Ten Bands Who Inspired The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols
Courtney Taylor-Taylor (Image credit: Rick Kern \/ WireImage)

“Most freaks and deviants really dig our band,” says Courtney Taylor-Taylor, songwriter and singer-guitarist with Portland alt.rockers The Dandy Warhols. “I always wanted to put a band together so that we could attract the freaks and intellectuals and social rejects, who didn’t fit in and didn’t want to.”

Founded in 1994, Taylor-Taylor’s group of merry misfits have shifted millions of records and scored major hits with the likes of We Used To Be Friends and Bohemian Like You. On the heels of Distortland, their tenth album, and ahead of their upcoming UK tour, Taylor-Taylor discusses the bands who made The Dandy Warhols what they are today. It’s an eclectic bunch, though he insists there’s a common thread: “To me, they all came from some magical, gorgeous place where everyone was smart, witty, cool, sexy and incredibly well-informed on a cultural level. They were so brilliant that they could break any rule they wanted.”

Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978) / Freedom Of Choice (1980)

“When I was 13 or 14 years old I found these records and that was it: it was me against ‘them’ for the rest of my life. I’d seen the video for Whip It and it had completely nailed me. Everything about Devo fucked me up – the oddball intellect, the dork sexuality, the pop art. I don’t think there was much of a precedent for Devo anywhere. They had nothing to do with Kraftwerk or Hawkwind or The Stooges or anyone else. They were just fucking original. Devo is THE band of my life, they’re the most influential.”

Circle Jerks - Group Sex (1980)

“I discovered Circle Jerks right after Devo. That music was just completely fucked up, they were smart alecs. Even to this day Group Sex sounds incredible. It’s 15 songs in 14 minutes and every one of them shows masterful musicianship and an utter disregard for anything traditional or corporate. Around that time I decided to cut my hair off. I knew how to sew, so I could take my jeans and get my mom’s blouses out of her closet and my dad’s army boots, go downtown and spend 14 bucks on a big punk rock belt. And wear make-up.”

Love And Rockets – Express (1986)

“I think the first thing I heard from Love And Rockets was the 12-inch b-side to Ball Of Confusion, which was Inside The Outside [1985]. But what really got me about Express was that it reminded me of why I loved Freedom Of Choice and Are We Not Men… so much. It was as hard as you could rock and yet with this sort of grace and sexual elegance about it. It was just untouchably cool. There was nothing bonehead about it, except that it was fucking distorted and it rocked.”

Bauhaus – Shadow Of Light (video album, 1984)

“I worked backwards from Love And Rockets to Bauhaus. But once I’d landed on them I realised they were far more experimental and original. They were another Devo for me. Bauhaus and Devo are the two most unique bands that I think have ever existed. There was nothing like them, they utterly reconstructed what rock could possibly mean. And they really fulfilled the promise of their names. Did I borrow much from Pete Murphy? Absolutely. I can move like him, I can sing every song like him. But I’d never really engaged that part of my voice until Rest Your Head, off The Dandy Warhols’ This Machine [2012], which is my homage to Pete.”

Jane’s Addiction - Nothing’s Shocking (1988)

“This was another example of the weirdo intellectual thing, with strange grace and elegance, but they were doing LA metal and funk-rock. Until Jane’s Addiction came along, it was absolutely beneath the dignity of me or any of my friends to even acknowledge funk or rap-rock. It was just trash. But Jane’s Addiction nailed it. Perry Farrell was an absolute visionary and he forged those guys into a very original and cool thing. This album was another mind-opening moment.”

The Clash – The Clash (1977) / Duran Duran – Duran Duran (1981)

“I bought these two records around the same time, when I was about 16. What I got out of that was the two sides of the style I liked. Both were very style-oriented bands, very tricked out in the details. I mean, do you think Joe Strummer didn’t really care how his Levis fit on his engineer boots or how tight his leather jacket was? They were just as concerned with style as Duran Duran were. I loved both records and wore them out to death in the same year at high school or college in Portland.”

The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette (1979)

“I loved Phantasmagoria [1985] too, but Machine Gun Etiquette taught me that you can put the most powerful melodies and beautifully poignant, lyrical content over thrashy recordings. As a musician it made me realise that, if you get them right, it can be as moving as something from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Melody Lee is such a fucked up and beautiful song. I mean, I just want to slit my wrists where I hear that, it’s beautiful beyond belief.”

Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies (1992) / Stereolab – everything!

“Before I started up The Dandy Warhols, my life was changed dramatically by Lazer Guided Melodies. And what also came along with that was the entire catalogue of Stereolab. There was lots of drone with Spiritualized, it was goo. And there was the absolutely devastating heavy metal power of being that beautiful and intense, but still sounding dreamy. The entirety of Lazer Guided Melodies was that for me. And then with a lot of Stereolab’s select tracks, they had the drone with the harmonies moving around and that krautrock beat. The impact of that was like going back to being a ten-year-old and hearing the hardest rock in the world. It had happened to me again. Then I knew what the Dandy Warhols were supposed to be. Stereolab and Spiritualized both shaped the band. As did A Storm In Heaven [The Verve, 1993] and So Tonight That I Might See [1993], by Mazzy Star. Also The Velvet Underground & Nico [1967] and Electric Warrior [T.Rex, 1971]. They were the five or six records that we woke up to, went to bed to, dropped acid to, took Ecstasy to and candy-flipped to. We listened to them before shows and again after we got off stage. Those records were the whole world to us.”

The Dandy Warhols’s new album Distortland is out now. The band undertake a European tour this month.

The Dandy Warhols detail Distortland

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.