There’s nothing typical about The Dough Rollers. Originally started by Jack Byrne (whose parents are Ellen Barkin and Gabriel Byrne) and Malcolm Ford (the son of Harrison Ford) in 2008, the band has toured with acts as diverse as Bob Dylan and Queens of the Stone Age, bringing their unique brand of blues-inspired rock to scruffy-faced masses across the country.
“We met in New York when I was in high school and Malcolm had just dropped out of college,” Byrne explains from his home in New York, adding that the duo bonded over their mutual love of marijuana and Call of Duty. “I started giving him guitar lessons, he paid me in weed, and a little while later we started a band.”
Now, plenty of celebrities’ kids start bands, but we can’t think of any others that have an impending EP on Jack White’s Third Man Records that features a song produced by QOTSA’s Josh Homme. “Day to day, things feel pretty gradual when you’re sitting around practicing guitar,” Byrne confesses about the band’s five-year rise. “That said, when Bob Dylan comes up to you and says, ‘Keep on rolling’—that blew my mind.”
When asked when the band—which now features drummer Kyle Olson and bassist Nate Allen as well—was first exposed to southern music, Barkin jokes: “I don’t know, from all the old bluesmen who were hanging out around 14th Street.” Still, it’s clear that the group has a keen understanding of the dynamics of the genre, as proven by the palpable emotion that drips from “Little Lily” and “The Sailing Song,” which were released on vinyl last year via Third Man. Another thing that’s immediately evident upon seeing the band live: Byrne’s and Ford’s tattoos. And even though the two share matching “TDR” and “TCB” insignias (tributes to their own band and Elvis’s band, respectively) neither is too keen on discussing them.
“I gave myself my first tattoo of some dots on my leg when I was 15 because I looked too young to get a tattoo in a shop,” Ford finally admits. These days the duo lets the professionals at Shamrock Social Club in Los Angeles handle their ink. “My approach is not to plan for a tattoo. Usually I know what I want and figure something out on the way there,” Ford says. “If I wanted to remember anything that badly, I don’t think I’d need to get it tattooed on me.”