'Everybody gets naked because everybody's beautiful'

by Mark Beaumont
May 23, 1998

Eight-in-a-shower orgy action, more pharmaceuticals than Boots, onstage tit-flashin'... It's safe to say psychedelic pop loons The Dandy Warhols have been around rock'n'roll's debauched block. So why is it that these infamous orgasm addicts are now getting off on Beethoven and luuurve?

Necrophilia. Yeah, that might be cool. That might be beautiful. If it was someone he really loved and they still had most of their limbs and weren't too green he might give it a bash. Sex with trainers. That'd be kinda funny, if he found a shoe he could trust. If he finds a trainer that gives him a serious wood he'll give us a call, like, 'Dude, go buy this shoe! You're gonna love it!" But Animals? The small furry guys? Jeez, that's just sick...
Courtney Taylor - rock's newest walking laboratory who has been there, done it and bought the clinic - wrinkles his nose for possibly the first time in four years.
"I wouldn't even jerk off in front of one," he grimaces, "I wouldn't even have sex in front of a fuckin' cat. It'd just look stupid. A cat would lose all faith in you."
He snorts satisfaction, the limits defined. No matter how degraded, blootered, drug-crazed or outrageous they be, The Dandy Warhols' continuing trek to the outer reaches of hedonism, experiences and taste must never deny them the respect of their pets. Hey, a lust-addicted, class A-guzzling rock'n'roll pervert's gotta have standards, right?
For The Dandy Warhols - the coolest psychedelic pop loons to emerge from Portland, Oregon since forever - there simply aren't enough taboos in the world. Heroin, cool? Yeah, and comedy is the new rock'n'roll, mate. Prostitutes, streaking, drug feasts and frottaging transvestites? Yeah, whatever, but they usually fit in a curry as well. Since they rammed their way into a willing Top 40 with the throbbing electro-guitar love torpedo and blatant Duran Duran rip-off 'Every Day Should Be A Holiday' a few months back, they've been chatted up by Damon Albam, attended a Supergrass meet-and-greet entirely naked, shagged Europe, snorted Columbia and generally proved themselves to be the band you've desperately wanted to be in since birth. And this is them calming down.
"Probably the most intensive drug and sex thing was when we were making the album we never finished," Courtney recalls, suddenly gaining the rapt attention of the bar-full of hangers-on still reeling from tonight's gig in a Bordeaux club. "We call it 'The Black Album' now. That was nuts. Popping pills, three different coloured lines chopped out on the pinball machine. Eleven or 12 of us in a studio making noise and fucking. Eight people packed in a small shower all soaped up, tongues'n'dicks'n'pussies'n'buns, y'know. That lasted 30 days."
But do you find the social and inter-reactional consequences of drug use detrimental to... oh bugger it, I've had enough of this typing and being nice to photographers lark. Can I join The Dandy Warhols please?
"Yeah," Courtney agrees. "Get some hot-pants and combat boots, slick your hair back and we'll put you in a cage."
Brilliant! So as a fledgling Warhol, can I have my key to the pharmaceuticals lorry now?
Courtney pauses, hangs his head.
"We snorted the last of our coke last night. It's not easy to find in France."
Hmmm. And I suppose the tourbus shower's out of order as well. Still what can I expect from the average all-night tour blitz as part of the Dandy clan?
"We sit around for hours and talk," Courtney says wistfully. "We like the same books, we like the same movies, we feel the same way about the psychology of the human experience. It's beautiful, y'know. It's not all hedonistic. It's not all snorting coke and jacking off on a pair of sisters you just met in New Hampshire."
He catches himself.
"Um, or wherever."
Right. Er, excuse me for a minute. I've just got to go and buy the photographer a beer...

