The Dandy Warhols are a band I’ve always enjoyed throughout the years. Much like TV character Veronica Mars they were one of the few bands from my high school years that not only helped me survive but they also followed me to college and my adult years.
Having the chance to see them play live again was a real treat, especially when being amazed by their performance back in 2008 at Terminal 5. What also made this more pleasurable was that Brooklyn based act Hopewell were slotted to support and to everyone’s surprise they turned out to be one of those rare opening acts that you really wanted to check out after they played. The band took the stage with a thunderous presence and orchestrated their grungy guitars effortlessly amongst the crowd.
After their performance, The Dandy Warhols’ light rig began to glow, Chinese lanterns crowded the stage in a seemingly beautiful way, and before the crowd of Webster Hall could be amazed, The Dandys took the stage. Here are some photos from the show (for more be sure to go here)
After the gig, drummer Brent DeBoer was able to chat with us on the band’s career, what goes into their live shows, and why “when something isn’t fun, it’s funny.“
Randomville: Would you say the reasons you continue to play music have changed since you’ve started playing music? And if so, how?
Brent: I’d say mainly the reason is exactly the same. When I was five or six years old I had no idea about some of the reasons why people played music. No idea about meeting chicks, or to make money or to travel the world; I was just drumming, listening to music, growing more obsessed with it and I really had no idea why. Today it’s the exact same thing. I just play music I feel the way all true musicians do which is that they CAN’T help it. And I feel the old saying “If you’re an artist and you decide to quit, then you were never really an artist” is a good example of that. The thing is, most painters, musicians, and whatever medium you can think of do it because they can’t help it.
Randomville: Looking at the release of The Capitol Years, what is it that most surprises you with this compilation of tracks?
Brent: I wasn’t really surprised by much when listening to it; I was more pleased with the consistency of the tunes. I think you can hear how we’ve improved over the years in how we record. When I listen to our music I get images of the different studios we’ve been in and the people that were there. It’s really fun to see it from that perspective and it was also pleasing hearing them re-mastered; that actually surprised me how different the songs sounded in that state.
Randomville: I remember when you guys released The Dandy Warhols Are Sound, which is a compilation of tracks from Welcome To The Monkey House but arranged differently and in a sense more raw. I’ve never seen a band really release stuff from such a naked form. Did it feel weird for you guys to do that or natural?
Brent: Not really. Are Sound was actually what we originally intended. It’s what we recorded when we worked with Russell Elevado, whose also worked with Common and Alicia Keys, and is a really great producer. He’s won a couple Grammys also but what got us is that he’s never really worked with an indie rock band before. We found his production to be so amazing that we wanted to get a hold of him. So Courtney (Taylor) tracked him down in New York and he agreed to help us make the record. The idea was to get things as raw as we could and give it an old school rock n roll type of style, and that’s Are Sound. Capitol Records wanted to see if they had Jeremy Wheatley there to mix the tracks as well, so he went for it and flew back and forth to LA a thousand times, and at the end of it we had two recordings of the same songs, Welcome To The Monkey House and The Dandy Warhols Are Sound. I really don’t know which one I prefer but the Dandy Warhols are Sound is the original finished album.
Randomville: It amazed me when listening to Sound how I was familiar with Monkey House yet the songs, despite having the same lyrics, are varied enough to stand on their own and are distinct enough to be different.
Brent: Oh yeah I definitely agree with that. It all comes down to when Brian Cook tried to track the album for us in Portland, Oregon and he gets really fun to work with because he’s always experimenting with mic positions, so it was such a great time experimenting with these sounds but the way we track is that we track a lot of sounds! So when we worked with Russell, you see he’s a real minimalist, he likes to keep it very simple and raw while Jeremy likes it to be busier and bombastic with speakers especially. We also had Nick Rhodes from Duran, Duran work with us in his studio for awhile in London (he also did the keyboard tracks for “You Were The Last High”). He really helped bring out a lot of other things before the mixing process, but again he thinks different as well so we had quite a lot of people on these projects and for us it was important to get all of these perspectives you know?
Randomville: Are the bonus tracks for Capitol Years B-sides or were they created specifically for the album? Also, how large would you say your b-side collection is?
