Little Mis Led


I wanted to play all the time and I knew the Doll Rods couldn’t. People get sick of you. So we made another band, just me and Dan--Little Miss Led and the Pussy Patrol. Dan played synthesizer and we had a beatbox. I played no instruments and the beat box was so old and so cool. Dan liked playing that, it had a supercool sound. Dan had some ideas and I was making songs up—like, “The power, it’s in your ass, let your booty take it first class.” I think we had twelve songs. We even had a hand-made Little Mis Led and Pussy Patrol CD.**

I had this wig that Andre thought was sooooo beautiful, it was like, the most white-trash wig. This wig was so not attractive. A big, frizzy brown thing. I felt very Gilda Radner gone bad. I wore it with these super thigh-high eighties white boots and children’s leotards. I chose kids’ leotards ‘cause they had cooler style, size 14-16. I was really little at the time. They rode way up the butt and I wore suspenders on top. It was great, ‘cause I could dance! I didn’t have to play an instrument, I could just go out and do full-throttle weirdo Margaret.

Dan played the synthesizer wearing a giant white Afro, these huge glasses, had with a plastic transparent cape. It was ridiculous. People freaked out over us. We played this super-dive punk rock bar in the worst part of town. Nobody came, not even when we played as the Doll Rods. We were setting up and there were these very elegantly dressed African-American people there. We thought, “This is a hard-core dive punk bar. What the fuck are they doing here?” Turns out they had come for Little Miss Led and the Pussy Patrol--and they were dancing! It was like, “Huh! They like this shit!” Kids were liking it, too. It brought all kinds of people together, which I haven’t seen so much in our city over musical stuff. Dan broke our friendship not long after this. It’s too bad cause Little Miss was really a fun thing to do.

Come out of the rain


I had my brother die, my favorite aunt die and saw my dog get hit by a car, and those things kind of happened one right after the other. My dog Max was the love of my life and he died in my arms. I saw the life go out of him, it was horrible. For a good six months I was pretty much black on the inside. Danny and Christine had to deal with my severe depression. When I’m up, I’m up, and when I’m down, I’m down. It was pretty bad.

I started cutting my hair off. Regularly. It wasn’t like Miss Attractive, hot babe--it was like, Weirdo. I still wanted to play, songs were still coming through the nutbucket. But things were getting harder towards the end. Friendships were getting weird.

My sister was moving out of the house, and had a new person in her life. Christine left the band and had a kid. She’ll tell you she never really left, she just took a leave of absence to push her kid out. The first four months of pregnancy she was on tour, and then after that, she said, “I just need a little time to have her.” Christine didn’t think it was gonna end, she thought we were gonna keep playing forever!

Then Lux and Ivy called us and asked us to go on tour. So I said, “Why don’t we see if we can get Tia to play?” Tia was Dan’s new girlfriend, so she came into the band to take Christine’s place. I gave tons of clothes to Tia and tons of shoes to Tia and sat with Tia in the basement for hours to work on stuff and teach her all of the songs. I started writing new songs right away. I thought, “Wow, let’s make an album with Tia so that Tia could share in this and have royalty checks, too.” It’s fun to share. But attitudes started right away. I think Tia was telling Dan stuff, trying to have him see me in a way that I wasn’t. Dan became very confused. Maybe he still is a little bit.

One day I went down to the basement and Dan’s guitar wasn’t there. If our strings broke and we needed to, we would share. I asked him, “Where’s that guitar?” And he laughed at me—“Ahhh, you don’t have control over my guitar.” He was a different person. I’d think, “Why is he snapping at me, not talking to me?” I tried to talk to him about it. I’d say, “Hey, your girlfriend is being pretty rough.” I’d get back, “Oh yeah? Deal with it.” All of a sudden, I didn’t know Dan anymore. She was the influence at that time. When he’s with nice people, he’s nice. Dan’s very chameleon-like.

I remember getting ready to go onstage before the Cramps at the Fillmore. I had just finished helping Tia put on her false eyelashes, and as soon as I’m done she says, “I wanna tell you the only reason I joined this band was to break it up.” And she starts naming all the people in our Detroit scene who are encouraging her to do so.

