Interview: The Dandy Warhols
By Lisa Dib
with Zia McCabe
and Keyboardist of the band The Dandy Warhols.
The Dandy Warhols love their
tales of Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll
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.
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
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
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.
to you by The