kinds of music. Sometimes it’s folky, sometimes it’s electronic, sometimes it’s got more of a hip-hop vibe like “Amnesia.” You know, sometimes it’s out there and experimental and it just doesn’t fit with a One-Eyed Doll album and that stuff we usually compile over the years—sometime it takes years of making these strange songs before they kind of appear to be in a collection that makes sense together and then for Secret Lullaby, there’s this experimental vibe that all of these songs fit into and make the Secret Lullaby album. So these are the songs that don’t fit into the One-Eyed Doll brand. And then like Into Outer Space is more electronic and Sleep is kind of acoustic, orchestral songs.
Back to touring, you guys are obviously seasoned performers. Do you still ever get nervous before getting on stage?
KF: Yes. Every time.
What! It doesn’t show.
KF: Aw, thank you. It’s like, side-stage, I get the nerves every time but as soon as I step on stage, everything just melts away. It’s my happy place. After that, everything’s really easy and fluid, but you know—right before I get on stage, it’s just nerves. I get so nervous and I doubt myself sometimes and I, you know. I worry about equipment failures and things like that. It’s just a lot that goes through your head before you get on stage and I still get pretty nervous every time.
JRS: Yeah and performing live, there are a lot of variables and a lot of things that can go wrong. Everything from the power system in venues—I could tell you that there are just some music venues, for some reason, classically they have terrible power. Every other business you can think of has got some regulation where if they don’t have their things set up just right, something bad happens. But bars and music venues get a pass for some reason.
KF: They sell so much alcohol.
JRS: Yeah! And they’ll have wires coming out of the wall, and big, giant buzzes happening and you do your sound check and everything’s broken.
KF: I’m getting electrocuted.
JRS: Yeah—and you wonder how they’re getting away with this stuff, you know? But most of the places are fine. But because you get one out of 10…
KF: You just never know what you’re walking into. Live performance is so…And we improvise a lot, so we’re not programmed on the computer listening for the click with backing tracks for the whole show, so we don’t have that safety net that a lot of other bands have. We just really are playing live. What you see is what you get. So, we have a lot to do on stage and I think a lot of our nervousness before shows does come from technical equipment malfunctions and stuff like that that can stop the show and you just do everything you can to safe-guard against that stuff. You know. There’s just a lot that goes into every show.
JRS: And you know, I think at this point, one of my favorite quotes by Kimberly is. “You guys all come here to see the train wreck anyway.”
KF: Did I say that?
JRS: Yeah, you said that. Everybody thought it was really funny [laughs].
KF: Well, I’m glad they’re all still here [laughs]. I’m always amazed, by the last song? When I’m on stage and I look out and there are still people standing there, it’s like, “Oh, thank goodness. They’re still here. Thanks, guys. Wow. Why? Who would stand here for my whole set?” But yeah, I don’t know. Live performance is just so, like, anything can happen. And that why people come out. People don’t want perfection. Maybe I’ll miss a note. Maybe I’ll forget the words. Well, Jason doesn’t mess up. But I mess up a lot. That’s just part of the show. You just have to accept it, and if you accept it, it gets a little easier.
JRS: I do think that it’s a shame that live music—even some local bands—that most of the music you hear is backtrack.
KF: And they’re really talented musicians, they’re just so afraid to mess up that they don’t actually perform.
JRS: I feel like, one of my favorite parts of the show, is it’s a community where we feed off of the audience and we change our performance based on what’s happening in the audience. We’re all doing something together—everyone in the room is contributing something to the show.
KF: Yeah! It’s more interactive. Not in the way that somebody can just—God, like those people who shout something during a quiet moment. I don’t hate anyone, but I just wish they wouldn’t come to my shows. But in a way, what we mean, is I can call on them to interact with me. You know what I mean? And our audience is just so there for that, that they’ll sing along with me or they’ll play along with the skit that I’m doing, or I can go out into the audience one in a while and interact with them physically.
And every place is different, but generally, our fans are just so much fun to play for because they are there for the whole experience. It’s like—they’re real music fans, you know? They will accept the mistakes and the changes and the improvisations and they’re just there to see what’s gonna happen and ready for a surprise and stoked about the old stuff and the new stuff and—I don’t know. They’re just so fun to play for. You guys are just the coolest fanbase. I just really feel like I can express and just be myself without the weird judgment. It’s not about being cool or being anything. It’s just about coming and enjoying yourself and seeing what’s gonna happen and going with the flow.
JRS: And I feel like especially with music, there are these rules. A lot of times, it’s like, “Oh, well, we are a post-punk-hardcore-gothic-electro band and that means that we only do this very specific thing.” Sometimes there’s a group of people that really expects that if you don’t make this certain sound, or aren’t this exact thing, then you’re not in their click or whatever. Luckily, I feel like we could put out just about anything we feel like making and fans will be open-minded about it.
KF: Yeah, and it’s not cliquey. You know, every band that we’ve ever brought out on tour with us, or that we’ve ever opened up for, our fans totally support and I encourage them to totally support whoever we’re playing with. So it’s really un-cliquey. It’s refreshing and friendly and I just feel like that snob-factor is not there in our fanbase. Everybody’s just really sweet and open-minded and accepting of others and different styles and different—I just really like the variety. We have such a rainbow of fans. People who come to our shows. And I think that’s partly because of the various directions that our music has gone in [laughs]. We’re a little bit all over the place and to be on board with us, you have to be a little bit that way, too. You know, after all of these years, if you’ve stuck with me, you’re probably cool.
JRS: Yeah, once we put out Into Outer Space, I think we kinda weeded out some of the people who weren’t gonna be cool.
KF: [Laughs] Yeah! There were probably a lot of people who were out at that point. And I’m just like, “I don’t care.” I’m just here to play the music that I love and the people who accept that and appreciate it are so special. And they’re those long-haul fans. And I really appreciate them. You’re one of those people.
But! There are gonna be some new things on this tour—some new experiences. I think you’ll be pleased with some of the experimentation that we’ll be doing on stage this time! I will say no more. But I really, really look forward to that. It’s so exciting and it might be a little bit of a mind-trip for some people. We’re gonna mix in some really cool, new experiences with some of the old school.
JRS: Yeah, we’ll have the classics but then we’re also gonna be trying some stuff.
So does that mean you’ve figured out how to fly? KF: Yeah! It’s gonna be a suspended, uh, hover show. We’re going to be flying the entire time. We have discovered flight.
JRS: We’re also going to be playing inside of a giant teapot.
KF: Naked. It’s gonna be a floated, teapot, naked show.
KF: Yeah. Our hit song is, [sings] “I’m a little teapot, short and stout, here is my handle, here is my spout…”
JRS: And it’s also, come on, pretty easy to play the guitar and the drums, but to play a teapot, you actually produce notes based on the temperature of the water inside, so it’s a lot more difficult.
KF: Yeah! [Sings] “When I get all steamed up, hear my shout” [whistles].
Don’t miss this dynamic duo when the pull into Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ on Oct. 15. For more on One-Eyed Doll, check out their site: oneeyeddoll.com.