We did the Cramps tour and a couple extra shows out towards Boston. “I can’t play anymore, I’m too tired,” Tia said onstage one night. I kept playing and Dan kept playing and she was just having a fit. Then I was standing there playing by myself. It was like a slow, painful death. I remember driving the whole way home with sunglasses on ‘cause I just cried the whole way home.

At some point after we got back Dan came over and said, “I don’t want anything to do with you for two years. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” It was over. We weren’t going down to the basement anymore, ever again. I couldn’t go down there for a long time. It was a weird time, the whole breaking up. I couldn’t believe it.

Dan hurt my feelings really bad, I can’t lie. He hurt my Dad’s feelings, my Mom…they loved Dan. It was hard for them ‘cause they were used to having Dan at every single family function we ever out in the backyard in the summer. Dan and my Dad had a friendship, and they talked about music. My parents couldn’t understand, no one could. “This is just something he’s going through, he’s your friend, he’ll come around,” they said. Then, after time, they just stopped saying it. I talked to Christine about it and she laughed at me—“How can you think this is a new thing? You just live in your magic bubble so you don’t see it. Dan’s always been weird. Want me to go over all the times Dan has been weird?”

I always thought we’d be amazing friends--and maybe in some way we are, I just don’t know it. I still love Dan very dearly. For me, he was like this weird cosmic brother. We had this amazing connection from another dimension--and that maybe was too much for Dan, maybe he needed to be unconnected to that and let other people into his life.

When did the Demolition Doll Rods head south? Probably from the very beginning. I’m not joking. I remember we had just put our first album on In the Red Records, so we were meeting and greeting people and went to meet Long Gone John, who had his own label. Long Gone John had these cushy, leathery chairs, and Dan suddenly made like we were at the psychiatrist’s office. He sat down and started talking how he missed the Gories and wanted to be in the Gories. And Long Gone John was like, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but the band you’re in now is way better.”

The Doll Rods only started in an effort to help my friend. I never wanted the Doll Rods to be a prison sentence for Dan. He felt the Gories were his and the Doll Rods were mine. The Gories got taken away from him, and he always wanted to have that back. That’s how it was, all the time. There was nothing I could do. It was always coming up, no matter how great the Doll Rods were. I think Dan had a strange connection to’s like that thing where if you’re not the one who broke up, you keep going back. He was always on a quest, so I’m happy now the Gories have reunited and it feels so good.

Dan recently texted me and invited me to his show, one that was around the block from my house, it’s north of 8 Mile, so the really cool people don’t go there. Dan put me on the guest list and I loved what he was doing, I was excited for him. I love his wife, she’s a wonderful, wonderful person. He married an Italian, just like me. I feel relieved that he has somebody like her in his life.

The whole breaking up of the Doll Rods was a weird time. I just couldn’t believe it. I really didn’t understand what was going on. I still don’t! My liver had already failed, so I couldn’t go out and drink myself to oblivion…and I didn’t want to. I thought, “I’m gonna face this, I’m gonna face these hurts head on!” And I did.

And now I just think to myself, “Well, I got Dan to a place where he needed to be and he got me to a place where I needed to be ….if things hadn’t have happened this way, maybe I wouldn’t be playing the music I’m playing now.” So I’m mostly just thankful to Dan.

With the Doll Rods finito, Margaret became a one-woman-band, releasing two solo albums, Enchanté (2005) and Sin’tə lā’tin (2008).

With the Doll Rods finito


I didn’t know if I could continue making songs up. Or if I wanted to. The whole reason for making anything up was because I loved somebody so much. I didn’t know if I wanted to love other people that much, ever again. Then you realize over time it’s not something you have control over. Ooops! I did it again. I ended up loving people again. I ended up loving them a lot.

I actually started playing solo while Doll Rods were still going. They got kinda mad at me. Because they were like, “You’re keeping all your good songs for your solo project and giving us the crap songs.” I wrote this song “I Am Not a Stranger” for the solo stuff and they wanted it to be a Doll Rods song. I was writing Doll Rods songs regularly and they were kind of snubbing their noses at some of the songs I wrote. I was like, “Fine, I’ll play that one myself!”

