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The 11th edition of the annual Desert Stars Festival made its debut at its new location in downtown Joshua Tree over the weekend—and it was a rousing success.

The new location of the festival—which was also moved from fall to spring this year—is near the Joshua Tree Saloon in the arts district of downtown Joshua Tree. The first thing I thought when I walked onto the site was that it has a similar vibe to the back patio of Pappy and Harriet’s, where the festival took place for 10 years.

I was only able to attend on Saturday afternoon, while festival-goers were trickling in.

Local band The Flusters took the main stage at 2:35 p.m. and debuted two new songs which offer a glimpse into the evolved songwriting for the band’s upcoming new album, which guitarist Danny White told me will be out “next year, hopefully.” Given the temperatures and the dust kicking up throughout the day, The Flusters left their suits and ties at home and went for a more dressed-down look.

All of the bands that performed on Saturday afternoon offered a psychedelic rock sound, but none of them sounded the same. I told Flusters frontman Dougie Van Sant: “How can people say that rock ’n’ roll is dead when we’re seeing stuff like this right now?” while we watched a band called The No. 44.

Another of the bands that caught my attention was Los Angeles group Iress. When Iress first started playing, I noticed a similarity to Warpaint—and then the guitars of Michelle Malley and Alex Moreno suddenly turned sludgey and doomy as Malley’s vocals paired with the riffs in a beautiful and haunting way.

I was disappointed that I had to leave due to plans later in the evening: It was obvious that Desert Stars had a lot to celebrate with its successful first run in downtown Joshua Tree.

Scroll down to see some photos from Saturday afternoon at the Desert Stars Festival.

Published in Reviews

For a decade or so, the Desert Stars Music Festival brought beloved bands like Dinosaur Jr., The Raveonettes, The Lemonheads and others to a yearly celebration at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

However, the festival in the fall of 2017 brought the Pappy and Harriet’s chapter to a close. This coming weekend, a new chapter for Desert Stars fest will begin, at a new location—in the east arts district in Joshua Tree, where the lineup over two days will include headliner Luna, as well as Dean Wareham performing Galaxie 500 and Chaos Chaos.

During a recent phone interview, festival founder Tommy Dietrick discussed the festival’s history.

“When you think back to 2006, there weren’t a lot of outlets for indie bands to do a festival scenario,” Dietrick said. “If you wanted to play Coachella, you had to be a lot bigger. You had to have a lot of contacts who were superstar managers, agents and so on. I produce and engineer music for a living and work with a lot of independent artists. I know a lot of different artists in the scene, from the Dandy Warhols to the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and the bands that fall under the psychedelic and indie ethos. I had been coming up to the high desert and Pappy and Harriet’s. Somewhere around 2004 and 2005, some of my friends had been doing these shows on the backlot of Pappy and Harriet’s. Around 2006, we had become friends with Robyn (Celia) and Linda (Krantz) who own it and said, ‘Hey, we want to do this three-day festival with all these indie bands and charge $50 for the entire weekend.’

“The Entrance Band headlined the first year, and everyone showed up and donated their time playing for free. We had a skeleton crew putting the whole thing together, and we had so much fun that we decided we should do it again the following year. It started there, and by the third year, I reached out to some of my friends who were in bigger indie bands—and it was sold out. We still continue to keep it small and did it there from 2007 to 2017. Really, the whole thing was based on the independent spirit.”

Dietrick said the festival’s growth led to its new home—although he emphasized that Desert Stars would remain smaller and independent.

“We talked about how we wanted to have an autonomous venue where we could have our own place and set it up doing our own thing. That’s what happened now,” he said. “We’re on commercial acreage in the downtown arts district of Joshua Tree. We moved it to the spring instead of in the fall, as we did for 10 years, which is awesome, because it has a rebirth feeling.

