the following interview and live recordings are from
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oh mrs o
the time has come
if you're lazy here's the text:
This program is a two-hour interview with Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione, together known as The Dresden Dolls, the sensational punk cabaret duo hailing from Boston.
In the summer of 2002 I met Amanda when she was performing with Brian at one of her famous Box parties. This was the first time I saw The Dresden Dolls play, outside in their garden, to a very absorbed and unique crowd of friends. I remember what caught my ears first, beyond the great songwriting, were the spaces between the notes, and the vast difference between the silences and the intensity. A few disgruntled neighbors and two policeman later, we were forced to move upstairs for the final Box VIII and Beat Science was up at The Cloud Club sliding through our very first public gig.
Since the times of the Box parties things have changed a bit. No disgruntled neighbors shouting through their windows. No cops shutting down the shows. Fewer intimate shows and loft parties. In the summer of 2003 they won the WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble, and since then have been adorned as the reigning king and queen of the Boston music scene by practically every music journalist in town. It’s wonderful to see musicians doing something different actually finishing in first for a change. And this is a great testament to Boston as well. They built up a large following in loft spaces before ever playing their first gig. One thing that can also be said is they put on a hell of a show. And their debut studio release The Dresden Dolls is a wonderful document of their creativity and chemistry on stage.
This transcript was taken from two interviews. The first aired in February 2003 before the release of their live record A Is For Accident, the second aired in September 2003 with Amanda Palmer before the release party for their studio record The Dre Dolls.sden “Missed Me”, A Is For Accident
BC: You’re listening to Free Association right here on WZBC 90.3FM. The Dresden Dolls are here with us this evening in the studio. Thank you for coming.
AP : You’re welcome.
BV [in Ringo Starr voice] : Thank you for having us Brian, it’s great to be here.
BC : Hmm, that sounded very familiar but I can’t place it.
BV : Ringo!
AP : The other drummer...
BC : Oh yes, of course. Brian has all of these voices and we’ll hear a lot of them tonight. So The Dresden Dolls are here with us and what we heard was a track off of a new live record.
AP : Yes, that’s off of our new live record which we are going to release at this show on Friday.
BC : And what else is on this record?
AP : Well this is sort of a weird hodgepodge of mostly live club stuff and live radio stuff. And there’s one track on it we recorded in the studio when we recorded our full album...it just didn’t make it onto the album, it’s like an outtake...so we’ll play that tonight as well.
BC : And there are recordings of live music at different clubs...
AP : Yes, they’re taken from I think seven different venues, the Lizard Lounge, TT The Bears, The Milky Way, Sanders Theater, LUXX down in New York, WERS, WMBR...
BC : For those who just tuned in we’re promoting the show this Friday with The Dresden Dolls, Sex Mob and Beat Science at the Middle East Downstairs...and master of ceremonies Evan O’Television. And your new live record will be released then?
AP : Well, we haven’t even seen it yet! We’re supposed to have it by Friday. This is just the master we have with us.
BC : Oh...this is just the master? Well maybe it’s dangerous for me to be talking about this...
AP : It is kind of dangerous. It’s at the processing plant and someone’s going to drive up to Maine and pick it up...(laughing).
BC : When did this first come together, the genesis of the group. Amanda, did it come into your mind before you met Brian, vice versa, or did the concept really click when the two of you met? Or did you incorporate some of what you were doing solo into The Dresden Dolls?
AP : That’s mostly what it was. I mean the stuff that we started out playing were mostly songs that I already had written. And Brian just added...his Brian.
BV : THE ROCK.
AP : His Brian brand of Rock.
BV : THE POWER.
AP : Well we should probably tell how we met. Brian actually tells this story better than I do.
BV : This was Halloween of 2000 I think. And she was playing a solo set upstairs in a room called The Cloud Club, which is the top floor of the building where Amanda lives that the landlord has built into a beautiful hobbit-like domicile...
AP : ...Alice in Wonderland...
BV : I was looking for some people to play with at the time and was really interested in the music. And we got together a few weeks later and it definitely clicked.
