The Enigmatic Dandy
Portland-based quartet THE DANDY WARHOLS are one of those bands who seem to receive some of their biggest love from Australian audiences and they've repaid the favour by touring here regularly, even going so far as to announce the title of their eight studio album, This Machine, at an Enmore Theatre show last year.
As its rustic outdoors-themed sleeve art hints, This Machine sees The Dandys veering away from the sheenier synth-dominated sounds of their recent albums towards a rootsier, guitar-based approach that yields some of their most relaxed and confident work in some time. Despite this, when I catch up with Dandys frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor via email he isn't giving much away, responding with a simple, enigmatic “Yes” when I ask whether the band has any upcoming Australian tour plans. [Ed: a regular modern-day Gatsby, that Taylor-Taylor.]
When I highlight the emphasis on guitars over electronics on This Machine and ask whether that was a particular priority this time around, it's an assessment Taylor-Taylor agrees with. “Yes, we have relied on a lot of keyboard sounds on the last few records,” he responds. “It was time for a change. We wanted to make a straight-up rock record. We took the layered approach to recording about as far as we could on Earth To..., so we limited ourselves to [a] number of tracks per song.”
When I enquire as to whether the more relaxed sound was the result of the band being able to work free of the major label escapades that led to the infamous 'shelving' of The Black Album, Taylor-Taylor disagrees. “No. We have recorded the last three albums in The Odditorium [the band's own Portland studio complex]. There are a number of myths about our band. The Black Album being rejected was one of them. It was never finished. We decided instead of finishing it to start over, with mostly new songs. We have always had complete control over how our records sound.”
While the above statement seems curious given the recent re-release of the alternate mix of Welcome To The Monkeyhouse that the band apparently pushed for (The Dandy Warhols Are Sound), I ask whether the band members' various extra-curricular activities have changed the dynamic they bring to The Dandys. And what ever happened to the ambitious Breathe Easy collaborative project they mentioned a few years back that apparently involved Spoon, The Kooks and J Mascis? “All of us have outside projects,” Taylor-Taylor replies. “I think that this has brought more energy and ideas to what we can accomplish. [Breathe Easy] is an amazing idea that is very expensive to pull off. And now that nobody buys music it's hard to justify spending money on doing it. As soon as we figure it out, it'll happen.”
This Machine is available now at all record stores but since “nobody buys music” you can just download it.