Your cousin invites you â€˜round to his place to audition for his band. Done deal, right? Nothing to worry about there. But letâ€™s say your cousin is Courtney Taylor-Taylor and his band is The Dandy Warholsâ€¦
â€œI knew him from the scene, and I'd been in bands that had opened for The Dandy Warhols, which were the biggest gigs I'd ever played,â€ remembers drummer Brent De Boer, who joined the group after the release of 'Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth'.
â€œI'd see Courtney backstage, and he's my cousin so I'd say hi, but I'd only really hang out with him at weddings and funerals. When I first went over for rehearsals, I was very, very nervous. I didn't see it as going to jam with my cousin at all; he was more like a superhero.
â€œI was pretty much the only drummer Courtney could think of who drummed and sang at the same time. The drummer singing the harmonies is a big element in Courtney's songs. When I came over to jam with him the first time, I walked in the door and he just immediately said, 'alright, let's sing'. We jammed through a few songs, and then he stood up and called (guitarist) Peter HolmstrÃ¶m and said, 'it's perfect, we're all set for Europe', which was in like a week. I was thinking, 'Jesus, he hasn't even heard me drum yet!'â€
De Boer joined the group just in time for their greatest commercial triumph, 2000's 'Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia'. Ten years on, he knows exactly who to thank for the success of 'Bohemian Like You', the album's most enduring single.
â€œWhen the Vodafone people called us up and wanted the song for their commercial, we had no idea what that would do for us,â€ he says. â€œThat was a beautiful advertisement. It's a touching bit of film, and it touched a nerve with pop culture. That song had been out for a year. It came and went and was never really played on the radio, because there just weren't any guitars on the radio at the time.
â€œIt was kind of pre-internet as well. The internet was certainly there and I had e-mail, but you know, nobody knew what Google was. People were calling the radio station and saying, 'what is this band, what is this song?' And it was all because of that Vodafone ad.â€
Unlike other bands who grow to resent their greatest hits, The Dandys have always embraced 'Bohemian Like You'. It features on their new Best Of compilation, 'The Capitol Years 1995-2007', and remains a staple of their live sets.
â€œI just went and saw this band, MGMT,â€ De Boer says by way of comparison. â€œThey did their whole set and it was really great, but then they went off for the Elton John-style encore. Everyone's cheering and screaming and waiting for their big hit song; half the people there are basically just there to watch them play that song.
â€œBut it was really strangeâ€¦ they came back for the encore and the sound guy or somebody just pressed play on the CD. They all just danced around without their instruments, clapping along with everyone. It was really bizarre! I felt a little bit ripped off. So we're going to go ahead and learn 'Bohemian Like You' and play it.â€
Since then, the band has continued to win fans with albums like 'Welcome To The Monkey House' and 'The Dandy Warhols Are Sound', though critics have sometimes been left cold.
â€œThe critics can do whatever they want,â€ laughs De Boer, who recently relocated from Portland to Dandenong. â€œWe're not thinking of them when we make an album. A couple of years go by, and everyone changes. You travel the world, touring the last record, and you're exposed to so many international bands and sounds â€¦ you're influenced by things your average critic wouldn't experience sitting in an office listening to bands. It's understood. We have a different, odd life. Two years for us is more like 20 years for most people.
â€œThe critics don't bother me anyway, because when you start a band, when you're first learning guitar, or when you first write a song, you're not thinking about money or fame or chicks or making a video or anything like that. You're mainly thinking of what guys like George Harrison or David Bowie or Bob Dylan would think, you know? What would J. Mascis think of this? You're not thinking of the critics. Whenever I read or hear (negative) criticism, I just think back to David Bowie telling me how much he loves our records and loves our band. I trust his opinion a little bit more.â€
The Dandy Warhols play Parklife at Gold Coast Parklands on September 25. â€˜The Capitol Years 1995-2007â€™ is available now.