Brent: Well first we do have a hell of a lot of B-sides. I’d say about 60% of them are on disc two of a collection we put out which is available on our website. Disc one is the original version of Come Down, which we titled The Black Album, which has some different songs and completely different recording sessions. The tracks are not quite finished but have a really cool feel, and that is Black Album. And disc two is all our B-sides and recording which didn’t fit on the album but work on their own. Disc two actually contains 22 tracks! Some of them are covers and we don’t really know how we’re gonna release the rest of the stuff we’ve made (most of them being for movies and other side projects) but we definitely want to put out a second collection soon. And the bonus track on Capitol Years is a song I wrote maybe eight or nine years ago when I was in a rock dorm in Portland and I had this tracked in a cassette recorder. Just a couple of years ago I broke out some cassettes and I was listening to some of the old songs which sounded pretty cool to me. When we were working on B-sides for The Capitol Years’ collection we were trying to write something new (me and Zia were playing around with a lot of melodies) but it just got too frustrating and we only had a couple of days to get it done and I said “hey, why don’t we just record a song that’s already done?” and Zia asked “Well what is that?” So I told her and Jeremy how I had a couple lying around and should we just try one? So I showed them that riff I had and they thought it was cool and so we laid it down and recorded it. The track is called “This Is The Tide” and it’s the only bonus track we have in The Capitol Years.
Randomville: And you guys just released a music video for “This Is The Tide” correct?
Brent: Yeah, there’s actually two of them. One of them I shot with our lighting director Scott Simons and the other one was shot in the Odditorium (The Dandy Warhols’ own studio) with a bunch of friends of ours who are film makers; they came over and we had a dinner party and then did some shots. The finished product of that came out to be pretty cool and we filmed a dinner party with a screen and a bit of a vintage style to it.
Randomville: What do you feel has allowed you guys to continue doing what you’ve been doing? (Recording albums, playing live, touring the world, etc.)
Brent: It might go back to that thing I said earlier. To me it could almost be a fact that you just can’t help it to create, but with the other three people I play with and the crew that tours with us, it’s like we grew up together and changing together made us develop a lot of understanding for each other and that definitely helped us stay together and tour. It’s not easy to keep going on at times and sometimes I have even caught myself thinking “shit, this is how bands break up,” but one thing we live by is “If it’s not fun, then its funny.” Like when it gets really bad you just gotta laugh, you know? Otherwise you can’t handle it. There’s only so much complaining people can handle especially when living the circus life (living on a tour bus) hahahaha.
Randomville: I’ve seen you guys live twice, once in 2008 and last weekend Both times the shows were different with your stage set-ups; do you guys discuss how to change your live gigs prior to touring? And what do you think for you is important with a live show?
Brent: Well the most important thing for us live on stage is how we hear one another and ourselves on stage, especially when it comes to our monitors. Before we hit the road we always discuss what we’re going to do next and our lighting guy lives in Portland so he comes by and we talk about ideas. He’s been doing it forever with a lot of different bands, which helps us decide what we can and cannot do when we collectively toss ideas out. And then we look at the tour and the budget and do something as cool as possible. He’s a really trippy guy so we always try to do something a bit psychedelic. I don’t remember where the idea came form but we decided to go with these gigantic lantern balls which are surprisingly very inexpensive and the way we light them up they look like a lot of planets; we loved how trippy it looked and went with it.
Randomville: Is there a reason why you guys play in a straight line on stage? Is there any symbolism behind that?
Brent: Its mostly because me and Courtney sing harmonies throughout the whole set and the two of us figured out when we’re right next to each other Courtney can hear the drums acoustically without the need of a mic or speakers, especially because those are a poor representation of what a drum sounds like. The way we play is that we never play along to our CD’s the way some bands do so hearing each other is very crucial to our shows; very old school. So if Courtney stands right by my high hat he can hear exactly what I’m doing which allows him to follow along and keep that rhythm between his guitar and my drum set. It’s a great way to unclog our monitors also. Also we find it looks very cool and it aesthetically made sense to have both singers on stage. Especially with Pete on the far right side always looking cool, he looks like he was born with the guitar in his hands.
Randomville: If you could be in a room with any band recording their new album who would it be and why?
Brent: Well this isn’t because I find the record to have flaws because to me it is flawless, but more so to be in the same room with this musician/producer and experience it all happening. Just the way he makes music amazes me and I have no idea how he goes about doing it. My answer would have to be Dr. Dre. It’d be nice to be there for educational purposes you know? I’ve been in a lot of studios and it’s always guitar rock oriented. So yeah when he made 2001 to me would’ve been the best time to be with him. He made it right after The Chronic and it took him years to perfect. To me it’s one of the most trippy and immersive things ever and I can’t even believe it. I don’t think I would’ve put any input on it really, I’d just love to watch Dre work.
Be sure to check out The Dandy Warhols’ greatest hits collection, The Capitol Years out now and featuring the new single “This Is The Tide.”
Also be sure to check out the new live album by Hopewell here