“We built this new venue site from the ground up: 400 feet of fencing; two new stages; and we have our own bar and food now. It’s really exciting to see the evolution. The new venue is technically about two times the size of our old venue, but we’re keeping it smaller, especially as we test the infrastructure. We’re going to keep the whole event this year at around 400 … just to make sure we’re doing it as correctly as we can. A lot of people in this field of micro-festivals, as they grow, they make the mistake of growing too fast. We have intentionally limited our growth and won’t ever be a big 5,000 to 10,000-plus-people festival. There’s too much headache and stress at that level.”

Still, Dietrick said he’ll miss Pappy and Harriet’s.

“I feel like I grew up on that back lot,” he said. “When we did that first one in 2007, I was 29 years old and didn’t know what I was doing. I have so many memories from there. I did an interview in OC Weekly, and it had 10 moments that defined our event. One of them was playing onstage with Robby Krieger from The Doors. These are ‘pinch yourself’ moments that you can’t believe sometimes. We’ll miss it, but after a decade, it feels really good to be independent.”

Dietrick said he’s quite excited about the new location.

“It has a little of an Austin, Texas, meets Joshua Tree, California, vibe to it, because we have this really amazing steel and wood fencing all around,” he said. “There are these nice entry gates that are made out of wood. As long as people have a wristband, they are allowed to go in and out and wander through the shops and restaurants around us. We’re right in downtown Joshua Tree.

“This location site doesn’t have a fucking Carl’s Jr., Jack in the Box or Dollar General. That’s the best thing to come out of this.”

Desert Stars has always invited local bands to take part in the festival. This year, The Flusters, Gabriella Evaro and Jesika von Rabbit are on the bill.

“Living here full-time now as of three years ago, I’ve known a lot of the local musicians up here,” Dietrick said. “Jesika von Rabbit has been a big supporter, and she’s kind of a legend up here. You get to know everyone quickly living in a small town, and I adore everyone who I come into contact with. There’s a lot of interesting talent that’s out here. I try to do my very best to benefit the community I’m a part of.

The Desert Stars Festival takes place Friday and Saturday, March 29 and 30; park at 6551 Park Blvd., behind Coyote Corner, in Joshua Tree. Weekend passes are $75; one-day passes are $48.50. For tickets or more information, visit www.desertstarsfestival.com.

Published in Previews

Over the past year, the local band Waxy seemingly disappeared.

Recently, Waxy has resurfaced by playing a couple of shows. The band will also be playing at the Desert Stars festival at Pappy and Harriet’s, which takes place Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert, Waxy frontman Robbie Waldman discussed the band’s inactivity.

“You could make the argument that we’re still kind of inactive,” Waldman said. “I’m always writing songs. Waxy has had a lot of people who have been in and out over the years. We started in 2006, and it’s sort of been our Achilles’ heel: We get some momentum; we do some really cool things; and then it comes to a screeching halt. I had a recording studio for 20 years that is now closed. It’s been back to basics.

“Damien (Lautiero) and Jeff (Bowman) have kids and families, which I don’t. I have a girlfriend and regular life duties. So we’ve been hibernating, but we have a new record coming out. Our new record should have been out a while ago. We’re pretty excited about it. I’ve been working on the artwork for it, and I’m working with a talented artist named Rick Rodriguez, who I call ‘The Ricker.’”

Waldman said that although Waxy has released records and has toured around the world, the band still faces challenges.

“We’re fiercely independent and have been since the beginning. We don’t have a record deal, but we’ve come close a few times,” he said. “We’ve been writing songs and working on our live performances, and we always have cool ideas. We have a bunch of things (for live performances) that we haven’t debuted yet, mostly because none of us have a fucking van. We come in three separate cars all the time.”

Waldman talked about closing the recording studio he owned, Unit A Recording and Art.

“That was my second location. It was formerly Monkey Studios,” he said. “They made great records there before my time under that roof. Queens of the Stone Age made their first record there. Fu Manchu made a record there. Brant Bjork made a record there. Ian Astbury of The Cult made a solo record there, and there were very few places like that in the desert. I was in there for a long time, and I did a lot of really fun stuff in there. Solange Knowles came in; Brian Setzer came in; Fatso Jetson came in; Brant Bjork came in a couple of times. The Righteous Brothers came in, and John Garcia as well. I miss having it, but at the same time, I think it was time to try something else.”

