When it comes to the Dandy Warhols, Ottawa is like everyone’s hipster friend: we knew about them before they blew up, but we haven’t really seen them since. The last time the band played the city was in 2000, before “Bohemian Like You” became the hit that it did. At the time the band was deep into touring for their third album, just another Portland band playing Zaphod’s.
Sixteen years later, things are different for the Warhols. They’ve released six albums since Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, and they’re set to release their seventh this Friday the 8th. The very next day, they will be in the Bronson Centre, performing to a very-well-nearly sold out crowd.
Somewhere in between these two meetings was international stardom for the Dandy Warhols as the song “Bohemian Like You” was used in Vodaphone commercials and Buffy. That’s a pretty early 2000s way to get famous, and the instantaneousness of it impacted the band.
“So much of that song being a hit was kind of luck,” said Peter Holmström, guitarist. “It was a giant campaign that took it to being something that people recognise around the world.”
Luck is one way to put it, but there is no denying that “Bohemian Like You” has that certain something that makes for a hit song. It’s incredibly catchy, and it’s pretty great as a showpiece for the band. So by early 2001, the Warhols were working to capitalize on the attention that hit song brought them, touring and recording. For Holmström there was a desire to bring forth another mega hit. Certainly, the band has produced many worthy songs, with similar hittability, that haven’t rose to the same heights, Holmström thinks, because there hasn’t been significant push behind them.
“Maybe someday someone will put the millions of dollars behind them that they need to reach the world,” he said.
For now, the band is excited about the new album, Distortland. They’ve released their video for first single off the record, “You Are Killing Me,” which features a performance by Joe Dallesandro, Andy Warhol collaborator. And from the sound and feel of it, it’s still very much the Dandy Warhols.
And so the Warhols are back, only one day after Distortland comes out. It’s clear that, even after 16 years Ottawa hasn’t forgotten them. They were slated to play a smaller venue before selling that out and getting upgraded to the Bronson Centre. The band seems to have an Ottawa following.
“I guess we should come back more often,” said Holmström.
After Ottawa, it’s on to Montreal and then New York. Then back to the drawing board.
“At some point we’ll have to start thinking about the next record. And then there are some plans to do something for the 25th anniversary.”
25 years as a band. How will they celebrate? The way every 25 year old celebrates anything: with vinyl. They are hoping to re-release every album in an updated vinyl format. Which will be sure to please their brethren back home in Portland, and since Ottawa is a hipster city when it comes to the Warhols, I bet they’ll want some too.
The Dandy Warhols play Bronson Centre on Saturday April 9, 2016 at 7pm. Tickets are $35 and are available online.