Mydolls (1978-present), a female-fronted art punk band from Houston, Texas, was formed in 1978 by guitarist/vocalist Trish Herrera, bassist/vocalist Dianna Ray, guitarist/vocalist Linda Younger and drummer/vocalist George Reyes. As one of Houston’s earliest punk bands, Mydolls created a DIY sound that was as ethereal, fluid and poetic as it was politically charged and feminist. Throughout their nearly 40-year history, these pioneering musicians have paved a path for women and minorities in the music and arts scenes and continue to perform today with their original lineup.
During the 1980s, Mydolls recorded several albums, including their 12″ EP Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick, on independent label C.I.A. Records based in Houston. The band’s song “Imposter” was included on the iconic Seattle label Sub Pop’s #7 compilation cassette released in 1982 featuring underground new wave artists. While in London to meet Mayo Thompson of Red Krayola in 1982, Linda Mydoll joined John Peel for a live interview during his BBC Radio program. Peel debuted the band’s first 45, In Technicolor (CIA, 1980), to international audiences and referred to the band as his “correspondents for independent music in Texas.” Mydolls’ music had an impact on internationally acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders, who featured the band in a cameo role while performing the song “A World of Her Own” in the Cannes award-winning film Paris, Texas (1984). In 2007, A World of Her Own, the complete anthology CD, was released by Grand Theft Audio. Mydolls were inducted into the Houston Press Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
Mydolls and the Houston punk scene were the focus of the 20HERTZ music-based lecture series at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in July 2016. The series included an exhibition of the band’s archive and a live performance in the museum gallery. In conjunction with their performance as the featured artist for Lawndale Art Center’s SPEAKEASY experimental music and art program series, Mydolls released their latest EP, It’s Too Hot for Revolution, as a collectible red vinyl edition in March 2017. Revolution blends classic punk protest anthems such as “Politician” with poetry, including a rendition of Charles Bukowski’s “Fair Stand the Fields of France.”
Mydolls began in 1978 in Houston, Texas. Dianna Ray and Trish Herrera began writing songs together. Dianna and Trish were then joined by Linda Younger and the three went in search of a drummer. After several attempts of working with various audition drummers, Trish’s cousin, George Reyes joined the band and the sound took off with his powerful connection to Dianna’s bass playing. This gave Trish and Linda a lot of room to play with their guitars in a very unconventional way. Linda would sometimes play the top three strings, while Trish played the bottom three, or vice versa giving the sound a somewhat textural body. Carolyn Hall began playing keyboards with Mydolls. Also a friend Jay Frances was responsible for the support of getting Mydolls out of the living room and onto the stage. He co-wrote Berlin with Trish Herrera. The vocals were mainly shared by Trish and Linda with Dianna adding some chanting and George singing while playing drums on a few songs. The sound was developing and Mydolls were conceived out of the origin of punk rock. Since they are completely unconventional, they didn’t know the rules of any particular genre. One of their early songs, “Breaking the Rules”, was inspired by the idea of “How can you break rules if you don’t know them?”
Early years (1980–1983)
Mydolls traveled to London, England after the release of their first 45 and were warmly greeted by Mayo Thompson of the Red Crayola and Rough Trade. They were also invited to be on the BBC Radio and be interviewed by John Peel. Mydolls did three major US tours in addition to playing around Texas and Louisiana, which took them though the Midwest to college towns and small alternative venues then all the way to New York City to play the NY Film Festival premiere of Wim Wenders movie, Paris, Texas. Mydolls appear in the movie in the bar scene where Nastaja Kinski reconnects with Harry Dean Stanton. Later, Paris,Texas would win the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.
Mydolls played in Houston at various dance studios and art galleries of which were Studio One and Farrell Dyde Dance Studio.
Mydolls was joined by various musicians, one, Kurt Kren, an Austrian avant-garde filmmaker who some how had found his way to Texas, was working as a guard at the Museum of fine arts houston, joined Mydolls in a dirge that was his own story telling of Rumpelstiltskin. He made up the lyrics as he went along in German but the main line was, “No one knows I’m shitting in my pants.”
Touring Years (1981-1986)
Midwest tour Dead Armadillo tour
East Coast tour Go to Fish tour
Mydolls had a devoted sound engineer, Phil Davis, originally referred to as Feedback Phil and was the original Rock Island sound man. Phil traveled with Mydolls on their midwest and east coast tours making sure the sounds was great in every city they played.
Mydolls was able to take some recordings directly off the board in Newport,Kentucky at the Jockey Club on the May 1983 Go to Fish tour.
Dianna’s life partner, Kathy Johnston who also played guitar in WWI (Women with Instruments), Black Dresses and They Should Have Been Blondes, guitar, joined in Mydolls shows now along with Ralph Kaethner on sax.
In 2005, Mydolls complete works on CD on the Grand Theft Audio was released. This CD A World of Her Own includes 2 CDs, a 24 page booklet of their song lyrics, plus photos and flyers.
Kathy passed away with complications of Luekemia in September of 2011. She is greatly missed.
Since Kathy’s death Mydolls has been playing shows, teaching at Girls Rock Camp Houston and recording a new song that was co -written by Linda Younger and Kathy Johnston. The song called Don’t Fucking Die and five of Mydolls vintage songs that were also recorded at Big Door Studios in NASA Clearlake Texas. The compilation is called It’s Too Hot For Revolution.
In January 2011, Mydolls were featured in the book Visual Vitriol: The Street Art and Subcultures of the Punk and Hardcore Generations (Univ. Press of Mississippi). They are featured in an extensive interview in the January 2013 issue of the long-time punk fanzine Maximumrocknroll.
November 2012 saw them play at the wildly successful Island Reunion show celebrating the birthplace of punk rock in Houston.
In August 2013, Mydolls were selected as one of only ten Houston artists to be inaugural inductees into the newly established Houston Music Hall of Fame along with Geto Boys, Gene Watson and ZZ Top
In October 2013, Mydolls played at MEOW CON in Austin, along with featured guests Suzi Quatro, Frightwig, June Millington from Fanny and Michael Jackson’s shredder guitarist Jennifer Batten.
In Summer 2014, Mydolls played at Numbers Night Club in Houston, for the infamous street skate punk group, the Urban Animals reunion party.
In the Spring of 2015, Mydolls played the North Texas music festival Denton 35 along with the English rock band The Zombies.
In the Fall of 2015, Mydolls released a new eight song CD It’s Too Hot for Revolution. Later in the same year, Mydolls traveled to California and played at the “Fabulosa Festival” in Yosemite, then traveled to Oakland, California, to open for The Avengers at Leo’s Club.
Mydolls continues to play national and statewide shows on a regular basis.
Since its inception in 2010, Trish Herrera and Dianna Ray have also played in the post-punk band No Love Less with drummer David Ensminger.