Books

Dealing with Narcissists….

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorders have an inflated sense of their own importance, a strong sense of entitlement, a deep need for admiration, yet a lack of empathy for others.

They use verbal abuse for power and control. Verbal Abuse is often dismissed as insignificant when compared to physical abuse. BUT, the long-term effect of verbal abuse is that you can lose your sense of ‘self’. You no longer know who you are. It feels like you’ve lost your soul.

A few years ago my sister phoned me up and told me some things that no one should hear. I can’t begin to tell you the world of good she did me though and it’s great to have her back in my life. During the conversation she asked me to go and get some Therapy. I said I didn’t think I needed it, and bless her, she agreed but asked me to do it anyway, to do it for her, so I did.

I spent 6 months talking to a stranger about my life, dutifully answering questions as best I could. I didn’t think much of it at the time to be honest, it made me think, but I wasn’t learning anything new. There was a beginning and an end. At the beginning she said: “I’m not here to fix you, if anything we talk about does resonate, you will feel a lot worse before you feel better.” Bring it on, I thought, I like a challenge, I used to be in a rock n roll band, what could possibly go wrong?

At one point, it was strange to see the therapist grabbing for the tissues on the table to wipe her eyes as I talked about my life. I didn’t think anything much about my life,  there was nothing unusual in it. “Why are you crying, I thought it was like that for everyone?” Turns out it wasn’t. The end of the therapy didn’t bring about any real answers or conclusion, just a few words to take away and ponder over. What she told me was that at the age of ten I looked at my Father and said to myself: “I will never be like him.” That kind of took me aback but oddly enough it never shocked me. So apparently from the age of ten all I had really wanted to do was get away from my Dad and my life ever since had been a struggle to do that. Your Father is supposed to be your role model and to a certain extent he was, he had become a blueprint, for me, of how not to be.

The other thing she kept saying was: ‘you don’t know what you don’t have’. If your parents don’t give you real love, you will never know that you never had it and you will learn to adapt and cope but you will never know it wasn’t there.

You see my Father is a narcissist. He won’t agree with that because that is what narcissists do. What was strange was that I had already been looking into this thing called narcissistic personality disorder before I had the therapy and what I found out was quite amazing. These people are everywhere. They are charming and they are clever and they are only in it for themselves but above all, they cannot live without what is called the codependent. The codependent is the arsehole who puts up with them. I’m a codependent who, in the past, through observing my parent’s behaviour, have adopted the traits of narcissistic behaviour, when needed, to get what I want. It’s probably one of the main reasons why six by seven worked. That’s another story. The main story here is that going through life as a codependent means that narcissists and people with narcissistic behavioural tendencies are drawn to you like a fly is drawn to shit. I spent my adult life attracting these rats and being fucked by them, without even knowing it.

The therapy only unlocks thoughts but change is something you have to instigate yourself and it doesn’t happen overnight. If things are gonna change, they have to change from within and you have to start to learn to try and understand the things you are talking about and the meaning they have and then affect that change yourself. It’s almost like you have to look at your life from an outsider’s point of view and it’s really fucking difficult. If you do this then things really do start to change but not as you thought they might. What is likely to happen is that everything you once had and believed in is likely to start falling through your fingers like water.

The key word is change. It’s something a lot of us human beings are afraid of, but I guess for me and my rootless upbringing it’s a perfectly normal thing to adapt to. So what do you do when you realise that you are a codependent and have surrounded yourself with narcissists? Well at first you go – shit! Then you go – you fucking idiot! Then you go – I fucking knew it! Then you go – what am I gonna do?!

You can only do one thing; get rid of them. There is no other way. Zero contact is the minimum requirement otherwise you will be fucked.

It’s hard at first and the ones you least suspect are usually the most terrifying of all. You see, the narcissist is like the mafia, they kill you with a smile, half of the time you don’t know it’s happening and these fuckers are everywhere. A helpful way to spot them is to look out for the one who calls you brother and often talks a lot about friendship and how busy they are and how many friends they have and family members that go on about ‘blood being thicker than water’ and ‘family values’ or ‘sticking together’ and things like that. It’s all a ploy to trick you so they can get what they want. I used to do it myself in order to get what I wanted: “We are a band boys, we are in this together.” If I was saying that it was likely that I was looking for recognition or demanding that something go my way for the ‘good of the band.’ For the good of me more like!