One of the last projects Waldman got to work on with Unit A was former Kyuss frontman John Garcia’s acoustic record, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues.

“(John Garcia) is a close personal friend, and he’s such an undeniable talent,” Waldman said. “I only have nice things to say about that man. Waxy has been able to tour with Kyuss Lives! and his solo band. He’s a real brother in arms.”

Waldman said the biggest challenge for him regarding Waxy’s future involves expectations.

“We’re just a bar band now, and we have been for a while,” he said. “We haven’t really been out on the road since 2014. Even that was very short and expensive. I’m just happy playing with my friends. I’m not downplaying anything. I love playing at The Hood Bar and Pizza and other places we get to play, and I’m very honored to be playing Desert Stars. Traveling and tours are expensive, and we’re fiercely independent. I love playing music with Damian and Jeff. We have occasional guests who come through as far as the record is concerned, and a cast of characters who we enjoy the recording process with. In the end, we do it because we love it and have a good time doing it. I still hope for more, and I’m working toward more, but for right now, we’re just enjoying it.”

Waldman talked about the new Waxy material that is on the way.

“It’s been done for a while,” he said. “The songs are mixed, and the 16 songs we recorded are trimmed down to 11. I have a mastering session set up, and I’m working on getting the artwork finished. I wanted it to be done before Desert Stars, but definitely before the end of the year.”

As for Desert Stars, Waldman has one person in particular to thank for Waxy’s inclusion.

“The main reason were playing is thanks to Robyn Celia, who is one of the owners of Pappy and Harriet’s,” he said. “She put a good word into the promoter, and he said, ‘No problem.’ I really owe our participation to her.”

The Desert Stars Festival runs Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $29 to $59 for a one-day pass, or $99 for a weekend pass. For passes or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.desertstarsfestival.com.

Published in Previews

Sloan has been around for 25 years—and chances are, you’ve never heard of the band.

If you lived in Canada, it might—or might not—be a different story: The Toronto outfit has released 11 albums, been nominated for 10 Juno Awards, and won one. The group will be appearing during the Desert Stars Festival at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, Sept. 23.

During a recent interview, Jay Ferguson (guitar) said that while Sloan has a following in Canada, he doesn’t feel they’re hugely successful.

“We’re not huge anywhere,” Ferguson said. “We’ve managed to make a living for 26 years, and we’re not really huge in Canada. There’s this massive misconception in the States (among people who) don’t know our band that well who say, ‘I hear they’re huge in Canada and can’t make inroads in the United States.’ We’re like a cult band. The people who know us anywhere in the world—we’re like they’re little secret. Even in Canada, we don’t play stadiums or anything; we just play clubs and concert halls.”

Sloan has always had a unique songwriting style, with all four members contributing their own material. The band members have been known to switch instruments on records and during live performances. The group’s sound is similar to ’60s garage rock, with a bit of the British Wave sound thrown in.

“I think our sound has changed a lot in the period we’ve been together,” Ferguson said. “… We were drawing more from British noise rock or even Sonic Youth when we were really young. We draw from old recordings generally. We certainly wouldn’t turn to the latest Korn record or whatever is current in pop/rock; that’s not stuff we generally listen to. I’ve determined that if there’s one band that I’ve sort of derived material from, it would be The Pretty Things.”

During the recording of the latest album, Commonwealth, the band decided to do things a little differently: It’s a double album, with each band member getting a solo section.

“We’re a band with four principal songwriters who all write, and we all sing, and I don’t know a lot of bands that do that; we’ve always done it,” he said. “We’ve never been in a position where one member says, ‘I’m going to go make my own solo record.’ Everybody just gets to do whatever the fuck they want to do. We thought, ‘Let’s make a double album where each member gets a side of wax to do whatever they want.’”

Modern technology has made it easier and cheaper for independent artists to record. Ferguson said there’s an upside and a downside to it all.

