MUSIC | “A high five goes off inside of me”: The Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor on his favorite things


The Dandy Warhols have been rocking their psychedelic-revival electronic pop sound on the indie scene since the early 1990s. Their tenth album, The Capitol Years 1995-2007, is something of a greatest hits album, offering both original tracks and alternate mixes of some of their most well-known and highest-charting songs, plus one previously unreleased song, “This Is the Tide.” 

I caught up with lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor over the phone on Thursday afternoon, fully prepared to ask him a slew of questions about music, and found him surprisingly chatty about everything from the new album to fine wines and classic literature. For the record, Taylor-Taylor’s speaking voice is just as enigmatic as you would want it to be, and music legend or not, it wasn’t hard to hold down a conversation—albeit a very tangential one.

I don’t want to take up too much of your time or anything…
No, no, you’re not…I’ve done like five of these [interviews] already, man, it’s what I do…they line up all these interviews and I basically sit around for two hours and get baked and chill…later I might go get some lunch…walk to the hardware store… [laughs]

Sounds great. So, who are you listening to right now?
Right now…I am listening to Coltrane…The record that has his version of “My Favorite Things”…um…I can’t remember what it’s called, but that’s right now, I just turned it down so I could take this call…But if you want to know, what I’m also listening to are the Orlando Consort and the Whole Noyse. You know, medieval, Renaissance, traditional stuff. That is my favorite shit to listen to.

Whoa, serious? That is not the answer I expected.
Yeah, really, Renaissance music—I mean, it’s so amazing, everything went bananas at that time, you know, thought, reasoning, science, art, music, theater…everything. And I love that shit, up to maybe the first 10 years of the 1600s…and then…in my other house, I listen to a lot of Jill Bartowe, Edith Piaf…you know. And of new music or modern music…I think the Black Keys are just the coolest thing in the world. Every time I hear what they’re doing what they’re up to now…a high five just goes off inside of me. I love the decisions that they make and, bottom line, just how their music sounds. I don’t even think I own a record by them.

Well, you hardly have to anymore, with the Internet and all that.
I know! Like, I’ve stopped getting full albums, you know? Like, I just had to stop seeking out music and I’ve just been figuring out what I hear…

Totally. Speaking of the web… so I’ve been reading your blog, and I noticed you do a lot of blogging about stuff you’re reading. Right now you’re reading Thomas Hardy. Props, man—he’s not a happy guy.
Oh, shit, man, that Thomas Hardy, what a fucker. I broke up with him the other night, man. Apparently Far From the Madding Crowd is the only non-tragic thing he wrote. Like, I couldn’t finish Tess, I had to stop reading it after she gets raped. But Jude the Obscure, I mean, it’s hair rolling but it’s intoxicating. I was like, fuck, I just wanted to get back into it! Like, “Honey, I just want to go home and read, dude, see you guys later” and just get back and go into this beautiful world which just gets worse and worse and worse and worse…

Do you feel like what you’re reading ends up influencing you artistically?
Well, sure, I mean, mostly it’s just because people want things to read they want things to see. And I’ll always have the same taste, and I don’t really blog or anything but I definitely review shit, as a service to other people, you know? And it takes a little time out of your day but it helps, I think.

Completely. So your latest record, The Capitol Years 1995-2007, is something like a greatest hits record.
It totally is. Yeah. But I mean, even then we didn’t get everything on it. “Horse Pills” isn’t on there and that was one of our biggest hits for a while, you know, it charted really well in Australia and London and other places.

How about the new video for “This Is the Tide”? It’s the only new, previously unreleased song on The Capitol Years… looks like it was a ton of fun to shoot.
Oh, totally. Well, Fathead [drummer Brent de Boer, Taylor-Taylor’s cousin] has been talking about having a video where we just have piles of food and drinks… I mean he’s been talking about it probably for ten years. And I brought in just cases of wine, really nice wine like old Bordeauxs that were ten to fifteen years old…

Oh my God, what?
Right? I just went bananas, just bananas with all this wine. But of course production was running three to four hours behind, and we had all this gourmet food cooking, but we ran out of good wine before the food was even ready! We had to eat all that amazing food with shitty wine. [laughing]

That’s still kind of fantastic. Well, Courtney, it’s been totally real getting to talk to you—and I’ll definitely be seeing you at the show next week.
Yeah, awesome…where are we playing at?

The Fine Line.