Now I see it more and more but the trouble is that I had such a thorough job done on me as a kid by my narcissistic parenting that I ended up completely surrounded by these arseholes. Imagine it like a cowboy breaking in a horse. Soon enough you are broken in as the narcissist rides on your back showing you how it’s going to be. Now you are in a corral surrounded by other broken horses and dominating masters. The only thing you can do is jump the fence and run as fast as you can towards the natural life you should be living. Ironically, that is just what I did as a teenager, I ran away from home and never went back. But there is getting away and there is truly getting away. From now on I intend to truly get away.

Now, one by one I’ve been chopping down my Christmas card list to the point of decimation and let me tell you, it feels good.

Once you begin to see the narcissists and the people with those tendencies you begin to be able to deal with them but then you have to keep reminding yourself that the only way to deal with them is to get rid of them completely (or if you can’t do that because of professional reasons, like you have one in your fucking band, then avoid as much contact as possible). This takes a while to sink in. It’s hard. You are in effect seeing what has always been there, deplorable behaviour, a one-sided relationship littered with empty words and hollow meaning. I used to find myself being driven mad and hitting the off licence every night and I never knew why. The behaviour of these people is incredible and you accept it and because they are constantly talking about how many friends they have and how much of a brother you are to them etc. you begin to feel isolated and without realising it, you turn your rage inward and you start to damage yourself.

When you pull away from them and ultimately cut them off and dump them you quickly realise that now, with the ability to look from the outside in, their incredible one sided behaviour, well, it’s as plain to see as the day is long, and you become aware that in reality they have no real friends and the people they hang around with are usually fucked up and drunk and unhappy themselves. Either that or people around them are using the narcissist quite casually by paying them money for a service that they provide. The narcissist calls these people ‘friends’.

The trouble is, you can’t see any of this until you break away. You have to break away, and once you do, it feels like a million pennies dropping and a thousand weights lifting and this change brings about the real change in your own life. I know that for many of you reading this you will be thinking that this is obvious. It is.

What is scary for most people is that they don’t want to lose these ‘friends’ for fear of backstabbing and reprisals. In my experience there is nothing to fear because this will already be going on anyway.

What is scary is that even though I’m aware of all this, I’m still in the early stages of recovery and pulling away and when it happens, I’m still turning my anger inwards. However, what I am realising is that with each one that I cut off it gets easier and the anger now lasts for only a day or even just a few hours. Initially the anger is always directed at the narcissist because they trigger something in you that makes you mad, but you soon begin to realise that your anger is actually directed at yourself. It’s because you are coming to terms with your own lunacy at accepting the madness of these people. What is mad is how many of them there are and how clandestine they are and how deceptive this character trait actually is.

I let another one go the other day. I’ve known him for years and I let this person mistreat me and have a pop and dig at me whenever he could. I never questioned it, I almost believed him and I let him do it again and again until the other day.

It culminated in him having to come round to my house to pick something up yet again which he hadn’t been able to properly fix (he’s an amateur sort of electro handyman that fixes pedals and amps) and as he took it away he actually said this to me:

“No doubt I will get this back to my workshop and find there is nothing wrong with it as usual.”

Now you have to think about that for a moment, and for the first time I actually did. For years I knew this person was like this but now for the first time, instead of being in his house, at his corral, on his terms, the changing person in me questioned what he had just said. I closed the door on him and two things went through my mind. One, could I be a fool for once again giving him something back that really didn’t need fixing? Two, what the fuck did he just say?!!! I stopped myself and looked at the evidence. Nothing I had ever given him back had ever not needed fixing again? However, it didn’t seem like that because when this did happen, after he fixed it, or corrected his mistake, he always pointed out quite categorically that it was either me or the thing itself that was the fault, never him. When someone does this, repeatedly, it’s easy to start to believe them. He probably even believes it himself. It’s narcissism at work again, in it’s most clandestine form.

