Dandy Warhols Coming To Gothic Theatre March 18

Courtney Taylor, The Dandy Warhols‘ lead singer and guitarist, stopped by KGNU to talk about their new single with Slash, the new album Rockmaker, and their concert at the Gothic Theatre on March 18th.

Steve Roby: Thanks for joining us, Courtney.

Courtney Taylor: Great, thanks for having me.

Roby: 2024 looks like an exciting year for the Dandy Warhols. Your new single features Slash is out now, the new album Rockmaker drops on March 15th, and as I mentioned, your spring tour will stop by the Gothic Theater on March 18th. Let’s start with the new single, “I’d Like To Help You With Your Problem.” How did the collaboration with Slash come about, and what was it like working with him?

Taylor: Well, you don’t really work with people so much anymore, particularly not for just a one-off like this. You send it to them. They ask you what kind of thing you’re thinking, and then they go into their studio and record and send it back.  you can remix it and do whatever you want with it.

But the reason we got him for that particular track was we wanted to go with an early 1970 psych rock, Vietnam vet, kind of LSD rock trip [sound]. After a short discussion, I came to the realization that that’s, he’s kind of the greatest, maybe ever at that. So, our manager got a hold of his manager, sent the song to him, and said, “Can you run this by Slash and see if he wants to play on it?”

Slash got back to us, like, within the hour. It was absolutely No nerve-wracking, no hoping, no waiting… none of that kind of thing. It was great! He said, “Yes, absolutely! What kind of thing you’re thinking?” We said, “Wah-wah pedal.” It’s such a fantastic performance! It’s just so much deeper and more beautiful, and he’s a great artist!

It’s clearly the voice of Slash on there, but it’s just saying things that, well, not, not to belabor the metaphor, but it is very recognizably him, but I’ve never heard that kind of thing from him. So, there’s a lot of Middle Eastern scales and things like that. It’s stunning how deeply beautiful it is.

Roby: Especially the ending there, too. You let him fade out there with some feedback stuff going on. It’s really cool! You just called the single a “Vietnam-era acid rock song.” Can you elaborate on that more? What other influences do you hear in that song?

Taylor: Well, obviously, we just went for an early Ozzy Osbourne kind of thing.

It’s sort of just what felt correct. It’s what came out of me. It’s what I wanted, just kind of to try to open yourself to the thing. And we started every song with a metal riff. And that was kind of the rule of the record: let’s do a record where every song starts with a metal riff.

And it’s just been a long time since we’ve heard anyone do metal that way, the way we would want to do it, and that’s kind of our job in this world, to make a record we wish somebody else would make and remove the burden from us. Yeah, I got not to be the guy who sits around with a piano or acoustic guitar and comes up with kind of the whole thing at once; I got to sit and listen to guitar riffs come back at me out of Pete’s basement studio and react to them.

That riff, though, is an original 19, probably ‘89 or ‘90, the height of Grunge in the Pacific Northwest before it got commercialized. That is an original riff that my bass player in the band I was in then came up with. And I’ve been playing it for decades and decades, almost my entire life.

And finally, this was the perfect record to put that in… super heavy, acid rock, fuzzed-out guitar riffs…

If there isn’t heavy distortion on the guitar, the amount of sustain, and the white noise, it all is a thing. And so it was cool to, after all this time, to crank it up in front of me. Smoke a huge bong and see what came out with a mic on, and that was it!

And then it comes to finding lyrics and going into that resource, that satchel that you carry around with you, which is stuff you feel strongly about or experiences that affected you in a way that you’d like to realize somehow or get it out of you.

Rockmaker is gorgeous and probably about as hard as you can rock with elegance. I listen to it daily.

– Courtney Taylor

Roby: Well, let’s talk about the new album, Rockmaker. What can you tell our listeners about the record that’s coming out on the 15th?

Taylor: It’s gorgeous and probably about as hard as you can rock with elegance. And I don’t know… It’s just a nuanced thing, and I listen to it daily. I f***ing love it, man! I need to listen to it once a day!

