Laura Dolan has been cool from the start. Maybe not an obvious cool that would have been appreciated by high schoolers wanting to go to the mall but a badass, legitimate cool that has led to where she is now as frontwoman of Electric Citizen.
I met up with Laura at the cozy and hip bar, The Listing Loon to have a long overdue interview. That’s where I learned that while she got her start in music 5 or 6 years ago singing in bands, Laura was always “a ham” growing up. When she was little, her mom took her to the Taft Theatre and she pointed at the stage and asked, “Mom, when do I get to be up there?” You can assume little Laura would be very pleased with the stages Electric Citizen has performed on at this point in their career.
Laura later attended a Catholic school where she met husband and bandmate, Ross Dolan. “There was a weird connection right away that we’ve never lost. He’s always been my best friend.” She was in drama club in high school and says “I had this really cool vintage car (a 1969 Carmencita Volkswagen). After school, instead of hanging out with people, I would go driving… When I found the (Northside) scene after high school, I found home.”
After being in different bands, Ross and Laura both wanted to start a heavy project. “The early premise was let’s start a band like Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath and a little bit of the Stooges… and see what happens.” This was in mid 2012 but their first show wasn’t until March of 2013. “We took a lot of time songwriting and actually put together a four song demo before we ever played a show.” With the addition of Nick Vogelpohl on bass (now Randy Proctor) and Nate Wagner on drums, the band was formed. “Once the base song is written, I’ll come in and write the lyrics,” says Laura.
Laura says she’s grown as a vocalist by “gaining vocal confidence” and lots of practice. And her vocals in Electric Citizen are definitely proof that both methods have paid off. The band put a lot of time and thought into the creation of Electric Citizen but the success they have reached happened fairly quickly. Laura says the first album was recorded in a couple of days. “Its been a bit like a chess game and taking every opportunity that comes forward. There’s no road map, that’s for sure.”
A girl in Milwaukee who was really excited about Electric Citizen knew the record label owner of Riding Easy Records. Right place, right time, the band had their full length debut album they were trying to figure out what to do with. She offered to send it out to a few different labels and Daniel, the label owner of Riding Easy called them within a few hours of receiving it. “It was almost too good to be true,” says Laura. “We’re really lucky to have found someone who believes in our band, that’s the key to it.”
Laura has a lot of great influences as a musician. She looks up to Rush, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Blondie, Joan Jett, Grace Slick, Budgie, Bong Water and many others. “If it has guts and a good melody, I’m in.” With a lot of her influences from the 70s, Electric Citizen has developed a very psychedelic style both sonically and visually. “For me its all a part of the art and the package.” Laura says she’s always been into vintage clothes and “wearing fun outfits onstage helps [her] get into [performing] more.”
Electric Citizen has done extensive touring and for Laura it’s all about the shows. “I can’t get enough of performing, there’s no higher high for me.” She also says touring has given her an excuse to see more of America than she had ever seen before.
Electric Citizen’s second full length album is complete and due out in the spring of 2016. In addition, Electric Citizen is looking to add a keyboardist to their lineup which is currently in the works.
If you’re looking to find Laura a last minute Christmas gift, she would pretty much die over having a Frumpy album on vinyl. She says their singer has “the most luscious and deep voice.”
As an ending note Laura said that if nothing else comes from Electric Citizen, she hopes to inspire “more girls in rock n’ roll.” Laura says, “I’ve never encountered anything that’s made me happier… it shouldn’t be a novelty for us (girls) to be playing music.”