LISTEN TO OUR EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH COURTNEY TAYLOR-TAYLOR (THE DANDY WARHOLS):
What better way to start our Summer Special coverage of the Pioneertown Film Festival than by talking to one of America's greatest bands, The Dandy Warhols. On the morning of the first day of the Festival, Courtney Taylor-Taylor agreed to meet with me in the Press Lounge before the band performed a psychedelic and trippy set for the attendees later at night. I was very pleased to meet him because the Dandys are one of the most original bands I have ever heard. Take a look at their impressive discography on your preferred platform and see for yourself. They just don't give a damn about expectations and play whatever inspires them. For Courtney, this is just the core of the Dandys' ethics.
« All we cared about was just being able to make music that we liked. And make sure it didn't sound like anyone else. Because we'd be embarrassed. Yes, to sound like somebody else, you know? »
There are only few artists like them, including David Bowie whom they had the pleasure of meeting and touring with.
« I'm sitting there with David (Bowie) and on the tour bus. And we're two songs into Welcome to the monkey house. And he says: Courtney? Why do you always want to be the first to do everything? It's so much more profitable to be the second. And I just thought at the time: "Oh my God, I'm such an idiot". And you know, my only answer to that is will I be embarrassed to be the second. (…) But in his mind, he was always imitating something that was established. And I mean, it wasn't until a couple of years later that I was listening to like Golden Years or something. And I went, what did he think this was? Then I thought about Heroes. And I went: what did he think that was? ».
They may appear to be elitist, and you might be right, but all that matters to them is a certain vision of good taste. It was never about the technical aspect of things. Rather, Courtney, who has a classical percussion background, wanted to create something entirely original, without any bad habits.
« Pete (The Guitar player) was like: Let’s just put a band together and not have good musicians and you don't play drums, you sing and play guitar, which I've never done before. And that way, we can at least meet people in cool bands that have good record collections, because all your friends have horrible taste in music, but they're really great pianists or trumpet players, or violin players or cello players, whatever. And I was like, Yeah, I hate all my friends records. All their bands are terrible. »
The Dandys have always been about good taste and good friends, and that's all you need to know about them if you want to understand how they operate. The philosophy extends to everything Courtney is passionate about. He bought a quarter of a city block in Portland and built an entire universe of his own out of the money he made with We Used To Be Friends and Bohemian Like You. In addition to the studio, there is also a wine bar with a full kitchen. I mean, why not? What could be better than having the ability to cross the hallway and have a good glass of wine after a long recording session? That seems like a great way to regain inspiration.
Vincent: « Do you have French wine in your wine bar? »
Courtney: « That’s all we sell. Our Rosée is from Provence, our red is from Bordeaux, our white is from Burgundy. »
As you will hear in the episode, the music interview inadvertently transitioned into a wine interview, talking about how dirt affects wine quality. However, the analogy works well because the Dandy Warhols are an organic band. Their music is very earthy, like wine. Clearly, Courtney is looking forward to visiting and tasting the wine from my native region in Meursault this summer. I recommend it as well.
« I feel that way about wine, now in my life, the way I felt about music when I was 13. It just it holds all that mystery. It's a drug that I can never get enough of. »
Tonight's show will serve as a warm-up for their upcoming European tour. They will perform at legendary venues like the Roundhouse in London and the Olympia in France. Even though they have been touring for so long, they still find those landmarks exciting:
« You can't help it, when you're in a place like that, the Olympia, you're surrounded by pictures of Serge Gainsbourg, The Beatles, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, you know, everyone played there. It's just, it's the Olympia and you can't help it, feel it the whole time. You got to bring your A game and you got to be good. »
Although it was a warmup show, it was amazing to see them in a Western Country Hall. They hadn't played together since 2019, but it felt like they were in the middle of a long tour. In the end, Courtney and the band delivered a powerful set, a fitting end to the festival's first day.
« I wrote these songs to be very simple. So that we're not doing technical exercises we can have we can put it, we can have enough muscle memory that we can actually feel it and soak in it while we're making it. So it's sort of creating your own wave while you're surfing it. »
I got to hang out with Courtney after the show, as he took me to Donovan's son's place in the desert for an after party. The night was rock n' roll, and I won't soon forget it. It's not every day you get to hang out with one of the most uncompromising bands since the Velvet Underground.
« We kind of invented a sound and a style of going about things because we weren't good enough to do anything else. And that was cool. And then we've survived. Just even surviving is the ultimate F.U. to. everybody in the industry that just looked down their noses at us. »
Talk about being inspired!
- Vincent Jacob
All pictures by Vincent Walter Jacob.