It was actually Hasil that told me I could play solo. This was while the Doll Rods were still going. I have a mind that’s a little bit like a kitty. If the light goes that way, I’ll chase it. I can’t keep my attention for a very long time. I’m famous for doing three or four things at once. So Hasil told me, “You should try playing all the instruments at once” and he gave me some of his songs to do on a cassette tape. I still have it. A hand-written letter with little, soft kittens on his return address sticker. I haven’t done them yet.

Photo by jfotoman/Jay Brown

My solo shows were not very sexy in the beginning. I was trying to play with clothes on, which was hard for me. I find them interfering. I feel like I am encased in this sausage tube of flesh, not inside my vintage this or label that. I’ve come to have a better relationship with clothes now that I make most of them myself, but wearing clothes was hard--and playing with them on was even harder.

Being a one-man-band is pretty challenging, ‘cause if you fuck up no one else is there to have your back. I like to play with other people and I like to dance. To play three instruments by yourself is a little much. It limits my dancing. I did have a great time on my solo European tour. Here I am, onstage, trying to do it myself and kids started running up to me and got on stage. The club was so full that my husband Paolo had to stay outside with my little dog Benny. And look at me through the window as these 16-year-old kids were onstage smacking my bottom. I have another solo album that’s 100% done—mixed, mastered, ready to go. I just don’t feel like playing solo anymore.

“Be There” is a song I wrote after my brother left the planet. It was hard when he died, but we all kinda knew he was too much for this planet. There was no way he was gonna live the life of a normal person. I think the Doll Rods were living his dream. Tony wanted to play the drums but he didn’t do anything with it.

Tony kept telling us he was gonna go to jail. The police brought him to my house one time and they were like, “You know he has guns in the back of his car? You can’t just drive around with guns like that.” I thought we had a little more time. I still beat myself up, ‘cause one of the last times I saw him, he wanted to hug me…I was tough love—“You wanna hug me, kick the fuckin’ prescription drugs, man.” And then I didn’t get my hug ‘cause he died. He just didn’t wake up.

It’s a weird thing when someone leaves, you don’t know if they’re gonna be there or not. When he died, I remember I went to call him. I had to realize, “Oh, he’s not there and even if he was, you didn’t pay your bill so the phone service isn’t connected.” I wanted to know if Tony was gonna be there. And it started happening a lot, other people started leaving.

By singing that song, I felt like I was being with them. I could feel them saying, “I’ll be there don’t worry! I’ll pick your ass up! Wait until you see my wings. Wait until you can see what I can do now.” It was a way to communicate with them—or maybe with the voices in my head.

Married, not for the weekend


Paolo came to this Doll Rods show in the south of Italy. We were playing at a squat, this place where I had to go to the bathroom in a hole in the ground. It was like, “What are we doing here?!” A voice should’ve told me, “You’re meeting your husband!” Sometimes when things are really hard, and are not going the direction you want it to… they actually are. Big lesson for me.

The electricity at this place went out, I kept getting shocked, there was no roof, I have to pee outside in a hole, it was scary, I didn’t know what I was doing there…but here was this really cute guy bouncing up and down in the front row, and I thought to myself, “Why can’t I meet anybody like that? He’s so cute.” And kept playing.

The next day on the boat to Sicily, Christine was praying with me hand in hand that someday I would meet somebody, ‘cause she had met somebody and I think she was getting really sick of me. And so she was praying—“We’ll pray you can meet someone that you can have a relationship with all the time. That’ll be nice, right?” Meaning, “Then you can get out of my fucking hair!” So we prayed. When we got home from tour, Dan told me “this fan from Italy is writing looking for a CD, but I don’t get the feeling he’s writing the Doll Rods, I think he’s writing you.” It turned out he was that cute guy in the audience.

Paolo and I started communicating via the computer. And this was during the time I had lost Max and I was super-depressed. For six months the only window of color I had in my life was going on the computer and writing Paolo and looking at the Michigan Pug Luv Rescue site. In that short period both my husband and my dog came to me via the Internet. My friends were teasing me about Paolo—“He could be a stalker, he could be in prison!” I didn’t care, I liked the purity of the experience. We started writing once a week, then it rapidly became everyday.

We tried talking on the phone but Paolo was very shy about speaking in English. I almost gave up. I thought, “He doesn’t get my sense of humor, I can’t do this because he’s not laughing at me. Then one day I said something and he started laughing so hard. He was like, “You’re funny!” I thought, “OK, we got this.”

