A 13-Minute Chat with The Dandy Warhols About the 13th Anniversary of Thirteen Tales


Triskaidekaphobic fans of the Dandy Warhols are probably clawing at themselves in fits of anxiety over the Portland alternative demi-gods’ upcoming tour, but thankfully the rest of us hoping to hear the songs of Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia will have plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks. This was in the works the second the band realized that the thirteenth anniversary of Thirteen Tales was occurring in 2013, and they leapt at the chance to revisit the arguable crown jewel of their discography to date–especially as 13 has proven to be immeasurably lucky for the Dandys.

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On June 11, the Dandy Warhols will be putting out both a 180-gram pressing of the re-mastered Thirteen Tales as well as a deluxe edition bursting with bonus and reworked material to mark the occasion. Before that, they’re taking Thirteen Tales to the stage, performing the album in its entirety on a string of national dates–including Terminal 5 tomorrow night–with expanded arrangements that will reintroduce us to the shiny, revved-up versions of the indie-alt classics they’ve been playing on repeat since 2001.

“The album feels brand new,” says keyboardist Zia McCabe, calling while walking back from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. (The establishment invited the band by and hooked ’em up with with a visit while they were in town, which they enthusiastically enjoyed.) For McCabe, this thirteenth anniversary tour has provided her with an opportunity to fall deeper in love with Thirteen Tales‘ more obscure cuts and the songs she wasn’t the biggest fan of the first time around, like the meditative distortion of “Nietzche.”

“It’s been sort of spectacular for us,” she says. “We just can’t believe how [‘Nietzche’] feels. We haven’t performed that song live, so it’s been a new one to learn. The ones we’ve been playing all these years have been more of a challenge, because we’ve changed arrangements and we thought, you know, we’ve learned that in this live version it’s been very hard for our brains to undo and learn the album version. It’s been neat to approach these songs and wanting to reproduce the recorded versions live. This isn’t anything we’ve ever tried to do or anything we felt like we could before. It’s so exciting to hear these songs come alive, especially songs that we’ve never toured behind.”

McCabe credits the additional performers brought on board for the Thirteen Tales tour as “a great infusion of creativity and energy” for the rock quartet. More guitars, more trumpets, more time spent on songs that have typically steered clear of the set list over the course of the past decade and change: the Dandy Warhols of 2000 may have delivered a flawless, unpredictable version of “Bohemian Like You” back when it was featured in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, but the Dandys of 2013 are eager to reinvent the now-classic single and prove to fans that change can be good when it shakes something you love to the very core.

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“We’ve gotten it in shape and it’s really fun again in this new way, but it was a real challenge,” she says. “That’s what we’ve done in the past–we reinterpreted these songs to make them work live, and now we’re ditching all that and saying, ‘No, you just have to play it like the record whether it works or not.’ We keep playing it ’til it works and this certainly hasn’t been our style in the past, so it’s been a challenge. I think our fans are going to walk away knowing that this was a really unique challenge for us. We’ll see how well we pull it off as one cohesive show, but I think people will appreciate that we even took the thought and to go revisit an album that meant so much to our fans. This is obviously the most popular album that we’ve put out, so to see the entire album live, I think it’s going to be pretty special.”

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