The Complete Interview: Hot Chick in Hard Rock Kimberly Freeman of One-Eyed Doll

When we interviewed One-Eyed Doll front woman Kimberly Freeman for the new Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock issue, we talked about a host of topics, from her roots as a musician, the band’s new album, her experience as a student and more.

Unfortunately, due to space constraints, we couldn’t include most of the interview. But that’s what the Internet is for! Read what she has to say below!

REVOLVER: When did you first start playing music? When did you start playing guitar, specially?

I used to be a rather shy closet poet and never imagined that someday I’d be on stage singing my darkest thoughts to people. It took a jolt to get me started. There was a time when I dedicated my life to volunteer work, which led me to take a short teaching gig in mainland China.

I inadvertently got into trouble with the law and some other rather influential people there and had to stay under the radar for over a year. I decided that if I ever made it back to the US, I’d try singing my songs for people.

Singing to myself became a form of meditation that brought me comfort and kept me from completely losing hope and sanity. Some experiences in China helped me to break out of my shell a bit, and I felt that nothing would be scary anymore if I could only get home. I finally made it back to the US in 2003 or 2004 and paid a visit to my adopted grandpa on my mom’s side: the lifelong musician, actor and comedian Bernie Jones.

He was an old man by this time with one eye who was also the first performer I’d ever witnessed as a child. Bernie advised me to pick up the guitar and gave me his old dusty Gibson archtop. I fixed it up and learned to play it, thinking I’d be a folk singer.

In 2005 I got my first $70 electric guitar from a pawn shop, moved into my van, formed a rock band and hit the road. I never looked back. No one ever told me I was supposed to actually be good before I hit the stage. We recorded our first album live in a garage within a couple months of forming the band and just never stopped moving. We busked on the streets, made merch out of trash to sell for gas money and scavenged food all across the country.

Several band members came and left, and I was the only remaining member at times. I continued on for years and things slowly grew and morphed into what we have now. I eventually met Junior, my drummer, and he’s stuck it out with me longer than anyone. He pulls his own weight and more, which has helped us to grow a lot over the past three years.

What bands got you into hard rock and metal? How did you discover them?

I only had access to FM radio in a small town growing up. Oldies and gospel were really about all that was available for me to listen to in my pre-teens. Then out of nowhere one day, “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat & Tears came on the oldies station and blew my mind. I remember the very moment, in a car. It wasn’t hard rock or metal, but it was the song that made me seek out dissonance in music and led me to rock and metal. It was my first experience with that shockingly bizarre evil circus sound, and I needed more!

I needed music to be more dissonant and scary and weird because that’s what was inside of me that was dying to be expressed! I guess you could say it was my gateway song. I got really into classic rock. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, White Zombie, then metal like Slayer, Ministry, Sepultura, Megadeath. Later I got into the Vandals, Jack Off Jill, The Lunachicks, Butthole Surfers. Though I don’t consider Pink Floyd hard rock or metal, they are who spoke to me the clearest and most steadily through the years. I felt that they were the ones who truly had the power to voice the angst and confusion I felt in my narcissistic teenagedom.

How would you describe One-Eyed Doll’s new album compared to your previous albums?

Dirty is what you might call a, “blue period” piece from One-Eyed Doll. It’s a special one, for sure. Our albums are classically manic depressive — way up and way down — emotionally super-charged, brightly colored metaphors speckled with a few serious ballads. Dirty is all dark. It’s introverted and real-life. It’s less playfulness and more straight-up intense (sometimes blues) rock about the struggles of being a human being. It gets pretty heavy, both sonically and emotionally.

The production is different, since we planned on releasing it on vinyl from the beginning. We took the opportunity to record the guitar and drums together in the same room to capture the way we groove and change naturally. I think you can hear a lot of a Pink Floyd influence in it. It’s just ear candy to me, so textured and beautiful. We recorded it at Sylvia Massy’s place in Weed, California — in the mountains, in an old church with some amazing classic analog equipment. You can hear it all in the album. It’s alive with dark spirits.

Since this is also our “back to school” issue, some school-related questions: How would you describe your school experience?

I went to a religious school, which was kind of tough for me. I was a straight-A student most of the time and didn’t try to make trouble. I often did manage to get myself in trouble, however, for wearing the wrong things and writing about subjects in my papers that went against the religious ideals of the school. I never fit in with the other girls and was kind of a bookworm, though I was pretty good at sports, too. I made friends with the dropouts and kids from other schools mostly, and didn’t have many friends in my own class. I skipped the eighth grade and graduated high school at 16. I was pretty much invisible to boys, and I didn’t date until I graduated. Probably a good thing, because in my small town many of the girls my age were getting knocked up. I feel like I kind of dodged a bullet by being unpopular.

What kind of student were you? A nerd or a troublemaker or somewhere in between?

I guess somewhere in between. I was very studious and never tried to cause trouble but I guess it managed to find me.

