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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 26, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 48
The Dandy Warhols' Mia McCabe cites M.I.A, pulled pork, and ?Gay community as faves
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The Dandy Warhols' Mia McCabe cites M.I.A, pulled pork, and ?Gay community as faves

by Rahul K. Gairola - SGN Contributing Writer

The last time Zia McCabe - founding member and musician of indie rock band The Dandy Warhols - and I chatted was when the band played a free show a little over seven years ago at the infamous Popstarz indie rock club night at The Scala in London. At that time, the band was promoting their acclaimed fourth album Welcome to the Monkeyhouse (2003), and was headlining one of the biggest Queer nights out in all of Europe. But now, many years, albums, and commercial successes later, we were connected through a cellular conversation between Seattle and Atlanta hours before the band was scheduled onstage in support of a greatest hits collection titled The Capitol Years, 1995-2007.

While trying on clothes at a local H&M department store, McCabe asked for my opinion of the 'very cute gray tunic' she planned to buy while offering her perspectives on the band and her home life. The Warhols, she said, were afterwards heading to Dallas and Austin before returning to their native Portland, OR, and then on to Seattle to play at Showbox Market on Friday. Given that she was dress shopping, I asked her for her impressions of being the sole female band member. She explained to me that with lead vocalist Courtney Taylor-Taylor, guitarist Peter Holmstrom, and drummer Brent De Boer being the boys in the band, she occupies an ironic space.

'Sometimes I wonder if I do something different than the guys, I wonder if it's because I'm a girl,' she said. But as the only girl, she added, 'I don't want girl competition anyway - I have always been happier around guys.'

As the interview became a dialogue in which McCabe asked me about my own life, she began to muse on her own family life. Having married Travis Hendricks in 2001, the couple has a baby daughter named Matilda Louise who McCabe describes as 'a total Scorpio like both my parents and many important people in my life.'

'I love motherhood. But this is the first tour that they [Hendricks and Matilda Louise] haven't been with me. We Skype every day, but I missed Halloween and her birthday, so it's kind of hard.' She then mischievously disclosed to me that she was also birthday shopping for Matilda (for toys rather than gray tunics).

The Dandy Warhols, as their name suggests, have always been plugged into lofty pop cultural circuits. Her bandmates have claimed the Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles as musical influences, while the band name invokes Andy Warhol, one of the most influential pop artists of the 20th century. I asked McCabe what current music influences the band. 'That changes a lot,' she said. 'Pete [Holmstrum] has been playing a lot of 1950s rockabilly, and I've been listening to Harry Nielson's 'Jump Into the Fire' a lot. But M.I.A. is probably my fave,' she said. She added that, right now, pulled pork is one of her favorite foods, but also likes sushi. 'I usually go for an avocado roll and miso soup.'

As McCabe continued to stroll through the store describing many of the cute outfits she was thinking of purchasing, she recognized the loyal Gay following the band has had since its formation in Portland in 1993. 'I like the Gay community,' she said. 'I don't want to ruin their form and don't think anyone else should either.' She mused at how many people have surmised that both Taylor-Taylor (who is married) and Holmstrom are Gay and have even shared a romantic past, but that such rumors are not true. Despite this, McCabe was clear that the band's loyal and expanding fan base has had healing effects on the individual members' abilities to create new work and build new relationships. 'With each new record, the set lists get better,' she said. 'Our live sets are always fun - in general, we are doing a great job keeping it fun and getting along.'

McCabe's choice of the word 'fun' is perhaps a modest description of the band's newfound global fame. Though relatively unknown outside of the Pacific Northwest throughout the mid 1990s, the band made an indelible mark on the indie rock scene with the release of Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia (2000) and its reigning single 'Bohemian Like You.' According to McCabe, herself a Washington state native, the timing was just right. 'We were always ready for a post-grunge music movement, and that's why Seattle has always been hit or miss for us. But we did great in D.C. - the 9:30 Club was totally booked,' she said.

All this success follows the band's departure from Capitol Records and creation of its own independent label. When I asked McCabe why the band left Capitol, she said quite simply, 'It is better to put out your own record, especially considering company demands on artists.'

Despite the end of the band's honeymoon with Capitol Records, the band continues to appear on the record charts of a number of countries including Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the U.K. When I wondered aloud what touring outside the U.S. must feel like, McCabe offered, 'We love being in Australia, France, and Greece. Mexico seemed otherworldly, and Chile and Argentina were just far out! We have never toured in Asia, not even Japan, but I would love to tour in India. We keep almost playing Istanbul [in Turkey], but we haven't yet.' She emphasized that despite the band's success, she and the boys feel humbled and look forward to new musical ventures.

As she waited in line at H&M to pay for her selections, McCabe said there has been 'a lot of conversation and banter' about the show in Seattle. She concluded that while expectations are up for the show, 'not having expectations onstage - especially good ones - is just a bad attitude.'

The Dandy Warhols play at Showbox Market on Friday, December 3, 2010.

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