I made it very, very clear to Paolo at the time that Christine and Dan were my first loves, that they were my family, that I love them and I would do anything for them at any time. Paolo was fine with all that, fine with going back and forth between Detroit and Italy. He even drove the Doll Rods van every day for hours and hours.

Paolo is a very good deal as far as anything I want to do. He’s a very adventurous person—“Let’s do this, let’s do that.” Even when the Doll Rods stopped, he was like, “Come on, you’re great when you do all your songs by yourself, let’s do shows!” And if I said, “I don’t wanna do shows,” it was, “OK, let’s stay home. Let’s do whatever you wanna do.” Paolo understands more about me than I understand about me. He always helps me see that I’m an amazing person. He’s often telling me that I’m beautiful. That it’s perfectly fine to be like I am. He tells me how amazing the things are that I’ve done and that I’m doing. He encourages me to play music. And he tells me that people would love to be like me…that one I’m not believing so much.

Benny and I rescued each other. I was supposed to go on another Brazilian solo tour and the Pug Luv people called me and told me they had a pug for me so I cancelled my tour. Benny needed me. He was in bad shape. This was not love at first sight. When Max was killed by the car, his face had been smashed. And Bennie came to me with a smashed face--one eye was closed, he had no muscles at all in his back end, he was completely underweight and the vet told me she didn’t even know he’d make it. I really had to work hard for Benny and I to love each other. I believe a little love goes a long way! So Bennie finally got some muscles in his back legs, enough to jump on the dining room table and piss on it! Fuzzy creatures are very important to me and I communicate with them very well. My mental stability is just different from everybody. I’ve been working on a song called “The Angels of the Dogs” but no one ever wants to do it. This band I’m in now isn’t really into doing country tunes…

You’ll never walk alone


We didn’t know what was happening with Dad. It was like, “He had a heat stroke, just a little one, he’d be fine.” My dad really was tougher than anyone I’d known in my life. He made an entire wall on Lake Erie out of cement chunks he’d taken from a blown-out building. He carried them one by one, like a strongman.

Dad was slurring his speech, and a couple more hospital things happened, my brother Joe was like, “I think it’s bad.” So I came home. My parents still lived in Rockwood where I grew up. We did this test with Dad, and they told us it was mesothelioma from working in the shipyards and different factories. It wasn’t going to be curable. And they didn’t know how long he was gonna last. I told him “I’m gonna be here as long as your physical body stays here.” I’m very fortunate, because normally it takes people right away.

After he got sick, he requested songs for me to play at his funeral. I really wanted to do these good, do them right and make it incredible for my Dad. So I was practicing those songs—“Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” “The Old Wooden Cross,” “Down by the Riverside,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “Amazing Grace.” When that time came I wanted to do them justice, so I was practicing pretty much every day on the guitar or banjo. Dad liked the banjo, so I learned to play and every time I saw him I would sit down and play banjo for him. My poor Dad. He had to sit though my serious learning phase, which is pretty much still going on. He’d say, “Are you sure that’s the Jed Clampett song?” And I’d say, “Yes it is…and you’re gonna love it!” One night Dad was standing on the front porch and it was almost as if the stars were going directly towards his head. They were coming so close to him. So that’s one of the lines in one of my new songs: “Dance near, dance far, reach up and caress the stars. Go ahead and play your music, I will dance.”

Every day Dad had a smoothie made out of all the healthy ingredients I could find. Finally he told me, “No more smoothies, I gotta die. I have to go.” That was hard to hear, but I respect people and their choices. I want it to be what they want it to be. Eventually he was put in hospice because he was choking a lot and needed oxygen. He didn’t touch any of the pain medicine until the very end. Didn’t want it. He wanted to be straight with God and just be goin’ home. That’s the way he was, we only hit the morphine at the very end. And at the very, very end, I finally fell asleep for like an hour, and Christine was like, “Get up! Give him more morphine, I can’t take it.” Because he was just howling in pain.

I gave him more morphine and he still wasn’t able to calm down. But then as soon as I started to sing, he did. We had a guitar at my parents’ house that my sister found in the trash so that’s what I played. And I couldn’t look at him. In those last two weeks Dad would fade in and out. We had our special look, and if I gave him the look, then he would laugh and come back. I knew that if I gave him the look, he’d try to come back. I had to look the other way and let him go. I sang all these songs I’d been practicing while he was leaving. And after that, just to make sure. My mom was like, “Keep singing, just in case!” It was like this weird woosh went over the whole room and he was gone.

