Nashville was a real turning point

To Tennessee and back... Zoe Nicol (left) and Rosie Jones

Nashville was a real turning point

7th October 2019

Folk duo the Worry Dolls headline The Forum on October 25. For Tunbridge Wells born Zoe Nichol it’ll be a pretty special moment having performed there as a solo artist in her teens. Paul Dunton talks to her and bandmate Rosie Jones about their influences and why Nashville has played such a pivotal part in their musical journey so far...

It’s been a very successful and busy year for Worry Dolls, could you share your favourite moments so far?

A real highlight was performing at the Black Deer festival in Eridge Park back in June. We were very privileged to play for the likes of Bob Harris, Billy Bragg, Larkin Poe and Paul Cauthen. When we sang our last song, The River, the crowd started to sing and clap along and it was an incredible feeling seeing them and hearing them supporting us. The reception was amazing! We were also very grateful to receive a Drake Yolanda Award, which has led to us recording a five-track EP in the studio. You’ll be able to purchase our new EP on our upcoming tour, which starts this month and runs into November.

How does it feel to be returning to Tunbridge Wells for your headline show at The Forum? 

It has always been on our bucket list to headline The Forum. I (Zoe) performed there at about 15 years old when I was part of a rock band, and a good few times in my teens. I remember the night I was finishing a shift in Safeway and members of Get Cape Wear Cape Fly came to the checkout saying they were performing at The Forum. It was funny because I was actually supporting them that night! A local artist and good friend of mine, Ian Knapp, used to let me support him when I was starting out. I met him at The Grey Lady and things went on from there. Worry Dolls then went on to support Keston Cobblers Club at The Forum in 2016 and now, three years later, we are headlining for the first time!

Your following continues to flourish, can you put that down to anything in particular?

We met at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, which has always been a great hub for contacts, but we also have the Folkroom records music community to thank too. When we started out in London back in 2011 we were alongside artists like David Gerard, Sophie Jamieson and Patch and the Giant and it was great. A few years later we became part of the Americana scene, meeting the very talented Rob Vincent and Robbie Cavanagh who will both be joining us for several dates on our upcoming tour. Being a part of these communities of musicians has really helped us feel supported, and part of something that is more than just us. Having the chance to perform at the UK Americana Awards last year, alongside the likes of Robert Plant, Mumford and Sons and Ethan Johns, was a huge opportunity for us as was having the chance to showcase our music at the Americana Fest and Folk Alliance in the States courtesy of PRS Foundation Funding. 

What are the influences that have inspired your style and sound?

There are so many! They range from old time country, to 90s pop to Americana, roots, Irish folk and punk rock. We’re both inspired by songwriters and having spent lots of time out in Nashville we’ve got to know a huge amount of artists and the songwriters behind the songs too.

You’ve performed, written and recorded several times in Nashville, what have been your most memorable experiences there? 

We’ve been extremely lucky to have had the chance to visit Nashville five times over the last four years and there have been so many wonderful times. We actually moved out there for three months to write and record our debut album Go Get Gone. We spent months organising the whole trip and sub-let our rooms and left our jobs in order to go there and live the dream every day. Whilst there we wrote over 30 songs with some incredible artists and performed with some of the most talented people. As a result we’ve built some really strong bonds thanks to the special times we’ve all shared. 

Can you give us a little insight into the new material inspired by your visits to Nashville?

One of the songs from our upcoming EP is called Firefly. It was inspired by seeing fireflies for the first time after doing a video shoot in Hendersonville, Tennessee. It’s just outside of Nashville and it has a huge, beautiful lake where Johnny Cash and June Carter lived from the 1960s for the rest of their lives. Not only does it have this undeniable natural beauty, it also has a powerful musical history too. After the shoot, we were walking back through the woodland at dusk and all these fireflies appeared. They were so magical, it’s something we’ll always remember.

Do you feel it has played an integral part in the development of your career? 

Nashville was a real turning point for us. We’d been working together for six years prior to our first visit and we pretty much packed everything in and just took this massive leap of faith and got on a plane. The first year we visited made us realise that we could live our dream, even just for a period of time. It’s a city where musicians from all over the world go to make it and we got to be a part of that scene. Watching and learning from the very best performers and writers from all over the world. We wrote two songs from our upcoming EP there with our good friend Jeff Cohen, and we would love to keep going back.

The chemistry between you both onstage is nothing short of magical, would you say this bond stems from your history and friendship?  

We’ve been friends for 12 years and are like sisters – we know each other inside out. We’ve lived together for many years in London and have grown up together through our 20s. We’ve also shared some of the most brilliant experiences together on our touring adventures and in the US and are always ourselves on stage. We joke around and make fun of each other: that’s just us. 

Worry Dolls play The Tunbridge Wells Forum on October 25. Tickets and more details can be found at www.twforum.co.uk Doors open 7.30pm. You can discover more about the Worry Dolls at www.worrydollsmusic.com

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