Return to Amanda Palmer


Former Dresden Dolls singer content to move where creative winds blow
By: Nancy Dunham
Special to The Examiner
November 19, 2009

The Dresden Dolls are still on a hiatus, but the show is still very much on the road.

Amanda Palmer, half of the punk/Vaudeville act that sparked something of a cultural revolution when the band formed in 2001, is very much alive, well and tweeting about her shows.

"I'm enough of an overcommunicator and exhibitionist, so a lot of my real life, well, you're looking at it," Palmer said recently of her posts to Twitter. "If I'm eating an orange, I'm just as happy taking a picture of it and putting it on Twitter as I would be sitting alone in my apartment eating it. Even as this [social networking], is happening I'm asking these questions aloud and feeling much less alone and less confused about it."

That's arguably a relief after the past few years, which found Palmer and her Doll cohort Brian Viglione facing incredible stress on the road and critical pans for the 2006 album "Yes, Virginia."

Some critics called the Dolls' music "crap cabaret." Another critic noted they dressed like "mime artists. If only they sounded like them." Even the arguable rock 'n' roll bible Rolling Stone gave the group a somewhat backhanded compliment: "The combination of Viglione's manic drumming and Palmer's intimate odes to sex changes, coin-operated boys and things that go bump in the psyche is something new and delightfully disquieting."

The only constant positive was the group's devoted fan base, which continued to pack clubs for Dolls' performances. But even that couldn't sustain a very tired duo; they opted to move away from their music -- and each other -- for most of 2006, coming together for brief reunions.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the breakup -- the hiatus helped heal the duo's personal relationship and also opened the creative floodgates.

Palmer's 2008 solo album, "Who Killed Amanda Palmer," was a critical and popular success, and she's since had a string of sold-out performances on various tours and dabbled in other projects including working on a play at her alma mater, Lexington (Mass.) High School.

As she continues to tour behind her music and cabaret show, Palmer seems content to move where the creative winds take her, at least for a time.

"I definitely don't write as much as I did," she said. "But having struggled with a bandmate for enough years, I'm still really slaphappy sitting alone at a piano and being able to do whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want."