At almost two decades old, The Dandy Warhols hold a special fanbase that is untouchable. The Portland group has always had die-hard fans, but being one of the bands featured on the 2004 Sundance documentary DiG! (along with The Brian Jonestown Massacre) and having their music as the theme song to popular shows like Veronica Mars and Mythbusters have helped them reach new ears. While the band was in town again for the tour of their well-received new album, This Machine, guitarist Peter Holmstrom took the time to talk to us about phony encores, growing up, and how he never thought he’d be in a band for this long.
You first played Dallas in 1996 at Trees.
1996 Trees with Love and Rockets?
Do you remember that show at all?
Absolutely I do. There’s a friend of mine who I think is from here originally, but I met him in New York, and I had lost contact with him. He was a big Love and Rockets fan, so I bumped into him again at that show. I see him occasionally. He’s actually on his way now.
Do you guys like Dallas?
Sure! I have no real conception of what Dallas is. It used to be that whole Deep Ellum area. That’s all I knew, and it just went to shit, apparently, so we don’t go there anymore. And then we’ve been at the Granada for the last two times and that was great. I have been from the bus into this building. I don’t know where we are.
Did you guys think when you first started that you would still have a band over eighteen years later?
Hell, no. Back then when I started I thought it’d be about five years. At that point I hadn’t done anything in my life for longer than five years. I mean, college was four years. High school was four years. Relationships lasted six months. Everything was so short. The idea that the band would be around longer than five years was not even a glimmer of a thought.
You probably get a new audience from people who hear your music for the first time on commercials or TV shows. Do you think they stick around, or do they only really like the singles?
I have no idea. We’ve never really fit in with what goes on the radio. We always figured that getting our music in a commercial or TV show was one way of getting our music out. The normal ways were being difficult. I’ve never really thought about it—but they seem to stick around.
I was a pretty big Veronica Mars fan—
Oh yeah I remember that. All of a sudden our audience got really young. I was like, “What’s going on? This is really strange. There’s kids freaking out at the front of the stage.” It was awesome. I kind of put two and two together. It was right when we needed that, too. A lot of bands have their music on TV, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll translate.
Last time I saw you guys, you told the audience that the last songs you played were the “encore” portion instead of walking off the stage and coming back on. Is that your way of cutting through the bullshit?
Yeah, because it’s so fake. We’ll do an encore if, after the lights are up, and the house music’s playing, people still want us to come back. Then we’ll come back. But it has to be a real one. We say “this is our encore” just so people get it. We don’t want the pretend one. Every once in a while we have an audience that will not let us leave. So we do an encore.
All of the reviews I’ve read for this album [This Machine] have been really positive so far.
Seems like it, yeah. Seems like the last two [albums] got beat up pretty unfairly. This one seems to have more of an appeal.
Do you have any idea why that would be?
I’ve got some ideas. There’s reasons why I don’t like the last two records as much. It’s that humor, you know, the stoner humor. Especially on Odditorium. I really think we overproduced the last record. Just by a week or something, you know. That little extra bit too far. It’s easy to do, when you have your own studio. I think we learned our lesson this time. We stripped everything down and sent it off to somebody else to mix it. We stayed out of their hair and they did a great job. It seems like everyone’s happy with it.
You guys haven’t been with Capitol Records for a while. Is there anything unexpected that’s happened with you since you’ve started on your own label? Or has it all been smooth sailing?
Absolutely not smooth sailing, no. When we did the last record, that was a big learning experience for how much Capital actually was doing for us. Maybe we were treating them a little unfairly. Knowing what we know now, and having gone through that whole process, we would have probably been a lot easier to deal with. When we did The Capitol Years right after that we discovered that, no, Capitol is just really difficult to deal with. But we are willing to do more interviews, get up earlier, do radio shows, whatever. We don’t complain about that too much. Whereas in the past, we moaned about anything. If you approach it like a job, because it is one, it pays off. We’re growing up. It’s taken its time, but we are.