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Interview: The Dandy Warhols

By Lisa Dib
Interview with Zia McCabe
Bassist and Keyboardist of the band The Dandy Warhols.

Dandy Warhold : Interview

The Dandy Warhols love their
tales of Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll

The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols are responsible for some of the catchiest lyrics in modern rock; from the scene wisdom of Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth (“I never thought you’d be a junkie, because heroin is so passť...”) to the now classic We Used To Be Friends.

Lisa Dib spoke to founding member, bassist and keyboardist Zia McCabe before their latest effort "Earth To The Dandy Warhols" hit stores.

The Dandy Warhols formed in Portland in 1994, releasing "Dandy Warhols Rule Ok" on the indie label Tim/Kerr Records in 1995. Their next three albums (through Capitol), "The Dandy Warhols Come Down" (1997), "Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia" (2000) and "Welcome To The Monkey House" (2003) put the band on the charts, on TV and in the spotlight with international hits like the aforementioned hit singles - plus the moody Bohemian Like You.

The band enjoyed Platinum sales and sell out tours in the UK, Australia and various European countries. In 2003, the band was chosen by David Bowie to be the supporting act on his Reality Tour and "Welcome to the Monkey House" featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers, Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes, and Evan Dando.

The ephemeral Zia describes the new album as quite simply, "an intense journey through the space-time continuum".

The record is their first since leaving Capitol Records and teaming up with Worlds Fair Group to launch their own label, Beat the World Records.

Being that much of their fame derides from their tight, catchy tunes and offbeat humour, I asked Zia how the band crafted their songs; "Mostly Courtney [Taylor-Taylor, frontman, guitarist and head producer of the band’s records] comes in with some chord changes and a melody and we flesh it out together, sometimes Pete brings in chords and sometimes we jam stuff together".

The new album will also see guest appearances from the likes of Dire Straits lead singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell on the track Love Song.

Being on the top chinks of the American rock food chain, who does Zia like in music at the moment? "Black Moth Super Rainbow, Santogold, Duke Spirit, Darker My Love... it seems like there is a pantload of great bands out right now".

The Dandy Warhols are not just synonymous with their chart hits and off-the-wall drollery; the band featured along with Brian Jonestown Massacre in "DiG!" the 2004 documentary film directed by Ondi Timoner.

Compiled from seven years of footage, it contrasts the developing careers of the bands The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the bands' respective frontmen Courtney Taylor and Anton Newcombe. Zia's succinct summation of the film's effect and success - "Certainly, mostly people who had never heard of us saw the film and then got into the band".

I ask Zia what song she had always wish she had written, and her answer surprises, mainly because it seems more like the answer of a genuine fan rather than that of a celebrity muso.

"None really, I mean, it's so different if you're the writer of a great song as opposed to being the listener. I would never give up the pleasure I get out of my favourite songs to have been the writer". I guess underneath any musicians rock star facade lies the raging heart and heady musical infatuation of a true music fan.

While pregnant with her daughter Matilda, Zia continued to perform and record and managed to complete the recording for "Odditorium or Warlords of Mars" (2005) one week away from childbirth. On the pregnancy, Zia remarked, "I really did enjoy being onstage with Matilda in my belly, having my bass rig rumbling behind me. I hope Tildy grows up with a special appreciation for music because of it".

Although front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor describes the band beginning as a group of friends who "needed music to drink to", Zia has always felt the rumble of musicianship calling her. "I always wanted to be a performer or artist of some sort. When I was little I thought it would be a dancer, in college I was heading towards metal sculpture. I took a beginning guitar class for fun, which really helped once I was in the band, I could recognise the chords and play along, and the dance background was good for rhythm".

With the hedonistic band motto of "Do anything you want unless somebody tells you not to", The Dandy Warhols have certainly been 'there and back'. And despite the band being renowned for their tales of acid, booze, gratuitous nudity and general debauchery - the important fact remains that Zia maintains that her first music memory is "Listening to Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger with my parents".

And isn't that what music is all about? Awwww.

"Earth To The Dandy Warhols" is out now.
Brought to you by The Dwarf

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