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Franki Doll and the Broken Toys aren’t just a bunch of punk-inspired rockers. They relate to one another more like family or maybe a co-ed street gang. Franki is deceptively small in size, but she rules the stage with a commanding presence. The Broken Toys—guitarists Chris Khaos and Alex Smith, bassist Andy Montana, and drummer Jenson Avery—provide glammed-up tunes that range from pop gems to metallic roars, like a less rockabilly-obsessed HorrorPops. The songs lay the foundation for Doll’s introspective tales of love, pain and overcoming the past. This combination of rock & roll power and personal honesty has earned the group a loyal band of admirers across the globe. “We don’t just have fans; we have an army,” Franki declares. Their legions will soon swell further with the release of album Step Right Up in Hot Topic stores across the U.S. The band share their toy stories here.
OC Weekly: Do the band members see themselves as broken toys?
Jenson Avery: Yes, definitely.
Franki Doll: If you really look deeper into it, we are all broken toys.
Why do you feel that way?
Doll: I don’t feel that way; I know it to be true.
Andy Montana: Everyone is a broken toy. They just don’t know it yet.
Doll: We are all born perfect, but somewhere along the line, someone breaks you. We don’t always know how to recover. Three years ago, one of our fans in Alabama wrote me a letter telling me that she wanted to kill herself. I posted the letter on the Internet—she read it and responded, “It’s the only thing that I had seen in years that made me want to live.”
Alex Smith: There’s a spider in my hair. [Pulls spider out of hair.]
Montana: That means it’s time for a shower and a haircut.
In 2004, your band were solely punk. What made you branch out?
Doll: As musicians, we grew and evolved. We come from punk roots in this band, but we had more to say.
Smith: I had a spider in my hair. That’s pretty punk rock. [Laughs.]
How does it feel to release your album in Hot Topic stores around the United States?
Doll: It feels fucking awesome. We previously recorded an album titled Pantomime, but we threw it away.
Why was that album shelved?
Doll: We were trying to be something we weren’t.
Avery: Some people think we are really provocative, like our MySpace pictures.
Doll: Oh, those modeling pictures I have on there.
Smith: Your vagina was hanging out.
Avery: It’s a great selling point.
Franki, you spent some time in foster care as a child. Did this inspire you to become a musician? Do your lyrics reference this period in your life?
Doll: It did not inspire me to become a musician; I was born one. It inspired me to say something louder than most people would. My first boyfriend was really abusive. I broke up with him after two-and-a-half years. He told me that he would kill me before he’d let anyone else have me. One night, he busted through my room, smiled and said, “I hope you are happy. I love you, Franki; watch this.” He took out a gun and blew his brains out. Later, I found out he had two bullets, and the first one was for me.
Is it difficult balancing the success of your band with your relationship with Jenson?
Doll: He’s my best friend. I get to marry him and spend the rest of my life with him.
Smith: I’m sorry.
Avery: We don’t act like we are in a relationship when we’re playing together.
Chris Khaos: Except for every once in a while before shows when you guys shag.
What’s the weirdest experience you had with a fan?
Doll: People ask me to autograph the strangest parts of their bodies. Recently, I signed a man’s testicles. [Laughs.]Franki Doll and the Broken Toys perform with Shiny Toy Guns at the Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 436-3636; www.longbeachcc.com. Fri., 6 p.m. $30. All ages.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: email@example.com.
This column appeared in print as "Doll’s Parts."