The enormity of the patronising arrogance of what he had said, the sheer unfriendliness of it and the unwillingness to accept responsibility and even admit to one’s own mistakes to the point of actually believing your own bullshit is pure narcissism at it’s worst, it was all in there in this one comment. He was coming to collect something that had been serviced and repaired by him (badly) and I had complained about it not working correctly and yet before assessing it or even looking at it, he was already implying that there would probably be nothing wrong with it and that I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s insane when you stop and think about that but it was only covering some of the traits of the narcissist: Self importance, lack of understanding or empathy for others, feeling you are always right, having a hard time admitting you are wrong etc.

For me, for years, it had been normal to accept this kind of behaviour from him, it was normal. So for years I would bang my head against the wall and drink and curse the human race and write another song about wanting to live on a different planet. But you know what, this was the planet I had created for myself by allowing people who can be like this into my life. It wasn’t just him, there were so many that I had to question my own sanity. I gravitated towards them and vice versa. I understand that now.

This awareness phase is cruel because you have to come to terms with the fact that you’ve been a complete fucking idiot. You start by being angry at the person who is being narcissistic then you begin to chastise yourself as you realise you put up with something there was no need to put up with. But after the anger and self incrimination you get the solace and the sheer exuberance of knowing that you are moving on and it’s incredible how within a few short hours you begin to feel life change and get better. These people, the one thing they all do is try and make you feel that you can’t do without them. They are clever at this and for a while you actually believe it, but then, when you do make the move, you realise how many others are out there who are kind and generous and helpful and not like that and you start to find them and gravitate towards them and they gravitate towards you and usually bring a healthy slice of misanthropy with them. And so, quite naturally it is you that is changing, not them. As in this case, the narcissist will always be the one to ‘break off the relationship’, because they know you are about to cut them off, they can sense it, they see it coming, they have to make themselves feel better by doing this, after all, it’s all they are left with.

This is happening more and more in my life now and as you can imagine, my life is changing. One by one the narcissists are gone. I haven’t had any contact with my Dad for at least a healthy 4-5 years now. In the past even a phone call (they used to come in weekly or fortnightly to keep me in my place) used to leave me fucked. I didn’t know it at the time. I was persistently abused and name called and put down, I was told I was a loser, I was lazy, that I always ran away from my problems, that I would amount to nothing, that the degree in Photography that I got myself was worthless and was just something I did to repair a damaged ego because I had failed my A Levels (which incidentally he had chosen for me). I was told that people no longer cared for me or for what I did and that ‘gyrating around the stage’ was just a pathetic attempt at getting some attention, that my wife was only with me because she felt sorry for me and my children should be felt sorry for for having me as a Father and that I was living in the wrong place and I should be doing this and not that and blah blah blah. Conversations were quickly steered towards football and politics and I was constantly told my views and opinions were wrong if they in any way went against his views. It went on and on and I used to take it and not question what he was saying because I knew that if I did, the phone would be slammed down and I would lose my Father. Lose what exactly?

I used to drink at least two bottles of wine a night and now I don’t drink at all and what is mad is that I haven’t even tried to stop. I’ve changed my life and got rid of the shit and the drinking has stopped. I never fucking needed it anyway, who does?

For years I used to tell myself that I needed to stop drinking. I knew I was damaging myself but I didn’t give a fuck, I was unhappy but I told myself I wasn’t. When I walked to the off licence it wasn’t because of my Dad or because so and so had made a nasty comment to me, it was because of something else; I told myself ‘life was shit’ or ‘I needed something to take the edge off’. When I look back now at the situations I was in and the ones in which I drank most heavily, it was because I was in direct contact with a narcissist or someone using narcissistic tactics to get their own way or get away with their outrageous behaviour.