I start to think about it, and then, at some point, I take a little break… put the Dre Beats studio headphones on, crank it, and go all the way through that trip. And, boy, it makes me feel absolutely clean, just whole and simple. And it makes me feel great.

Roby: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Dandy Warhols. How would you say the group’s sound has evolved?

Taylor: Well, I think we… I don’t know. How did it evolve? How did we evolve? We keep trying something we’ve never done before, so it feels like we never actually get any better; we stay about the same, which is interesting. I should probably think about that while we’re recording, and maybe I will next time we’re in there. We always do something we’ve never done, and why do we do that?

Maybe we should try something we’re already good at and see if we get better at it. Maybe I’ll suggest that, actually. No, I never thought of that.

Roby: I’m glad I brought it up. Let’s talk about the gothic theater show coming up on March 18th. What can Dandy Warhol fans look forward to at the concert?

Taylor: Well, we’re pretty amazing! We’ve been doing this for a long time  [playing] live. We don’t play to backing tracks or anything like that. We’ve got an amazing team, so visually, the trip is deep and beautiful. Then our sound has to send you to a very faraway and amazing place.

And we are somewhat droney, fuzzed out… A beautiful vocal harmony singing experience, we’re somewhere between electronic trance [music] but using Simon & Garfunkel’s instruments. It’s awesome! I wish I could go. I enjoy my part in it, but God, it would be nice…

I wrote a screenplay, and it was made into a graphic novel. It takes place in Germany during the origins of electronic music. All the proto-EDM bands were German tech dorks making trance music. Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, and there are several of them. But, oh, sorry, I just got completely lost in that thought and can’t remember where I started.

I just got lost in the 1970s German thing, which I love so much. I love the trick of making a hyperbolic digression and returning to where you started. It’s it’s one of my favorite achievements. And damn it, we were talking about…

Roby: That’s okay, we can come back.

Taylor: Maybe, maybe we won’t. Okay. That’s the right answer, that’s a good answer.

Roby: Let’s talk about the group you’ve got touring with you, The Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor. What can you tell us about them?

What they seem like is that they really started as a kind of a shoegazer [group]thing, and then over the years, they kind of never stopped doing acid.

They wandered into more of a frog acid trip version, but using the tools provided by Shoegazer, the beats, the bass sound, the guitar, the melody styles, and all that… they’re absolutely awesome!

Roby: What does the rest of the year look like for the band?

Taylor: Oh man, it’s a lot of work, and I’m going to have to leave in a few days and head over to the East Coast, then come back across; I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of myself, hit some great restaurants and drink nice wine and do all that.

I believe we have a day off there [in Denver] either before or after, so I am definitely looking forward to that. We go do a couple weeks of touring, and then we’re home for a month, and then we go somewhere else. Go to Australia. Go home, go to South America, go to Europe, all the usual suspects.

And then I think at the end of the year, we’ll do some West Coast stuff to wrap it up, including Portland, where we live.

Roby: Thanks for stopping by KGNU, Courtney.

Taylor: Thanks for having me.

Ticket Info

The Dandy Warhols
w/Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor
When: Monday, March 18, 2024
Showtime: 8:00 PM
Ages: 16 & Over
Venue: Gothic Theatre, Englewood, CO

This interview has been edited for continuity and clarity.

Photo credit: Chris Bergstrom, and Elenora Collini.

About the author: From the San Francisco Bay Area to the Big Island of Hawaii, Steve Roby has worked as a journalist, entertainment photographer, magazine editor, radio host (San Francisco, Hawaii, and Denver), and video documentarian. Since 1989, he has been writing about music and interviewing musicians. Roby is also a published author of three books, one on the L.A. Times Non-Fiction Hardcover Best Seller List.

Picture of Steve Roby

Steve Roby

From the San Francisco Bay Area to the Big Island of Hawaii, Steve Roby has worked as a music journalist, entertainment photographer, magazine editor, radio host (San Francisco, Hawaii, and Denver), and video documentarian. Roby is also a published author of three books, one on the L.A. Times Non-Fiction Hardcover Best Seller List. He’s been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone (x2), and Billboard. He’s now based in Denver.
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