“I think for us, we’ve been lucky, because we’ve managed to make a lot of records on tape,” he said. “You couldn’t use the Pro Tools kind of perfection machine and had to settle for your takes when you did it on tape, because time is money in the studio, and tape is expensive. But I think if you do your homework and listen to records and pay attention, then either medium can achieve great results. Computers are forgiving to a fault, but it also makes the idea of the recording studio more affordable, and you can do it in your bedroom. I think in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty good.”

Ferguson said he’s always liked the sound of vinyl when it comes to recordings.

“We’ve always pressed vinyl of everything we’ve done,” he said. “It never really went away. … I’ve always preferred vinyl records and have had them around. I have young kids myself now who are into buying records, and I can see them sitting there and listening to the record, holding this big sleeve, looking at the cover art work and reading the linear notes. It’s a tactile experience, and it’s so much nicer than listening to Spotify or Google Play. There’s an actual and physical relationship to the music you listen to when you hear it through vinyl.”

Sloan said he and his band mates have never been able to spend that much time in California while touring, and that he is happy Desert Stars will give them an opportunity to see a different part of California.

“I think it sounds like an interesting, unique and oddball kind of thing,” he said. “When we come through California, we’ve always played San Francisco and Los Angeles, and then figure out how to get home. This time, it seems like we’re doing a bit of an unusual Southern California run, which is kind of a different approach for us. We’re all excited to not just go play in Los Angeles and leave.”

Sloan will perform as part of the Desert Stars Festival, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Weekend passes are $125. For tickets or more information, visit www.desertstarsfestival.com.

Published in Previews

When Dinosaur Jr. reunited in 2005 after an eight-year hiatus, the members intended to play together for a little while and again head their separate ways.

More than a decade later, Dinosaur Jr. remains together. The band will be appearing at the Desert Stars Festival at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24.

Dinosaur Jr. released its first album, Dinosaur, in 1985, and all of the band’s albums since—including Green Mind, Where You Been and Without a Sound, which were recorded with limited or no involvement from Lou Barlow and/or Murph—have received some degree of critical acclaim.

In 1997, frontman J. Mascis decided to retire Dinosaur Jr. However, in 2005, Mascis acquired the rights for the band’s first three releases from SST Records so he could re-release them on Merge Records. That process began a dialogue between the three original members—and sparked the reunion.

Eleven years have passed since that reunion, and to nobody’s surprise, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, released by Dinosaur Jr. on Aug. 5, is receiving praise from critics and fans alike. During a recent phone interview with drummer Murph, he said he remains shocked by the acclaim the band seemingly always receives.

“I’m really surprised,” Murph said. “We just keep refining our sound, and J’s getting better and better at songwriting. Everybody is honing their craft. We’ve gotten better playing together, I’m getting better as a drummer, and I think everything is subtly improving over time.”

Even though the band’s 2005 reunion was welcomed with open arms by critics and fans, it wasn’t easy at first for the three members to play together again.

“The first couple of records we did, it was really stressful,” Murph remembered. “We didn’t really plan on doing this. J was going to re-release three records; we were going to tour for a year and a half behind those records and call it a day. We didn’t really plan on going for this long and doing all of these records.

“When we started recording, there was a lot of pressure to make it good and succeed at it. If our relationships weren’t better today, we wouldn’t be able to do this. There would be no way. If we had the old baggage—the tension that we used to have—it would be unbearable, and we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Murph elaborated on that previous “baggage.”

“It was all personality quirks,” he said. “We’re all really different people, and we’re all strong egos. We have different ways we live, and it was hard when we’d travel. It’s still hard. When you’re getting in each other’s space, it can be really hard—especially when people aren’t willing to compromise, and you want to stay the way you are. When you travel together, you have to be able to compromise on different things. You can’t live like you’re at home all the time.”

The members of Dinosaur Jr. particularly enjoy performing at festivals.

“I think festivals are great, because you get to go to different places, and you have a mass audience,” Murph said. “There are a lot of people there who are there for other bands, so you can walk away with new fans. I think it’s all an upside, and it’s a great thing.”

That’s not to say that Dinosaur Jr. doesn’t ever feel out of place.

