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The Dresden Dolls

The Dresden Dolls

Interviewed 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 haven’t been creating anything because the band has sort of been on an hiatus. Brian’s been playing with a bunch of different outfits including the New York Femme Fatale, and I’ve been running around doing strange shit everywhere. I can’t even tell you what I’ve done for the past year; I’ve done a tour with my husband, um, what have I done? I donno! I’ll have to google it and get back to you, but I’ve been really busy!


I thought that must have been the case because you played in New Zealand last year, and we haven’t heard much about The Dresden Dolls for a while. How does it feel to be back together?

It feels fantastic, it’s like riding a bike – a very punk-rock, fast bike. It’s always a joy when we play together because we’re really musical soul mates and our enthusiasm for playing with eachother hasn’t waned since day one. Every time we get together to play it’s fun and infectious and the thing I say about The Dresden Dolls is that we’ve probably played a couple thousand shows at this point and we’ve 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, we’re always absolutely commited to having a good time and so the shows are always fun. I love touring with The Dolls.

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

Um, well we haven’t changed that much. I don’t think we should. We’ve 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 doesn’t matter what we play – we play old stuff, new stuff and covers – you’re 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 that’s the beauty of The Dresden Dolls and the beauty of the musical.

Do you have any plans to record anything new?

No we don’t have any plans to record anything. I think we’re 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 we’re 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 that’s how my brain naturally works I’ve never been able to separate music and theatre; I think it’s 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 didn’t have any separation then. Music was about show and performance and delivering the songs interestingly and that’s the way I was programmed to think. For me it’s hard to do it the other way around; I can’t just stand there and deliver a song without trying to make it interesting because it doesn’t feel like music to me.

Do you take on an alternate persona when you’re performing live?

Um, not really, unless you define a character as a louder version of myself. There are certain songs like ‘Miss Me’ where I’m clearly going into a kind of crazy psychotic little girl character but it’s done very presentationally (sic). There’s no moment at which I’m trying to convince the audience I’m anyone other than me.

Is acting and theatre as a separate discipline something you’ve 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 I’m with Brian and I’ve always been a songwriter and there isn’t 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, it’s just the box it happens to land in timing-wise. That’s defining itself as we speak and what I’m finding is when I play with The Dresden Dolls it’s about me and Bryan – the communication we have on stage and the energy we bring to the audience. When I’m performing solo it’s more about Amanda and it’s 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. It’s apples and oranges and you need both kinds of experiences but with Brian it’s more of a band experience; I don’t talk from stage very much and it’s pure punk-rock energy and screaming thank you goodnight and running off and when I’m totally solo – without a backing band – it’s 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. I’ve 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 you’re a musician you’re lucky if it happens to you once in your life and I think things haven’t really changed much since that day. Brian and I are still on an incredibly tight and psychic musical wavelength that I’ve never had with anybody else. It’s like finding a sibling or something, so when we get on stage together it’s 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, I’m breaking ground on a new record and that’s going to pre-occupy me for the better part of a year or so. I haven’t announced much yet but I’m going to be recording it with a totally new band and making it in Australia, and then I’m going to tour the world.

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