AP : It was like a few days later.
BV : Yeah, it was very soon after. It was very natural and we both sort of looked at each other wide-eyed and said, “Let’s be in a band!”
AP : It was more about how Brian looked on Halloween night that attracted me to him.
BV : Yes, future suitors out there for Amanda Palmer : White face and blood running down the face is a shoe-in.
AP : I go for effeminate men wearing white makeup...(laughing)
BV [deep voice] : Well. I’m not that effeminate.
BC : That was your costume?
BV : That was a costume...
AP : Well, but he wears makeup all the time...
BV : I wouldn’t say AALLL the time...(both laughing)
BV : And so there you go. And then we played at PAN9, a wonderful little art space in Allston that January...
AP : Uh, home of Evan O’Television. And that was a couple of months after we met.
BV : ...and then things took off from there.
AP : We sounded like crap.
BV : Oh...using distortion pedal on the piano.
BC : PAN9 was your first gig?
AP : That was it. Actually our first club gig was at...
BV : Either the Kendall or the Lizard Lounge...
AP : No no no. It was at the Zeitgeist...and then we played at the Lizard Lounge. Lizard Lounge was our first real club gig. I say real...or we might have got paid twelve dollars but at least we got paid something and got free beer. And back then we weren’t called...
BV : Oh!
AP : Oh!
BV, AP, BC (together) : OOOHHHHHH!
BV : Trivia Question #1!
BC : Yes, I should point out that we’re going to give away a free pair of tickets to Friday’s show a little later. So we’ll ask a question...sounds like you’ve already figured out what the question should be. I love it when personalities come together like that. It’s really obvious in a band when that happens.
AP : Oh, we jumped up and down.
BC : I’m sure. The two of you have such a symbiotic thing going. Can we listen to something else off of this?
AP : We’re going to play Mrs. O. One of the things I should point out is how we decided to put what onto this album. The main thing is that, with I think three exceptions, aren’t on the forthcoming album and aren’t on the 5-song EP we’ve been selling at shows.
BC : So it was a way of releasing material you wouldn’t otherwise be able to...
AP : Yeah. I mean some of it was stuff that didn’t quite make it onto the album, or has been written since then...
BV : This is already our album of B-sides and we have no studio record released...
AP : Yeah, an album of B-sides before the album of A-sides basically...
BV : This is all the weirdo oddities and strangeness that won’t make it onto the studio record.
AP : It’s good stuff. I mean...one of the songs we’ll play a little later, “Glass Slipper”, I really wanted on the record.
BC : Why didn’t it make it on?
BV : The producer didn’t want it on the record. He thought it was too long...
BV : The child that got mistreated and forgotten...
AP : But it’s a great live song. The beauty of the song is the live feel of it. I don’t even know if we could have captured it in the studio. And this particular recording of it just came out so well...
BC : I was going to ask you how do you translate that energy into a studio record?
BV : That’s a question for Martin Bisi that should be asked and he could probably tell you.
AP : Yeah, and we didn’t totally do it on all the song. We went into the studio to do the record that’s coming out later, wanting to make it sound really live. And we ended up sort of compromising that but we got something different and almost better. But it’s not a live-sounding record.
BC : And that’s the mark of a great producer who can say, “That may be a great tune live but it’s not right for this record.”
AP : Well, and it has to stand up to repeated listening...which is the thing that I kept coming back to.
BV : The ecstasy helps to.
AP : Anyway...
BC : Transitioning here...this is “Mrs O” we’re playing...
AP : And this was recorded live at Club Luxx in Brooklyn...about a month ago.
“Mrs O”, A Is For Accident
“The Time Has Come”, A Is For Accident
BC : You’re listening to the music of The Dresden Dolls, who are with us this evening. What did we just hear?
BV : That was called “The Time Has Come”, taken from the Milky Way back in October. We played with Torrez, a great local band. That is actually an older song that had been sort of rehashed and reworked.
AP : I wrote that two years or so before I met Brian and we pulled it out to see if it could work as a Dresden Dolls song.
