It feels a little early in the year to be saying goodbye to a band as irreverent and irreplaceable as Franki Doll and the Broken Toys. Sadly, we've recently learned that the miniskirts, two-toned hair and octane-fueled antics of Huntington Beach performer Franki Doll will be no more. On Saturday (Feb. 16), she and her tattooed band of Broken Toys are getting onstage at DiPiazza's in Long Beach for the last time together before taking a final break from bandhood.
Having written about the band more than a few times over the years, it would be easy for the Weekly to say we're witnessing the death of a rock & roll institution around these parts. But to call them an institution (even after playing in OC for years) might be a bit of a misnomer. Institutions are stable, traditions consistently seen in a local area that rarely, if ever, rock the boat in terms of a general public consensus. Franki Doll and the Broken Toys have never staked their reputation on doing any of those things. In a lot of ways, they've been on a mission to be the dynamite that blows castles of convention to the ground. But with years of experience, albums, fans (Broken Toy Army!) and near-misses at stardom under their belt, the no-nonsense front woman realizes that, at 42 years old, it's simply time to move onto things outside of being a chick in a kick-ass rock & roll band.
"I don't think there's gonna be a record label that's gonna come forward in the next couple of years and go, 'Ya know what, Franki Doll? You look so good in a miniskirt at your age that we just wanna give you a huge record deal, and we're hoping you'll be like Tina Turner,'" she says. "Eventually, it just gets to like, 'Okay, stop!'" She laughs.
Despite the break-up, Doll says, the band is not fighting, and the split was mutual (she's still married to Broken Toy drummer Jenson Avery). At a recent practice after announcing the break-up to her fans via YouTube, Franki admits to breaking down in front of the guys over the situation.
"I told the guys it feels like I'm breaking up with four boyfriends who have never done anything wrong," Doll says. "Worst feeling ever."
But Doll says talk of dismantling the band started as far back as 2011, after she was injured in a debilitating car accident in OC that forced her to take time away from the band. Subsequently, Franki Doll and the Broken Toys rarely play in public as they used to. Combined with the changing tide of music popularity and a slump in record sales, the fact they're still kicking makes their departure that much sadder, marking the end of an area for fans who've catapulted the band to Hot Topic-endorsed cult status over the years. Of course, in Doll's case, a break up only makes way for more creative avenues in her career, chief among them acting, deejaying and scoring films. She's even starting a career as a CrossFit workout instructor.
For a band who have won their share of OC Music Awards, played the Staples Center and jammed unapologetic glam punk wherever they've chosen to plug in their amps, the last show is a big deal for OC's music scene. But it's not exactly the last you'll hear from them. The band's final sonic offering comes in the form of the theme song for a horror film called Captured (to be released this year), in which Doll plays a small onscreen part. And hey, there's always the possibility that if My Chemical Romance or the Used ever need a touring buddy, Franki Doll and the Broken Toys might magically become a band again. But until then, Doll chooses to simply thank the fans and let things end on a high note.
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"The Broken Toy Army will never go away," Doll says. "This was not about the music; it was about the scene and the people. The music was just how we all came together. I want people to continue to make this world a better place, just as we started out to do in the beginning of this band."
See Franki Doll's goodbye video below:
Franki Doll and the Broken Toys play their final show with Neo Geo at DiPiazza's, 5205 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 498-2461; www.dipiazzas.com. Sat., 8 p.m. $8. For more details, click here.