"I feel an extraordinary amount of sympathy for anybody working at a major label right now because their lives are over."
Don't make Amanda Palmer angry. Just ask her current label, Warner Music subsidiary and heavy metal haven Roadrunner Records. The Dresden Dolls frontwoman recently eviscerated Roadrunner in a recent "Moon River"-type live ballad called "Please Drop Me". (Sample lyric: "Please drop me, what do I have to do?/ I'm tired of sucking corporate dick.")
This comes after the label tried to edit out some bare-stomach shots in her video for "Leeds United" from her 2008 solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer; "They thought I looked fat," wrote Palmer on her blog, "I thought they were on crack."
Safe to say the relationship is a bit strained.
In a statement emailed to Pitchfork earlier this week, the label wrote: "Roadrunner Records continues to support the career and artistry of Amanda Palmer [and] we are enthusiastically promoting Amanda's debut solo effort."
We decided to check in on the often-face-painted cabaret-pop songstress (and Neutral Milk Hotel-inspired dramatist)-- who just wrapped up an eight-month tour supporting her solo LP-- and ask her about her current situation. She was happy to oblige, and proceeded to state her case against Roadrunner in pretty reasonable and forward-thinking terms. She also admitted her fondness for Roadrunner band 3 Inches of Blood.
Pitchfork: I watched your anti-Roadrunner song "Please Drop Me" on YouTube. What's your current status with the label?
Amanda Palmer: Right now I'm just biding my time until June, which is when they can decide to take me or leave me. The Dresden Dolls signed a seven-record deal with Roadrunner back in 2003. My solo record counted as the third record and now there are four "option" records. So this is the first time they have the option to drop me.
It's been so disappointing since my solo record came out in September-- they decided to do the absolute minimum to promote it. I think they looked at it as an investment just in case something amazing happened by accident. But what has remained true in my career for the last 10 years is that fucking nothing happens by accident. You tour and you work hard and you take care of your fans and very real things lead to other real things. There's never been some fantastic fluke or break in my career, it has all been very slow and steady.
Now the party is over and Roadrunner don't have the infrastructure to help me with what I actually need to do as an artist. I feel an extraordinary amount of sympathy for anybody working at a major label right now because their lives are over. It can't feel very good to have had your job for 15 years-- with a mortgage to pay and kids to put through college-- knowing your company is destined to go down.
I've built up such an independent empire while being signed up to a major label that it hasn't even mattered what kind of label I'm on because I'm functioning independently anyway. I've managed to do an entire world tour with almost no promotional help from them. That's the paradox: I'm signed to this major label but I'm a totally DIY operation. My fans are so much more powerful than the media or the label because they're spreading the music around and it's fucking incredible.
When my solo record came out I started to feel that the association with Roadrunner really hurt me. They would post YouTube videos of my stuff and direct fans of the label over to my site and I became fodder for all of these metal heads who were like, "What the fuck is this fucking gay bitch doing on fucking Roadrunner. She should fucking die and be cut up into a million fucking pieces." I was reading all these comments and going like, "Uh, this is not good."
Posted by Ryan Dombal on April 1, 2009 at 3:55 p.m.