BC : The name “Dresden Dolls”...I’m thinking of Weimer-era Germany which alludes to perhaps a Brecht / Weill influence? Were those influences for you and how did the name come about?
AP : That’s part of it. The name works in a lot of different ways. One of the things I like about it is that…it doesn’t mean anything in itself. There are these toys, these actual dolls made in Dresden. Before the city was destroyed in the war it was famous for its china and these dolls. So Dresden Dolls actually exist, you can buy them online. But the thing I like most about it is that the word Dresden for most people conjures up an image of the firebombing in World War II. And the idea of this firebombing, this explosive and painful thing for everyone juxtaposed with the idea of this delicate little vulnerable doll…I thought fits perfectly with the music. Because the music is sort of the same way, it’s 0 to 100.
BC : When you compose new pieces for the group now, do you start with the piano first and then come up with lyrics, and then in the back of your head try to decide how this will work with Brian and present it...
AP : Yeah...it usually works one of two ways. I’ll either have the song pretty much completed and then bring it to Brian. I’ll usually have a good idea of what he’s going to do or I’ll already have an idea of what I want the drums to sound like and Brian will then flesh out the idea. But occasionally I’ll have sort of a fragment of a song in my head and I’ll throw it out to Brian and see what he bounces back.
BV : Your writing style I think definitely changed in the sense that they “have the drums in mind”.
AP : I definitely have the drums in mind.
BV : As opposed to before...
BC : Were there were songs that you started with that you couldn’t use later when Brian joined, where you said, “Well this isn’t going to work, it was great as a solo piece...”
AP : Yeah, I keep those as my solo songs. I do, not very often, but I do separate solo performances. Occasionally, and we don’t do it so much anymore, but in the beginning I would play some songs where Brian would just sort of play very light expressive stuff on the cymbals. But those are usually the slow moody songs that don’t need a beat.
BC : The idea of Brian playing just cymbals and laying back is sort of ironic...
AP : It works, he does it very well. There are a few times when I play a song when he’s just literally brushing a cymbal. When we play “Slide” live, he used to just play one little snare fill in the middle and that was it. But it still added something.
BC : Brian, can you describe what your background is, did you start on the drums, was that your first instrument?
BV : Yes, drums was definitely the first instrument introduced to me at 3, then again at 5, and then I think I picked it up at age 9. My background is 100% tried and true southern New Hampshire and all that that entails. Hair Metal. Absolutely a big influence. Poison...were there for me. Back in ’89.
AP : Warrant.
BV : Yes.
BC : Great White?
AP : (groans)
BV : Well, I gotta say, yeah, they were there for me too. (singing) Once bitten, twice shy! It’s embarrassing but I won’t hide it. From there I played with a couple original bands and then moved down and played with a punk band in Arlington. And then I played in a band called Asciento for about a year and a half and then I met Amanda. That’s pretty much how it went but the metal has always been there.
BC : I guess you must love playing with Amanda because of the dynamics of the music. You can walk into a live show of the Dresden Dolls and depending on when you walked in, it can be very delicate and then before you know it you’re just involved in this wall of sound. Is this something that was refreshing to you? You’re a master of dynamics and it’s interesting that your background is all of this hair metal...
AP : He’s leaving out a huge side of the influences...
BV : Yeah, those were just the formative years. But jazz was introduced to me too at an early age and Elvin Jones’ playing and Philly Jo Jones and Buddy Rich, Max Roach, a lot of those players were thrown at me by my father. And a lot of other music too, that I discovered in later years, like Diamanda Galas and Swans and some of the darker music. And then Black Flag and Circle Jerks and some of the early 80s hardcore was another huge part that I took in. And of course when I was 12 and 13 that was the heyday of grunge and so Nirvana and a lot of that heavy playing I took a lot from too.
But yes, in this context, to be able to have that much room to play with, and especially the songwriting works in such a way that it doesn’t have to be just a beat backing up a song. The lyrics are at the forefront and there is so much room to embellish here and there. I have jazz in my mind a lot, and just coloring here and there depending on the way the lyrics hit me or the way she’s playing the keys, it just leaves a lot of room for expression...which is definitely what I’m all about. I love to play music like that and play music with other people. And for those people who play you know it’s the best feeling. So to be able to connect with someone on stage at that level is definitely a treat.