Contrary to what their press cuttings would have you believe, there's far more to The Dandy Warhols than meets the groin, nostril and blood stream. Flouncy keyboardist Zia McCabe's occasional onstage tit-flashing incident, for instance, is no cynical ploy to rope in the Loaded-reading nipple brigade but the natural result of frequenting the tiny, inbred Portland boho scene where, "if you have a tight little scene of 50 weirdo performance artists, hipster and superstar losers you get naked and do everybody. Everybody gets naked because everybody's fuckin' beautiful."
Likewise, their reputation as rampant nymphoid shag Titans is misleading. All of the band (compiled by the lounging figures of bassist Peter Holmstrom and drummer Brent Debore) are attached (Zia has even brought her boyfriend along on tour for the, ahem, ride). So they can't possibly be indulging in KY Jelly and Marmite parties with everyone with a pulse. Can they?
Courtney flinches.
"Um... I've noticed that we've been very lucky not to have been asked that until now. Let's just forget you ever wondered."
No. What does your celebrity model girlfriend Michelle Norkett think of all these on-tour jiggy acts?
"She goes back and forth on it," he says, "but she's doing he own thing too. It's hard. We spend a week and a half together in a hotel in Paris and her apartment in London just fucking and sucking and licking each other, snuggling all night and watching TV until we fall asleep and smoking joints and shopping... that's the heaviest, most beautiful love I've ever felt. Then we're on the phone to each other every other day for a week, then every other day, then three weeks into it she's going, 'I don't wanna feel week like that...' and I'm like, 'OK, so you're out working other dudes, I don't need this.' I don't need pain in my life, nobody does. If you think that it's more meaningful to be depressed and bitter and an asshole you're a fucking retard and you're not gonna realise it until you're on your death bed."
But, as a wise man in unwise flares once said, 'Love is a drug'. You've gotta take the rough with the smooth, the gain with the pain, the squelchy with the uncomfortably dry...
"Yeah, but in the comedown, if you have someone to commiserate with, that's beautiful too, it validates it. Or you get yourself heavily sedated."
If Courtney sounds like the focus of every Final Thought on The Jerry Springer Show, its an upbringing thing. Raised, by Oregon hippy tradition, on secondary bong inhalation from an early age, he was the typical frustrated teenage intellectual: keen to enlighten himself but always distracted from Dr Faustus by Doctors & Nurses.
"I was very depressed, freaked out," he remembers, "I didn't know if I was totally insane or Jesus Christ. I had so many ideas and beliefs that were valid in my head that went against the grain of everyone around me. I think I was right about everything but I had to get out of school and start shaping my life."
There followed a short spell of being a pop star in his head and a garage mechanic in his pay packet before The Dandy Warhols drifted together from the Portland underground and provided him with a mission. To meld his beloved '60s pop sensibility with this strange, swirling, gloopy new mood music that was creeping slowly into his record collection. To make music, in fact, like a dead deaf German.
"Have you heard The Who's 'Meaty Beaty, Big And Bouncy'?" he demands. "I love it. Have you heard 'Lazer Guided Melodies'? I love it. Those two records are landmarks in my life. They turned me on and they focused me. The band Low? Fucking amazing! The first time I saw Stereolab life it fucked my shit up! This band was oozing music into the audience. It surrounded you, it was buoyant, it suspended you. I didn't know bands could do that. I like my music to build, to reach a crescendo and then come back down. It's like Beethoven's 'Ninth'. It shreds you as much as any rock, then it sets you down and pats your head and rubs your belly and starts talking to you again. And it starts talking a little louder and it's saying things that are really getting to you until you're IN IT, WITH IT and you're FUCKIN' GOING OFF TOO! AND YOU'RE FUCKIN' GOING OFF! AND THEN YOU'RE SCREAMING! AND SHOUTING! AND THEN YOU'RE DONE! And you sit and look at each other. And it lays you down and kisses your cheek."
You've spent your whole life searching for the perfect orgasm, haven't you?
A light comes on in Courtney Taylor's brain and he gawps, suddenly struck by The Truth.
"Fuuuck, yeah... fuck yeah... the perfect foreplay, the perfect orgasm, the perfect smoke."

You're evil, aren't you?
Evil. You're on Beelzebub's payroll. Admit it.
"I think people could see it that way," Courtney slurs, confused, "but isn't that the whole point of Satanism? No, that wasn't evil. That was the most beautiful angel that wanted to experience everything. He didn't want to be repressed or oppressed in any way. He just wanted to live. We're not interested in hurting anybody."
No, you want to corrupt. Your first album, 'The Dandy Warhols Rule OK' was a melange of sub-Ride wibbling and fried atmospheres with one pop masterpiece, 'TV Theme Song', bunged in the middle to lure us in. Plus, if you played it backwards, a voice said, 'You Like Chapterhouse' over and over again. Probably.
Your plan failed that time so you're second album, 'The Dandy Warhols Come Down', is half electroid pop genius and half wibble. You're trying to ensnare the unsuspecting Kids with glorious pop frazzles so you can brainwash them into hating tunes, getting dandruff and gazing at their shoes again. You bastard.
"No no no. No. No. I'm just trying to attract people that I'd like to sit and chat with, to experience life with. I don't wanna corrupt anybody but it'd be amazing if we could enlighten everybody. Every intellectual goes through a period in their life when they think they can choose the right words in the right order to enlighten a stupid fucker. And every good intellectual, after that, has enough experiences to come to the realisation that they can't."
Oh, sorry. Mistook you for Richard Ashcroft for a minute there. Courtney's aim is nobler, more educational: the sardonic character dissection of the "stupid fuckers" he sees around him and then an attempt at enlightenment through utterly taking the piss. The Dandy's stupendous new single, 'Boys Better' - a song that sounds like it's fallen off 'Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy' and laded in a turbo-driven industrial crusher - satirises the air-headed Valley girl phenomenon, while 'Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth', of course, was a pop at heroin chic and the suckers who bought it. The hypocrisy is, however, that it used that very heroin chic to become a hit. You could even argue that it made heroin cooler, less of a big deal, nothing to be scared of.
Courtney sighs.
"I really wanted to not do that. I really wanted to demystify the experience, demystify junkies. The love of my life of four and a half years went over. That's what happens, you go over to the other side and you don't come back. She was a model, owned two vintage clothing stores, was a great seamstress, amazing cook, a beautiful painter, she was a beautiful woman. Somebody saw her six months later shuffling around with the homeless Mexicans, sucking cock and turning tricks, just junk. She found something else that was a lot easier and made her feel great."
Courtney has only taken heroin "a couple of times", and then only as part of his life's work to overcome any fears that plague him by diving in a glugging deep.
"You should experience everything once to understand," he philosophises. "You're not a happy and comfortable person if you're afraid of things. So personally I try to experience everything once. If you're sitting around with a bunch of people pumping their veins full of dope and they do it all the time and you look at that needle and look at that syringe and you hold your arm out and say, 'Tie me up, I'm gonna try it', if it scares you, if you look at it and think 'Shit, I could DIE', don't do it. Just don't. And that's cool, because you went there, you stood at the edge, you looked at it and you went 'no way'."
There are easier ways of peering into the abyss, however. You could go to a Dandy Warhols gig and watch four beautifully fucked-up, half-enlightened experience junkies performing the Beethoven's Ninth of modern pop, getting naked, drifting off into their own hazy netherworld and then crashing back to Earth with the perfect pop orgasm. A thrilling spectacle, all open-minded space cadets welcome.
Just, in the interest of your own safety, don't feed the journalist.