There’s nothing that makes you suddenly feel old more than realizing a band you enjoyed as a teenager has grown up. “Me and Brent used to do a shot of tequila before every show,” says Zia McCabe, the keyboardist for the Dandy Warhols. “But we don’t do that every time now. Pete brought a blender and now we have smoothies every day. That’s been getting our serving of fruits and vegetables in.”
Though the Dandy Warhols have been around since the 90s, their moment in the spotlight was truly in the early 2000s, when their hits blasted from every open car window and their catchy single “We Used to Be Friends” was the Veronica Mars theme song. Like many bands that were popular in the noughties — Death Cab for Cutie, Franz Ferdinand, Rooney — the Dandies perfected that alternative rock sound, which went hand in hand with hazy summers spent sneaking out, drinking beer and, if you were a girl, wishing your hair looked like Marissa Cooper’s.
And yet since then, they’ve been utterly forgettable—at least for this reporter.
But their fans, who filled up the Commodore on June 15, would disagree. Popular tracks such as “Get Off” and “Bohemian Like You” had the mostly middle-aged crowd dancing and singing along, while newer songs were met with undivided attention and dutiful head bobs.
McCabe said that even 18 years into their careers, the band is as pleased as ever to be making music and touring. “We love it so much that the second we’re not doing it, we just pick up and start doing it all over again with other people. And I think that that’s a real testament to how much we all really like what we do.”
Though the Dandies have never ventured too far from their comfort zone, their new album This Machine is a departure towards a more stripped-down sound with goth-y lyrics. At this point, they seem comfortable enough to create what they want to hear without worrying too much about appealing to the broader market. “We try to stay oblivious [to pop culture],” said McCabe. “We just have always done what we think is missing.”
I realized in the middle of their set — which was solid — that their songs are all vaguely similar, but that overall, it works for them. They might have grown out of the days of being raging rockstars, but they’ve become great musicians who know how to deliver what their fans like.
As a veteran of the music industry, McCabe had some valuable insights to offer to young musicians: “If you have an opportunity, show up. The worst thing that could happen is you don’t get the audition, or you don’t get the job, or you don’t get in the band. The best thing that happens is your whole life can change.
“Say yes to every opportunity and every adventure.”
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