The spotlight has been good to cult rock band the Dandy Warhols, but now it’s starting to get on their nerves.
They built a sprawling studio in Portland, Oregon, with money from a Vodafone ad that played their song “Bohemian Like You” incessantly in Europe three years ago.
Their seven-year feud with rival band the Brian Jonestown Massacre was portrayed in the film “DiG!” which won the documentary prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and helped build interest in their latest record.
But with the increased exposure came increased promotional demands, and the band’s leader found himself bemoaning every moment spent not making or performing music — especially those moments spent talking to the press.
“Success is having two things: a little more free time than you know what to do with and a little more money than you know what to do with,” singer/guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor told Reuters.
“When we were making our record, we were the most successful band in the world,” he said. “We had our studio, which is the coolest quarter of a city block on Earth, we had a perfect life. We didn’t have to think about anything else except meeting some friends for beer, playing guitar and smoking grass.”
They loved the studio so much that they named their fifth album after it. “Odditorium or Warlords of Mars” was released last month via Capitol Records.
The grind of promoting an album
“Now it’s like a grind, it sucks,” Taylor said, blaming his handlers who schedule too many press interviews and forget to squeeze in some time for lunch.
“If you’re playing in a rock ’n’ roll band and still you’re doing whatever the man says, then I can tell you for the money the simple life, honey, is good,” Taylor said, loosely quoting one of his own songs. “I’ve got to take my own advice, Jesus Christ...”
In a departure from the heavily synthesized sound of their previous work, the Warhols’ new album moves from dreamy drones to lively dance rock to stomping country blues.
Occasionally, songs lapse into extended jams, prompting some critics to complain that potentially brilliant Warhols material fizzles out in a display of self-indulgence and lack of focus.
“That’s the point of a jam,” Taylor retorted. “It feels good to do it, to just lay around, smoke out, talk to your friends and have things keep moving.”
The band’s foray in film continued with a performance in “9 Songs,” English director Michael Winterbottom’s sexually-charged tale of two lovers who meet at a rock concert, but it’s all the same to Taylor.
“I’m not going to watch it,” he said. “I’m friends with [actress] Margo [Stilley] and I don’t want to watch her [have sex with] some dude.”