This Monday ALT 104.5 made the announcement that Incubus and Sublime with Rome will be coming to Waterfront Music Pavilion Friday, August 5th. However, the announcement failed to emphasize the very coolest band on the bill, The Aquadolls, who will be handling opening duties… But don’t worry, for those of you not so comfy in overpriced sheds, the punky, SoCal, all-grrrl power pop trio will be double-headlining The Lounge at World Café Live on Friday, March 25th, alongside Sitting on Stacy, for only $15!!!
At the heart of The Aquadolls is songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Melissa Brooks, who started the band in 2012. However, since July of 2018, the band has been rounded out by Jacqueline Proctor on drums and Keilah Nina on bass. The band released their first LP (and The Aquadolls’ second overall), The Dream and the Deception, later that year, and last year saw the band’s first releases since. Last summer the band released their first single on Enci Records, “Disappearing Girl,” followed by a Christmastime cover of The Waitresses’ “Xmas Wrapping,” and, most recently, “Cry Baby,” which dropped just last month.
I recently got a chance to chat with Melissa Brooks via phone from a Staples, where she was currently laminating passes for tour. She tells me that The Aquadolls’ latest sounds largely harken back to their 2013 full-length debut (which often resembles a sunny, surfery take on the pop-punk of the golden age of Lookout! Records): “For our latest single, ‘Cry Baby,’ I feel like it’s hit a lot of nostalgia points with our older fans. The song is kind of a throwback to our Stoked on You album, and I’ll hear them be like, ‘I was in high school then and I’m 27 now!’ and I’m like, ‘Me too!’” However, she does note that the standard of their work has certainly evolved: “For our very first release, We Are Free, that EP, there was no effort put into recording it, but ever since then we’ve been big on the studio and, for the new songs, we got to record with Fat Mike of NOFX, and upgrade the quality of everything.”
While The Aquadolls certainly have more of a punk edge to their sound than their soon-to-be tourmates Incubus and Sublime, during our chat, when I ask Melissa about some of the post-lockdown highlights of the band, she admits to having quite an affection for that era of alt rock: “We got to open for Jimmy Eat World last summer. That was our first show back, so to jump onstage with 2,000 people was nuts, to go from playing livestream concerts in our garage to that… And when we played Beachlife last year and I met Mark McGrath and he said he liked our band and shouted us out onstage and then made a video shouting us out.”
However, when I ask her about some of her favorite albums, Melissa tells me there’s also a plethora of other music that has always excited her: “I grew up on the oldies and also pop music. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys was really influential for me, and anything Britney Spears released from 2000 on.” She also admits to being a huge fan of more recent sounds, including hyperpop outfit 100 Gecs’ 1000 Gecs and the Tree of Clues and Charli XCX’s How I’m Feeling Now: “That was released at the peak of the pandemic and put out so fast. That inspired me to do a solo record.”
As far as more new music goes, Melissa tells me that The Aquadolls have a lot in the works: “We have another song coming out when we get back from the tour. When we get back from tour, we’re gonna go to the studio to record our third album. We have so many songs.” But, for now, they are mostly focused on their current co-headlining dates (which kicked off last week and run through mid-April) with Sitting On Stacy, whom The Aquadolls got to know only recently, but who have become fast friends: “They were in our video, ‘Cry Baby,’ and we did a podcast with them, which should be out soon. We have the same manager, and we had a tour in the works and our manager asked if we wanted to do it with them and we were like, ‘Yeah, Let’s make it a party! Let’s go on tour!’”
I ask Melissa if there are any dates she’s especially excited to play and she tells me that the obvious one is to return to The Roxy for the first time with her new band, but also that she’s beyond psyched to play SXSW for the very first time: “I’m gonna play SXSW for the first time. We’ve tried multiple times to go, like four times, and something horrible always happens, like I’m in school and have finals, or there’s a pandemic [laughs]. But we played Austin City Limits Fest in 2019 and Texas is always great, so we’re excited to go back!”
The Aquadolls’ upcoming March 25th appearance at The Lounge at World Café Live, normally set up as a listening room, will likely look more than a little different from their last show in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, which took place in 2016 at the recently-closed metal mecca, Voltage Lounge. But Melissa tells me that, regardless of the setting, the band’s fans always manage to bring a vibe with them: “Everyone’s really cool and has really awesome style; everybody looks really cool at the concerts. They’re all very quirky and, I mean, we’re an eccentric indie band, so that makes sense. They’re also very queercentric.” She also tells me that, if you plan on being one of those fans at their upcoming dates, there are a few additional things you should bring as well: “You can definitely expect lots of fun, lots of dancing, lots of distortion… So, maybe bring earplugs. But definitely bring your dancing shoes!”
*Get your tickets here.