“The only time when I feel it’s odd is when we play an extreme emo festival, where it’s all, like, 20-year-olds and emo bands, and we’re obviously like the grandfathers showing up,” Murph said. “That’s awkward, but it’s still fun, and the kids are still psyched to see the show.”

While Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not is receiving positive feedback, Murph said the process of creating the album was a bit unorthodox.

“This album was weird, because we didn’t really have any material,” he said. “I was kind of freaking out, because J was like, ‘I don’t have any songs.’ We actually started reworking a song from J’s other band that he had written. He had half a song, and we started with that, and it got the ball rolling. As soon as the process started, it just started churning out like a factory. Once that happened, J was recording demos in one room, and Lou and I were trying to keep up and learn them in another room. We were tracking in the morning, and it was crazy—but it was great. It opened up the floodgates, and then the record was done.”

Murph explained why every Dinosaur Jr. album ends up being a surprise to him.

“I didn’t hear any lyrics or anything, so I didn’t get a sense of what the songs are going to sound like,” he said of Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not. “It was even more of a surprise when I heard the finished product. Me and Lou aren’t there when J does vocals. We’ve already left at that point, and we’re not there, and he’s recording the vocals by himself. We don’t really know how it’s going to sound until we hear the finished product. He and Lou both are pretty self-conscious and don’t want people around when they’re doing vocals. It’s usually just them and the engineer on the days that they do vocals. It’s always been like that.”

Murph admitted that there is one Dinosaur Jr. album that is a personal favorite.

“I really like Where You Been, even though Lou isn’t on that one,” he said. “That was when things were really tight, and we had this amazing studio called Dreamland in Woodstock, N.Y., which is an old massive church with this wooden room. The drums sounded insane. Production-wise, that record is one of my overall favorites.”

Dinosaur Jr. will perform as part of the Desert Stars Festival, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Weekend passes are $125. For tickets or more information, visit www.desertstarsfestival.com.

Published in Previews

The Eighth Annual Desert Stars Festival brought more than 30 bands to two outdoor stages and one indoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26.

In other words, attendees really had some tough decisions to make regarding which bands to see.

The Desert Stars Festival is a traditional celebration of all things desert. Promoter Tommy Dietrick started the event as the Clean Air Clear Stars Festival in 2007, and changed the name in 2013. Via the festival, Dietrick did a excellent job of promoting the galactic efforts by the Mojave Desert Land Trust. MDLT had a petition table to urge POTUS to create several new land monuments. Dietrick reminded everyone to sign the petition and thanked MDLT for preserving 60,000 acres in the desert.

To my surprise, I ran into some music fans I met at a metal show in Orange County, and a couple I saw at the mega FYF Fest earlier this summer. I also saw a handful of West L.A. faux-hippies who apparently get their fashion cues from H&M, creating a look that would cause Ken Kesey to roll over in his grave.

Thankfully, music took center stage over fashion.

On Friday, Dead Meadow was a highlight. Dead Meadow perfects the new psychedelic genre with an original interpretation of bass, guitar and drums that allows you to just relax and listen as you groove under the Mojave sky.

Spindrift was on early on Friday; the band is always a crowd favorite with spaghetti-Western instrumental surf-rock. New song “Kama Sutra Tiger Attack” would be outstanding in a remake of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Alex Maas of the Black Angels is a regular at this festival—and to Pappy and Harriet’s. Maas had the honors of playing on the handmade Tee Pee stage, constructed by Tommy Dietrick himself. Alex Maas used minimal equipment and kicked ass.

I was relaxing in the billiard room waiting for the Lemonheads when I spied Cain Motter, Venice artist and owner of Domeland, walking outside Pappy’s with a hula hoop. Since flash is always a no-no in music photography, Caine showed off fire-breathing to illuminate himself. Just a normal happening in these parts of the desert.

I was really excited to see the Lemonheads headline. The band kicked things off with “Hospital” and delighted fans through a 12-plus-song set—but there was no cover of “Mrs. Robinson.” Sky Parade with Tommy Dietrick on vocals was great in the indoor stage.

