By: Robert Stinson
The crowd swelled at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach as we were ushered backstage where Zia (keyboardist) and Brent (drummer) from The Dandy Warhols welcomed us aboard their hipster version of The Honeysuckle Rose.Â With charismatic charm, they opened up about their North American tour promoting their best of collection, â€œThe Capitol Years 1995-2007â€, while extolling the virtues of cannabis. NUG Magazine was granted an up close and personal peak into one of the most iconoclastic rock bands to ever explode out of the Portland, Oregon post grunge scene.
NUG: Could you explain in your own words the creative process behind your song writing?
Zia: Courtney comes in with what we call a skeleton: chord changes, melodies, lyrics, and then we flesh it out either in rehearsals or in recording. I think having our own side projects has allowed us to figure out song writing by ourselves. And with Courtney having a kid, he is looking for more time off, but the rest of us are looking to get more involved in the song writing process.
NUG: What projects are you both working on outside of The Dandy Warhols?
Brent: I have a band called Immigrant Union that is based out of Melbourne, Australia. We have a North American lineup as well as an Australian one, so I have my gang there, just a pack of amazing musicians (almost to an intimidating level).Â So far, we have an autocratic way of dealing with the song writing process. That is something completely different than what weâ€™ve been trying to do with the Dandyâ€™s.
Zia: Weâ€™re in a very experimental stage. My side project Brushed Prairie is country sounding, fiddles and stuff. The band was named after a little town in Washington where I was born (in the kitchen of a farmhouse).Â For the most part, we were doing covers and werenâ€™t really sure if we were a band. Since we kept getting invited to do covers at parties, I thought we should take a crack at writing and see what happens. Iâ€™ve come up with banks of potential lyrics, and while lying around getting stoned with my guitar player as he plays different ideas, I scroll through the notes on my iphone. I have fun going oh-oh-oh, wait that fits, go back, yeah-yeah-yeah, that works, we have something! Then we start â€œhashingâ€ out a song that is completely different.
NUG: In Portland, marijuana is legal to use, possess, cultivate, and deliver for patients who have prescriptions. How long do you think it will be before legalization is drafted to completely decriminalize marijuana in Oregon?
Brent: It might sound harsh, but I think itâ€™s crucial to have the old dinosaurs go away. The younger people understand that God put this beautiful plant on almost every continent.
NUG: â€œReefer Madnessâ€
Zia: Seriously!Â I own that DVD by the way, itâ€™s great campy fun! It will take a while for people to let go of the propaganda that has been ingrained into their minds.Â â€“The worst case scenario would be when weâ€™re in our 50s and the best case would be in a couple of votes or two. There is enough progress for people to stay motivated and not lose hope. Plus, there are so many activists like you guys, NORML and MPP (Marijuana Policy Project) who continue to build steam, getting a little further with each ballot initiative.
Brent: The days of burning fields of marijuana have got to come to an end; itâ€™s a resilient plant that grows everywhere. It is medicine that comes from the earth as opposed to the drugs that the pharmaceutical companies are putting out that can potentially kill people. Making cannabis illegal is utterly absurd and goes against the nature of humanity.
NUG: Since weâ€™re on the subject, what is your opinion about the medicinal qualities and practical uses of cannabis products?
Brent: My father has multiple sclerosis, and marijuana has been one of the most beneficial things for him.
Zia: I made pot brownies for Brentâ€™s father and said, â€œHey man, these can really help you,â€ to sort of bypass the whole awkwardness of the father/son thing. My husbandâ€™s mom has an advanced stage of bone and stomach cancer. I made her loaded food as well because she is someone who would never have smoked otherwise. Marijuana has kept her from losing too much weight and saved her from a lot of pain; plus, she doesnâ€™t want to be on all those pills. My dad had aplastic anemia when I was a kid, so they started growing it in the backyard. Iâ€™ve seen the medicinal uses just as much as Iâ€™ve seen recreational use. Unfortunately, a lot of people that can benefit from marijuana are reluctant to seek out a source because of legalities.
Brent: Yeah, the major side effect is having the munchies, and for once in your life, youâ€™ll understand 2001: A Space Odyssey.
NUG: What was the craziest moment you guys had on this tour?
Brent: The other night we had a dance party on the bus; Zia was the DJ and Courtney was working the lights in this very room while we all danced.
Zia: I didnâ€™t even charge a cover. We had a couple of the guys from our opening band up in here while some friends of ours were visiting, and I was like â€œthis is what tours are like, chicks on the bus!â€ You know what I mean, that never happens.
Brent: The craziest night we had was when my wife was on the bus and I got a black eye from wrestling.
NUG: How have TV shows and movies such as Veronica Mars, Igby Goes Down, and the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack impacted The Dandyâ€™s?
Brent: We have a career because of it. The radio stations in America rarely play our music.
Zia: So as a consolation prize, we get paid a lot of money to be featured on TV shows or in movies (snickering).
NUG: Has the Portland music scene changed since you guys first took off?
Zia: Wowâ€¦massively! It used to be one scene that didnâ€™t have that many tendrils coming off of it. It was one counterculture, ragtag, straggler, second hand clothes wearing scene.Â There were just a few clubs to play and there were a lot of house parties. Now, there are clubs everywhere and all kinds of niche/genres that have really evolved into an industry. Things couldnâ€™t have changed more in the last decades since we first became a band.