THE DOLLY LLAMAS from left, Forrest Cook, David Medlen and West Albaladejo | Contributed Photo.
By Juan (Johnny) R. Govea
Blaring the ear buds into the DFW punk rock scene comes commotion from area rockers The Dolly Llamas awaited album, Good Run, live on the Three Links Deep Ellum, TX’s stage a few weeks ago. A freshly reunited band and personal tour de force by vocalist, lyricist and lead guitarist Forrest Cook, bassist/backup vocals David Medlen, and drummer/back up vocalist West Albaladejo have emerged from their loins 8-songs previously rehearsed, trashed and recovered for thankful fans. The trio reinvent themselves after Derrick Soto’s bass skills have been handed down (refined) to Medlen on the four strings and Albaladejo’s hardcore drum skills with Cook remerging the new trio.
Soto being the forefront bassist on the recorded release with Bilardo Artiga providing drums from the first original recording in 2017, an album emerged from its spare trial parts to the most recent mastered version by Chris Hanzsek along with Josh White recording and mixing the trial run and the reemerged efforts of Cook holding down the guitar riffs as the lyricist mastermind for the latest and current album for 2019.
Brought back from recent history and defining a sound from a once was two-piece on the road touring nameless highways and dive bars on the Texas marquee as, “The Dolly Llamas” for the first recording of Spacin’ Out (2015). Cook says the beginning idea of a touring group and an actual full-length EP had no basis or identity as the group’s current following and sound, which it has as of now. “I just really didn’t know what I was doing, and I felt that I needed someone a little more capable of playing the kind of music I wanted to play, especially being a two-piece at the time,” Cook says. “Me and Jett (drummer on Spacin Out) remain great friends but we just weren’t melding musically very well.”
Since 2013 the collaborative efforts of The Llamas has brought some success as a noted punk group sharing the stage with scene kids and headlining shows with noteworthy local punk groups like Bullet Machine, and veteran punks From Parts Unknown in and around town.
The Forrest and Tim Demo was released in the summer of 2016. Featuring Timothy Mills on drums and Cook residing on vocals, while Weltschmerz was released in the summer of 2017 and featuring Artiga on drums and Soto wilding bass guitar. Both EPs have been merged together to form the Double Feature EP released early last year in March allotting to the 7-track feature on Bandcamp, all combined into one (see Bandcamp page for full discography). “I like to view them as progression of how I’ve learned to play the game,” Cook duly notes to the cause of attention the band has gained opening for acts at venues in Dallas and several other rock venues in DFW.
“When I recruited Tim he seemed like the perfect fit. We recorded Forrest and Tim demo and played a great year of shows, including opening for Agent Orange, as well as Los Skarnales at Trees and playing our first shows out of state. He left for personal reasons, which were heartbreaking and sincere.”
Filling a personal void with anger and confusion, Cook vigilantly regrouped his aspirations of fulfilling his sought after plan diligently and with understanding. With the help of friends and band mates stepping in the group recorded the Wetschmerz EP. They have since departed after the recording and have bid adieu on friendly terms, in part, due to Cook’s own personal crises and subsequent nervous breakdown, the group seemed to be a bad fit, but had a good run.
Nonetheless, The current lineup is currently performing and the regrouped members have recently been noted in national and global media streams, with attention from underground national online magazine Bad Copy and global punk rock online news magazine, Dying scene.
The group has recently shared the stage with nationally known early 80’s veteran thrash metal group D.R.I. (Houston, TX) late last year at Deep Ellum TX’s venue Trees, and a year before opening for other renowned late-seventies California punk group, the aforementioned Agent Orange (1979). While opening for several underground touring punk artists headlining stages in our fair area, packing dive bars and selling out door cover with punk rock fan-goers ticket sales, the group has headlined local inner city venues, house shows and dive-bar stages as well opening for neighboring city groups in Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth.
The Dolly Llamas at Growl Records, Arlington TX |Contributed Photo
Cook’s friendly outward approach leads the Llama pack on stage and in repertoire. Seeming confident, Cook (En La Calle writer) has described an overall outlook of the scene from a writer’s perspective as well as his daily life leading a wholesome punk rock/journalist’s lifestyle — figuring the DFW punk and art scene into account.
As for the recent release itself, which is currently streaming on Spotify and available for purchase on Bandcamp along with the group’s full discography, It’s nothing shy of what the group has been known for, brash lyrics and solo-like intros and guitar riffed outros… with accompanying snare and bass chords making up the current three-piece.
Cooks lyrics are adjacent, fun and gamey. Giving obnoxiously stifling remarks to a fretted and obvious crescendo of doubtful pleas with a natural horrendous and humorous reverberated response in likeness to those fluent to several groups of the old school genre. Far from post-punk, there are no soliloquies of lost lyrical traumatic heart-ache involved in the story telling in The Dolly llamas lyrics and hardcore sound.
Ending track “Nobody Loves Anyone,” could sum the response to the antiquity that recourses through the veins of punk rock fan-goers we know and love. While the lyricists vocals are genuine and deep in response to loving no one in response to the triggered gunned down “no one” in a heartfelt demise to, “nobody loves anyone, the real tragedy is the person pulling the trigger, has got love for no one… self interest and greed and self righteous hate it looks like hate for yourself…” Screeches into the void of a vagrant response with a fist pump and chant from live show’s pits keeping artists like this vigilant by their own means of welcoming show-goer’s attributed positive outlooks coming out of punk rock bars cheering on a late weekend’s night.