Even though the Dandy Warhols have played together as a band for some 18 years now, the quartet from Portland is showing no signs of slowing down. They've released eight albums since 1995's "The Dandys Rule OK," and their latest, "This Machine," drops next week. Once again, the band heads out on tour.
You may know the Dandys from some of their amazingly catchy hits like "Bohemian Like You" or "Not if You Were The Last Junkie On Earth." Or, you may have seen "Dig!," a sprawling seven-year documentary that compares the band with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and as we learned, is completely despised by the Dandy Warhols's frontman, Courtney Taylor-Taylor.
In fact, we learned a lot from Taylor-Taylor in a recent phone interview that was both longer and more candid than we expected. The entire conversation, which contains explicit language, is available by podcast here.
Here are some of the excerpts.
On what Taylor-Taylor has learned from working with his band since 1994:
"We have learned how to really ignore the things that we dislike about each other. You can ignore it and it will go away, just get on with work.
"Never bring something up if you're angry. (If you don't), that makes creating things together sort of what you dream it up being like. We all understand now that everyone has amazing things about them and absolutely small, revolting, disgusting things about them."
On whether "Dig!" was an accurate portrayal of the band:
"'Dig!' was not a documentary, it was a reality TV show before before reality TV. We were horrified. It was the worst thing that had even been done to us in our lives. We thought it was all fun, and we were making a movie. It did the opposite of that; it put a rift between our bands. The rift is gone but we can't play shows together again."
On the Brian Jonestown Massacre:
"They were, and probably still are, our favorite band. When we're on tour, we get to run into them. We're not as cool as them, we'll never be as cool as the Brian Jonestown Massacre. But their music sends me to an emotional place."
On seeing the Dandy Warhols live:
"People hug at our shows. It's a groovy, nice place to escape the world for two hours."
On "Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia:"
"That was the one that Anton (Newcome) had the most influence (on). I was listening to more BJM (Brian Jonestown Massacre) then than I was listening to all the other bands combined at the time. That's always my influence."
On if they knew they had created their best album:
"Yeah, we were pretty sure. We were pretty shocked at how that thing turned out."
"We used a mixer with a metal background who could do something special with all that acoustic guitar. We did 'Big Indian' first, because it would be the hardest one to make work. It just sounds f**cking great. It sounds like wood, like an organic thing of natural beauty."
"We wanted an acoustic record that was f*cking tough, that sounds like rock. I like rock. I am rock guy."
Speaking of rock, Taylor-Talyor says he prefers his version of "Welcome To The Monkey House," that the band re-released with a different mix, the one he calls "The Dandy Warhols Are Sound."
"But I've heard 'Monkey House' spun front to back on numerous occasions at a bar, and it does something to the vibe that is perfect. People get emotionally stronger or able to come out of their shell a little. I've seen it turn a little bar into a party."
For an artist who likes rock, the Dandy's new album is a departure from the band's more electric sound recently.
"We didn't layer any guitars, there aren't any triple-tracked guitars," says Taylor-Taylor. "It is just Pete, you're in that speaker, I'm in that speaker. It's what we do live."
The Dandy Warhols don't tour a ton in America, and Milwaukee isn't on their current itinerary, but the band is coming to Chicago on June 10.
"We love Madison, and we love Milwaukee, because it's cool, like Portland used to be. It's a hard-working, gritty place. People look for some fun, face-first. People are more open into going back to their place. In New York, don't go back to someone's place for beers like you do in Milwaukee."
"Back in the day, we toured really hard, but with the success of 'Thirteen Tales' and 'Monkey House,' it became possible for us to go do Europe for a couple weeks, end in Greece, have a few days on the Greek Islands and chill out, and enjoy touring again."
Is it still fun, after all these years, to be in the Dandy Warhols?
"Oh man, it's awesome. (Touring) is a different adventure with a different group of people every day."
But what are the parties like?
"It's smaller get-togethers now, after a gig. There's general some wine, some beer and pizzas sent over and jam on all the instruments. I don't think we're as f*cked up as we were 15 years ago. We're social people, we like smart people to be around us, and there's no shortage of those in Portland. We end up partying, and hangovers are a lot worse. We drink a lot of water. Drugs that are of a 12-18-hour time commitment; we would try anything. At this point, you really have to make sure you don't have something to do the next day. There's a lot less of that."
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.