Balancing act

Lola Black juggles it all

Jeff Gray

Sometimes I forget I’m heavily tattooed,” singer Lola Black says. “Every now and then I’ll walk by a mirror and think, ‘Oh wow, that’s quite a bit.’ I don’t realize I have that many.”

As lead vocalist of the Denverbased hard rock/metal band also named Lola Black, her presence can be intimidating. On stage, her black hair is piled high on top of her head while she belts out her lyrics in high heels and a black ensemble. The seemingly endless colorful tattoos make her appearance even louder. Simply put, Black commands attention.

Comprised of Black, guitarist Paige O’Meara, guitarist/husband Chris Dellinger, guitarist Scott Kennedy, bassist Yosh (no last name) and drummer Ryan Oakes, Lola Black is the union of a few different prominent Denver bands like Blister 66, Misunderstood and The 8 Bucks Experiment. It’s definitely a boy’s club, but Black doesn’t seem to mind.

“I’ve always been one of the guys,” she says. “I’ve been a tomboy my whole life. It’s second nature for me. I feel like I have a sense of humor like a boy. I’m kind of a rough-and-tumble kind of person.”

The song “Boraccho” illustrates her penchant for debauchery. It revolves around a night Black will clearly never forget — one that resulted in a few bumps and bruises, but thankfully no jail time.

“Chris’s old band was playing at this little Irish bar one night,” she explains. “It got a little out of control. I was throwing beer bottles behind me and I nailed some girl in the head. She was pretty angry and knocked me on my ass. Chris got mad and punched the first guy he saw. Next thing you know, the entire bar was fighting. It was the most epic bar fight. We all got punched. That was definitely some inspiration for the song.”

Another unforgettable moment came on Jan. 16 when the band was scheduled to open for a sold-out Puddle of Mudd show at Cassleman’s Bar & Venue in Denver. However, Puddle of Mudd lead singer Wes Scantlin was arrested before he even made it out of Denver International Airport.

“We were sound checking early and I wasn’t feeling very well,” Black recalls. “We got a call that we didn’t have to rush because Wes got arrested. It was like a waiting game. They wanted us to do a longer set to kill time, but my voice was almost gone by then. We didn’t want to disappoint anyone so we kept going. Eventually, he got out of jail at 1 a.m. He got arrested for riding the baggage carousel into a restricted area. I can’t risk getting put in jail. I don’t want to pull a Wes,” she adds and laughs.

Black makes a conscious effort to stay out of trouble. After all, Lola Black is steadily on the rise as one of Denver’s most prolific bands and life is likely only going to get better from here. The band is currently recording in Los Angeles with producer Bob Marlette (Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper) and hoping to release their first full-length album this summer. As a wife, mother of two, bartender and singer, it’s a crazy balancing act she is just beginning to master.

“It’s actually really exciting, but also really stressful,” she admits. “We’ve been doing so much work, and we’re climbing to a new level. We hold ourselves to a higher standard these days. We’re going from just being a bar band to being a professional arena band.”

With shows at 1stBank Center, Pepsi Center and Fiddler’s Green, Lola Black is growing beyond their wildest dreams. It happened almost by accident. Lola Black’s inaugural gig at the Gothic Theatre was also the first time Black actually sang with Lola Black in front of a crowd.

“I was thrown to the wolves,” she says. “It was our first show and it was close to sold-out. We had put all this hype out there so people knew about us. Chris was like, ‘Let’s see if you can do this.’ I was pushed out there with a lot of anxiety at first, but I blew Chris away. He was really proud of me. I’ve always wanted to be a singer. I knew I could do it.”

Being the frontwoman is a huge test for not only Black, but also her nineyear marriage to Dellinger. He’s used to being the frontman, so handing the reins to his wife has been stressful at times.

“He still has that frontman personality,” she says. “We do our best not to let our personal problems bleed into the band or our band problems bleed into the marriage. It’s extremely tough. The guys are really good about it though, because they’ve known us for so long. They know when to back away,” she laughs. “It’s a challenge, but we’re learning how to find a balance.”