Music Monday: Stress Dolls

>> Stress Dolls, from Buffalo, New York, are an alternative band with a heavy rock sound and low rough vocals from Chelsea O'Donnell. We had the pleasure of interviewing the lead singer Chelsea about her musical past and inspirations.

Here is a little background on the lyrical genius, Chelsea: she plays both piano and guitar, first learning piano at the age of four. Speaking fondly of her musical influence she said, “My dad has been in bands my whole life and so after my friend taught me “Smoke on the Water” on her brother’s guitar I came home and started playing around with my dad’s acoustic. He saw that I was taking an interest and got me my own acoustic for my 14th birthday.” The first song she can remember playing on the piano is the theme to Peanuts. When asked about her music teachers she replied, “Ann Philippone taught me piano- she was awesome and never forced me to play pieces I didn’t want to. Instead of classical she taught me blues and boogie-woogie songs and even let me perform a piece that I wrote at one of the recitals. She was (and still is!) the best. As far as guitar goes: I’m mostly self-taught, though I did take a couple of semesters of classical guitar while in college. That being said I am hesitant to even label myself a “musician” because I don’t think I’m that technically skilled. I see it more that I’m a songwriter that makes the best out of what I can do musically.”

Chelsea still gets nervous before shows, but they’re good nerves, she always remembers the advice she once heard, “if you've fucked up before you are sure to fuck up again, so it's a waste of time to worry about it." Her positive attitude and need to improve her skills keep her going. If she messes up on stage she keeps playing, it’s all about moving forward!

When we asked whether or not she was influenced by old tapes or vinyls from her childhood she responded, “...growing up we listened to a lot of Neil Young, Tom Petty, The Beatles and The Doors.” Listening to the Stress Dolls you can definitely hear this influence seeping ever so slightly through with the grungy instrumentals and emotional lyrics. The fondest memory she has that relates to music is when she received Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” on tape for her fifth birthday because it was her first favorite song. Now Chelsea’s favorite bands are The Replacements, Jimmy Eat World, Tancred, and Lemuria, just to name a few.

Balancing the passion for performing music and life can be stressful at times. Chelsea is lucky to have a great support system to back her up.“I'm fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who are really supportive of my musical pursuits which has made achieving a balance between music and work/personal life much easier.”

Chelsea has performed in solo shows and with the Stress Dolls all around Western New York, including the Bug Jar in Rochester. “Bug Jar is one of my favorite places to play outside of Buffalo. The crowd always has a great energy and I've made a lot of friends from being involved with that venue.” We hope to see Chelsea O’Donnell and the rest of the Stress Dolls live soon! <<