And then, the roof fell in. Literally.
Three days after The Dandy Warhols finished recording their ninth album, Distortland, a 14,000 lb gush of water collapsed the roof of the Dandy's studio, filling the place with rainwater and 80 years of roofing materials. Had it happened a few days later, the Dandy's would have been on tour and the two months of humidity which ensued would have wrecked every last piece of gear. Well, as any good comedian knows, timing is everything.
"Our whole thing is a disorganized byproduct of being alive," says Taylor-Taylor. "So our music is organized disorganization." Indeed it is – the Dandy's have always spectacularly blended the pristine with the unusual, the rhythmic with the unpredictable, the grit with the sheen. Since their inception in 1994, they've sailed through and past shifting musical climates by presenting thoughts un-mired by censorship and unfiltering their art. Making music out of Portland, Oregon for over twenty years, The Dandy Warhols - Taylor-Taylor (vocals, guitar), Zia McCabe (keyboards), Peter Holmstrom (guitar), and Brent DeBoer (drums) -- have gone on world tours, had hit singles and even taken the stage during the Greek riots. They've weathered shifts from vinyl and tape to CD and CD to digital, from paper fliers to social media and toiled with major labels, and still remained a pure synergistic unit.
Distortland, in a way, was an act of serendipity before disaster – before the throbbing rain could have ruined all the Dandy's progress – but it's also an album about the lack of serendipity after a much more subtle disaster set in. Living in Portland well before it became the destination-du-jour, they've seen their home change around them: from a community where artists can thrive to one where a bottle of green juice costs more than a concert ticket. Their every day reality began to look a lot different than it did back in the early nineties, overrun by corporate development and gentrification – a distortion of the very environment the band knew and loved. And maybe it was a coincidence that the sonic path of the album began to mirror that scuffed, blurred vision – or maybe not.
"I noticed there is a lot of distortion on the tracks, and in weird places," says Taylor-Taylor. "Distortion on the vocals, drums, keyboards, not just distorted guitars. Even the acoustic I found myself putting distortion on. Meanwhile, we're living in Portland, Oregon, which has gone from .5 million to 2.5 million, and thats the weirdest thing. I just looked out my window and thought 'Distortland'.... yep. The dirty little town that time forgot, one day became the cultural epicenter of earth."