When we used to go for bike rides and walks, my Dad would say to me, “Which way you wanna go?” And I’d say, “Oh, I don’t know…” And he’d tell me, “Well, I just want you to know, whatever way you go, I’ll always love you.” That was his way of saying, “Go on, give it your all, do what you wanna do.” That’s the hardest thing about him being gone. Will anyone love me like that again?

For many, many, many years it was hard going back to Rockwood. But a lot of it’s a wildlife swamp area, and spending that everyday time with my Dad, going for paddleboat rides, looking at dragonflies, watching fish jump, seeing the birds, egrets, amazing wildlife there that isn’t anyplace else, looking at the lotus fields that came from the lotus flowers…taking in all this beauty and being with my Dad, it gave me this huge insight into life. I can respect myself now if I want to. Sometimes beautiful things do come from a swamp. And I think I’m one of them.

When the good Lord wants to take you, that’s how it’s gonna be. Nobody has control over anything, not even you. As strong and beautiful as my Dad was, in the end, all that was left was a beautiful shell, and he wasn’t in there anymore. That’s gonna happen to all of us one day. It’s super-precious this time we have, you gotta get as much booty shine out of it as much as you can.

What would I like it to say on my tombstone? “Bliss.” Am I afraid of death? I don’t think I am. I don’t know how I’ll feel when it’s happenin’, but for the most part, I’ve been excited about the idea. I never really felt like this is the place, you know. The way that I feel and express life…I don’t always feel like I’m from here. I know there’s more dimensions out there.

So I get excited to think there is another place that’s different. There’s bubbles and different colors. Everybody there has big, shiny collars. They have wings. And it’s fancy there. I really, really hope that the Candyman is there mixin’ it with love, making the world taste good. Maybe Sammy’s one of the angels in charge. But I fuck things up so often that the first thing that I would probably do is break my halo.

Inside of every creature there's a fire that's burning deeper

Such a warm and gentle glow

Just makes you

Want to say hello oh oh oh

Hello Hello oh oh oh

There's a telepathic mind

Between here and the sublime

You can reach me anytime

C'mon just say hello oh oh

Hello Hello oh oh

Nervous and excited

Each moment’s made just for us

Such a special time

Let me know oh oh

Hello Hello oh oh

Hello hello

Hello hello

Hello hello


Lyrics: Margaret Dollrod / Music: Heartthrob Chassis

Right here in the now-now


I couldn’t go in the basement, it took me a long time to go down there. I didn’t know if I could continue or if I wanted to. Then you realize it’s not something you have control over. Songs kept coming in my brain.

This one kid wanted to play with me so I was like, “OK, let’s give it a try.” I’m super open-minded, people don’t really realize that--I mean, I go around in my underpants singing “To Sir with Love.” When Ben first came to the door, I was like, “Oh gosh, God must have sent him.” He’s a very, very a beautiful boy. At first I had been looking for someone who could play drums, and Ben could play drums and the synthesizer at once, like it was nothing! But Ben told me, “I don’t want to play drums, I really wanna play guitar.” I’ve never heard anybody play guitar like him. Ben has his own style, different than I would normally be into. But when we play together, I love it.

We needed a drummer, so this guy Johnny Miller came over. He’s closer to my age and a vet. When he first played in the basement he did this little tippity-tap thing on the drums. I was like, “Look, I’ve been playing for years with somebody who only played two drums. For me the drums are the heartbeat. If we’re gonna play together, no more tippity-tap. I just can’t handle it, it’s physically upsetting. I need something that’s more profound. And I’m borderline deaf. So I need to feel it, and if you’re back there tippity-tapping, I’m not gonna know what the fuck’s going on. So you can’t do that anymore.”

And Johnny listened to me. We had a conversation like normal human beings, and he said “See you tomorrow.” The fact I can tell Johnny I can’t stand something and he still seems to love me is really great. He’s always joking with me and I never get the jokes, ever. Every one of ‘em. And every now and then he’ll toss in a tippity-tap in because he knows it’ll throw me into a tizzy.

