Interview

The Dresden Dolls

The Dresden Dolls

By Courtney Sanders

Tuesday, 24th January 2012 10:28AM

Theatrical two-piece The Dresden Dolls have reformed and are touring New Zealand next week. We caught up with solo-artist-in-her-own-right Amanda Palmer to discuss the re-emergence of The Dolls, her solo work, and what we can expect from all of her projects in 2012.

What did The Dresden Dolls get up to in 2011?

Yeah so The Dresden Dolls havenít been creating anything because the band has sort of been on an hiatus. Brianís been playing with a bunch of different outfits including the New York Femme Fatale, and Iíve been running around doing strange shit everywhere. I canít even tell you what Iíve done for the past year; Iíve done a tour with my husband, um, what have I done? I donno! Iíll have to google it and get back to you, but Iíve been really busy!

 

I thought that must have been the case because you played in New Zealand last year, and we havenít heard much about The Dresden Dolls for a while. How does it feel to be back together?

It feels fantastic, itís like riding a bike Ė a very punk-rock, fast bike. Itís always a joy when we play together because weíre really musical soul mates and our enthusiasm for playing with eachother hasnít waned since day one. Every time we get together to play itís fun and infectious and the thing I say about The Dresden Dolls is that weíve probably played a couple thousand shows at this point and weíve never had a bad one. We always manage to make something magical out of the thing even if the sound is fucked and the audience is a joke and all factors are against us, weíre always absolutely commited to having a good time and so the shows are always fun. I love touring with The Dolls.

So youíve re-formed and youíre back on the road now. Does it feel like a different Dresden Dolls today?

Um, well we havenít changed that much. I donít think we should. Weíve both evolved as mucisians definitely but The Dresden Dolls material is as strong as ever. The band is really about energy and about the psychic mind melt that takes place between Brian and I on stage and it hangs on the material but it kind of doesnít matter what we play Ė we play old stuff, new stuff and covers Ė youíre still watching The Dresden Dolls. The material takes a back seat and the performance takes a front seat and you sort of watch Brian and I bashing the shit out of our instruments and talking to eachother through music, and thatís the beauty of The Dresden Dolls and the beauty of the musical.

Do you have any plans to record anything new?

No we donít have any plans to record anything. I think weíre going to continue playing as we want, when we want as The Dresden Dolls but meanwhile I'm working on a new album and Brian is off touring with different bands in the coming year so weíre not planning on recording.

The live performance of The Dresden Dolls is the important part, right, considering the onus you place on the theatrical aspect. What is so important to you about creating this multi-disciplinary experience with The Dresden Dolls?

I just think thatís how my brain naturally works Iíve never been able to separate music and theatre; I think itís the same thing. But you know I was also raised in the eighties and I was brought up on musical theatre and MTV and music and theatre didnít have any separation then. Music was about show and performance and delivering the songs interestingly and thatís the way I was programmed to think. For me itís hard to do it the other way around; I canít just stand there and deliver a song without trying to make it interesting because it doesnít feel like music to me.

Do you take on an alternate persona when youíre performing live?

Um, not really, unless you define a character as a louder version of myself. There are certain songs like ĎMiss Meí where Iím clearly going into a kind of crazy psychotic little girl character but itís done very presentationally (sic). Thereís no moment at which Iím trying to convince the audience Iím anyone other than me.

Is acting and theatre as a separate discipline something youíve been interested in?

Sure this past fall I was just finishing up a run of cabaret where I played the lead role and I did the grind and we did 42 shows - 6 shows per week that whole deal. It was a great departure and really fun to do but I think I would go crazy in professional theatre full time because I would get too bored.

Both the members of The Dresden Dolls balance having serious side projects versus being in the band. How do you approach your solo work opposed to your work in The Dresden Dolls; what would you say is different about the two?

I consider The Dresden Dolls what I do when Iím with Brian and Iíve always been a songwriter and there isnít that much of a difference between the material I wrote and brought to The Dresden Dolls and the material I continued writing for my solo albums, itís just the box it happens to land in timing-wise. Thatís defining itself as we speak and what Iím finding is when I play with The Dresden Dolls itís about me and Bryan Ė the communication we have on stage and the energy we bring to the audience. When Iím performing solo itís more about Amanda and itís a different experience and it really is the difference between going out for dinner with a friend one-on-one or going out to a cocktail party with four or five other people. Itís apples and oranges and you need both kinds of experiences but with Brian itís more of a band experience; I donít talk from stage very much and itís pure punk-rock energy and screaming thank you goodnight and running off and when Iím totally solo Ė without a backing band Ė itís more like a group community therapy session. And they both have their purpose.

You talk about the kindred relationship you have with Brian. At what point did you know this was going to be a special relationship?

It was honestly like musical love at first sight. Iíve never had romantic love at first sight happen to me, I know other people have where they just saw that person and their heart stopped, but when Brian and I first played music together about a week after we met, we both knew within ten minutes that we were made for eachother, we just knew. And it was really euphoric to find that person and I think if youíre a musician youíre lucky if it happens to you once in your life and I think things havenít really changed much since that day. Brian and I are still on an incredibly tight and psychic musical wavelength that Iíve never had with anybody else. Itís like finding a sibling or something, so when we get on stage together itís very easy, the shows are the easy part., because we speak the same language.

What are your plans for 2012, both with The Dresden Dolls and personally?

Um, Iím breaking ground on a new record and thatís going to pre-occupy me for the better part of a year or so. I havenít announced much yet but Iím going to be recording it with a totally new band and making it in Australia, and then Iím going to tour the world.

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