 

When I was with Julian Cope I drank like an absolute sod. When I drove down to his house in the night (at his behest) I would drink three bottles of white wine the evening before we were going to spend three days together recording. I told myself that it was because of the long journey or I needed it to help me sleep but in reality I was in the midst of an extreme narcissistic personality disorder. Everything I did was controlled by him, even down to the clothes I was wearing and the music I was making. He even tried to get me to wear a swastika, I drew the line there. That was the beginning of the end actually as I then really started to question his ethics.

He wanted us to go to Cornwall to disrupt a Pagan Festival down there and I said no. It took me about an hour to summon the courage up to call him and tell him I thought it was a bad idea and I wouldn’t be going. The outcome was predictable, it was weird as I literally heard him turn into my Father and accuse me of amounting to nothing, having potential but being lazy, having an ego problem, being a general failure etc etc. This is what happens when you challenge the narcissist. The result was the phone being slammed down and it took him 3 years before he could talk to me again. This was because I voiced an opinion that I thought it was a bad idea to go to this festival and disrupt it. It turned out that I was right and they all nearly got their heads kicked in and the police arrested them all and drove them to the outskirts of Padstow and told them to fuck off.

In the interim years, every single one of those people involved with him had walked away and none of them has a good word to say about him or will indeed ever be involved with him again. I went back to him because he was charming and clever and he soon coerced me into doing exactly what he wanted again. I was useful to him. It couldn’t last though because I started to question him and his radical ideas. He didn’t like it and cut me off. It had to be him that cut me off, he obviously was sensing that I was on my way out, eventually he did it with everyone.

Now that I understand the narcissist and have an understanding of what being the codependent is, I am slowly but surely dealing with it. It’s hard, you would think it would be easy but it’s not. They employ all sorts of different tactics and some are worse than others but they are also charming and clever and sometimes the one you least expect is the worst one of all and you really don’t want to believe it. Don’t forget, they’ve been doing a job on you and probably a pretty thorough one and you probably let them get away with it for years.

Now, to a certain extent I’m literally rebuilding my life and the evidence is that it’s working. I’m not blaming the narcissist, I’m gaining an understanding and I’m understanding that blaming myself is not going to work either. I’m trying.

There are definite patterns, I see them. Sometimes it feels like being a teenager and having been with a girlfriend who was cheating on you and when you finished with her your mates finally tell you what she was up to. You feel anger, then you feel stupid. What you gonna do?  You have to realise that you are not stupid, you’ve moved on. The stage of me being angry is diminishing more and more. It’s still there, it has to be while I get rid of the last vestiges of my previous life.

I can’t wait until I get to the point where I see the narcissist straight away and just turn away with a happy smile, I think it’s already happening, I suspect it will be a natural progression, they will no longer gravitate to me nor me to them.

I guess that is just what most sane people do? The narcissist is in fact very lonely. As he tells you of all his friends and how busy he is you have to remind yourself that his put downs and caustic comments are just a way to prop up his own fragile ego. They will never change but I can.

 

All I Have To Give

me with book!

I’m so proud of my Aunty Mary who sent me her latest novel today. She has written all her life and after the advent of the internet and being able to self-publish and sell her own work independently she was picked up by publishers Pan MacMillan who now release her books and distribute them commercially.

And what’s made my day is that I have a name check in this one because I helped her with some research. How cool is that!

me with book 2

Aunty Mary you are a shining light to us all of how an artist should never give up. Love you lots.XXX

 

Phil Nicholls – Photographer

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A long time ago we were at Bath Moles recording our first album and press representative Chris Sharpe from Beggars Banquet came up to the studio with about 7 photographers zipped up portfolios and placed them all on the table for us to peruse and pick a photographer to do our album and press shots. I didn’t even have to open any of them when I saw Phil Nicholls name on the front of one of the folders. I put my hand on the portfolio and said to Chris: “He’s doing it, Phil Nicholls!”

“You haven’t even looked at it?” he said.

I didn’t need to. While I was at college doing my photography degree I had been keeping a scrapbook and collecting and cutting out pictures from the music papers, especially Phils from the Melody Maker. His photographs were different to everyone else’s. They had a unique sense of stillness and pathos and a calm empathy with the subject matter. They were always immaculately printed too, almost bathed in light.

