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December 7th, 2005 MARK BAUMGARTEN | Riff City
 

The Warlord From Mars

My first—and probably last— interview with Courtney Taylor-Taylor.

     
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Courtney Taylor-Taylor
My interview with Courtney Taylor-Taylor was evidently a mistake. The Dandy Warhols frontman, currently touring North America in support of the critically dogged and popularly ho-hummed psych-pop offering Odditorium or Warlords of Mars, talked to me over the phone from Montreal. Pausing ever-so-briefly from his bloviating, Portland's favorite druggy made no bones about his displeasure, asking "Why the fuck am I talking to you?" three times and cursing Capitol Records for not adhering to his orders for no hometown press calls. But he never hung up, talking for 40 minutes. I just tried to keep up.

Riff City: Last month, the Portland Mercury reported...

Courtney Taylor-Taylor: The Portland Mercury are little liars, and they're little baby brats. Obviously, they just lie a lot and one day they're just going to be crushed by a libel suit.

So, you know what I'm talking about.

Yeah, they said we had split up, which isn't true. Do they know that I can actually own their company for them saying that? Little girls.

Well, um, the new album is very different from the last. How did you write it?

The question always is "How little sound does it take for something to be music?" The first time we tried to make a record for Capitol Records, we had a $100,000 budget and I said, "All right guys, I hate to tell you this, but what I'm going to do with this money is find out where, between a jackhammer and 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' does sound become organized enough to be music." Because a jackhammer at 7 am waking shit up when you're hung over is not music. I promise you. I guarantee it. "Bridge Over Troubled Water," unless you're a really troubled person, you could not maintain an erection during, much less have an orgasm. The most self-indulgent experience you can have, an aroused orgasm, cannot happen at either end of the spectrum, I think. You'd have to be really horny. They are both intrusive, sonically and emotionally. That's why, with our first record with Capitol, we never finished it. They just went, "What the fuck are you doing?"

So...

...We try to do pure research. We steer clear of any current trend. The last couple popular trends, they were trends we started. We made the first '80s record [2003's Welcome to the Monkey House]. It was the Strokes, the White Stripes and Jet on the radio then, and those bands were just following 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia. There was no Strokes and no White Stripes and no Jet when we made 13 Tales. There was Blink 182 and SUM 41. That record opened the door for all these great guitar bands and fucking hipsters. Which meant that we couldn't make a retro guitar record, so we made an '80s record. So cool kids like Franz Ferdinand and the Killers got that and were making records like that.

Uh...

...and they're fucking great bands. But the last thing we're going to make is a disco-punky record. On [Odditorium] we're intent on how far you can deconstruct this stuff before the law of diminishing returns takes over. Dirty sounds are more emotionally engaging to me than good, clean, compressed, slick ones.

How did Capitol react to it?

Well, when we handed it in we turned it in burned as one track, one song for the whole record, so they couldn't fast-forward around and listen for hits. They had to listen to it all the way through. We sent one to the president, one to our A&R guys, and they listened to it in the car—which is great because we make great road-trip records, probably the best that have ever been made. And, of course, they both came back saying, "This is the best psychedelic album since Dark Side of the Moon."

Stay tuned next week for part 2 of the Courtney Taylor-Taylor interview, wherein the leadman talks about super-intelligent humans and why you suck.


The Dandy Warhols play with the Outcrowd on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Wonder Ballroom. 9 pm. $15. All ages. The band also plays Wednesday, Dec. 13, at Crystal Ballroom. 9 pm. $15. All ages.
 
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