Dandys Monkey With Duran

by David Peisner
April 16, 2003

Nick Rhodes co-produces new Dandy Warhols record

"It's not an Eighties record, but it's definitely approached more that way," says Dandy Warhols' guitarist Peter Holmstrom of the band's fourth album, Welcome to the Monkey House, due July 22nd. The Oregon alt-rock foursome -- which also includes vocalist/guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor, drummer Brent DeBoer and keyboardist Zia McCabe -- recruited Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes as the album's co-producer, and Rhodes' bandmate Simon LeBon to sing backing vocals. The end result, according to Holmstrom is "the usual Dandy Warhols kind of sound, but achieved with less guitars and more Eighties-sounding keyboards."

It's the band's first release since 2000's Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, a more classic-rock-tinged record that produced the minor hit "Bohemian Like You." The band spent nearly a year and a half recording Monkey House, splitting time between studios in London, New York and their hometown, Portland. The jet-setting was made necessary by the band's far-flung collaborators.

"We tried to get Nick Rhodes to come to Portland and work in our shitty little studio, but he wasn't having any of that," Holmstrom explains. "So we had to go to London and work in a fancy studio."

Rhodes, whom Dandy Warhols met through his friendship with their Capitol Records A&R man, initially came aboard to lend keyboards to one track, but the relationship quickly grew into something more substantial with Rhodes co-producing nearly three-quarters of the album. Tony Visconti, well-known for his production work for David Bowie and T. Rex, helped twiddle the knobs for two additional tunes, and legendary Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers contributes a signature guitar line to a song called "Scientist." "Nile was working with Duran Duran across the hall, so it was just like, 'Hey Nile, there's a guitar. Do something,'" Holmstrom says.

The record's first single, "We Used to Be Friends," is fueled by buzzing keyboards and handclaps and is closest to the sound of the band's last record. Holmstrom compares another song, "The Last High," which was co-written with ex-Lemonhead Evan Dando, to Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes." "Nick did the most soulful sounding analog keyboard solo you've ever heard on it. I think it's the best song we've ever done."