By Brad Lopez
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"We're all very much into cars," announces Margaret Doll Rod, singer, songwriter and ringleader for the Demolition Doll Rods. "In fact, for this tour coming up, we were like, 'Oh, jeez, I don't know. Are we gonna miss the derby? When's the derby coming? James Brown is coming and the derby's coming, and we want to make sure we're home in time.'"
Appropriately, home for the Doll Rods, whose other members are drummer Christine Doll Rod (Margaret's sister) and cross-dressing guitarist Danny Doll Rod, is the Detroit area, where automobiles are not just a mode of transportation but a way of life. Tasty, the Rods' first long-player, is perfectly in touch with this Motor City obsession: The blistering, raunchy, clamorous music it contains sounds as if it came straight from a garage.
There's another side to the Doll Rods, however--a certain white-trashiness that Margaret associates with Downriver, the area south of Detroit where she and Christine were raised. "The MC5 came from Downriver," she reveals, "and Iggy Pop came from Ypsilanti. People always say he came from Detroit, but Ypsilanti is in Wayne County. It's more like white hicks grow up there. It's very down-home. People hunt up there; they trap muskrat, they turtle-trap. It's very scattered and rural."
Thanks to this environment, Downriver's version of auto fanatacism had its own special character. "Cars in Detroit are, of course, a big deal," Margaret acknowledges. "But once you start getting to the outskirts of Detroit, kids really get into their cars. You have auto shop in school, and it's a really big thing. My brother used to race his car. They would fix up cars and race them at a track. There were dirt roads and there was a strip where the pavement began, and the kids would race on that, too. My neighbors always had car engines hanging from their trees and they had chickens, so you'd get a real natural feel and then you'd get the engine feel." The parallel between these experiences and primitive R&B stomps like "If You Can't Hang..." and "Maverick Girl" is obvious to her: "For our music, a lot of it is very down-home but with a high-revving thing going with it."
The Rods achieve this synthesis using the simplest of tools--specifically, a pair of six-string guitars and a two-piece drum kit that Christine pounds like a cannibal calling the tribe to dinner. Their apparel, meanwhile, is virtually nonexistent. The three generally perform wearing nothing other than car parts, toys or mirrors that they tape to their bodies in strategic locations. "We wear very little, mostly because it's very hot on stage--but also, we're just not inhibited by the societal norms here," Margaret claims. "A lot of people, when they heard that we were dressed the way we were, thought we were like this big sex group, but we are so much like children. We're not very sexual." After a pause, she reconsiders this statement: "Well, probably just naturally we're sexual and don't even realize it. We don't hump the stage or anything like that. We don't go out of our way to be distastefully sexy. We think of ourselves more like kids playing." As a youngster, she reveals, "I thought I was the sexiest thing--in my own world, walking around on dirt roads in high heels."
Birthday suits were not yet de rigueur four years ago, when the Rods came together. According to Margaret, "Danny started dressing like a girl at the very beginning. He would wear full girl outfits, but I think that's just because he feels very androgynous. He's not gay, and he doesn't have anything against people who are. But sexually, he feels that inside of us we all have a little bit of boy and a little bit of girl." Besides, she confesses, "I really wanted an all-girl band, and there aren't too many girls who can play lead guitar like Danny." As for the Rods' original drummer, she preferred jeans and a Gene Simmons mask--but because of a heroin charge, she was not allowed to tour foreign soils. Enter Christine, who shares her sibling's predilection for bareness and back-breaking stiletto footwear.
The women's parents have mixed emotions regarding such exhibitionist tendencies. "My dad's always saying, 'Don't you think you could wear a little more?' The show he came to was our record-release party, where we wore the record. And I was like, 'Dad, I think that's the biggest costume we've ever worn!'" says Margaret, laughing. "But my mom loves it. She'll say, 'Don't tell anybody' and secretly go out and buy us costumes. My dad wishes that we wore more, but they like the music, and they listen to it and show their friends. They're proud of us."
Likewise, the Rods are proud of their physiques. "We take very good care of ourselves, and we love our bodies," Margaret confirms. "We think it's important to show that so that other people feel comfortable and love their bodies, too." To keep their machines finely tuned, the three enjoy a meatless, dairyless diet and regularly flush their carburetors with Smooth Move herbal laxatives. "All three of us are vegans," she affirms, "but Danny will cheat every now and then. I know, because we can tell by the farts in the van."