Zia McCabe [Interview]

The Dandy Warhols are a peculiar bunch to say the least.  For some of us, they are a household name as common as any other indie rock band of the last few decades.  For others, they might not ring a bell.  For independent film fanatics, Ondi Timoner may have introduced these fun-loving hipsters (before there was such a thing) to us in the Sundance favored documentary, Dig! which chronicled over a decade’s worth of footage between the Dandys and another cult favorite Brian Jonestown Massacre.  Some may simply hear any given track from these now electronic-indie rock messiahs and ponder….are these the guys from the Mythbusters theme song? (Yes, yes they are.).  They are also the brain children of Beat The World Records, which houses the mythical yet relatively unknown band of youngsters known as 1776 that deserve to be world-renowned.  And for some of us, they may be the centerpiece of every tree decorating event come holiday season with their amazing adaptation of the greatest Christmas song ever made, “The Little Drummer Boy” (Okay, this one might be mostly personal.)
No matter how you know them, or don’t, these geniuses in their own right are veterans and have consistently proven themselves as a staple in the indie rock world through pure and raw talent and intuition of what it takes to create beautifully crafted indie rock in a world where any sort of indie rock could please the masses.  And nobody (not even front man Courtney two last names), accentuates such beautifully crafted charisma as the band’s keyboardist and masterwoman Zia McCabe.

Zia has been a staple in the Portland community, as well as the first lady of one of the finest indie rock acts of the now.  She has been around since the beginning, and her influence has been obvious as the band has progressed over the last few years into a legendary act that has moved beyond a simple cult following.  I was fortunate enough to steal a few digitally infused words with Zia where we discuss The Warhol’s 9th (or 10th?  You decide…) album, her country music side project, her controversial pregnancy photo shoot for Suicidegirls.com, and how being a mom and a rocker is absolutely awesome, and can lead to amazing causes and opportunities.


Your band, The Dandy Warhols are officially releasing your ninth full length album, This Machine, in April.  What can fans and new listeners expect to here from this venture?

Ha, I thought it was our tenth… I have a really hard time when it comes to describing our albums. I can say there’s more writing collaborations than we’ve ever had which I think gives the album an eclectic sound in a different way than previous albums. We also took a simpler approach when it came to tracking, as in we each kept our tracking to a minimum rather than layer on as many tracks as we fancy. This made it easier to create tracks that sound like we do in real life.


Tell us a bit about Brush Prairie.  What influences such a transition in music genres?

I grew up in a  log cabin in Battle Ground, Washington (not far from Brush Prairie, Washington where I was born) listening to Willie Nelson and the like.

Vintage country and psychedelic R&R are equally my roots, so now I’m finally getting to entertain both sides of my musical coin. Plus I LOVE getting to be the lead singer dolled up in vintage western outfits. Beyond that I’m interested in fronting a band with a vintage soul sound and/or blending all these genres together.

You’re Dandy band mate Brent Deboe has also ventured into the folk and country scene as well.  Any chance of a collaboration?  Tour?

Yes, we already talk about covering each other’s tunes and touring together and all those fun things, I’m sure we’ll end up writing together on the road.  Since his band is based out of Australia, we’ve discussed me getting a backing band over there and doing some shows together as our first item of business. Good times!

Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with Rock N Roll Mamas, and what your involvement has been in this movement?

Jackie is a local film maker and mother who got me involved as a subject for her Rock Mamas film several years ago. It’s shaping up to be a great film about the life of woman who have a passion for their music and in no way are willing to leave their children behind. I’ve also made some small music pieces for Jackie to use in the film.


You are notoriously known for being a hard working and rocking mom.  As the years keep passing, does it get easier or harder over the years to handle the stress?  (Explain)

As any parent knows, it doesn’t get easier it just keeps changing. There are always new dangers to prepare for and challenges to face as we do our best to raise intelligent, inspiring humans. Of course having a baby on the road was a massive challenge that I still look back on and wonder how I ever pulled it all off. However, I am very much looking forward to getting Matilda back on the road with me this summer since her being in school has kept her at home the last couple years. It will be fun to have a more independent, lower maintenance kid on the road and one who can better enjoy and learn from the unique experience of rock and roll tour.


You are officially a Suicide Girl after you posed nude for SuicideGirls.com while you were pregnant.  How was this experience?  Was it enlightening in some way? (Explain)

It was 103 degrees  outside and I had a migraine but I didn’t want to miss the chance to document that time in my life and be the only pregnant suicide girl. I’m glad I did it but wouldn’t consider it enlightening. I think they mislead viewers with the image of a sexy website ran by the chicks but as far as I can tell it’s still got some sleazy dude running the show.  I think my set turned out tasteful and displayed the beauty of a heavily pregnant woman with class. I also like the controversy it caused with the suicide girl fans.

What exactly has made you continue to call Portland home after all of these years?  What intrigues you about the city, if anything?

I love that this town was founded by pioneers and pirates. (my family was part of the Lewis & Clarke expedition) Portland has taken pride in being creative, diverse, independent, rebellious and a leader in all things environmental and subjects culturally edgy. Besides that, Portland is nestled between a majestic mountain, dripping rain forest, wild coast line and a unique desert. I love this part of the world!  As much as I love traveling, this will always be my home.


What does 2012 have in store for Zia McCabe?

Lot’s of touring in support of This Machine for one thing. I’ve also invested some important time in the field of self-improvement and life reorganizing. I’d like to complete Brush Prairie’s first full length album, build up my commercial music business and maybe even witness the end of the world as we know it.


What was the last thing that made you smile?

My daughter. She gives me a thousand reasons to smile every day. Yes, a few frowns in there too, but sooooooo worth it!

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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