I’m proud to have Phil as a mate since that first time he came up and I’ve lost count how many times he has travelled with us, been at studios and gigs snapping his brilliant pictures. When you meet him, you understand why his pictures have such a quality about them.

Check out his website, it’s more than just music photography.

The Dandy Warhols Book Proposal

the-dandy-warhols-come-down-509707e4f0777Last year I wrote a proposal to write a book on The Dandy Warhols album Come Down for the 33 1/1 book series. I failed to get the comission because they felt that last year they would take more proper academic writers rather than ‘fans’. After failing in my attempt I was advised to put my proposal on their Blog but I’ve waited a year to put it on mine. I had to write a load more about how I would market the book for them etc and which Titles I had read in their series which I liked. I’ve left that out as it is too boring to put up here.

The Dandy Warhols – Come Down
A draft introduction/opening chapter for the book, of around 2,000 words
The Dandy Warhols are much more than a band. Like the Velvet Underground before
them they are as much art project as a full on rock band, and of that there is no question.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen The Dandy Warhols live but they never fail
to impress me. You see, we can take them as artists and we can take them as a pop band,
or a loud as hell shoegaze band, or a 60’s garage, 80’s electronic or 90’s post rock band,
musically that is. Above all, The Dandy Warhols have made themselves into a confined
global institution, mainly through their own persistence, hard work, foresight, and maybe
even an old fashioned bit of good luck.
But then, there are the songs, and almost every one of their 9 studio albums has a gem on
it. ‘Bohemian Like You’ was obviously a song that propelled them forward perhaps like
no other when it was used on the popular Vodaphone advert in 2000, it’s Stonesy riff and
insanely catchy “wuh-ho-woo!!” made it an instant success. Well nearly. Initially, the
single was released and failed to hit the top 40 in August 2000 but then went to number 5
a year later in October 2001 after its use in the advert and has subsequently become a
favourite at live shows and has been used in countless films and TV shows ever since.
English lower league football team Burton Albion even use it as they are running onto the
pitch.
After the success of Bohemian Like You, Courtney Taylor Taylor (so cool they named
him twice) described the song as ‘saving their asses’ in an interview with the NME. It’s a
fine line between success and failure, recognition and obscurity and the Dandy Warhols
will have read their Velvet Underground Biographies and be the first to know that.
It doesn’t half help an art rocker with principles to be able to ‘sneeze’ the odd hit out,
perhaps an average of 2-3 per album gives you a pretty good chance of survival, like it or
not.
I first came across the Dandy Warhols when I was performing with my own band, six.by
seven, at the London Calling Festival in Amsterdam at the Paradiso. The Paradiso is a
strange old building with torture chambers and cells in the basement that make do as
dressing rooms for performing bands. It was used as a Gestapo Headquarters during the
Nazi occupation of The Netherlands in the second world war and apparently there is a
ghost that stalks the place too although I’ve never seen him.
During the London Calling Festival the venue is split into two and bands play the large
room downstairs and a smaller room upstairs. If you are playing there, you get a pass, and
you spend most of your time going up and down the back stairs used by performers, crew
and venue staff, as you check out bands and make frequent trips to the dressing room to
grab beer from the fridge. I was doing just that when I came across 3 guys and a girl
standing in single file in front of me trying to get past the security guard. I waited
patiently behind them as I pulled my pass out to show to the man on the door and looked
at these dudes standing there dressed in golfing shoes, leather, fur and wearing peculiar
hats. They looked cool and weird, they sure looked like a band but I didn’t recognize
them, and neither did the security guard as he kept on asking them for a pass they weren’t
apparently willing to show. Every time he asked them for the pass, the tall man at the
front dressed in waistcoat and flower power shirt and beatnik hat just said, “We’re The
Dandy Warhols from Portland, Oregan.” What followed was a Spinal Tap moment.
Every time the security guy asked for the pass the band just replied “We’re The Dandy
Warhols from Portland, Oregan.” And so it went round and round. I couldn’t help but
think it would have been quicker by now to just have shown the guy the pass and move
past, but the dialogue between the security dude and the three Yank dudes and the sexy
dudette just kept on going like a hilarious scripted Tap Nigel Tufnell merry go round.
By this time I was shaking my head and laughing to myself and rather enjoying the
spectacle, waiting to see which party would be the first to give in. There could only be
one winner, I felt like shouting out myself. “They’re The Dandy Warhols from Portland,
Oregan, can’t you see that? No one else would walk around looking like that unless they
were in a cool as fuck rock band, let them through!” Needless to say, the security guard
gave up, shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something probably not too pleasant in
Dutch as they strolled past him. I followed up behind them, I had to show my pass, I
