It was impossible to escape from the Dandy Warhols at the turn of the century. If Bohemian Like You wasn’t being played in a Vodafone advert then it was popping up in episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Thirteen years on and the Portland quartet commemorated the release of the breakthrough album from which the single was drawn by recreating it track by track at a series of live dates. One of these shows was recorded and released this March as Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia: Live At The Wonder.
The scheduling of their first live album, which was recorded in their hometown’s Wonder Ballroom, may seem significant but primary songwriter and front-man Courtney Taylor-Taylor claims that “the only rightness about the timing was the fact that it got done at all. We’ve recorded many live shows and somehow never finished mixing any of them.”
Released without any overdubs or re-recording, the album captures the pure essence of their exuberant live shows. It was important to release it in this form because any extra production “would’ve taken longer and the record probably would not have gotten finished. That was a can of worms I was not about to let get opened.
“In the end I realised we should say that because it sounds real heavy and rock-ethical but the truth is we generally don’t give two s***s about that kind of thing. We like good music no matter how it came about.”
The album sounds like a jukebox of different musical styles – from psych-rock to country to Britpop – but despite this it’s remarkably cohesive. Its patchwork quality happened naturally on the original album, when “the prime directive [was] to make each song realise its own destiny and then put them together in the most natural flow of feeling”.
Since their commercial heyday the band has gone on to release a further five studio albums, and 2001 single We Used to Be Friends was recently featured on the soundtrack for Veronica Mars.
Over this time the band dynamics and song-writing processes have changed. “I write less while Zia [McCabe, keyboards] and Brent [DeBoer, drums] write more so we’ve become more of a democracy,” explains Taylor-Taylor from inside a giant American warehouse store. “We all control our own tunes though so each individual track is still a fascist dictatorship.”
June 30, The Cockpit, Leeds.