BC : What else can we play off this live record?
AP : Yeah, let’s play one more.
BC : One of your “hits”.
AP : This is not a hit. Let’s play “Glass Slipper”. And this was recorded live at TT The Bears, our last big Boston show in late December.
“Glass Slipper”, A Is For Accident
“Isolation”, John Lennon
BC : You’re listening to Free Association on WZBC 90.3 FM. We’re listening to the music of the Dresden Dolls. Brian just handed me that last one...moving on to the influences phase of the program here...
BV : That was “Isolation” by John Lennon. That was off the first Plastic Ono record.
BC : I guess we were talking about this Friday’s concert. You have an augmented lineup. Who’s playing with you?
AP : Well we’ve done this before and actually on the upcoming album I guess 3 songs have a full band. But we don’t usually play with a full band live just because...I guess just because we don’t.
BV : We have two guys playing with us on Friday from a great local band that you all out there should check out, they’re called Ilation, a three-piece and they do a lot of improvised rocking stuff. They’re great players. We have Greg the guitarist and Jim the bass player joining us this Friday for a couple of numbers.
BC : Speaking of that...playing in a duo for so long, I guess it’s sort of odd, you don’t see a lot of bands with just two people. But one of the nice things about listening to this band is the SPACE. There is use of space in this band, and that’s one of things I love about it, because it often seem there are no rock bands that use space! And I love the fact that you’re doing that. Are you embracing that element of it and even the limitations of it and sort of being so limited you’re forced to draw out the emotional qualities of the music.
AP : Definitely. We’re also lucky that I play piano. I mean piano is such a versatile instrument and it can sound like an entire band. And Brian also gets to have a lot of room to play. Once you get enough people on stage then he’s basically just got to be a drummer.
BV (crying) : I’m just a drummer...
AP : No, I mean, he plays so musically but the subtlety gets lost the more instruments you add. Are there are specific songs that just sound better fleshed out. “Good Day” is one of them. I mean, it sounds fine, with the piano and drums, but as soon as you add the bass and guitar, it’s like “Ahh...that was supposed to be there.” That’s what it needed.
BV : Well I think it’s also, it’s not only the playing, it’s kind of inherent in the songwriting. When there is a quiet line it’s sung quietly, it’s not pedal-to-the-metal the whole time. (pause) Not to keep using the word metal. Sorry. It’s just all I can think about.
AP, BC (laughing)
BV : But definitely, there is a lot of room to lay back.
BC : And you can play melodically, which is another great thing about your playing. You’re a melodic player and for a drummer that’s unique. It’s horizontal playing instead of vertical rhythms.
BV : That definitely helped when I was playing bass in Asciento and learning to play a different instrument, you get a different perspective. So that definitely widens your palette I think.
AP : He’s a better musician than I am.
BV : No, she’s the better musician.
BC : Oh, here we go...
AP : He’s one of those creeps who has perfect pitch.
BV : No I wouldn’t say it’s perfect.
BC: So if I sing a note you can name it?
AP : I bet you anything he would know. (singing a tone)
BV : You’re...flat. I don’t know, I can’t work like this...
AP : If you weren’t on the spot, he would be able to do it.
BC : It’s interesting having a drummer with perfect pitch...sort of sad and ironic.
AP : He’s a decent guitarist too...he plays guitar on the record.
BC : Oh, that’s right, I had forgotten about that. You played guitar on a few gigs, that ArtRages show...
AP : And he’s going to play guitar on Friday night. We actually have a guitar-and-voice song we’re going to do.
BC : Good. You mentioned before the capability of the piano and it being a sort of orchestra unto itself. Do you find yourself now practicing more on voice or piano?
AP : What do you mean practicing on?
BC : I mean what are you working on more?
AP : I’m working on my computer more. (laughing)
BC : Now that the record is done!
