From The Desk Of The Dandy Warhols’ Zia McCabe: Fame

Without a doubt, the Dandy Warhols is a band, a meeting of the Velvet-y minds with Brent DeBoer, Peter Holmström, Zia McCabe and Courtney Taylor-Taylor calling the shots. But drummer-turned-guitarist/singer Taylor-Taylor is its handsome face and baritone voice who pushed the band from graceful poetic garage music (1995’s Dandys Rule OK) to guileless glam (2000’s Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia) to sleek-yet-twisted ’80s-ish new wave (2003’s Welcome To The Monkey House). While the rest of the 20th century found the band drifting through three additional like-minded albums, the outfit has grown leaner and meaner with the focused, guitar-centric This Machine (The End). Taylor-Taylor, a ruminative lyricist with a caustic lean, makes the most of this particular Machine moment. He allowed novelist Richard Morgan to write the Dandys’ press notes and found his own icy literary voice in graphic set-in-Germany novel One Model Nation. Taylor-Taylor and his bandmates are also guest editing all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.

McCabe: I just saw the tail end of a show in Dublin about fame. And it got me thinking. The subjects happened to be about no one I’ve ever even heard of. People who have aged passed their “prime,” people who’ve regretted things they’ve done to stay known. People who fretted over reputations and chart positions. I’m grateful for all the “fame” we’ve gotten and just as grateful for how under the radar we’ve remained. I mean I want a legacy, I want to be remembered, and I do feel a sense of worth when I hear bands who sound like us and when girls tell me they’ve chosen instruments and looks based on my sound and my image. But I also feel hugely relieved that we never were big enough to fall prey to the traps of needing to stay on top, never having to decide if we should make sacrifices in order to keep our name in the press or still be considered hip. No matter how many times we’ve been asked what it feels like to be a” famous,” it’s always remained surreal and remote. After 18 years, I’ll call it a blessing to have been a big enough band to have truly influenced rock ‘n’ roll in our own small way but to have never been cursed by all the pitfalls of having been a huge success. We make our art without much interference, we make our livings without suffering anything bigger than the smallest inconveniences. Fame, what a shame it can be. What a sham, what a scam. Music, what a risky venture. Artists, we have no business making a business out of our creative impulses and desires. But how else could we hope to make a living, an impact, a legend? How do we make it more than a hobby without selling our souls, without compromising our values? It’s a heavy current with a strong undertow, and by luck, fate and who knows what else, we’ve managed to stay afloat. Not a day has passed in the last five years, at least, that I don’t appreciate how lucky we’ve been.

Video after the jump.