Dresden Dolls: Q&A

<p><em><img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/dresdendolls.jpg" alt=" " />(reprinted) </em></p><p>I go to a lot of shows, probably too many. I see all types of bands, big ones, local ones, crappy ones, decent ones. Usually,...

I go to a lot of shows, probably too many. I see all types of bands, big ones, local ones, crappy ones, decent ones. Usually, you'll know exactly where a band is heading when you see their live show, and when I saw the Dresden Dolls I knew there was no place to go but the top. 

The two piece Brechtian Rock Cabaret is growing exponentially with each show. Alright, I admit I had to look up what Brechtian means, but the spirited and purely unique duo of Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione is reminiscent of such established punk-ish artists as Fugazi, Bikini Kill, and Bright Eyes, while taking on a style of post WWI German Cabaret. I'm a firm believer that no matter how stagnant a genre may become, there's always something special going on, and for punk rock, it’s the Dresden Dolls.

By Andy Folk
[email protected]

QRO: So you're Amanda Palmer, the singer and pianist of the amazing Dresden Dolls. Do you realize just how great your music is?

Palmer: Hmm, trick question. If I say no, I'm a liar. If I say yes, I'm Morrissey.

Q: What's in the near future for the Dresden Dolls and where do you think you're going as a band?

P: We're about and hour and twenty minutes outside of Atlanta and we'll hopefully only be a half hour late for load-in. Then we'll spend the night at the house of our friend Miss Xana Don't. We'll wake up and go to little five points and visit Criminal Records. Then we'll produce a Broadway show, a revue maybe, something like a cross between The Wall, The
Threepenny Opera and American Idol.

Q: You're going on a long, long tour in Europe.  Is your album pretty big there? Is the demand for shows just as big there as it is here?

P: At this very time the tour looks like it's going to get postponed, which is fine with me. I want to go home and read. We're barely heard of in Europe, though we've been reviewed in a few online zines in Germany and Italy.
           
Q: Your debut album is not only self-titled but self-released. Do you plan to stay independent as far as releasing material is concerned, or has there been some label shopping?

P: Amanda's got a secret, Amanda's got a secret! Actually it's not a big secret. We just landed a great deal that provides us with national distribution through Koch. So soon our smiling faces will be in little record stores across America.

Q: I was pretty pleased to see that you were getting some press on Pitchfork recently. Do you think that and the loads of other publicity you've received indicate you've arrived as a national act, or do you still have a long way to go?

P: Oh, there is a long and windy road ahead. It's a very gradual process. Some radio play here, a great review there. It's all coming together as it should. I don't worry.

Q: When I first saw you, I had heard some live tracks before, and expected to like you, but oh man, your live show really blew me away. To what do you attribute the incredible energy and emotion you're able to put into every show?

P: That is just the way I am. And Brian drives me even further. I've always been the attention-getter, the weirdo, the performer. I was born that way, and encouraged. So I kept going. It drives me to have an audience. I know how hungry people are for a real, authentic and passionate performance because I am just as hungry. If I see one more band on a rock stage pretending that they don't give a shit that they are standing there with an instrument in their hands and a microphone in front of their face, I will screeeeeeeam.

Q: Do you think your rise to success is proof that hard work, creativity, talent, and honesty really do lead to success in the music 'biz"?

P: Yes. If you're good at what you do and an audience responds, there is no doubt that hard work will get you Somewhere. There isn't a whole lot of luck involved…luck is something you create. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody in the music business. You just have to have the courage to pick up the phone and hang onto it until you get an answer.

Q: In my opinion, there are a lot of bands making good music, but there's a handful of bands really making important music, including World/Inferno, Against Me!, Godspeed, Mary Prankster and The Dresden Dolls. Do you ever feel what you're doing is in any way important, to punk, music, or culture in general?

P: I occasionally think about that but don't really bother to imagine what our place is. Our primary purpose is to very simply do what we do and leave the post-modern critical thinking to fine people like music journalists, who I am sure will come up with a catchy 'neopunkglamcabaret" box to stick us into. I think any band to which people respond in a deep way is important. And perhaps we'll even nudge along an important revival: music as entertainment.

Q: You're buddies with the World/Inferno Friendship Society, and have played a bunch of shows with them. You've also been known to perform 'Amsterdam" with Franz. Has collaboration with them been discussed?

P: Strangely enough, no, although we've fantasized about a tour. It's very difficult with everybody's busy schedules. They are our brethren, those mad men and women.

Q: When did you first realize the chemistry between you and Brian would make something special musically?

P: Within about ten minutes of playing with him for the first time. We both knew. And we couldn't shut up. We jumped up and down and squealed like idiots for about three months.

Q: It's a difficult question to ask, but how do you think your band will be affected if the relationship changed between you and Brian?

P: Good lord, our relationship changes every fifteen minutes. And it's no basket of peaches, my darling.

Q: Like it or not, you're a role-model for a lot of teen girls out there. I know because I've seen a couple dress up like you. Did you ever expect to be a role model, and did you have any musical 'role models" growing up?

P: It feels surreal actually, mostly because I didn’t have any female role models. Early on there was Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, but once I hit high school there was just nothing I felt I could latch onto. I tried to like Siouxsie Sioux but just didn't dig her music enough. So it was men, men, wonderful men and their music. Ever since college I've had a burning desire to hang out with younger women and feed them good music and art, probably because I was starved.

Q: This is a dumb question but I'm dying to ask it, how do you think your music relates to the 'riot-grrl" genre, and did you listen to any of that at all growing up?

P: I completely missed that whole scene. I didn't even find out about Sleater-Kinney until six months ago, that's how far out of the cultural loop I am. I never read fanzines or magazines, though I made my own, isn't that hilarious? And never watched TV or hung out with anyone who would have known. I was a college DJ and even then I just wrapped myself into my own weird world of Coil, Swans, the Legendary Pink Dots and Current 93 and never looked over the fence into the other kid's back yards.

Q: Your lyrics are appealing to girls, but there are a lot of boys who like your album too, for example a young rock journalist named Andy. Do you think your music can have the same appeal to both genders?

P: Oh fuck yes. I'd say the split is pretty much half and half. Brian also appeals to all genders. He's a very special man.

this last one could stay or go. Yr choice.

Q: I just know Steve Albini [widely respected recording engineer who’s worked with the ranks of Nirvana, PJ Harvey, and the Breeders] wants to work with you badly, is that going to happen or is it all a sick fabrication of mine?

P: Steve will have to wait until Phil Spector is done with us. He gets first crack.

Q: Most would interpret “Coin Operated Boy" as being about a 'marital aid." But I prefer to interpret the Coin Operated Boy as a person. Who's right, me, or everyone else?

P: You. Mostly. It's about a fantasy. Or a fear, whichever way you look at it.

Q: Thanks for doing the interview, is there anything else you'd like to add?

P: You are very welcome. Punk Cabaret is Freedom.

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