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Members include Eric Hedford, drums; Peter Holmstrom, guitar; Zia McCabe, keyboards, bass; and Courtney Taylor, guitar. Addresses: Record company--Capitol Records, 1750 N. Vine, Hollywood, CA 90028-5274.
The Dandy Warhols have been slyly dubbed "the best British band to come out of America," but the quartet of Oregonians with the self-imposed, somewhat moronic name put forth an intense and complexly psychedelic sound. Critics have compared them--favorably--to a pantheon of trip-rocksters ranging from the Velvet Underground and T. Rex to Galaxie 500 and the Jesus and Mary Chain. The Dandys themselves cite early, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd as a profound influence on their music, a creation described by Rolling Stone as "an aggressive mix of psychedelic guitar, lush dissonance and stoner vocals."
Singer/songwriter Courtney Taylor serves as the photogenic poster boy for the Dandy Warhols, a band whose genesis occurred in the laundry room of his apartment building. Taylor had been a drummer for a number of Portland bands, but wished to sing and play guitar. Keyboardist and bass player Zia McCabe grew up on the Portland River in a log cabin her father had built, a home she once described as a sort of commune and erstwhile shelter for drug-warrant fugitives. Guitarist Peter Holmstrom was a refugee from art studies at New York University. Later, the three were joined by drummer Eric Hedford. Since they had begun the Dandys when sitting on the floor of the laundry room, Taylor later told Spin magazine that afterward, he basically had to learn to play the guitar all over again-- standing up.
The band soon built up a local cult following because of their memorable live shows. The Dandys' freeform, trippy- psychedelic rock sound was marked by lots of guitar, lots of fuzz pedal, lots of reverb, and lots of cheek; they once played their set sitting on big cushions onstage. Writing in the Oregonian, Curt Schulz called McCabe a modern-day, real-life version of the early 1970s cartoon classic Josie and the Pussycats for her one-handed keyboard playing and tambourine jangling in the other. He described their sonic vibe "highly polished modern pop, liquid and smooth." Fans also came to see the band get comfortable onstage, since they had a reputation for disrobing.
By the 1994, the Dandys were signed to the same label as Everclear, the Portland-based Tim/Kerr Records. Their first single was "The Little Drummer Boy," released that same year. A full album followed with 1995's Dandy's Rule OK. This and their 1995 single "TV Theme Song" were well- received and created the usual indie buzz about the band. As the band recalled in a 1997 press release, back then-- with the excellent reception of Dandy's Rule OK--"we had every major label A + R person and their mom following us around." Furthermore, after the early 1990s Seattle scene, record labels were sniffing around for the next hot Northwest city that would spawn a slew of credible, yet revenue-producing bands, and the Dandys helped intensify the talk about Portland's being passed the torch.
At a North by Northwest Music and Media Conference in the fall of 1995, there was insider gossip over the major- label bidding war that the Dandys' talents had incited. It was announced then that they had signed with Capitol, supposedly for a large sum of money. They played live on closing night of the conference--"and the Dandy Warhols killed," declared Patrick MacDonald in the Seattle Times in a review of the show. "The band has it all.... The music was modern, with all the intensity of Bush, Everclear, Filter, Silverchair and the other bands that are defining the future. But the Dandy Warhols stood out enough in showmanship, originality and talent to challenge those other contenders."
In full rock-star mode, the Dandys promptly began squandering their large cash advances while preparing to record their major-label debut. There were some personality conflicts within the band, however, and they were also unhappy with the studio and new producer. In turn, Capitol executives were less than enthused about the songs that resulted, and rumors again flew, this time to the effect that it was a very big, expensive contractual mess in which the Dandys were now involved. "We didn't have the stamina to stay in there," aylor said of this time in an interview with Jim Sullivan of the Boston Globe, "... to maintain focus on the aesthetic sensibilities. It became too confusing, and it became too depressing." Eventually they gave up and went back to the basement in Portland where they used to practice. Taylor wrote new songs, and they recruited the co-producer on first record, Tony Lash, to help them out again.
In the spring of 1996 the Dandy Warhols opened for Love and Rockets, and had seemingly returned to their normal, iconoclastic selves. At one venue, they played only two songs--one a sixteen-minute-long groove entitled "It's a Fast Driving Rave-Up with the Dandy Warhols' Sixteen Minutes." The long-awaited album with the self-chastening tag, ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down, was finally released in the summer of 1997, and the media response was laudatory. Rolling Stone reviewer Barney Hoskyns called it "the most exhilarating '60s-into-'90s excursion yet attempted by an American band," and described the Dandys as "masters of the hypnotically droning riff delivered in waves of fuzz guitar and garage-band keyboards." Paper's Richard Baimbridge used similar terminology, describing it as "a wonderfully minimalistic, droning album," and in an assessment in the Boston Globe, Sullivan declared the Dandys have created "a brilliant disc that merges their experimental nature and their keen pop sensibility."
...The Dandy Warhols Come Down also attracted media attention for its anti-drug paean, "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth," which happened to dovetail perfectly with the widespread backlash against "heroin chic" that same summer. Taylor said that the words he wrote--"I never thought you'd be a junkie because heroin is so passe"--hardly reflected any teetotalling image of himself or the band, but explained that "when people from stupid frat-boy bands start OD-ing on heroin, it's just not cool anymore," he told Sullivan in the Boston Globe. "People should not be addicted to anything except sex. You can't like sex too much." Capitol put a lot of money behind the song, however, and renowned photographer David LaChapelle was recruited to direct it. It depicts noir game show with cheesy imagery from the 1980s, and the Dandys as hapless contestants where the "prizes" includea toilet bowl for vomiting and a tombstone.
The Dandys profess to enjoying all the perks of the rock 'n' roll train. In their next video, the band was filmed pulling an unbelievable stunt that involved changing the sign on the famed Capitol Records building in Hollywood to read "DANDY" Records--a costly endeavor whose financing was somehow approved by executives inside. Indulgences seemed a part of the whole Dandy Warhol mystique. "Music is all about addressing feelings," Taylor told Schulz in the Oregonian interview. "I think it's a cop-out if the only feeling you care to express is angst, like a lot of groups seem to limit themselves to. I'm not as much into anger as I am into sensory pleasures, like red wine and chocolate."
by Carol Brennan
Dandy Warhols, The's Career
Band formed c. 1993, in Portland, OR; signed with Tim/Kerr Records, c. 1994; released the single "The Little Drummer Boy," 1994; signed with Capitol Records, 1995; released ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down, 1997.
- Selective Works
- "The Little Drummer Boy," T/K Records, 1994.
- Dandy's Rule OK, T/K Records, 1995.
- "TV Theme Song," T/K Records, 1995.
- "Ride," T/K Records, 1996.
- "Nothing to Do," T/K Records, 1996.
- ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down, T/K Records/Capitol, 1997.
- Billboard, July 12, 1997, p. 86.
- Boston Globe, August 22, 1997.
- Oregonian, March 3, 1995; June 7, 1996, p. 38; April 18, 1997; Paper, October 1997.
- Rolling Stone, November 16, 1995; July 2, 1997; September 4, 1997, p. 22.
- Seattle Times, October 8, 1995.
- Spin, October 1997; December 1997.
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