Palmer, an Artist on the Road
Written by Tony Merevick
Monday, 27 April 2009 01:00
Amanda Palmer is everywhere. Following the release of her first solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, she is on stage, your iPod, Myspace, Facebook, YouTube, and even Twitter. A self-proclaimed Twitter addict, she can be seen on stage with her Blackberry, taking song requests on the increasingly popular social-communication network, and even giving away tickets to secret shows across the country.
As she wraps up her international tour, Palmer takes the time to talk about life on the road, or on a plane, or wretched over the toilet in the middle of the night.
"Making this kind of art while you're traveling every day is a very weird and f*cked up lifestyle," she said. It has taken her years of touring around the world with her other project, The Dresden Dolls, to fully understand what it is like to do it all of the time.
"After touring for a year, you think you get it," she said. "And then, after touring for seven years, you really f*cking get it." In order for her to maintain her life on the road, Palmer said that she must routinely do things in order to keep herself alive, instead of just putting everything on hiatus.
"I'm going to have to do this, and this, and this, and not just postpone it and think that my life is going to be, you know, something that happens when I'm at home because I'm never at home anymore," she said. Instead of thinking of her life as most people do, she says she must change her mindset for the road.
On the road, her life is her surroundings.
"My life is this bus, my life is this hotel, my life is this f*cking dressing room," Palmer said.
Once she understood this, she said she started to make different decisions. For example, who is with her in the dressing room becomes more important because, well, that is her life.
Palmer says she really suffered when she first started touring.
"In the beginning of your touring days, you make really random decisions about your crew, and routing, and schedules and stuff, thinking you'll figure it out as you go," she said. But after years of being on the road, Palmer knows that it's not as easy as winging it.
"It's all part of this strange web that is the weird f*cking job, that is kind of tagged as rock star," she said.
For her, it started with writing the music and making the songs, playing them and recording them.
"You play these songs for people over, and over, and over again," she said. "And you get into planes, and you talk to strangers, and you turn into a politician of music, and you know, if you don't enjoy most of that stuff, then you'll be a really miserable human being," she said. On the other hand, she says that if you like bustling from place to place, and if you like people in general and don't mind randomness, then it is not a bad job.
While finishing up the Australian leg of her tour, Palmer remembers waking up in the middle of the night and running to the bathroom.
"I'll never forget last night," she said. "Waking up at three in the morning, and tossing and turning for like a half an hour, wondering what the f*ck was wrong with me. And then finally dashing to Diana's bathroom because I had realized I was actually going to throw up..."
It is all part of being on the road.
In contrast to playing massive, sold-out venues and months-long tours, Palmer desires a more intimate setting once in while.
"I would want to play in my bedroom for one other person - whoever wanted to be there," she said. "Someone who would really appreciate it. With a glass of wine for them, and a glass of wine for me," she said. In the past, she has debuted new songs to a few friends, saying that it is like going to a show for one person. She loves doing that.
"That's about as true as it gets," she said.