Rock and roll isn’t always easy. Dorothy Martin knows this all too well. The vocalist and namesake of L.A. five-piece Dorothy grew up in North County San Diego dreaming of fronting a rock band.
And when she finally headed a hundred miles up the road to make good on that dream, things got off to a really great start.
Her group’s 2014 self-titled EP caught the ear of Rolling Stone who ranked them at No. 14 on the magazine’s 50 Best New Artists list that year, as well as naming them a band “you need to know.”
Dorothy signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label and released a full-length studio debut, ROCKISDEAD, in 2016. The straight-ahead rock album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart, while songs from it found their way into commercials, TV shows, and films.
But behind the scenes, things were falling apart. Not only was the singer feeling stifled by a restrictive creative process thrust upon her by the producers of the first album, she was also losing her battle with alcoholism.
So she did the only thing she thought could help the situation — she hit the reset button.
To deal with her personal issues, Martin got herself into a 12-step program. And by linking up with musician and super producer (and also one-time San Diegan) Linda Perry, Martin rebooted her professional career as well.
“It got to the point where I needed a change,” she said recently from her Los Angeles home. “I was looking for new band members and wondering what I was going to do for the second album. I just thought Linda would make a really great mentor. She’s a badass and she knows what the f**k she’s doing, so I thought it would be a good fit. We put a new band around me, and a new sound for this second album.”
The Perry-produced 28 Days in the Valley was released in March last year and finds the band trading some of their power chords for a bit of a more relaxed groove. Dorothy is still a rock band, they’re just putting a little more effort into the roll part these days.
They’re also changing a few other things along the way.
“We’re actively writing the third record as a band,” said Martin. “And that’s what I wanted to do from the beginning. Some producers like when a band is involved and some don’t. Obviously, the two records are vastly different. But I really like where this is going. I’m excited about it. And I’m not going to stop.”
And why should she? In addition to finally feeling “right” about the whole process, working with Perry has led to other career-expanding opportunities.
In November, Martin was featured on Dolly Parton’s Dumplin’, an original motion picture soundtrack to a Netflix film with the same name. Alongside other duets with fellow artists such as SIA, Miranda Lambert, and Elle King, Martin sang on the 1977 classic Two Doors Down with Parton and Macy Gray.
“Dolly couldn’t have been more wonderful to work with,” Martin said. “I was struck by how humble she is. It’s amazing to find someone so successful who’s also so humble, kind, and helpful. Plus, I’m a huge fan. I actually learned to sing to country music. I’m in a rock band, but I love classic country music. I was just hoping that I wouldn’t screw it up.”
Martin not only didn’t screw it up, while recording their song together, Parton suggested the pair work together in the future — something of which Martin jokingly said she’ll remind the country music icon the next chance she gets.
Martin is also using her newfound resurgence as a platform to help others. She has been incredibly vocal about her own struggles with alcohol and has become an advocate to those seeking support.
“I speak up about it in hopes that it helps just one person who thinks they might be an addict,” she said. “It took me a long time to get that. When you’re in the tornado of addiction, you don’t realize all the things you’re saying, doing, or behaving — how your life is becoming. It’s scary and can be shameful. But addicts and alcoholics shouldn’t have to feel ashamed. They just need to get up and do something about their recovery. It’s the best decision I ever made.”
The way things are going, more good decisions are sure to come. And while Martin can’t say too much in the way of details about the new album, songs currently are being written, and she was able to share one very enticing tidbit.
“I can say that I’m a huge fan of the Rolling Stones!” she quipped. “But that’s all I’m going to say about that!”
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14
Where: House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Ave, Downtown