The Dandy Warhols are an American alternative rock band, formed in Portland, Oregon in 1994 by singer-guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor and guitarist Peter Holmström, who were joined by keyboardist Zia McCabe and drummer Eric Hedford. Hedford left in 1998 and was replaced by Taylor-Taylor’s cousin Brent DeBoer. The band’s name is a play on the name of American pop artist Andy Warhol.
The band gained recognition after they were signed to Capitol Records and released their major label album debut, …The Dandy Warhols Come Down, in 1997. In 2001, the band rose to new levels of fame after their song “Bohemian Like You” was notably featured in a Vodafone advertisement. The Dandy Warhols have released eight studio albums to date.
Early years (1994–1995)
The band was formed in Portland, Oregon in 1994 by Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Peter Holmström. Soon after, drummer Eric Hedford joined, and following an unsuccessful experiment with Taylor-Taylor’s girlfriend on bass guitar, keyboardist Zia McCabe joined the band after Taylor-Taylor saw her working in a coffee house. Taylor-Taylor described the band’s beginning as a group of friends who “needed music to drink to”. The Dandy Warhols performed in bars throughout Portland and became well known for their nudity-filled live shows. At their first gig in 1994, they were approached byTim/Kerr Records, who offered to pay for the recording of an album. The result was 1995’s Dandys Rule OK, which combined elements of 1960s garage rock and 1990s shoegaze music.
Signing to Capitol and …The Dandy Warhols Come Down (1996–1998)
Dandys Rule OK impressed Capitol Records, who decided to sign the band, and in 1997 they released their second studio album and major label debut, …The Dandy Warhols Come Down. It was their second attempt at a follow-up album, after their first attempt was rejected by Capitol, who claimed it didn’t have any “hits”. Three singles were released for Come Down, all of which entered the Top 40 in the UK charts. Being their first record on a major label, Come Down featured a more commercial, polished sound, abandoning the garage rock of the previous album in favor of a more psychedelic and Britpop-influenced power pop sound.
In 1998, drummer Eric Hedford left the band after a dispute over royalties, and was replaced by Taylor-Taylor’s cousin Brent DeBoer. Hedford went on to form the band Telephone, releasing an EP, We Are Telephone, in 2003.
Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia and mainstream popularity (1998–2001)
In 2000, the band released their third studio album, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia. It was a critical and commercial success, mainly due to the single “Bohemian Like You” being featured in a popular Vodafone advertisement. The album featured a matured, less overdriven sound, with less overt psychedelia and more power pop leanings.
Around this time, Taylor-Taylor took out a loan to acquire an industrial warehouse space in downtown Portland, dubbed “The Odditorium”, occupying a quarter city block. The Odditorium is the band’s eclectic rehearsal space and recording and mixing studio. It also serves as an art space and clubhouse for parties and other events. It opened on November 15, 2001.
Welcome to the Monkey House (2001–2003)
Becoming a fan of the band after seeing them play at the Glastonbury Festival in 2000, David Bowie personally selected them to play at the 2002 Meltdown festival. Bowie and The Dandy Warhols played a rendition of “White Light/White Heat” together as an encore to the July 29 gig, which was billed as The New Heathens Night. The band also supported David Bowie on his 2003 A Reality Tour.
In September 2001, the band began work on their next studio album. The result was Welcome to the Monkey House, released in 2003. Produced by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, the album constituted a change of style for the band, featuring synthesizers and a strong ’80s influence.
The album was spearheaded by its first single, “We Used to Be Friends“, which went on to become one of the band’s most popular tracks, gaining exposure through use as the theme song for the American cult television show Veronica Mars and an appearance in The O.C.. Two further singles were released to promote the album.
Dig! and other developments (2004)
Along with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Dandy Warhols were the subjects of the 2004 documentary film Dig!. The film captured a love–hate relationship between both bands, highlighting the interaction of Taylor-Taylor and BJM frontman Anton Newcombe. It was recorded over the course of seven years by filmmaker Ondi Timoner, and won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
In the same year, the band released a double-album, The Black Album/Come On Feel the Dandy Warhols, comprising The Black Album – an album recorded before …The Dandy Warhols Come Down that was rejected by Capitol Records and dismissed by the band themselves – and Come On Feel The Dandy Warhols, a collection of B-sides, covers and unreleased songs.
