Melt Down In The Monkey House

Rock Sound
by -
May 2003

The dandy Warhols' Peter Holmstrom has been talking to Rock Sound about the band's near "meltdown" on their last UK tour - and why it feels like to be lead guitarist on a record with hardly any guitars on it at all! "I've probably played the guitar more than every during the making of this record, (their forthcoming album 'Welcome To The Monkey House')" he told us, "trying to come up with different parts and doing what I always do - trying to learn how to play in a different style... and then, at the end of the day it all gets taken out pretty much. It's really depressing!" 'Welcome To The Monkey House', The Dandy Warhols' fourth album, is a huge departure from their previous offering, 'Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia'. In place of the Stones-y guitar there are dark beats, deadpan Kraftwerk vocals and lots of incredibly catchy keyboard lines that will remind their older fans of a certain 80's pop band - Duran Duran - whose keyboard player Nick Rhodes co-produced eight tracks on the album! "There are things that you remember that Duran Duran did, on songs that were absolutely everywhere, and now those things are on our record! It's amazing!" Peter grins. "We always planned to make a record like this, right from the beginning, but we forgot it at one point. When we started recording it immediately turned into a traditional Dandy Warhols album. Then we started picking the guitars out because we were bored with them and that wasn't as exciting for us. We got back on track and a couple of songs just drifted down to bass and drums. The songs definitely have a Dandy Warhols vibe, though! It was Courtney's (Taylor, vocals) idea to make this kind of album," he continues. "It came from working with Massive Attack, seeing how they worked, where, essentially, most of the work was done on computer. Instead of going in with, 'These are the chord changes, this is the melody, this is where the vocals go, this is where the guitar solo goes,' it's completely different. You just build slowly and don't' have any idea of what you're going to end up with. A computer's just a tool, another instrument and another way of doing things. Personally I feel that with a lot of bands the music is incredibly over-produced, even though they're still trying to be a guitar band or an alternative band. If you're actually trying to be an electronic band, it's different." Peter's not worried about his future in the newly electro-fried Dandy Warhols, though. "I'll just learn how to play keyboards if I have to!" he laughs, "Ideas change so fast in this band that by the time we get the show ready to go on the road we may have all switched back to guitars. We might be doing the whole record as a rock record. You never know! When we made 'Thirteen Tales...' there weren't that many bands making that kind of music, but now you've got The Strokes, The Hives, White Stripes, BRMC - Courtney just wanted to try something else." Despite the success of 'Thirteen Tales...', which sold over 200,000 copies in the UK alone, he says the band were bored and disillusioned after their last tour. "In the beginning bands are always superexcited about everything and they're in the studio, all of them, all the time, and they're back as soon as they can be the next day," he says. "I think, as you get older, you get families, you have other things you want to be doing instead of hanging out at the studio 24/7. On the last tour we had a show at Brixton Academy and then we did about five festivals and I think every single show was, like, mediocre. It was super-disappointing, I was fed up. We'd been playing for about a year continuously without taking any breaks and we hadn't stopped to figure out what was wrong with one or two songs. Finally, we hit meltdown." As well as Nick Rhodes, 'Welcome To The Monkey House' also features one song co-written by ex-Lemonhead and solo troubadour Even Dando, as well as occasional backing vocals from Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon. Unsurprisingly, the band are looking forward to doing a big, flashy Duran-style video on a yacht in the Caribbean somewhere. "We want to do that so badly!" Peter cries. "If we can get the record company to let us, then we're gonna! We're gonna do that for the second single, which is hopefully going to be 'You Were The Last High'. Nick Rhodes does this beautiful keyboard solo on it and, I don't know if you remember the 'Rio' video? They have this saxophone player doing his solo on this raft. So we'd love to get Nick on a raft with his keyboard doing the solo!" 'Welcome To The Monkey House' is released May 19 on Capitol. It's preceded by a single, 'We Used To Be Friends'.