Interview by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer
When I was 19, I purchased an album that would soon become a mainstay in my regular playlist and one that would help me through good times and bad. The Dandy Warhols’ ‘Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia’ is still one of my all time favourite albums. I recently had the honour of chatting to founding member and guitarist, Peter Holmström. The band are currently celebrating 25 years of the Dandy’s and hit our shores again very soon to play some shows to celebrate. Brisbane gets to catch them at the Scene & Heard Festival on November 2 at Eatons Hill Hotel along with a brilliant line up of Australian acts including Butterfingers, Wolfmother, Even and more. Peter and I talked about the festival, celebrating 25 years of making music and how good kombucha is.
You’ll be back in Australia next month with The Dandy Warhols to play your 25th Anniversary shows! 25 years is pretty special, it must be a great feeling to be celebrating making music for that long?
“Yeah, it is kind of crazy to reflect now, I mean, it’s a long time to do anything! It’s been fun doing the shows that we have done so far. And it will be really cool to bring it to Australia because that’s one of the best places that really sort of, I don’t know, accepted us. In a big way.”
You’ve certainly got a lot of fans here, myself being one of them, the last time I saw you would have been 2016 at the Eatons Hill Hotel in Brisbane, which is the same venue you are returning to for the Scene & Heard Festival on November 2. It’s a stunning venue and the line up is brilliant! Are you looking forward to coming back?
“Absolutely yeah. It is really cool because we are playing with Even who for the longest time was the only band we ever played with in Australia. They were the first bands who ever supported us and they are very very good friends so it’s nice to be able to play with them again and it’s there 25th anniversary as well.”
Music Festivals in Australia have really made a strong comeback in recent years. We lost some big ones years ago, like Big Day Out. You played that back in 2004, do you recall much from that festival?
“I think Even played that yeah. I know The Strokes where on that, Flaming Lips. So many bands, it was great, it was really super fun. I wish they’d bring that back.”
You and Courtney formed The Dandy Warhols back in 1994. Do you recall that exact moment when you decided, this is it, we are going to form a band?
“I had been going to school in New York and I moved back to Portland. I was just hanging out with Courtney and he was playing with another band. I went and saw them play and that night, they kicked him out of the band after the show. From that point on it was just like, ‘we are gonna’ have a band.’ And it was mainly just to… the idea was to meet more people who had similar taste in music to hang out with. Because Courtney had always been writing songs and I played a little guitar and we found a couple of other people who had similar interests and potentially nothing else to do. And it came together pretty quick and then here we are 25 years later!”
Music definitely brings like minded souls together…That shared love for music creates special connections, It’s like a family…
“Yeah, it really does. And yes it is like a family, that is the only way to really describe it really. It kind of goes beyond friendship and it’s like people you have met (through music) you deal with them in a different way than you do with ordinary people. *laughs*”
Are you and Courtney and the rest of the band as close now as you were then? You’ve been through a lot together over the last 25 years!
“In some respects, we are closer, but you know, we all have families and I mean, at the beginning Courtney and I lived in the same apartment. So we don’t spend as much time together as we used too. But we are close for sure. I see everybody once a week or every other week or something. We don’t see Brent (DeBoer) as much these days ‘cos he lives in Australia. But it’s always great when we are all together wherever we are around the world.”
If my research is correct, The Dandy Warhols have released 10 studio albums, 2 compilation albums, 6 EP’s and 27 singles! That’s a whole lot of music you’ve gifted to the world! It is so hard to choose favourites, but two of my personal favourites are You Were The Last High and Sleep from the ‘Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia’ album. I know this is probably a near impossible question to answer for you, but do you have some favourite songs you love to play live when on tour?
“Yeah I think that is a very tough question. It kind of changes all the time. But there are songs that we play live that have extended outro’s which are almost a whole other song of their own that is made up every night, it is slightly different. Those are the parts that are really, those are for us, you know? For us to have not just repeat songs which are super fun but it’s the little extra bit of experimenting on stage in front of people and the sort of I don’t know, fear of getting it wrong is always…exciting *laughs* Those are the little bits that I really like. Besides that, The Last High is a fantastic song and it’s great to play live, same goes with Mohammed, and Everyone Is Totally Insane is a pretty cool one, I like to play it.”
Your genre has been described as many things; alternative rock, psych rock, shoegazing, dream pop, garage rock, the list goes on. The Dandy Warhols really do have a sound that is quite unique, where do you think that comes from? Where do your influences come from as a musician?
“It is all really varied. All of us have some pretty unique places that we get inspiration or at least unique from each other. I think that helps with the making of something (our own) we all put our things together, it comes out being its own unique thing. But initially I think it was our inability to play like our favourite bands that created what The Dandy Warhols sounded like, you know, especially the first two records. I don’t think any of us were truly right with what we were trying to be. We all had different ideas. But the end result was pretty cool.”
Speaking of inspiration and influences, your music has, without a doubt inspired so many. Who inspires you? Or who are some of the bands you are listening to now that you are really digging?
“I have been kind of going backwards a little bit, like to when I was in High School. It happens. The last year I have been really obsessing on The Cure. Love and Rockets and Bauhaus who I was really into in High School. The Cure, for some reason, I stopped listening to for quite a while. But they have come back really majorly right now.”
I re watched DIG! the other night when I found out I was going to be chatting with you. It’s such an iconic rock music documentary. What would the 2019 version of it be like if you filmed it all again now?
“So boring. *laughs* We were relatively out of control back then, because like, you know, we were young. It was amazing amounts of fun. I can’t believe how much fun I had with The (Brian) Jones Town (Massacre) guys. Every time we met up and toured together it was out of control. But now? I don’t know, we are all a little camera shy after that movie, it’s like, we don’t goof off for the camera the way we used too. We kind of got a little burned by that, so anyway. It would be a lot more chill if we did it now. Especially my perspective, I think catch me on a good night and I can be a lot of fun, Courtney too, Grant too, yeah, maybe it would be more fun! *laughs*”
If The Dandy Warhols had their own signature alcoholic beverage, what would it be?
“ *laughs* Wrong person for that one. I don’t drink, I haven’t for years…”
Oh you know, I had a feeling as I was writing that question, I thought what if he doesn’t drink anymore? What about a non-alcoholic beverage then? A mocktail maybe?
“I drink kombucha, so if it was up to me, that’s what it would be. It would definitely have ginger in it. There’s a really good flavour over here that is like ginger, cayenne and lemon, it is pretty awesome.”
I love Kombucha! That sounds delicious! Thanks so much for chatting with me today Peter and I can’t wait to see you guys when you hit our shores again soon!
“Yeah it’s only in a couple of weeks! For some reason we always end up in Australia in November and it’s my birthday on November 3rd. I think I have been in Australia for 4 or 5 birthdays now, which is a lot I think.”
Well that makes it twice the party then!
Come and join the party with The Dandy Warhols on their Australian tour which kicks off on Saturday November 2 at the Scene & Heard Festival in Brisbane at the Eatons Hill Hotel.
Event page HERE.
Follow The Dandy Warhols on Facebook HERE for more tour details.