Odditorium or Warlords of Mars (2004–2007)
The Dandy Warhols started work on their next studio album in mid-2004. The result was Odditorium or Warlords of Mars, released the following year. It was partially named after and recorded in the band’s own studio, The Odditorium. The album was a return to the psychedelic, guitar-oriented rock of …The Dandy Warhols Come Down, moving away from the synth-heavy sound of Welcome to the Monkey House. Two singles were released from the album: “Smoke It” and “All the Money or the Simple Life Honey”. The album received a mixed response, generally dividing critics.
On 17 July 2006, the band released a stand-alone single, “Have a Kick Ass Summer (Me and My Friends)”. The song was later re-recorded as “Mis Amigos” for their 2008 album …Earth to the Dandy Warhols… The song was later featured in the downloadable song-pack for the Xbox video game Dance Dance Revolution ULTRAMIX 4. In 2007, the band recorded the song “Good Luck Chuck” for the 2007 film of the same name. It was released as a digital single.
Split with Capitol, …Earth to the Dandy Warhols… (2008–2009)
In 2008, the band split with long-time record company Capitol Records. They started work on their next record, which would become …Earth to the Dandy Warhols…, released in the same year. It was their first release on their self-founded record label, Beat the World Records. The album featured collaborations with Mark Knopfler and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell. Earth incorporated more electronic elements. Music videos were released for eight of the album’s tracks.
In the same year, The Dandy Warhols released an EP, Earth to the Remix E.P. Volume One, consisting of electronic remixed versions of tracks from Earth. This was followed in 2009 with Earth to the Remix E.P. Volume Two. The band coveredThe Cure‘s song “Primary” for the charity album Perfect as Cats: A Tribute to the Cure, released in 2008 on Manimal Vinyl Records, with profits going to Invisible Children, Inc.; the band also contributed to the Love and Rockets tribute album, No New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love and Rockets, in the same year, covering the song “Inside the Outside”.
In 2008, The Dandy Warhols announced they were releasing a collaborative album called Breathe Easy to benefit conservation projects. The recordings, which started on October 21, 2008, took place at the band’s Odditorium studio in Portland, Oregon. They collaborated with bands such as The Bravery, The Kooks, Dinosaur Jr.‘s J Mascis and Spoon. Not much is known about the status of the project and recordings are not readily available.
In 2009, the band released The Dandy Warhols Are Sound, the original mix of Welcome to the Monkey House. This version of the album was the initial mix done by Grammy Award-winning soul producer Russell Elevado, which was rejected by Capitol Records and shelved for six years. Are Sound received a generally muted response, and fared poorly in comparison to the original album.
In the same year, the band released a cover of The Beatles‘ “Blackbird” in tribute to the death of Michael Jackson, referencing the lyrics of their 2003 song “Welcome to the Monkey House”, from the album of the same name: “When Michael Jackson dies/We’re covering Blackbird”.
The Capitol Years to This Machine (2010–present)
In 2010, The Dandy Warhols released The Capitol Years 1995–2007, a greatest hits album chronicling the band’s years with Capitol Records. In addition to containing popular singles and songs from their Capitol albums, it also included a few alternate mixes, as well as a new track, “This Is the Tide”, written by Brent DeBoer and Zia McCabe and featuring DeBoer on lead vocals, a first for the band. “This Is the Tide” debuted on Australian radio station Triple J on 18 June 2010. Three different music videos were released for the song.
In 2011, the band announced they were recording a new album. While playing in Sydney‘s Enmore Theatre in May 2011 as part of their 2011 Australian tour, lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor announced the new album would be titled This Machine(after previously jokingly that it would be called either The Pastor of Muppets,Shitty Shitty Band Band or Whirled Piece in blog posts on the band’s official website). On the same tour, the band debuted two new tracks from the album, “Seti vs. the Wow! Signal” and “Rest Your Head”.
In the same year, The Dandy Warhols “rearranged and performed” the theme music to the popular science-based television show MythBusters. The updated theme music first appeared in episode 171, “Bikes and Bazookas“.
The band announced the release of the new album’s first single, “Well They’re Gone”, on March 1, 2012, allowing visitors to download the track for free after entering their email address.A video for the track “Sad Vacation” was released on April 16.
This Machine was released on April 24, 2012. The album featured a collaboration with David J on the track “Autumn Carnival”. It was seen as a more stripped-back, earthy album in comparison to their previous records.