The Dandy Warhols have spent the last 20 years traversing the world with effortless cool and a road case full of hook-filled indie rock classics. They’re playing the Astor Theatre on Thursday, August 21, and Friday, August 22 (sold-out). SHANE PINNEGAR gets the lowdown from guitarist, Peter Holmström.
Talking of the 20th anniversary of the band, Dandy Warhols guitarist, Peter Holmström doesn’t mince his words.
“It’s been an amazing, amazing thing. It’s really sort of surprised me that it has gone on this long and I still don’t see an end in sight, which makes me happy.”
It’s been a long, strange trip, with the band racking up nine studio albums, multiple laps of the world, movie appearances and a clutch of cult indie hits. The Dandys, as they are affectionately known by their fans, finally released their first ever live album at the start of this year, recorded on their 2013 tour for the 13 anniversary of their Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia album.
Thirteen Tales…, the band’s third album, was their breakthrough, and while it didn’t chart as highly as its follow-up Welcome To The Monkey House, it remains their most beloved record. Holmström has few answers as to why it remains such a favourite more than a dozen years later.
“I really don’t know,” he says, “I’m very happy that it did, and I wish we could figure out how to do it again, but I really think it was just the right time, right songs, right place. Courtney (Taylor-Taylor, singer & guitarist) was definitely writing songs about where he was in his life, and that’s seemed to connect with a lot of people at that time.
“It absolutely changed the band’s trajectory. It sped us up to being able to – even without the supportive record label – have our own recording studio, and at least be able to keep making records without having to have huge budgets.”
Holmström says The Dandys will be premiering a couple of new songs on their Australian tour – great news to those waiting for a follow-up to 2012’s This Machine.
“There’s at least an album’s worth of songs that are slowly being put together into an album form,” the guitarist says. “We’re kind of doing it one song at a time, until we sort of feel like we got the right approach, and then we’ll finish everything up, hopefully quick, but you never know.
“We are going to be trying out a new song or two,” he continues, talking about the tour. “A lot of times when we come to Australia, we’re either starting a tour or we’ve had a break between where we’ve been in our touring cycle. At this point, we’re coming in very well rehearsed and that’s always good because then new things seem to happen, and the band gets excited about that, and we come up with more new things. It should be a really good show.”
Along with the ‘ultra-hip and cool’ tag that the band have always had, there’s a perception that they have all the grace in the world, that they would never be clumsy or awkward in social situations. Is it fair to burden them with that perception?
“Just because I envision all my musical heroes in that way, I’m glad,” Holmström admits, “but then having met a lot of my heroes, I’ve discovered that they’re humans, and some have disappointed… I’m glad there is that sort of image: that’s kind of what it’s about. There has to be some of that fantasy to you, the ‘bigger than reality’ thing. To me, it’s a part of the whole thing. I wanted my favourite bands to look just as amazing as they sounded, to be mysterious and cool, if possible. So, yes, I hope we’re achieving that.”