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December 14th, 2005 MARK BAUMGARTEN | Riff City
 

He Is A Scientist

Part two of the Courtney Taylor-Taylor interview.

     
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Courtney Taylor-Taylor
"By the end of the great war, the Dandy Warhols had progressed far beyond the traditional jug band sound." So begins the Dandy Warhols' latest release, Odditorium or Warlords of Mars, this fictional recounting of the Portland band's origins spoken by the authoritative voice of the A&E channel's Bill Kurtis. What follows is a psychedelic pastiche of a pop album which, like its creator Courtney Taylor-Taylor, is brilliant in its indulgences. Of course, that doesn't mean it's always listenable. Fortunately, Taylor-Taylor's indulgences, the products of an unchecked ego with major-label support, yield nonstop entertainment in this, part two of Riff City's Courtney Taylor-Taylor interview.

Riff City: How's the tour going?

Courtney Taylor-Taylor: Every show is sold out, and we're playing bigger venues than we ever have in our lives. We're bigger than ever, and we've done it the right way. We don't have dipshit jock wannabe alternative posers with haircuts out of magazines and shit showing up at our shows yelling and screaming.

Well, this album hasn't really appealed to a popular audience.

Of course it hasn't. Every record we've made is an album, is a film, it is a continuum from beginning to end, appropriately organized into a very human experience. Everything we do is an experiment in "Oops, that's cool." We notice the accidents, then we freeze them in time and space and say, "Fucking leave it—that's amazing."

What about the Bill Kurtis intro? That doesn't seem very accidental.

I came up with that one. It's actually a litmus test to see if people have any language skills. With a number of people, you play it and they just sort of space off and look out the window. The minute they hear talking, they just shut down. Which is funny, that's great, you know, perfect. We've always been a band that is about separating the wheat and the chaff.

How did you get Bill Kurtis to do it?

Because of the kind of music we play, we meet a lot of the superpower intellectuals of the planet. I ended up at a beach house with one of the leading brain chemists, who was there speaking at a med school in New York on the newest advances about what happens to the brain chemically. I got to sit with this guy alone listening to Louis Armstrong records, and basically ask him what every drug does to the brain. I just got to sit with an astrophysicist in Sydney, Australia, and ask him, "Prove to me that we've been to the moon. Tell me why you know for a fact that we've been to the moon." He sat and told me, explained everything. So I've had the luxury of sitting with Bill Kurtis and talking about art and wine, and he's fantastic. When I came up with the thing, I wanted the Bill Kurtis sound—that fucking titan of information. And it's all the more comical because we're used to hearing Bill Kurtis' voice and just believing it. That's just so fucked-up on a psychological level, what it's doing is being as completely impossible as can be, and dictated by the voice that is ingrained culturally to be the voice of true perspective on history.

What do you think of the way the band is perceived in Portland?

You know, I don't know why the fuck I'm talking to you. I told Capitol that I didn't want to talk to anyone from Portland. It's already impossible for me to go get something to eat with my friends or family and not have someone come up to me and tell me how much they love me or hate me. I just want to keep to myself. I've got about 15 friends and we exist on about four blocks in Portland, where it still feels like it used to before all these fucking kids with haircuts from magazines came in. The rest of Portland, I like to call it New Hipsteria and stay away.


The Dandy Warhols play with Pentecost Hotel and Blitzen Trapper Wednesday, Dec. 14, at the Crystal Ballroom. 9 pm. $15. All ages.
 
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