AP : Since I’ve had problems with my arms, I’m playing very little...only when I need to and not expending a whole lot. I sort of work on what needs the most work at the time. If that makes any sense. And depending on what we’re playing I kind of do what’s called for. So if we’re playing a show and I know we’re doing a number where my voice has to go into the upper regions of the range I’m not used to, I’ll do a lot of warming up. If I know we’re doing easy songs right in my range, I want focus on that as much.
BC : I remember the last time you were here, one of the things you wanted to focus on was vocal training. Especially going into the studio and doing it every day, day in, day out.
AP : Oh my god. That was a complete nightmare.
BC : I’ll bet. I’ll bet.
AP : And Brian was there waiting the entire time, hearing it.
BC : How do you keep the vocal chords intact through long periods of time?
AP : I didn’t. I drank a lot of tea, I went through five big bags of Ricola cough drops. And it was really hard actually, trying to figure out where to stop. Because we got to certain points where I sounded like (growling) thiiiis, and it was time to stop. And then we’d mix for a day and then go back and do more vocals. Like that.
BC : When did you finish up.
AP : We mastered on January 7th, I think. Beginning of January.
BV : Starting date was I think September 27th. It was a good solid 3 months.
AP : ...and we mastered on two days, January 7 and 12 I think.
BV : Martin was extremely meticulous in his EQ’ing and all sorts of things.
BC : I should ask you, how did you hook up with Martin Bisi?
AP : I met him at a party basically. I was in Brooklyn staying at a friend’s loft and Martin lived in the building. And I met him. I knew who he was when I met him. I went into his studio and we sort of hung out and talked and I gave him some of our stuff and he really liked the music. And I never imagined in my wildest dreams that we would work with him but he had the time and he wanted to do it. So we did it.
BC : Did you give him something to listen to or give him the concept of it?
AP : Yeah, he came to see me play solo. The manager of the building where all these folks lived, and at the time Michael Gira from the Swans was roommates with Martin Bisi. And they both came up to this guy Nathan’s apartment. And Nathan had an upright piano and I just gave a concert for like maybe 15 people and they were both there. Martin liked the stuff and I gave him one of our EPs.
BV : He then came to see us a few months later at the Knitting Factory. And we talked some more with him, had some coffee. He was a great guy and really exceptionally fun to work with. And I encourage bands out there to look him up at some point. And do something fun with Martin Bisi.
AP : Yeah, and actually we’re going to play one of the songs we recorded with Martin. And the album is still sort of in the can. It’s not going to come out for several more months. But we have this one outtake that I was talking about before which is a great song but it just didn’t fit on the album. It was sort of a wild card to begin with. It was an organ song. When we finished everything the album was going to have all full-length songs and one sort of fragment. And we both knew. We finished everything and we both looked at each other and were just like, “This doesn’t fit.” And Martin agreed. But we still really wanted to release it and it has some fantastic violin playing on it from a great friend of ours in New York named Meredith Yayanos who used to play in a band called Barbez...
BC : Oh sure...
AP : They’ve played up here. And now she plays in The Vanity Set. She’s a fantastic violin player, a fantastic theremin player as well. And we really wanted to release the song somehow and this was perfect. So it will be on the CD we’ll be selling at the show on Friday.
“Will“, A Is For Accident
BC : You have something cued up here that you wanted to have us listen to...
AP : Yeah, I brought in a Peter Jeffries cd. When people ask me what my influences are, I’m really...I never know what to say. I had my favorite bands growing up and my favorite bands in high school but none of them sound a whole lot like the music I write. And I certainly wasn’t listening to any piano-playing singer/songwriters...I never listened to Tori Amos, I didn’t listen to Ani Difranco, I didn’t listen to so-called singer/songwriters. I was listening to the Cure and the Legendary Pink Dots. And you can hear a little bit of that in our music but not much.
BC : No, there’s definitely a New Wave sound to it.
BV : But it’s masked by the Hair Metal drummer!
