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Courtney Taylor-Taylor Talks the New Dandy Warhols Album, His Top Desert Island Discs + More

Courtney Taylor-Taylor
Graham Denholm, Getty Images

Have the Dandy Warhols really been around for nearly two decades? It seems like just yesterday that the Portland, Ore.-based quartet was gaining infamy on a local level for their nudity-filled club gigs and neo-psychedelic sound. The Dandys broke onto the national underground scene with ‘Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth,’ the lead single off their second album and major-label debut, 1997’s ‘…The Dandy Warhols Come Down.’ Their 2000 follow-up, ‘Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia,’ won over a more mainstream audience and produced a trio of modern-rock hits, including ‘Bohemian Like You,’ the band’s highest-charting single to date.

The Dandy Warhols’ legend grew with the 2004 release of ‘Dig!,’ a seven-years-in-the-making documentary that charted the narrative arc of the Dandys and their close friends/bitter rivals, the Brian Jonestown Massacre. ‘Dig!’ — which was narrated by Warhols frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor — went on to win the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, and was followed by the band’s best-selling album, 2005’s ‘Odditorium or Warlords of Mars.’

April 24 will see the release of ‘This Machine,’ the Dandy Warhol’s ninth studio disc and first of new material since 2008’s ‘…Earth to the Dandy Warhols…’ The tune ‘Sad Vacation’ recently dropped (check out our review here), and the band just announced plans to mount a 2012 North American tour that will kick off May 16 in San Francisco, Calif., and run through a June 17 show in Seattle, Wash. recently caught up with Taylor-Taylor over email to ask him a few questions about the new album, his band’s love of covers, why he added the second Taylor to his name and more. We’re posting his responses pretty much as he sent them to us:

What is your favorite Dandy Warhols album and why?

Right now it’s [‘This Machine’]. It’s very hard to say why one likes anything, really. I guess mainly because I make music exactly like what I actually wish someone else would make. Then I do it with three of my 20 all-time favorite musicians. This ends up being my favorite record and then later they become part of the milieu of “my all-time favorite records” for what I’m making an educated guess are the main reasons.

You’ve recorded several covers over the years — songs by the Cure, the Beatles, Love and Rockets, etc. — what’s one band you haven’t covered that you would like to?

I really want to sing that [Five Man Electric Band] lyric “Well the sign said ‘long haired freaky people need not apply’ so I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why. He said ‘son you seem like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do.” So I took off my hat, I said, “imagine that. ME, working for YOU.”

Fecking wow. I wanna cover it.

If you could collaborate with any artist or band living or dead, which would it be?

Jerry Garcia.

You’ve called ‘This Machine’ grungy; others have called it gothy. What inspired the album’s sound?

Um, Nirvana and the Sisters of Mercy. Yipes, I think I can honestly call that a true statement.

You offered several joke names for the new album — we were hoping for ‘S—ty S—ty Band Band’ ourselves — what’s the story behind the title ‘This Machine?’

I guess it’s just how everything looks to me now. A guitar … My band. My head, my body, it’s thoughts, it’s feelings, this interview, this job, anyone reading it, everybody else this planet. Mold consuming a peach.

Tell me about the awesome ‘This Machine’ album cover.

[Guitarist] Pete [Holmström] apparently [saw Portland artist] Hickory [Mertsching]’s work at a gallery or cafe showing and it really struck deeply with the words ‘This Machine.’ I googled him and it was like there never was another option. [As for joke titles] I really liked ‘Pastor of Muppets’ myself but in the end I felt it was just too lofty.

In 2008 you guys began working on a collaborative benefit album with the Bravery, Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, Spoon and others. Will the world ever hear ‘Breathe Easy?’

God I wish. We really are just so terrible at the business end of art. We had been told so many times that we seemed so good at it that apparently we believed it ourselves and thus the “I know, lets make a record label you guys” debacle. ‘Breath Easy’ is just a painful reminder to us that we don’t say or even think things like that any more. Truth is that great idea does NOT sell themselves and altruism isn’t viral. Nor music nor even occasional genius.

What are your top three desert island albums?

Bauhaus, ‘The Collection.’ ‘This Machine.’ Beach Boys, ‘Endless Summer.’

Where did the second Taylor in your last name come from?

It’s no longer my place to say. I would be being a spoilsport.

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