Studio Life – Worry Dolls

With the imminent release of a new EP and a seven-week tour coming up, Zoe Nicol and Rosie Jones of Worry Dolls will be keeping busy this autumn. The pair met in Liverpool while studying music and soon discovered that their voices, multi-instrumental talents and song writing skills were well-matched. They have been writing and performing together ever since. Worry Dolls are a lesson in following your dreams: Nicol and Jones made the difficult decision to leave their old lives behind and move to Nashville, where they recorded their well-received debut album, ‘Go Get Gone’. Their song, ‘Endless Road’, was nominated for Song of the Year at the Americana Music Association UK Awards and they have been championed by the likes of Bob Harris. So, anticipation is high for their new EP, ‘The River’. After the new song was showcased brilliantly at The Black Deer Festival, Americana-UK caught up with Worry Dolls just before the single’s release to find out more about the inspiration and song writing process.

Zoe and Rosie, your performance of ‘The River’ at the Black Deer Festival was captivating. Tell us the ‘story’ behind the song.

The inspiration behind the song was the idea of the river being a safe, tranquil space for us. We’ve both found solace and comfort in being by the waterside of rivers and oceans. But it could be about any place you can go back to and be completely at ease – your parent’s house or hometown, the open road, the countryside, the city or the ocean…whatever it is, it’s the place that calls your name and calms your mind during hard times.

We’ve both been through a lot of personal struggles recently, but we realise it isn’t just us. You look around and everyone is stressed, overworked & anxious and we’re all just trying to find ways of coping. It’s not encouraged to talk about it and everyone holds a lot inside.  The first line of ‘The River’: “As I lay my head on this pillow, I close my eyes, but I’m blinded by the headlights on the backroads of my mind,” is about losing sleep when your brain is racing at a hundred miles an hour and you just can’t turn it off. ‘The River’ is about when you feel like you’ve lost yourself and you need to take some time out to get back to your roots and remember who you are.

Musically, we wanted to go a little grittier and heavier. When wrote the song in Nashville, we were out there to play AmericanaFest, and we were playing with a 6-piece band. We played a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ which has this section at the end of the song where the whole band jam out. We were thrashing around onstage and it was so much fun, and we didn’t have any songs like that of our own. That was definitely a musical reference for us because instead of purely focusing on the lyrics and vocal melodies, we wanted to factor in the band and have a heavier section at the end. We’ve been finishing out sets with it, and sometimes we just keep going! At Black Deer we played a full band set but we also played just acoustic in a round with Billy Bragg, and the crowd really felt the energy of the song and clapped and stomped along, it was amazing!

We recorded it at The Premises Studio A in Hackney and it was produced by Aidan Laverty (Foals). We were all playing electric, even the banjo was through an amp, which was such a change from our previous records which have all been acoustic guitar, banjo and upright bass. We recorded live as a band, with no click track and barely any overdubs – except our vocals which we added afterwards, but together. We always like to record our vocals at the same time, because we sing so tightly to each other and vibe off each other’s energy. We had our amazing band with us, CJ Hillman on lead guitar, Pete Thomas on bass and Tim Prottey-Jones on drums. We’d only had one rehearsal so it was very fresh, and we were all in the room together so it was a proper raw, live session with a lot of energy in the room.

We’re just about to start a 30 date European tour, starting in the UK and heading through The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. We’re doing a variety of duo, trio and full band shows so we’re really excited to be jamming out the new songs and trying out some new moves onstage!

‘The River’ is out now.

Lyrics:
I lost my way
Lost my way
Lost my way
Take me to the river
The river again

As I lay my head on this pillow
I close my eyes
But I’m blinded by the headlights
On the backroads of my mind

I lost my way
Lost my way
Lost my way
Take me to the river
The river again

I lost my way
Lost my way
Lost my way
Take me to the river
The river knows my name

Down by the waterside
Where I can clear my mind
Where I don’t have to hide
From what I’ve left behind

Heavy is my heart
Beating silent
It’s weary and it’s worn
And I’ve been carrying this burden Maybe I’m not that strong

I lost my way
Lost my way
Lost my way
Take me to the river
The river again

I lost my way
Lost my way
Lost my way
Take me to the river
The river knows my name

Down by the waterside
Where I can clear my mind
Where I don’t have to hide
From what I’ve left behind
From who I left behind

Take me to the river
The river knows my name

Autumn Tour Dates:
October 2019

02 Kineton Sports & Social Club, Warwickshire
03 Moreton Millennium Community Centre, Staffordshire
04 Castlemorton Parish Hall, Worcestershire
05 Pleasley Verney Institute, Derbyshire
06 Dunston Village Hall, Lincolnshire
24 Con Club, Lewes
25 The Forum, Tunbridge Wells✦
26 Stamford Arts, Stamford*
29 Musician, Leicester✦
30 The Lights, Andover✦

November 2019

01 Mothers’ Ruin, Bristol
02 Retro, Manchester✦
03 Artisan Tap, Hartshill, Stoke on Trent*
06 Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham✦
07 Open, Norwich*
08 Lexington, London (Full Band Show) The River EP Launch Night*✦
11 Tivolivredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands
12 Trianon, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
14 Prinz Willy, Kiel, Germany
16 Irish Pub, Jena, Germany
18 Blue Note, Dresden, Germany
19 Subrosa, Dortmund, Germany
21 Glockenbachwerkstatt, München, Germany
22 Café Kapilio, Langenau, Germany
23 Kuckucksei, Nürtingen, Germany

December 2019

05 Solothurn Old Hospital, Solothurn, Switzerland
06 La Parenthése, Nyon, Switzerland

* With Robert Vincent
✦ With Robbie Cavanagh

Author: Andrew Frolish

From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Lukas Nelson, Midland, Jarrod Dickenson.

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