obviously had the wrong shoes and the wrong attitude entirely I guess.
The first time I met The Dandy Warhols was in Glasgow at The Garage in 1998. We
were on tour opening for them while they were in the UK promoting their second album
‘Come Down.’ Unbeknownst to me they had watched us in Amsterdam and liked the
band to ask us to go on tour with them. I hadn’t really heard their music then and most of
their early success had been local or confined to the shores of America. They had a single
out at the time called ‘Every Day Should Be A Holiday’ which was getting quite a lot of
airplay and I loved it. It had a whispery understated vocal cutting through a wall of
guitars with an incredibly poppy bouncy beat and bass line. It sounded like the
psychedelic bastard offspring of Duran Duran to me, with guitars.
August 1998. I had been cleaning out my cellar and painting it with a friend, installing an
8 track reel to reel and little mixing console in it for demoing when I first fell in love with
Come Down. I bought the album purely because I was about to go on tour with them and
I wanted to get a handle on what they sounded like. I listened to it once while painting the
walls, another time while still painting the walls, a third time while doing the ceiling, in a
row it has to be said. I think I listened to it for a few more times after that, and I never
stopped. I’ve always been quite obsessive about music and I tend to get into one album
and listen to nothing else until, roughly a year later, something snaps and I have to move
on and find the next one. Come Down had that effect on me. It’s a brilliant record.
Quite often, in fact more often than not, a bands second album is usually their best in
terms of capturing their sound. In the industry it is often known as ‘That difficult second
album.” This is because a band gets a long time to work on their first album in terms of
preparation. Songs are written and replaced over months and years by better tunes until
the band eventually gets a break and a deal. The trouble with the first album is, the band
struggle to capture a carefully honed live sound in the studio. Nine times out of ten the
debut album captures a rough diamond that the band are never entirely happy with mainly
due to their constant live focus and their inexperience in the studio. These faults are
remedied on the second album, but all that time the band had to write their first album is
significantly cut because they have done nothing but tour to promote the first album over
the last year or so. The label wants to act quickly to finish the second album and release it
before the scene changes or the ‘next big thing’ appears and changes what people think
they want to hear and what radio stations want to play.
I’m writing this book as a musician and a fan. For me this is an exploration of how a band
is formed and what motivates it. It is also a look at the individuals within that band and
how they interact to create something unique that we as a listener want to hear, see and
go back to time and time again. Music is time, time in a capsule, captured and nurtured
and dreamed up. Pumped onto tape (or hard drives, or whatever) through amps and by the
means of guitars and synths and hitting things called drums to make loud noises. It is the
sum of its parts. The parts are played by key individuals, often young men fuelled by
blind ambition, desire for success and a passion for creating music and often an empty
feeling about the world around them, which as young people always do, they think they
can change. So much in music is often created by accident and choice. Happy or not so
happy accidents that create pragmatic solutions to problems and choices of words,
chords, beats, amps, guitars and of course shoes and hats.
Come Down is a special record because it flows, it rocks, it charms, it has humour, it has
aggression, tenderness and it speaks volumes about its creator’s energy and passion for
music. Above all it has songs. It doesn’t matter if they are radio friendly ‘hits’ or slow
burners. I saw The Dandy’s live again last Friday (20th April, 2012) at the Manchester
Academy. I walked into the sound check and listened to their music slouching out of the
PA in a monolithic slab of guitar and electronic bass underpinned by a Neil Young
Harvest understated drum beat and peppered with melodic vocal hooks and harmonies. I
couldn’t wait for the gig because I knew it would be even better, and it was.
I want to explore Come Down and find out what made this album what it is. It sounds to
me like a band at a creative peak (in terms of creating a definitive album sound from start
to finish). It sounds to me like 3 guys and a girl who knew exactly what they wanted and
what they were doing. However, things are rarely like that, especially in music, there is
no formula and if you find one, you can become boring. There is much more to The
Dandy Warhols than Bohemian Like You. Sure, it’s a great song, genius in fact, but this
series is called 33 1/3 for a reason, not 45RPM.
When the aliens come down and pick up the pieces of our lost civilisation and sift
through the trash and come across a copy of Come Down and play it, they will realize
that they are listening to a definitive masterpiece of alternative, a complete work rarely
achieved by many bands. This book is an exploration of the history of the band up until
the point of making the record and the ways and means of making it. That’s the plan, but then the first thing that
happens when you make a plan, is that you have to make another one.