What’s the worst trouble you got into while in school?

I was the good girl in my group of friends. I never even did drugs or smoked. For me, the real trouble started after I graduated, when I was 17 and 18. I had … I guess you could say a breakdown after the death of a close friend and some personal problems I couldn’t talk to anyone about. I completely alienated and isolated myself from my friends and family when I attempted suicide and was committed into the local psych hospital. I was eventually released against doctor’s orders and left town as soon as I could. No one trusted me after that, and no one could look me in the eye. It seemed like they all thought I was crazy. I still feel really self-conscious when I go back there. I destroyed a lot of the relationships that meant so much to me, and I live with the scars inside and out. It probably influenced me to become a musician, though. Gotta have the blues to play the blues, they say.

Did you ever skip school due to hard rock or metal?

If there had been a rock venue in my town, I probably would have — but no. I did ditch for bluegrass festivals though, believe it or not.

Did you ever have any run-ins with bullies?

Yes, several. I was kind of small and dorky and was picked on a lot. I ended up having to take matters into my own hands several times, because no one ever seemed to believe me or care. There was one boy who used to physically hurt me all the time to the point of bruising and drawing blood and taunt me incessantly. He played weird psychological torture games and just almost drove me insane. I finally punched him out one day in the hallway between classes and instructed him to never look at, touch or even think about me again. I was concerned that he’d retaliate, but he left me alone from that day forward. In fact, he never made eye contact with me again and avoided me like the plague.

Another instance that sticks out to me is these kids at another school who used to push me up against a tree and call me “skinny bones.” I didn’t know why they hated me so much, but they were always focused on me, every day at recess. I never fought them back, because there were so many, and I honestly hoped that they might just come around and see how cruel they were being. I kind of wish I had just gone ballistic on them. It would have been worth it. There was this other boy who was a family friend — super-cruel to me, a classic bully. He used to just torment me as a kid and always managed to get away with it. I tried standing up to him many times, but he was so much bigger and stronger and just laughed at me.

Well, thankfully our families parted ways and I didn’t see him for many years — until one day when I was 16 or so. A car pulled up to me outside of a movie theater. It was full of boys, a little older than me. A pretty good-looking rocker dude in the driver’s seat said, “Little Kimmy? Is that YOU!?” I looked over, and it was him. He was obviously smitten, blushing and nervously saying things like, “Wow … you’re all grown up!” and finally asked me out. I smiled, leaned into the car and calmly explained to his friends that I would never lower myself to be associated with the likes of him and that he’d bullied me as a kid. He turned bright red, and his friends all laughed at him. He sped off, and I never saw him again.

Did music help you get through school? If so, how?

At times I felt so alone, and music was my only friend. The music I listened to said things that I couldn’t say without getting in trouble, hurting people’s feelings or being thrown into the psych ward. I don’t think that many people could survive their teens without music. I certainly couldn’t have. I wrote very dark, sad and twisted poetry, but I kept it secret. I didn’t think anyone could have possibly understood how I felt. Music was my voice.

Funny how full-circle that’s come. I’m grateful to the artists out there who really write from the soul, no matter how vulnerable it makes them. They don’t even know what they’ve done for people like me.

 

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  • http://twitter.com/Gummo13 Joey.

    Absolutely love this interview. I’m OED are where they are now. The band has gone a long way.

  • JackOEDLantern

    What she said in those last two paragraphs was absolutely true. Kimberly’s music has saved my life. I wouldn’t be here without her.

  • JackOEDLantern

    What she said in those last two paragraphs was absolutely true. Kimberly’s music has saved my life. I wouldn’t be here without her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.bohn Adam Bohn

    Hard not to love Kimberly Freeman. Her haunting and beautiful music is an endless source of inspiration!

  • http://www.facebook.com/donna.m.rice.7 Donna Maria Rice

    do you even remeber the little girl on the cover of Ghetto Princess? Her mom remembers you! Good Luck! Donna Maria Rice and Aubre’ Ann

  • http://www.facebook.com/jerry.sobski Jerry Sobski

    A very talented and incredible stage performer. The energy she puts into each show is amazing. Glad to see that an independent Musician is able to get exposure.

  • Karen Thayer

    Kimberly’s lyrics and music are as honest and real as she is. I have been lucky enough to meet her and call her a friend. Both her and Junior are one of a kind, aces in this world, and One Eyed Doll is a beautiful partnership of music and real life. <3

  • OnlyTrollsDisagreeYayFrogs

    One Eyed Doll is the best band EVER.

  • SilverMelinda

    GAH! You included Kimberly! That’s so awesome! Thank you so much Revolver!!!!

  • Tori “Elektra Youngblood”

    To realize that Kimberly, my “eye-doll” (idol) and I have both attempted suicide, lost trust of those who loved us, were victims of bullying, and saved by music…. Thank you Kimberly, keep on rocking! (And thanks for the lollipop in Phoenix.)