Hey The Dandy Warhols, thanks for taking the time to chat with us while on tour! Let’s dive right in…
Vancouver is one of the last stops on this tour…what has been your favourite stop so far, and why? And what has been a highlight of touring with The Black Angels?
Well, there are two main things about touring with The Black Angels that we love. The first is that artistically they are more or less a perfect band. The other is that they are about as great as people can reasonably get. So basically, every day is fun, but if I have to single a stop, it would be the weekend we had in San Francisco. Something about San Francisco and our relationship to it is unlike any other. We have a lot of history going back to our first year as a band in 1994. We played a lot of garage parties, we played squads, we played anything.
You’ve been to Vancouver quite a few times in your career and played at a handful of our iconic venues. Some that we at 987 didn’t even get a chance to experience! The Town Pump (1995), The Starfish Room (1997) to name a couple. What was it like playing in Vancouver in the 90’s vs the 2020’s?
Not only was the world a scuzzier place in the 90s, but we were playing small clubs that survived because they were in low rent areas. Very exciting times for us and a great time to be in your 20s. Smoking was allowed indoors so pretty much everybody and everything stank. We must’ve smelled horrible but, of course, we all did, so we didn’t care. There was always an element of fear just going from the van to this shop around the corner… just walking around, looking for a place to eat… certainly at night trying to find the right bar after the show was a treacherous noble mission.
After touring for so many years, do you think you’ve mastered it? What advice would you give yourself ~30 years ago (or any artist just starting out) before embarking on your first tour?
Yes, I think we are good at touring and we are told by other bands that we are. We are creature comfort people, so we have always put effort into keeping ourselves cozy and deciphering what is the balance between that and austerity which could make life the easiest. I would tell myself not to drink so much for far too many reasons to even start going on about.
Let’s touch on The Summer of Hate…what ‘feeling’ are you referring to in the chorus? You mentioned previously that the ‘Summer of Hate’ is based on the summer of 2020 in Portland, where ‘political extremists came to town and infiltrated [your] beloved city’ – has Portland since recovered? How were the summers of 2021-23?
No, Portland has certainly not recovered. It is a shithole of angry, violent, drug addicts, waving machetes in the parks and outside the schools. Still lots of businesses are boarded up. The thing that makes it worse is that it isn’t creating an ‘artsy-fartsy‘, low-rent, underground art scene.
There are still enclave streets or series of streets, which have life and safety but it’s feudal. It’s the dark age of Portland.
“That feeling” is this sort of ego that needs to be fed by extremes. The individuals who make up the political extremes have a feeling that I don’t relate to. I try to be aware of my small feelings like petty jealousies or bitter competitive garbage, but there’s something going on with a lot of people that I don’t get.
These are very surprising times.
Speaking of other recent singles, how did a collaboration (IWNSLY) with Debbie Harry and NALA come to be? What an all-star group! Was the process of creating IWNSLY easy, or were there any difficulties narrowing down the musical thoughts of such a diverse group of artists?
We had Debbie sing on our record that is going to come out next year. We used to be managed by the same company that manages NALA and they asked about her doing a remix collaboration. I love her work, so we were like, “Hell yes! Let’s do it.”
How has your sound evolved?
It seems like the only true evolution is having more skills on the technical side of recording. Since we are always casting out for some inspiration, which we have not explored before, I feel that we never actually “evolve”. We are always new to whatever it is we are trying to do and we are always trying to do something that no one else is doing, or at least not doing it well.
Do you think trying to break into the music scene today would be harder or easier than back in the 90’s? Has social media had a positive or negative impact on the process?
It is always hard to make it work financially as a musician. A handful make a huge name for themselves and a lot of money. A few make a good solid living. But almost everybody had better consider it a hobby.
And finally, a question that 987 asks all artists/bands we interview:
Bud Light Limes or Craft Beers?
I only drink wine. At least 10 years old and hopefully French.
Thank you for your time! Excited for your show!
Thanks so much for your time and interest as well. It really means a lot to us.
Interview: Mikhail Din
Photo: Sean Lennon