Analysis of the most relevant competing books already published about the artist in
question or the scene surrounding that artist – and how your book will differ.
Surprisingly there are no books about the Dandy Warhols yet, as they have been a very
successful alternative rock band who have been going for 18 years now. There is a book
called Come Down which is just a guitar / vocal chord book. It’s interesting to note that it
is on the album I want to write the book about and there isn’t one on ‘13 Tales From
Urban Bohemia’ which I guess would have to be their best selling album.
However, there was the film DIG and I guess this would be the most relevant
competition.
“Along with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Dandy Warhols were the subjects of the
2004 documentary film Dig! It was recorded over the course of seven years by Ondi
Timoner, and won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film
Festival.” Wikipedia
This book will be about the album ‘Come Down’ and everything relevant to that but I
think I would also like to touch on the film DIG as it was and still is very popular. I’ve
never spoken to the band about it but I do know that they were not best pleased with the
outcome of the film especially the way The Brian Jonestown Massacre and their lead
singer Anton Newcombe was portrayed in it.
“It’s a good thing to have gone away because it was a very dishonest experience,” Taylor-
Taylor says. “It’s not a very true movie. There’s a lot of acting and a lot of ‘Well, we don’t
have a story. Let’s make one up.'” One of the band’s biggest gripes is with the timeline of
the movie — the Warhols were recorded for eight years while BJM was filmed for 10
months, yet they claim everything was depicted as happening concurrently. “It’s a
fantastically compelling movie because it’s all about awfulness and on a Jerry Springer
level, it really works,” Taylor-Taylor says. “I was very uncomfortable during that time
because I had to play along and I didn’t know what to say in interviews. You can’t say
‘Look, it’s not true’ because it was this big documentary, ‘the best rock and roll
documentary ever.'” Taylor-Taylor isn’t exaggerating the film’s hype and acclaim — it
won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance festival in 2004. ” Posted July
21st 2009 on Spinner
I think that The Dandy Warhols are a very hard working band and certainly the evidence
points towards that. My book will differ from DIG because it will show what it is like to
be in a band like the Dandy Warhols, working hard to remain truthful to your art and still
trying to be a commercial success. There is a lot to be said. Surviving as a rock and roll
band for 18 years in this day and age with the music industry collapsing all around us and
everything in change is a real achievement. I’m fed up of reading biographies with
endless tales of drug abuse and hotel room orgies. Being a successful band in the late
nineties and noughties didn’t work like that.
Drummer Brent De Boer also said this in the same interview about DIG:
“Ondi has 1,998 hours of footage that nobody saw and she could have taken it and made
a really respectful show about two really talented bands working very hard and making
great records,” he says. “It could be a feel-good story, like here’s where they’re born,
here’s where they recorded, here’s how they’ve grown together, and here’s where they are
now. But she just snagged a couple hours of just the worst behavior.” Posted July 21st
2009 on Spinner
I think Courtney Taylor-Taylor sums up my views of what this book should be in
comparison to the film DIG:
“It’s nice now that we’ve got all this other shit going on, the movie came out and really
led to the wrong idea about what we care about and what the hell we do. It was a mess.”

