PORTLAND PRESS HERALD

 

Return to Amanda Palmer

 

Singer-pianist Amanda Palmer all a-Twitter over fans


By AIMSEL L. PONT

November 12, 2009


INFORMATION: www.amandapalmer.net


Here's the thing: I'm a hopelessly devoted fan of singer-pianist Amanda Palmer, so any hope of objectivity was thrown out with the bathwater at the onset.

The same goes for conventional wisdom, because there's nothing conventional about Palmer. And that is precisely what makes her so compelling. Her songs range from fast and furious to slow and chilling, from disturbed to playful and from emotionally challenging to mentally astute.

Palmer's last appearance in Maine was two years ago. She returns tonight at Port City Music Hall with her support act and backing band, Nervous Cabaret.

Palmer has been one-half of the Boston-based "Brechtian Punk Cabaret" duo Dresden Dolls since 2000, although the focus lately has been on her solo career. Last fall, she released the Ben Folds-produced "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" CD, and more recently, a companion hardcover book with text written by author Neil Gaiman and a collection of photos depicting Palmer dead nine ways to Sunday.

In a recent phone interview, we first spoke about Palmer's online blog and Twitter presence, for which she has an insatiable appetite.

"I didn't quite get Twitter for a while and heard people talking about it," she said. "I broke down and was like, 'OK, I'll try doing this,' and then of course found it insanely addictive, and now it's like a pox on my life because I can't stay away from it."

Still, Palmer thinks Twitter is ideal, because she loves being so close to the ground with fans.

"There couldn't have been a more perfect invention for someone who has a lot to share and a lot to say and wants to have an actual back-and-forth conversation constantly," she said.

The lines between Palmer and her fans are constantly blurred, and that's beneficial to everyone involved, she said.

"We're gonna be staying with fans and having dinner cooked by fans, so it will be classic down home," she said, pointing to the cost savings with these arrangements – not to mention a better menu.

As for a follow-up to "Who Killed Amanda Palmer," she's hanging in the balance amidst a strained and much publicized rift with Roadrunner Records.

"I can't make any plans to move forward until I settle up with them," she said. "It's keeping me in a relatively hellish purgatory."

She sees the silver lining, but adds, "It's also been so long that I've cultivated an incredible patience. I'm not even writing songs. I'm traveling and blogging and writing and experiencing things, and I've gotten far more PR from blogging than they ever got me for my record."

So does such a public online presence ever get to be too much? "I've deliberately taken weeks off," she said. "I think it's important every once in a while to unplug, because you can get so (expletive) wrapped up in it that your life disappears. Once your life disappears, it was all for nothing."

The instant gratification of online communication is tough to resist, she said. "It's very tempting, once you have an audience, to feed them. It's a wonderful thing to think that if you discover something, you can share it with thousands of people immediately."

Palmer also takes shelter from this in another way. "I think it's why I treasure my yoga practice so much. For as fast and furious as I like to go in certain areas of my life, it inherently demands balance on other end," she said.

As for her Portland show, I asked Palmer if she has anything special up her sleeve. "You never know ... I'm excited about the confessional booth."

Obviously, an explanation was in order. Palmer said that participants will be drawn by Twitter lottery. If you're picked, you get five minutes to spill your deepest beans to her in a one-on-one setting; in this case, probably somewhere in the expanse of Port City's lower level.

One can only hope she's in a forgiving mood.