Dandy Warhols say bye, bye MJ 

Six years ago, on the title track to their (then) new album, Welcome to the Monkey House, The Dandy Warhol's front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor sang, "When Michael Jackson dies, we're covering Blackbird." Ironically, six years later, just when the band was preparing to release a new version of Welcome to the Monkey House entitled The Dandy Warhols are Sound, MJ dies. "The response was immediate and overwhelming," Dandy's guitarist Peter Holmstrom tells me on the phone as the band is preparing to visit the Vogue Tuesday, September 1 as the first stop on their fall tour.

"Within minutes after hearing the news, people started texting and calling, asking when we were going to do it," Holmstrom continues. "I had been playing around with it for a while anyways, so I had the basics worked out before the other guys came back home from their summer activities. We were able to record it and get it out there pretty quickly."

A feedback drenched drone and Taylor-Taylor's high and buried vocals make the Warhols' cover of The White Album classic as far removed as one can get from the original version and retain the original melody and feel of the song. In fulfilling a promise, the band has produced what is at once, the best, most obscure tribute to Michael Jackson, and a dismissive gesture to the King of Pop who brought the rights to Beatles catalog out from under Sir Paul's nose in the '80s.

The new track is included with digital copies of The Dandy Warhols are Sound, which is the director's cut of Welcome to The Monkey House, a re-release that recaptures the original sound of the album, before their label at the time, Capitol, remixed it. Produced by Duran Duran's Nick Rhoads, the album marked a move from the band's earlier guitar-based indie pop and fuzz into a more electronic dancey new-wave direction.

"We were never really happy with the mix," Holmstrom tells me, "so this year, the time seemed to be right for us to release the record as we originally wanted to release it."

The Dandy Warhols are Sound is a revelation. Whereas the corporate mix by Britpop engineer Peter Wheatley is glossy and thin, the original mix by Brooklyn hip-hop guy Russell Elavedo lets the songs open up and breathe. Consequently, overlooked tunes on Monkey House shine brighter this time around. Tracks like "Heavenly" and "The Last High" emerge as tracks that stand shoulder to shoulder with the band's best output.

"We enjoy making sound," Holmstrom explains of the record. "Whatever is in front of us we will use to make different types of songs."

The band's last album, 2008's ... Earth to The Dandy Warhols... found the band making the latest, greatest Love and Rocket's album and featured cameos from Mark Knopfler on dobro and The Heartbreaker's Mike Campbell on banjo. Earlier DW albums found them touching on varied genres, from Velvet Underground-ish indie type stuff to full on shoegaze.

This adds up to what promises to be a face-slapper of a show Tuesday. "We like to get edgier and jam out the songs more onstage," Holmstrom says. "We're at the point now where we have enough songs to play pretty how we feel for as long as we feel it."

The band has come a long way from the days chronicled on the documentary Dig! which saw The Dandy Warhols and their BFFs The Brian Jonestown Massacre as the Dandys began to suckle at the major label teat, and BJM began a downward spiral into addiction and bad business decisions.

"We are great friends", Holmstrom exclaims. "We just had to realize that we can't control who has success."

Incidently, the opening band, Spindrift is mostly comprised of former BJM members. Their brand of lysergic lased spaghetti western music is a hoot. Be sure to get there extra early.

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