A draft annotated table of contents for the book and an approximate
date of completion

Here is a brief outline of the way I want to start this book and the outline I propose to
work along. This is just an outline that will lead me into exploring different avenues and
if I find more interesting stuff because of that I would probably change and adjust this
plan to make the book more interesting. I’ve only done one book before and that took me
2 years but I had to photograph over 100 football stadiums in the country from Plymouth
to Carlisle. Definitley less than a year I’d say, perhaps 6 months. I think I might have to
go to Portland Oregon and spend a week interviewing the band and associated people,
this could mean a slightly longer time schedule.
Chapter 1
See enclosed – Introduction
Chapter 2
The beginnings of The Dandy Warhols and formation – The Portland Scene – The Brian
Jonestown Massacre – release of first album “Dandy’s Rule OK” – Touring the first
album – Lead up to Come Down – signing to Capitol Records.
Chapter 3
The beginning of the recording writing and demoing of Come Down. Interview with
Courtney Taylor Taylor on songwriting.
Courtney is a very enigmatic character whose apparent self-confidence is sometimes
bordering on amusing. People who appear initially over confident, in my experience,
have something else going on underneath, perhaps low self esteem and a general lack of
self confidence, it’s a common thing with lead singers and songwriters (he wanted to call
the 6th album ‘Shitty shitty band band’!) There is no doubt that Courtney is a very good
songwriter and I would like to find out more about him as a person and what drives him
to write songs. I think it will be very eye opening and possibly cathartic for him, I hope
so. None of this came across in the film ‘DIG’. I have a book by Paul Zollo called
‘Songwriters on songwriting’ which is a series of dialogues between the author and lots
of classic songwriters like Neil young, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman etc. I really like the
way you can tell when the songwriters are being honest and being quite guarded about
sharing too many of their secrets.
Chapter 4
I have an idea to have each band member fill in an e mail questionnaire. This would be
quite lengthy and each questionnaire would be the same with the same questions to each
person. The idea behind this would be to try and gain an understanding of the
relationships between the different members of the band while they were making the
album and I know from my own experiences that when you are making an album you
have a tendency to forget about people around you and generally band members try to get
their sound and individuality onto the record. A lot of it is ego based but there is also
much more give than take in this process. Quite often the pressure of making an album
weighs so heavy on a band that they forget they are doing it together and helping each
other out. People often do their best work in difficult circumstances, under pressure and
with deadlines looming – it’s human nature. I want this chapter to be an exploration into
the psychology of a working band freshly signed to a major label, trying to hold onto
their identity but at the same time wanting to have hit records and become successful and
famous. I’ve been there myself and it’s a terrible dichotomy and a struggle (the drummer
Eric Hedford left in 1998 due to a row over royalties). This is especially relevant to The
Dandy Warhols in 1996-97 and the way the music industry was then. I’ll be honest with
you, this chapter is an experiment and I have no idea how it will turn out yet. If it fails as
an experiment, I will at least have plenty of research and ideas from it to create
something interesting for the reader.
Chapter 5 – 19
Analysis of the 14 songs on the album.
How they were made, what they are about or not about or even if people should be left to
work it out for themselves. Nothing too techy, nothing too literal. There is a diverse range
of tracks on this album from ‘Cool as Kim Deal’ to ‘Hard On For Jesus’ and the 3 hit
singles the album produced, along with some outrageous videos that went with them.
Chapter 20
Album artwork and release – Reviews and Interviews of the time – touring and the bands
future after the album – the global success of “Bohemian Like You” and the effect it had
on the band artistically and financially – building of The Odditorium in Portland ( The
Dandy’s Warhol Factory). The success of the film DIG by Ondi Timoner and its
portrayal of the band.
Chapter 21
Conclusion – marriage and children – successes and disasters along the way. A one line
answer from each member in a nutshell…