Ben and Johnny and I clicked right away. I told them, “This is how I do it. I make up the song and I kind of hum it to you.” They said, “That’s how you made all the songs for the Doll Rods?” “Yes, this is how it goes in my head, then you play it, and I learn it from what you’re doing.” Now when we get together, two or three songs come out. It was like, “Okay, let’s just start taping this stuff, ‘cause it’s coming out so fast!” Then Ben’s like, “I think you should do leads on this the whole way through.” I’m like, “Are you fuckin’ nuts? Fine, I’ll try. And then I start doing it and I’m like, “Whoooo, that’s a lead! I’m playing a lead.”

Or we’ll be playing live and I’ll be doing the little moves that I do and I’ll look over, and Ben will be at my amp turning me up. Other people always wanna turn me down. And Ben’s told me I don’t know how many times, “Look, you’re gonna have to play out of a different amp, I need to hear you. I like your sound, I like how you play.” They encourage me. They tell me that I’m good. And that they think people love me. I’m like “OK, If you guys say so!” I miss them when I’m away.

Photo by Franise Hearn

In the new band I wear outfits. Some of ‘em are sexy and some are just like, outfits. I’ve been making them. I think I’ve faced so many demons that I’m bored with ‘em, I don’t really feel ‘em so much any more. But then every now and then this crazy streak comes through me and I’m like, “Yeah!! Whooo-hooo! Watch out!” And then clothes fly. I bought a dress the other day that had open metal rings cut into it but there was a liner underneath so you couldn’t see the skin. I thought, “Well, I’m gonna have to go home and cut that liner out.”

There’s a different kind of weirdness to this band from the Doll Rods. As a sexual being I barely exist anymore! So it’s very innocent stuff coming together, just a creative lalala coming together. It’s a strange energy. A cute weirdness. A very cute weirdness. Although we have a new one-note song called “I’m Gonna Invite Your Sister to the Party”: “When I look into her eyes, I’m going to think of you. She’s going to laugh at everything that I say. And when you hear her laughter, you know it’s time for you and your mother to pray.” It’s a very sick and demented song about inviting your sister to the party!

Christine’s really supportive of what I’m doing. She’s been giving me pointers—“You should get on Facebook, find out what other clubs kids are going to and starting calling those clubs.” Going on Facebook gives me tremors. I’m like, “Whoooo, the people in the box! I saw this in Willy Wonka--they shrunk a candy bar, then they shrunk the humans. I don’t know if this is a good idea! We never talk to each other outside of the box, and we only talk to each other through the box? Where does real life go to?” Christine’s like, “It’s weird, but you can do this.”

We’re a young band, we’ve just played a few dates. Ben couldn’t drive the rental car the first time, ‘cause he was too young to be on the agreement. But he had a birthday in January and now he’s old enough. We were playing in New York and I got excited, went into the audience with my guitar over my head and unplugged myself. And I couldn’t figure out how to plug myself back in, so I did the rest of the song a cappella. With the cord plugged in my ear. At that very moment, that was the only hole that I knew. And one that’s not gonna get me into a whole world of trouble.

Photo by Franise Hearn
Photo by Franise Hearn

I have a lot of God talks going on with this particular project. Just because no one else will listen to me! No one else hangs out with me like God does. I’m able to make my spiritual connection playing music again. That’s essential for me. And it’s happening again. It’s happening.

I can’t stand plans. People will come to me and start telling me what’s gonna happen and I’m like, “Can we please just do today? And then do the next one and the next one and the next one?” You never know what could happen to you. I very carefully avoid taking bags at the grocery store for fear that someday I will be a bag lady.

The first moment you think about tomorrow or the future it just gets confusing, so I just stick with the now-now. I even have a new song about it: “Yesterday, tomorrow, here and the hereafter, hey what’s goin’ on, what’s up? What are you doing later? I don’t care about any of those things, ‘cause I’m right here, right here in the now-now.”

Our name came to me when I realized we’re just the chassis for our throbbin’ hearts. That’s all we are! And now we’ve got a new drummer, Kate Gowman. So Ben Van Camp, Kate Gowman, Margaret Dollrod…we’re Heartthrob Chassis. But you can call us HTC if you would like.

Marge's light switch in 3D (Brian Rosenquist)