The Dandy Warhols have come along way from their humble beginnings eighteen years ago in a small club in Portland, Oregon. They’ve just released their ninth studio album ‘This Machine’, and probably their most stripped back album to date.
Nick Williams spoke to Dandy’s keyboard player Zia McCabe about the new record and life in the band.
Did you have a clear idea of how you wanted the new record to sound before you went into the studio to record it?
Oh sure, and of course it came out nothing like what we first thought it would.
Did you approach this record differently than the others?
There was a lot more writing collaboration happening within the band as well as outside writers teaming up with Courtney. We also consciously tried to keep ourselves from building a wall of sound, letting the songs live through simple arrangement and instrumentation. Knowing us, this can be a big challenge at times. We LOVE to layer.
That said, I feel we did succeed in keeping the tracking really straight forward on this album. I think we were really good about letting whoever was feeling the most inspired take the reigns for a bit. It was a fun new approach that I got a lot of pleasure out of.
What is your favourite track on the new record to play live?
Hmm, it can change daily, but at the moment it’s ‘Well They’re Gone’. ‘Enjoy Yourself,’ ‘Wow Signal’ and ‘Sad Vacation‘ are also really fun for me.
Has your relationships with other people in the band changed over the years?
Well when it first started we were all in. The band was our lives and absolutely everything revolved around it. As we grew up, got married and started families, the band became a part of our lives. We still have celebrations together and get along fine but our work is our bond; making music together is what keeps us together.
It’s a fine arrangement, a family of sorts. We’ve been through all kinds of changes over the years; getting on an indie label, getting on a major label, getting off a major label, getting our own studio and label, all of us growing up and having families, but we just keep going, recording, performing, learning, laughing. It’s a good life.
Did you ever think you’d still be playing with the Dandy Warhols when you first joined in 1994?
I honestly never looked that far ahead. In a career as unstable as music it can be too scary to look more than a couple years down the road. I sure am grateful though. Been a damn fun trip and I’d like it to continue for another 18 years if possible.
What is the deal with your other group – Brush Prairie?
It couldn’t be more different. If my main band can’t do a gig I put together a different one. We play cute little shows in saloons and outdoor parties. I write and sing and do my best to learn how to lead a band. This is what I love about having a side project though, I’ve only ever played with The Dandy’s, so it’s really neat for me to have added a whole new dimension to my world of music. The only thing that’s the same is that it’s a band and I’m in it.
How do you manage being a mother with being in a rock n roll band?
It’s not that tough really. We rehearse during the day now while she’s in school which can take a little getting used to if you’ve always mostly rocked at night, but it works out nicely. My daughter gets to come to the all-ages shows and stays with a friend or babysitter when it isn’t. The hardest part for me is having to get up in the morning to get her ready and drive her to school. Man that’s tough.
What is the best part about being in the Dandy Warhols?
I get to make and play music for a living. Cool Music.
The Dandy Warhols new record This Machine is out now.
For more info visit www.dandywarhols.com
Tambourine pic by Stephanie Neil