AP : (laughing) Brian squelches it with his Poison-ness. But there’s one person who I could specifically say I sort of emulate in my style or at least...I shouldn’t say emulate because I was already writing like this, but when I heard him I was just floored. Oh my god, there’s this other guy out there doing something I can completely relate to. Because he was playing piano but he plays electric piano usually with distortion on it, fantastic lyrics, amazing songwriter. And almost no one’s heard of him. He’s one of those indie phenomenon and if I mention it to someone who’s not a DJ, they’ve never heard of him. But you can’t find his CDs in stores anymore. I lost this one actually and had to look in the nether regions of the Internet to find it. But I found it again and it’s still one of my favorite CDs, it’s fantastic.
BC : This is the title track...
AP : ...it’s called “Electricity”.
“Electricity”, Peter Jeffries
“You Don’t Know Me”, Klaus Nomi
(Amanda and Brian sing the final chorus)
BV : 2, 3, hit it.
BV : And don’t tell me what to do! Don’t tell me what to say! Please when I go out with you Don’t put me on display!
AP joining in: I’m young! And I like to be young! I’m FREEEE! And I like to be free! To live my life the way I want. To do...whoever I please!
BC : The needle went over the limit. You just busted the antenna!
BV : That was Klaus Nomi, with “You Don’t Know Me”
BC : That guy is hilarious.
AP : Brian wanted to play it, I didn’t.
BV : He’s young and he likes to be young. He’s free and likes to be free.
AP : No, he’s a tragic story. But a complete freak.
BV : An amazing performance artist from New York who died of AIDS.
AP : No, from Germany...
BV : Well, I know but he lived around New York...I would hear stories about people seeing Klaus Nomi in a bar in New York...
AP : He would perform wearing like full giant Victorian opera garb, painting himself blue. Before anyone of those other guys in New York were doing it. (laughing)
BC : This is the fundamental question that gets asked to all singer/songwriters. But here goes. Do you write the lyrics first or the melodies first?
AP : Sometimes they come at the same time. But generally if one comes before the other...oh god, it’s both. It’s both. Usually what happens is I get a line in my head and it will attach itself to a good melody and I’ll write the song around that.
BV : “Coin Operated Boy” worked that way.
AP : Yeah, “Coin Operated Boy” is a good example of that.
BC : Right, the syllables fall in perfectly. We talked about Brian’s background. Some people know you from different contexts, like the Box parties and the Eight Foot Bride, among other things. Are you still working on any of this in the background?
AP : Not really. The band has more or less obliterated all of my other creative outlets. When I’m lucky I get to incorporate the theatrical stuff and creative party organizing into the band. Managing the band and booking the band means I sort of get my rocks off that way. But I don’t have time to do any other theater or street performance stuff.
BC : For those who don’t know, Amanda was The Living Statue for a while…
AP : I think I might do some of that this summer. Honestly if I go a while without doing it I get kind of sad. I miss it a lot.
BC : There’s definitely a theatrical bent to the band though. And there’s definitely a strong sexual energy in the band. Did you ever feel like that took away from the music, that people might see it and think of it as a novelty without actually hearing it. Or did you just think, forget it, I don’t care what people think, this is the way to go.
AP : One of my favorite things is dressing up. I almost like that more than playing music (laughs). I love dressing Brian up too.
But that was hard for me because I actually…around the time I met Brian and the few years before when I was out playing solo, I was very against dressing up and putting on makeup. I would never wear makeup, or even mascara. And I would wear jeans and a t-shirt. Because I felt so vehemently about not exploiting my body or my face. You know, these are my songs and they’re so personal and important and I don’t want people looking at me…
But I got over that. (laughing)
Actually, we didn’t really dress up all that much until The Lizard Lounge with the Burlesque Revival Association. In the spirit of their residency, I wore white face and a really crazy costume. And it just felt right, so it stuck.
BC : And then before long Brian was wearing dresses.
AP : Brian has been dressing in drag since he was seven.
BV : Well my mom had a nice collection of stuff, I couldn’t help myself.
BC : There’s something really funny about seeing someone in a dress play so powerfully…sort of a juxtaposition….
