7 Dec


“Standing Right In Front of Me, Speaking Words of Wisdom … Let It Zi(a)”

Zia McCabe rules, ok? Fifteen years and counting after joining The Dandy Warhols, she continues to tour, write and record with the Portland-based odditorium rockers. That would seen to be just plenty of activity for most of us schlubs – but most of us schlubs are not Zia McCabe.

Ms. McCabe, then, fills her free time -and isn’t it all free time? – with gigs at various bars, parties and festivals, as DJ Rescue – that is, when she’s not working with her country band, Brush Prairie … which, of course, happens only when she’s not otherwise occupied as a wife and a mother.

We cannot confirm nor deny the rumor that Zia has not slept more than an hour or two each day for the past few years (and not because of the relentless tour schedules – you can bet on sleeping more as a musician on tour than you can as the parent of an infant). Maybe she sleeps, maybe she doesn’t. But she keeps on moving, certainly keeps on grooving and without question keeps on ruling.

The annoying cultural wisdom, at times from both an “outsider” [read: square] perspective and the “insider” [read: real deal] perspective, seems to always imply that parenthood coincides with a death – or slow decay – of the ability to “really rock, maaaan.” History – and evolution – says otherwise. Where do you think this attitude comes from? How did becoming a parent alter not your lifestyle, necessarily, but your relationship with music in general? To your relationship with your own music?

Providing for ones child can be quite time consuming. I am lucky enough to make enough money doing what I love: to “really rock, maaaan,” which affords me the best of both worlds and prevents me from having to make the ultimate sacrifice of family over art. Being a rock n’ roll mom has inspired me to really dig into music, to expand my talents and take it all a bit more seriously. I don’t want to ever have to give up my art or put it on the “back burner.” Plus, Matilda really digs our rock n’ roll lifestyle. Sharing music with her has been the coolest. I love hearing her in the back of the car singing along to Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and CCR (some of her favorites).

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Original Photo by Fred Holston

If we were to contend that being a parent opens doorways in your mind which could not be opened otherwise, can you point out any particular music you listened to in your childhood that you hadn’t really considered for many years? Is there music that connects with you deeply today, equally to the way it did when you were a child? If the answer is yes, is one of those songs “Puff, the Magic Dragon?”

Ah, yes of course, while “Puff …” is very special, it doesn’t bring up the intense emotions and childhood memories that say Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger” or “Stardust” does.  Those will always be two of my very favorite albums. We listened to those albums a lot when I was little (I grew up in a cool log cabin and this music fit it perfect). I listened to a lot of my parents records (mostly 60’s and 70’s) when I was home alone after school. It’s a huge part of why I’m into music today. I discovered sooooo much good music that way, i.e., The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Janis Joplin, Juice Newton, and Gordon Lightfoot, to name a few.

True or False: To deny the power of Black Sabbath is to deny one of the most beautiful, vital and mysterious powers known to man. Please show your work.

True. The first time I heard Black Sabbath is a moment I will never forget. I was under the steps (where we had a long row of records between two speaker cabinets that my dad built), digging through records and saw this completely black album cover. My curiosity piqued, I put the album on and got back under the steps to have a listen … HOLY SHIT! When “Sweet Leaf” came blasting through the speakers, I franticly scooted back out, pulled the needle from the record and tried to calm my wildly beating heart. What the fuck was that? I chilled out for a few minutes and then went back in for another listen. My mind was officially blown.

At this point in the interview, you might appreciate a break from the essay questions, so “Revolt of the Apes” would like to offer you this space – this CYBER-space – to say anything you’d like. Personal, political, musical, educational, radical, comical, long short – whatever you would like. You will not be edited. This is our gift to you. The stage is yours, Zia. Don’t get nervous, but this blog may break a dozen hits soon.

Wow, jeez, I’m really feeling the pressure to say something clever here.

So of course my mind is a complete blank.

You very naturally strike the mind as an excellent DJ, from the perspective that your knowledge of music must be somewhere between encyclopedic and unfathomably personal, meaning a DJ set from you is probably something pretty unique, pretty “Zia.” Is that a fair assessment? Where do you find that faith that says somewhere between playing the music you like and having people enjoy the music they are hearing during their leisure [read: drinkin’] time, everything will be out-of-sight?

That is a fair and quite flattering assessment – thank you. I would say I’m much closer to “unfathomably personal” side of things. I’m very thankful for the great gift to be able to put the right song on at the right time for a group of people to enjoy. It’s harder than it looks.  One thing is that I always put myself first when it comes to track selecting; once you start trying to please everyone on the dance floor it all goes to shit and is no fun at all. If I’m having fun, usually we’re all having fun. DJing is one area where I have a lot of faith in myself. I mean, after all, my slogan is:  “Saving good parties from bad music!” – DJ Rescue.

How has touring & being very closely aligned with the “the music industry” affected your music listening habits over the years? What’s the weirdest record you ever got turned on to in the weirdest situation – not necessarily the best, or most obscure, but just … the weirdest?

Um, I got my first several hundred CDs from record labels when we were looking to get signed. That affected my listening habits since I didn’t even own a CD player before that. For sure the weirdest song (I think it was off an EP) that I got from a label – I can’t think of anything anyone has turned me onto that’s weirder – is Detroit Grand Pubas’ “Sandwiches.” This is a song that has recently re-entered my life after about 15 years in obscurity and boy is it funny and cool and weird.

What the fuck was high …

Yer high.

That’s a shocking allegation and immaterial. The full question was: What the fuck was high school like for Zia McCabe? Riff Randell?

I actually loved high school. I was never totally in the IN crowd, maybe fringe a few times. But I didn’t suffer the typical stresses about being accepted and liked that most kids seemed to. I just had a blast, laughed a lot, got into trouble here and there and was very outspoken when it came to my rights to freedom as well as my shyer class mates who weren’t able to stand up for themselves. I had a good ‘ol time!

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Original Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images AsiaPac

In the book “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran,” author Rob Sheffield describes the appeal of Prince in the “Purple Rain”-era in this way: “… riding that motorcycle around with Apollonia on the back, cruising Lake Minnetonka, suffering the hard work of being so beautiful that people bombard you with attention day and night.” That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? What is it about Prince that you find most compelling?

His dirty lyrics.

Kurt Vonnegut: “Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goofing around in Germany like everybody else, and all of a sudden this stuff came gushing out of him. It was music. I was goofing around like everybody else in Indiana, and all of a sudden stuff came gushing out. It was disgust with civilization.” Your thoughts? Is that disgust the same fuel that drove Beethoven, drove Vonnegut, that now drives Zia McCabe, that now drives Glenn Danzig? B.V.Z.D. – now that’s a rad band.

No, disgust does not drive me. Though I love that about Kurt. He is my all-time favorite author, by the way. What drives me is the search for pleasure and meaning. I dance and laugh and get stoned and make music. And I don’t want to have to work too hard at any of it.

What’s next for Zia McCabe?

Hmmmmmm … music, music, music, writing the next Dandy’s album, writing more songs (and later recording them) for my country band Brush Prairie, DJing fun parties, lounges and nightclubs. Party on!

Follow the adventures of Zia McCabe on Facebook.


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