On Saturday, the Cosmonauts spread gloomy acid rock to the main stage—and I loved it. The jam-filled set let one appreciate the difference that psych rock bands bring to this festival.

The Entrance Band is another regular at Pappy and Harriet’s. Guy Blakeslee and Paz Lenchantin form the core of the band, which is well-known in the L.A. music scene. Paz has been the touring bassist for the Pixies for a few years, too. Together, they stood out at Desert Stars, especially with “Back in the City” from the EP Dans La Tempete.

U.K. band Swervedriver headlined the last night of the festival. This group indeed has some dedicated followers; one fan tried to call dibs on the set list while it was being taped to the stage. Swervedriver is touring to promote a new album, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, and the band included “Autodidact,” “Lone Star” and “Setting Sun” from the new release. The new material was well-received by the hardcore fans.

If you want to experience a buffet of psych rock, Desert Stars is the place for you—and the majestic views that only the Mojave Desert can bring are more than a bonus.

Published in Reviews

Lou Barlow is best known as the bassist of Dinosaur Jr.—but his solo work is gaining more attention.

He’ll be playing solo at the Desert Stars Festival at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday, Sept. 25, following up on the Sept. 4 release of his new solo album, Brace the Wave.

“I recorded it in six days,” Barlow said about the new album during a recent telephone interview. “… My life is moving along, and it’s sort of a reflection of what’s going on.”

Barlow was fired from Dinosaur Jr. in the late 1980s, but returned in 2005 when frontman J Mascis reunited the band. During those intervening years, Barlow remained busy with Sebadoh and the Folk Implosion.

Before Dinosaur Jr. formed, both Mascis and Barlow were part of a group called Deep Wound.

“It was a hardcore punk band, and we just naturally got a bit older, and our tastes became a little more sophisticated, so we both evolved to Dinosaur Jr.,” he explained.

While Sebadoh is still active, the Folk Implosion is not. The Folk Implosion is remembered most for its contributions to the Kids soundtrack in 1995, including the song “Natural One,” which reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“The last record I did with Folk Implosion was in 2004, and I don’t imagine I’ll ever do that again,” Barlow said. “… Folk Implosion was gradually becoming a solo project for me.”

I asked him what makes Brace the Wave stand out from his previous solo albums, Emoh (2005) and Goodnight Unknown (2009).

“I think this one is more basic than those records,” he said. “I don’t really have any guest musicians on this record. It’s just me, and it’s a little less polished than the other records, and it’s a little more raw overall.”

Barlow said he’ll stay busy for the rest of the year.

“The next thing I have on the line is Dinosaur Jr. and recording another record with them in the fall. I’m also doing shows with Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr., and my solo stuff,” he explained. “It’s playing a lot of different shows at once. It’s not really difficult for me; it’s more difficult for the people I work with, which can make it difficult for me, too, I guess. It’s almost like every band I have is a side project. It’s hard for me to determine what the main focus is, and it can be frustrating for people who work with me.”

Barlow was touring with Dinosaur Jr. when I spoke to him.

“At the last show I played, two days ago, we had a guest vocalist, John Brannon from Negative Approach,” Barlow said. “He’s really influential, and Negative Approach is one of J Mascis’ favorite bands. He came up and sang a song with us, and it was pretty awesome.”

Barlow said festivals such as Desert Stars fascinate him.

“They’re a real challenge,” he said. “If I play festivals with Sebadoh, it’s difficult, because it’s more of a club-sized band, and to get out there on a bigger-sized stage, it’s hard to pull it off if you’re not gearing your music to a festival vibe. With a band like Dinosaur Jr., it’s a lot easier, because we have big amplifiers, and it’s more of a rock band.

“I haven’t played very many festivals as a solo act, so I can’t really make any generalizations there.”

The Desert Stars Festival starts at 1 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $55 for a one-day pass, or $85 for a weekend pass. For passes or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

At the height of the grunge movement, the Dandy Warhols were bucking the trend and pushing forward with an innovative psychedelic sound that included elements of rock and pop.

