A decade ago, the band were revelling in the success of their breakthrough album Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, subscribed wholeheartedly to the sex, drugs and rock`n’ roll mantra.
Several records and laughter lines later, The Dandy Warhols say it will be a different story when they return to tour Australia this month as part of Harvest Festival.
“Back then we were touring all the time, drinking and taking drugs and in the heights of being rock stars,” says keyboardist Zia McCabe.
“Now we all have families and touring is more like vacation time where we appreciate the chance to get away from the responsibilities of being at home.”.
Few bands have had more opportunities to pack their bags and disappear from planet pop as the Portland four-piece.
By their own admission, they are lucky to be alive following the debauched lifestyle of their millennium-straddling heyday.
Equally debilitating was the backlash to their single Bohemian Like You after it was used in a Vodaphone commercial – the first time a ‘cool’ band supposedly sold out.
Following the fall out, their 2005 album Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars was roundly panned for its over-elaborate psychedelia, receiving a lowly one star from the website Pitchfork.
What’s more, their music was overshadowed by the 2004 documentary Dig!, which depicted a miscontexualised rivalry between the Dandys and fellow hedonists the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
McCabe says it was hard to stay motivated at times.
“When we started out we were press darlings who could do no wrong and everyone wanted to write about us,” she says.
“I don’t know what happened specifically to change that – maybe being one of the first bands to embrace getting paid for advertising – but there was a bit of a backlash.
“I always thought it was ridiculous especially seeing that nowadays the music industry survives on licensing – it’s how bands make a living.”
Earlier this year The Dandy Warhols released their ninth studio album, This Machine, on their own Beat The World label.
They adopted a democratic approach to songwriting, lifting the burden from frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor by all contributing songs.
The change in system has resulted in a refreshing, stripped-down rock sound that moved away from the heavily produced power pop of old.
“We’d got ourselves into the habit of throwing every idea out there and 144 tracks later having this mess we had to spend days editing,” McCabe explains.
“This time we said `no’, you get an idea, you go and learn your part, you go in and you track it – and you commit to this.”
Drenched in trademark wry humour, only with less of the pomp, This Machine has been warmly received by fans and critics.
McCabe says the about-tack in their fortunes has been welcomed by a band who refuse to acknowledge `fun’ as a dirty word.
“I think our carefree attitude of being so open about the amount of fun we had annoyed some people and came over as showing off,” she says.
“We’ve been criticised harshly sometimes but for this album there’s been some really positive reviews so that’s been a nice surprise.”
* This Machine is out now. The Dandy Warhols play the following shows:
Nov 11 – Werribbee Park, Harvest Festival, Melbourne
Nov 12 – Werribbee Park, Harvest Festival, Melbourne
Nov 13 – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle
Nov 15 – HQ, Adelaide
Nov 17 – Parramatta Park, Harvest Festival, Sydney
Nov 18 – Botanic Gardens, Harvest Festival, Brisbane