20 Apr 2024

The Dandy Warhols on where it all began, new album and NZ show

From Music 101, 3:15 pm on 20 April 2024
The Dandy Warhols

Photo: Supplied/Ray Gordon

Psychedelic rock band the Dandy Warhols have been making music for 30 years, but they still only feel "pressure to blow our own minds", their frontman says.

They have released 11 studio albums, with their latest, Rockmaker, boasting guest artists including Slash, Frank Black of The Pixies and Blondie's Debbie Harry.

On Monday, they will perform live at Auckland's Powerstation.

Singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor told Music 101 host Maggie Tweedie the band's lack of technical knowledge in the beginning meant they had to experiment and be creative.

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The members were chosen for their taste, "not for having any skills whatsoever", he said.

"We weren't adept enough or skilled enough to sound like what was currently successful at any phase of our career, so we kind of had to invent a sound by picking things we could do."

The Dandy Warhols hit the big time in 2000 with the release of their third album Tales from Urban Bohemia, which featured the smash hit 'Bohemian Like You'.

The Dandy Warhols

Photo: Supplied/Mike Morgan

That was when the pressure hit to conform to commercial norms, Taylor-Taylor said.

Resisting that meant staying out of big cities like New York and London as much as they could.

"[We] didn't want to get in that velvet rope and be part of 'celebrity' - we wanted to be a band."

That meant they were still sticking true to their creative vision decades into their careers, he said.

"You can put our new record on and the first thing you’ll do is be surprised. We’ve never done anything like it. And I don’t know of anyone who has, actually – it doesn’t really sound like anyone.

"We still feel only pressure to blow our own minds ... There is a fear in that too because when you do something that you don’t really quite think anyone else has done, you wonder if you’re the only one who likes it, and at the end you have to go ‘who cares?' I don’t really care."

Taylor-Taylor said one of the highlights of their latest album was hearing Debbie Harry's vocals on the closing song, 'I Will Never Stop Loving You'.

It was "unforgettable", he said.

"Her voice just elevated the thing to this kind of timeless level," he said.

"It's silvery - when they say 'a cloud has a silver lining', that's exactly what it sounds like to me."