Return to Amanda Palmer


Doll's new solo life

March 05, 2009 04:02pm

Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer's blog has revealed tons of Tasmanian fans

DRESDEN Dolls singer Amanda Palmer promises local fans an intimate experience when she performs solo in Hobart next weekend.
``My solo show isn't so much of a mind-bender ... but is still something very special,'' she said.

``I want no walls between me and the audience so every show, even if it's a large one, is very much like a living-room affair.

``I feel like the audiences of today don't get as much involvement and recognition as they could. There's been a tradition of getting on stage, playing, getting paid and leaving. I would kill myself before I'd tour like that.

``I'm there to meet people, feel them, touch them. The music is almost irrelevant.''

Born and raised in Boston, Palmer studied theatre and performance art at college and was well known as a ``living statue'' street performer, art-party impresario, DIY theatre director, and piano-bashing singer-songwriter.

Her ``Brechtian Punk Cabaret'' band The Dresden Dolls formed after she met drummer Brian Viglione at a party in 2000, and the pair went on to release the critically-acclaimed albums A Is for Accident, The Dresden Dolls and Yes, Virginia.

Two tracks from the self-titled album were voted into Triple J's Hottest 100 of 2004, Coin-Operated Boy at number 12 and Girl Anachronism at number 30.

But as The Dresden Dolls approached their fifth consecutive year of touring, Palmer decided instead to take a breather and make her first solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer.

Recorded in Nashville and spanning almost 10 years' worth of songwriting, the album sees Palmer weave together the many threads of her personality, her interests, her extensive artistic family, her astute observations and her feelings into a dynamic record that pushes emotional boundaries.

Palmer said many of the tracks on the album would have normally been released as Dresden Dolls songs, despite their intensely personal subject matter.

``It was just a matter of timing,' she said.

``One of the things I love about the Dolls is that it's still a personal band, I have no problem holding back emotion whether it's band or solo.

``But the original impetus of this project was to make a purely solo and voice record -- it was just Ben's involvement that derailed everything. What was originally a torch record wound up as a pop record, pretty much.''

``Ben'' is musician and Dolls' fan Ben Folds, who produced Who Killed Amanda Palmer.

``Ben initially heard the first few Dolls records and wrote us a fanmail,'' Palmer explained.

``That led to me emailing him back and then we met in Australia while we were both on tour here.

``I told him about the solo record and he asked to produce, I said yes without blinking and the rest is history.

``Even though our genres are very different, Ben and I found we had a ton in common, especially because we're both closet theatre dorks -- during offtime in the studio we'd be singing Jesus Christ Superstar at the tops of our lungs.

``Ben was just a genius producer ... he did everything from help with the arrangements to playing and singing on a ton of the tracks.

``He took the record in a beautiful direction that I wasn't expecting and I'm so, so proud of it.''

Who Killed Amanda Palmer has snowballed from a solo album into a multi-media phenomenon. A series of eight music videos were released on the internet last year, and a book of the same name is set for release this year, featuring collaborations with cult graphic novelist Neil Gaiman and photographer Kyle Cassidy.

Palmer can see the parallels between Gaiman's position in the literary world and her place in the music scene.

``Neil is a rock-star writer, so I'm not surprised to find that we have lots of crossover in our fanbases,'' she said.

``Working with Neil has been a dream, he's such a generous artist.

``The book we've created is totally bizarre and wonderful. It's a collection of 100 photographs of my corpse, with short stories by Neil.''

It was Gaiman, in fact, who helped convince Palmer to include Tasmania on her current Australian tour.

``One of the advantages of living online and actually reading all of my blog comments is that I get a very first-hand look at where my fans are,'' she said, ``and there are a ton of them in Tasmania.

``I've heard endlessly about how beautiful it is. And I have fans there. So obviously I have to go.''

Amanda Palmer plays at the Brisbane Hotel next Saturday, March 14, with special guests Zoe Keating and Lyndon Chester, plus local supports Liam Constable and Enola Fall. Tickets are $30 (plus booking fee) from the venue and RuffCut Records.