BV : Of humor and perversion…
AP : I actually like looking very feminine with the porcelain doll makeup going on, and then just like obliterating that image with doing this brutally honest music or whatever is we can pull out that just is the complete opposite of how we actually look on stage. It’s fun seeing how people react to that.
BC : So what you’re seeing isn’t necessarily in sync with what you’re hearing. It probably throws people a bit off-guard.
BV : It demands that you experience what you’re actually experiencing instead of just associating it with how it looks…so you have to take a closer look.
BC : We were going to give away tickets. I asked Amanda and Brian to come up with the question…
BV : If two trains are coming from east and west…
AP : Okay, so the question is when we played our first show at the Lizard Lounge back in 2000 we were not called The Dresden Dolls. We had a different name for our first show. And then our next show we switched to The Dresden Dolls and that stuck. Whoever can remember the name gets the ticket…
BV : The answer is buried in the website but if someone can’t get it…
BC : …then we’ll dumb it down.
AP : Exactly. And right now we’re going to listen to more influences. This is a Kurt Weill song and it’s from a CD that is very close to my heart because it’s the first Kurt Weill CD I ever got, given to me by my stepfather when I was 16. It’s Dagmar Krause singing and she is an unbelievable singer with an amazing voice. And this CD has German and English versions of Kurt Weill songs. This is the English version of ”The Song of The Moldau”.
Kurt Weill / Dagmar Krause, “The Song of The Moldau”
The Dresden Dolls, “Coin-Operated Boy”, A Is For Accident
You’re listening to the music of The Dresden Dolls. For those wondering what the answer was, Out Of Arms was the original name for the band.
AP : Now we’ll play the 2nd track of our forthcoming studio record which should be familiar to those who have seen us. It’s “Girl Anachronism”.
The Dresden Dolls, “Girl Anachronism”, The Dresden Dolls
The Dresden Dolls, “Missed Me”, The Dresden Dolls
The Dresden Dolls, “Bad Habit”, The Dresden Dolls
The remaining interview below is a continuation with Amanda Palmer in September 2003 before their studio record release party.
BC : I have not heard that one. Had you been playing this a long time before recording it?
AP : I wrote that a long time ago, I think when I was 18. And it was my favorite for a long time and then when I got together with Brian we arranged it at some point. And then it just didn’t end up being a favorite and we didn’t even consider putting it on the album until Martin heard it. He heard it on some demo we gave him and he sort of insisted on putting it on in pre-production. It was the only song that he wanted to put on but we didn’t. It was mostly the other way around!
BC : You’ve been playing together with Brian for a spell now. Are you writing new compositions and do you see the band changing in a compositional way? Or is it more like you have found your niche, so don’t mess with it?
AP : The way we work now and the way we’ve always worked is that I just write whatever comes into my head. I’ll get an idea for a song in my head and I’ll take it to the piano and however it comes out, that’s that. Then I’ll take it to Brian. But if anything’s changed, it’s when I started writing with Brian because I thought about the drum part…but not completely because that’s not the way the songs come. I mean if I get an idea for a line and a melody I’m not thinking about Brian, I’m just thinking about the song and then Brian comes next.
BC : So he’s fleshing it out…?
AP : …we don’t write together. I write at the piano and I’ll play Brian what I’m working on sometimes. But more often that not I’ll finish a song and decide that I like it enough to bring it to rehearsal.
BC : I guess that’s better for him because he doesn’t have to figure out which tunes are going to be selected or not.
AP : Well, he can be brutal with his feedback. That sucks, I don’t want to play it! He usually loves whatever I bring to him. He loves some things more than others. But yeah, like I was saying before, we’ve had so much stuff to do relating to the band that the number of hours I have to sit down at the piano have dwindled down to about nothing.
BC : Well also you decided to put this out yourself so you’re now managing Eight Foot Records.
AP : In the past few weeks we’ve been getting ready for this giant party and performance event at the Paradise, plus getting ready to go on the road, plus trying to get the album finalized, plus we’ve started a record label which is a small business. But we have 2 sets worth of new material. We’re not going to play it on this tour because we want to support tunes off the album. But these are all good problems to have.