Zia McCabe ponders the mysteries of life, and The Dandy Warhols' new album
“Then as we moved on, it became, ‘Oh man, we're gonna make the last guitar record, go guitars!’” said McCabe. This explains their rockier (in sound and reception) album Odditorium or Warlords of Mars.
As singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor breathes on This Machine’s first track, “The more you stay the same, the more I feel like I have to change.” Yet underneath the genre-bending, the band has never lost their sense of self.
“It's like a person who puts on every kind of different outfit, but you still know it's them,” said McCabe. “Your personality shines through. There are things about us that we repeat even though we're constantly changing. It's still Courtney's voice, the synth base—it's still us, no matter what.”
It helps that they've never lost their humour either. From “Enjoy Yourself”: “I used to be too cool for rules. Too cool for school. I used to be pretty, pretty like a girl. I was the prettiest little girl in the whole fuckin' world.”
When I asked McCabe the secret to a long-lasting band, in true hippy fashion, she called it one of the mysteries of life.
“Why do some relationships last forever and some fizzle out? You know, we're all terrified of trying to figure out something else to do. This was my first band.”
“To all of us, we're family, and music is the number one thing between us. We don't get caught up in drama,” she said.
Tearing down the wall
The Dandy’s new music is a reaction against what McCabe calls a world of over-production.
“We've got unlimited tracks, unlimited choices, and for us, we always wanted to create that wall of sound. But we could build the damn Berlin Wall with music. It was getting a little out of control with choices,” she said. “This time, we really limited ourselves.”
In the studio, the band termed the new material their punk rock record; not because they sounded like the Sex Pistols, but because their mission was a straightforward and minimalist sound.
“We wanted to make it something we could do when we're jamming in our rehearsal space. We didn't want to have a ton of layers—that was the main inspiration.”
According to McCabe, inspiration also came from all the collaboration on the album. It’s the first Dandy offering to feature songs untouched by Taylor-Taylor.
“Courtney was a little burnt out on the songwriting, and we’re all doing more songwriting on our own, in side projects,” said McCabe.
“I can hear some of the growing pains, but it [just] makes me really enthusiastic for the creative potential for the future. It's brought a ton of excitement to our working relationship.”
And all it took was for the Dandys to try out a few new positions.