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:: Spotlight :: Interview with the Dandy Warhols

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Finding their new-found freedom in being masters of their own destiny, The Dandy Warhols have returned with an unmistakeable spaced out and atmospheric new album ‘Earth To The Dandy Warhols. They charter territory that no other bands do and they’ll continue to please the discerning music listener. As the announcement of an Australian tour came through, to celebrate the band’s 10th anniversary of when they first toured Australia, I spoke to drummer Brent DeBoer to discuss the band’s new album, running their own record label, and their general outlook.

What was the idea behind this album?

They were just a bunch of songs that we got together and recorded. We tried to create that ultimate experience. The idea for ‘Earth To The Dandy Warhols’ came after the album was recorded. We came up with the title at a meeting, just thinking Earth to us. Besides the four of us influencing and challenging one another to create magic, is the fact that we, either together or at different times, are constantly at every corner of the globe. You hear stuff that you wouldn’t hear in Portland, Oregon. You see stuff on TV or hear music that inspires. You can hear something in a pub; two floors underneath Earth, in an island in Greece, and you can’t help but hear every sound coming into your ears. It makes the album title even more appropriate.

And the album cover?

Our designer was kicking around some ideas for the album cover and suddenly it just hit him to stick one of those classic pictures of the Earth from outer space – from a telescope. It made sense.

You’ve been together a long time now. What makes the Dandy Warhols tick?

A mutual understanding. For the most part, we’re all open to suggestion. We can walk into a studio after a song has been worked on for an entire year, and just go, “I’ve got an idea”. We’ll try it. The flow of artistic expression is 100% unobstructed. We’re lucky in the way all four of us have similar record collections, similar sensibilities as far as what makes us cool, groovy and sexy. We’d all react similarly when a song comes on at a bar. We’re just very similar in reacting to certain situations.

You formed your own label, Beat The World (released here under Etch n Sketch). Was Capitol Records losing touch with your musical outlook?

For years we’d been kicking around the idea of getting out from Capitol Records. The problem is that when you sign a deal with them, you sign your life away for a certain number of records. Finally, we got our own label together – a pretty amazing team of people all around the world that we hired to put our records in the stores and publicise them. We’ll see how it goes.

You released the album online with additional features. How does this compare with the use of material objects like a CD/DVD, in terms of packaging and its overall economic value?

It was fine for the rest of the world. In America, when we released an album, nobody would know about it unless they did their own research, because our label was s**t. There was always Coldplay, Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Everclear that they were more focused on – more radio-friendly bands. Since we were shuffled to the backburner we didn’t see much difference in America. We’d be banking on the idea that people would wonder when the Dandys would put out their next record, and they’d check it out that way – especially on our website. Those who do would get a good online deal to download it and then get follow-up information in the mail – artwork, etc. Then, through our website, we would send cheap and early tickets for our gigs. So people get rewarded for checking us out online. We can cut a deal for people to get anything they want virtually – once they sign up. We pieced it all together after determining what people wanted.

It’s a great idea and perhaps other artists can use it as a model…

It’s worth a try. We’re the guinea pigs. We’re always confident – we create a record – a wall of guitars, 70s rock style, then three years later every song on the radio is like that. Then you can put out sparse, psychedelic, garage band versions of hi fi pop. A year later it is the most popular sound on the radio. We’ve always been slightly ahead of things in that respect. Maybe this model will be moderately successful. Then everyone will do it and it will be huge. Who knows?

Did you bring anyone into the studio to work with you?

We had Greg Gordon come into our studio – a first for us to have someone like that come in. We had everything set up and he liked our scene and got along with our friends. That’s crucial because when we are recording, we have hundreds of friends that come through the studio and have a drink and a smoke; just hanging out. They might be screaming or clapping. Sometimes we get people to pull a little stunt for the album.

You brought in guest players too…

We had a guy called Mike Campbell on banjo for that number. He’s a long-time original guitar player for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. We were on tour for Tom and his band and we got to know those guys. Courtney befriended Mike and he said that he’d love to come in and have a jam. The music community is generally pretty small, so you can call upon others to help out. Even the little Dandy Warhols were on tour with the Rolling Stones. You end up meeting some cool people.

Are you looking to release any B-sides or remixes?

Yes, definitely. We’ve already done an EP of four songs from the latest record that are remixes. We each did one song – the first four of the album. Little by little we’ll release the entire album as remixes. So far we’ve done well with that. We’ll also bring out some live stuff. Over the next six months we’ll be recording our live shows and release them.

I remember seeing your first show in Melbourne about ten years ago. Australians have supported you well…

Australia’s always been very good to us. We love going there. I fell in love with an Australian girl (from Melbourne) and we’re getting married.

Can we expect something a little different in the live show?

We can choose from about 150 songs now, so we play a few from each record. It’s the same type of show – whatever’s working. We play for a couple of hours and break them all out – some new ones and then somewhat of a greatest hits package.

‘Earth To The Dandy Warhols’ is out now through Etch n Sketch

Dandy Warhols Australian tour dates

October 28 - Metro City, Perth
October 31 - Enmore Theatre, Newtown (all ages show)
November 1 - Stonefest, University of Canberra
November 2 - Fat As Butter Festival ’08, Newcastle
November 5 - The Tivoli, Brisbane
November 6 - Palace Theatre, Melbourne

Note: new Melbourne show announced for November 7 - Palace Theatre