Music Q&A: The Dandy Warhols

A chat with Zia and Peter from the Portland band best-known for their 2000 hit Bohemian Like You. They play the Albert Hall, Manchester on 31 January

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What informs your music and songwriting?
Zia: Experiences, surroundings, observing the odd behaviours of humans and our personal reactions to them. Wanting to say something or address a feeling that gets too complicated/convoluted in conversation.

Peter: Generally it’s a combination of what I’m obsessing on, like a particular sound or style, and what I’m not hearing a lot of.

How have you evolved as artists over the years?
Zia: The hardest part was even admitting I was one. Some days I still struggle with that. Besides the huge leap of joining the Dandys in the first place, I’ve taken baby steps with my evolution. Even if the steps are small and the chances I take timid, I am always moving deeper into my identity as an artist.

Peter: Mainly confidence in my abilities as a musician and songwriter. And knowing that it’s just as important to know when not to play.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Zia: Besides being a better bass player for the Dandys with every album, I’m playing with other gifted musicians who constantly challenge and thrill me. Bass guitar has been such a great addition to my musical identity. Singing too – much more challenging but I do love it.

Peter: I’m working on the follow up to Safer With The Wolves, the second Pete International Airport record. I just did a collaboration t shirt design with Ashes To Ashes, a cool Japanese clothing company. Also the second record from Walls Of Dada, a project that I do with Chris Olley from Six By Seven came out recently.

What’s on your rider?
Zia: Organic meats, cheeses, veggies, dark chocolate, mixed nuts, dried fruits. Hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna, sweet potatoes. Gluten-free stuff. Sparkling water, Kombucha, beer. You know, the good stuff.

Peter: Kombucha, coffee, vegetables, fruit, tofu.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
Zia: I don’t think in terms of “most”. I don’t spend a lot of time feeling embarrassed either. Surreal though – now you’re talking! I love when shit gets surreal. I try to invite surreal moments daily. If they don’t come to me naturally, a couple of bong rips will fix that for me real quick. That blood moon eclipse we just has was pretty surreal.

Peter: I once got stuck in a toilet on a Greek hovercraft ferry. The door handle came off. It was right by the engine, so it was really loud and no one could hear me yelling. It was insanely hot and I thought I was going to pass out. I ended up using the door handle to pry the door open.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Zia: Oh I dunno. Let It Be? Stand By Me? Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay? Footloose? Dancing With Myself? Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys? There are so many!
Peter: Red Eyes And Tears, BRMC. Deep Hit Morning Sun, Primal Scream.

What’s your worst lyric?
Zia: All the ones you’ll never hear. Which is most of them. Lots of lemons…
Peter: You’ll never know. It’s why I don’t write lyrics.

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