Two decades later, the Portland, Ore., band is still on the road, and will play at the Desert Stars Festival on Saturday, Oct. 4, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

The story of the Dandy Warhols starts in 1994. Courtney Taylor-Taylor (vocals, guitar) and Peter Holmström (guitar) were looking to start a band. After Taylor-Taylor’s girlfriend didn’t work out on bass, he replaced her with Zia McCabe.

Their early shows in Portland were provocative and featured nudity—along with music that gained the attention of Tim/Kerr Records, which released the band’s 1995 debut, Dandys Rule OK.

Soon after, the band signed with Capitol Records. A rumor circulated that Capitol spiked the band’s second record because it didn’t have any apparent hits on it. (The band eventually released that album later on, calling it The Black Album.)

During a recent phone interview, Holmström addressed the rumor.

“We actually recorded a record, never finished it and then went on tour,” Holmström said. “We kind of decided that we needed to just restart the whole process. That whole thing about The Black Album being turned down by the label is a myth. They never heard it, so they never had the chance to turn it down. We ran out of time to finish it on that first go.”

The Dandy Warhols’ actual follow-up record, … The Dandy Warhols Come Down, was released by Capitol in 1997. The song “Every Day Should Be a Holiday” was a minor hit and appeared on the There’s Something About Mary soundtrack.

The band released its third album, Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, in 2000. It included one of the band’s biggest hits to date, “Bohemian Like You,” which became popular in part because it was featured in a mobile-phone commercial.

Holmström said he was unsure when asked if Thirteen Tales represents band’s best work.

“It’s the album where what we planned on doing, we actually achieved,” Holmström said. “I don’t know if it’s our best, but maybe the most fully realized, for sure. It was recorded and came out during a time when it was the end of recording records. That’s completely changed the way that we work now, with Pro Tools. You can (now) go into the studio with a really rough idea and just keep working on it until it becomes a song. Back then, we actually had to rehearse the songs before we went into the studio. It seemed like back then, you had to be more of a band, and you actually had to be able to play.”

The band members received the opportunity of a lifetime when they were selected by David Bowie himself to play the Meltdown in 2002, the year he curated the London festival.

“He was apparently a big fan of Thirteen Tales, he came and saw us a number of times, and then asked us to play at this festival he was curating at the time in London. We got up and played 'White Light/White Heat’ with him and his band. It was incredibly nerve-racking, because we had maybe one run-through at sound check and didn’t know it really all that well, but it was a lot of fun. Then he asked us to be on tour with him for two months, which was incredibly awesome, too. He always seems to be aware of what is going on. … He got really big into Arcade Fire after us.”

In 2004, the documentary Dig! was released, showing the early years of both the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols. During the early years of the Dandys, the members befriended the members of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. In fact, the song “Not If You Were The Last Junkie on Earth,” on … The Dandy Warhols Come Down, was dedicated to the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The documentary suggested there was a strained relationship between the bands, and portrayed the Brian Jonestown Massacre in a negative light. Both bands have since expressed disdain for the documentary—although the film did have its benefits.

“I like to believe it’s now helping a little bit,” Holmström said. “At first, it definitely hurt, because it didn’t boost our profile in any way. We had put out 'Bohemian Like You’ … and we were bigger than we ever were, and then that came out, and then there were more reviews which should have been about our record … that were reviews of the movie, essentially. But it definitely helped the Brian Jonestown Massacre. It brought them up to pretty much the same level … without the help of a major label.

“Both bands have been touring this year, and we were chasing them around the UK, playing all the same venues a few days or a week apart.”

Holmström said he’s uncertain whether the Dandy Warhols will record any more albums. The band’s most recent studio album, This Machine, came out in 2012.

“I like to believe it still matters,” Holmström said about recording music. “A lot of times, promoters won’t book you unless you have a new product to promote, which is strange, because it’s not the records that are making money, but the touring that makes money. It’s completely backward from how it used to be.”

The Dandy Warhols will perform on Saturday, Oct. 4, as part of the Desert Stars Festival, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 3 and 4, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. A Saturday pass is $45; a weekend pass is $65. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com or www.desertstarsfestival.com.

Published in Previews