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Fine and dandy
Marriage and babies have given The Dandy Warhols a fresh perspective on life. But they aren't ready to turn their back on sleazed-up rock'n roll just yet
Tanya Sweeney, 22 Aug 2005
Several column inches have already been devoted to the Dandy Warhols’ not-entirely unwelcome leap from jumped-up, elegantly wasted upstarts to more mature indie elder statespeople.
In tandem with the impressive mushrooming of their musical careers, the band members were settling down and marrying their respective partners. And now, they’ve started having babies; keyboardist and unreconstructed hippy-child Zia McCabe, once noted for her penchant for stripping onstage, gave birth to Matilda Louise (or Tildy Lou, as she is known affectionately) eight months ago.
“Being pregnant and touring was so cool, as everyone was so nice to us,” recalls McCabe. “I would sit in yoga class thinking, ‘God, I love being pregnant!’ Working on the album (the forthcoming Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars), I didn’t work the same hours – I didn’t come in after drinking at the bar totally inspired and wanting to put down parts. I’d get inspiration right after my baby yoga on Tuesday and Thursday.”
“We got the best backstage areas at festivals we weren’t even headlining, with all these Moroccan tents and stuff,” echoes frontman Courtney Taylor.
“We haven’t toured yet with the baby, but hopefully it’s a new level of fun,” asserts McCabe. “I guess if you’re doing music this long, it’s kind of inevitable unless you decide you don’t want family, and I couldn’t come to terms with that.”
That’s not to say, however, that being a Dandy Warhol is not without its surreal moments; only a few days ago, the band had schmoozed with Alan McGee, Lemmy, Jude Law, Sean Penn and Sienna Miller within a matter of hours.
In Zia’s case, she had missed the chance to attend one of Cathy Dennis’ garden parties – “so the babies could play together”.
“Yes, these strange moments are the story of my life,” sighs Taylor. “Like, why is Jude Law kissing me? Oh, because he's wasted…”
Surreal showbiz moments aside, the band have been occupying themselves not only fulfilling promotional duties on the music documentary Dig!, in which they starred opposite The Brian Jonestown Massacre, but also lovingly applying the finishing touches to their new album.
Even within the feted music documentary, the almost-famous Taylor in 1998 made little secret of his vitriol towards the major label system within which he is housed.
“The people at the label are almost the least qualified to do their job,” he drawls. “If you’re stuck in an office where everyone’s stressing about singles, you forget about the real people that like music. Sure enough, the song gets on a commercial (‘Bohemian Like You’ famously appeared on a Vodafone advert) and then their balls are getting blown off. Then they come around to you and they say, ‘Oh, I knew that would happen’.”
While the Dandys are very much their own enclave within Capitol’s formidable ecosystem – they arrange their own mixes, artwork and videos, for a start – Taylor still feels as though he is forever embroiled in a battle of wills with his US label.
“We are like a company of visionaries, and we have to go into business with a company of kindergarteners,” he explains. “You’re constantly trying not to hurt their feelings when telling them how they’re hurting your feelings. It is the hardest work. Meanwhile, you’re supposed to be playing music, but instead you’re engaged in a battle of wits with your label.”
At this point, there is of course an obvious question: why stay in the major label sphere after eight years?
“Because you sign a contract for six albums when you’re young, naïve and stupid,” responds Taylor.
With their recording contract requirements yet to be fulfilled, the Dandys are turning their attention to what the future might hold following the release of Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars, their fifth studio album.
“Then I guess we’ll find out how to do it…I’m sure the money is a lot better doing it yourself,” muses Taylor. “If that doesn’t work out, we’ll look for some people that just seem to be excited about new ideas and new ways to go about things. It would be nice to have someone who knows that we’re the ones in charge of things.”
Rest assured that, whatever the fate of the Dandy Warhols in the future, their current musical output is as reassuringly sexy and sultry as it has ever been.
“We don’t try, but we’d never do anything that wasn’t sexy,” smiles Taylor. “One of the best things you can do in life is to be sexy. It happens fairly naturally, thank God.”