By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
One of the most bizarre and far-flung repercussions of Michael Jackson's death has to be the recently issued cover of The Beatles' "Blackbird" as performed by The Dandy Warhols. Actually, it kinda had to happen: On the song "Welcome to The Monkey House" (from the psychedelic rock band's 2003 effort of the same name), Dandy Warhols singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor shouts, "When Michael Jackson dies, we're covering 'Blackbird.'"
"People started emailing and texting me within an hour of the death being announced," says guitarist Peter Holmstrom from his home in Portland. "I was the only person around at the time, so I did all the music, and then everybody came back into town to sing."
Available for stream and purchase on the band's Web site, this new version of "Blackbird" is classic Dandy Warhols: dense, swirling psychedelia, filled with humor and not a little pretense. Holmstrom claims the song's studio creation would be nearly impossible to re-create live, though, so fans shouldn't expect to hear it at the Warhols' upcoming tour stop in Dallas.
"Playing it live would take a lot more effort than we're used to putting in," Holmstrom says with a laugh.
The guitarist's retort is typical of the band's slacker mentality. For more than 15 years, The Dandy Warhols has combined genres and confused critics with a sound the band admits was created simply to have music to drink to. Yet starting with 1995's Dandys Rule, OK?, the band has produced a plethora of hook-laden, college rock that initially caught on in Europe before gaining traction in the States with 2000's Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia.
Not surprisingly, throughout the band's career, many labels have been used to describe The Dandy Warhols' sound. Few stuck, of course, but seeing that The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and The Beach Boys all initially inspired Holmstrom and crew, the only label the band has full-on rejected is "alternative."
"The only reason our music was even labeled alternative is because we became a band during the '80s," Holmstrom says. "Otherwise, I'm happy when we're called psychedelic and/or garage."
Of course, sometimes the band isn't even certain of the realm in which it exists; it's currently on tour in support of The Dandy Warhols Are Sound, a remixed version of the aforementioned Monkey House effort. Co-produced by Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, the original release featured an '80s synth-rock sound that alienated fans. Now, the band has decided to unearth the original mix and even add in a couple of cool bonus tunes as well. Consider it amends for a mistake the band knows it made.
"The original version of Monkey House was not the version I wanted released," Holmstrom admits. "We're on our own label now, so it seemed like a good time to finally get around to issuing the original mix."
Better late than never, but true to form for these slackers.