Classic Rock

The Dandy Warhols

James Bond, Black Sabbath, Slash, white and pink noise? All things that have inspired the new Dandys.


The day after a “rager” playback party in NYC for their heavy, darkly twisty new album Rockmaker, Classic Rock caught up with Dandy Warhols frontman/guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor in Montreal at the start of a Canadian tour.

“We’ve immersed ourselves in confit duck and profiterol­es here,” he says, noting his gourmand procliviti­es before discussing the Portland alt.rockers’ twelfth album in a 30-year career.

Rockmaker sounds cheery from the start with Doomsday Bells.

We had a rough couple of years in the US with this cult leader of a president, a caustic and nasty-mouthed man, whipping up hate. Then we end up with Putin as an insane dictator. The last album [Tafelmuzik Means More When You’re Alone] had no songs on it, it was a lockdown soundtrack to a nine-course dinner party. This one is songs, asking: “Why are the stupid people winning, dictating what everybody does?” Except for I Will Never Stop Loving You, a true dark and honest love song, a duet with Debbie Harry.

Your other guests include Frank Black, and, somewhat more surprising­ly, Slash. How did he come to be involved?

I was friends with Duff McKagan’s wife before they met. They started dating and we’d run into [GN’R] over the decades. When the track I’d Like To Help You With

Your Problem was nearly finished, Peter [Holmström, guitars, keys] and I realised we didn’t have the chops for what we needed. Slash’s style is probably the last of that Vietnam War-era, LSD, wah-wah sound. He heard the song and thought it was fucking awesome. When his part came back it was even better than we expected, really deep and cool.

What was the MO for the rest of Rockmaker’s sound?

Every song had to start with a metal riff, accompanie­d by shit-tonnes of noise – we’re all people who like random noise elements, a lot of white and pink noise. Guitar riffs are a great place for us to start, and then they all wander off – one goes James Bond, one goes Sabbath, whatever. I did a lot of extemporan­eous playing, see what it unlocked in me. Then we applied some craft and artistry later.

Always experiment­ing, taking risks…

We experiment and try new things all the time. That’s why we don’t get any better [laughs]. But that’s the nature of experiment­ation. I got to spend a lot of time in my studio, and his studio, with David Bowie, and that was his thing, always looking over the fence, going: “That sounds amazing. How can I do that.” That means real artists don’t have a lot of consistenc­y with hit songs; but you’re an inventor, and you don’t go from inventing Velcro to inventing the French press. It’s not success after success.

“Every song had to start with a metal riff, and tons of noise.”

The track Alcohol And Cocainemar­ijuananico­tine is very Queens Of The Stone Age.

You mean like their track Feel Good Hit Of The Summer? That wasn’t big in the US so we never heard it. We thought: “Why not make a track about our favourite drugs?” I’m not comfortabl­e with harder stuff any more, so we went for ‘natural high’. But then the first time I had a twenty-yearold bottle of claret I thought: “This is incredible. Why did I waste all that money on ecstasy?”’ JK

Rockmaker is out now via Sunset Boulevard Records.

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