Working girl

Amanda Palmer reflects on the Dresden Dolls’ breakthrough year
By MATT ASHARE  |  June 6, 2007

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RAWK: “I think what’s interesting is that after all these years of the band being around, people fail to recognize that fundamentally we’re a rock band.”

It’s no surprise that the big local winners in our Best Music Poll tend also to be the hardest working bands and artists. They also tend to at least be on the verge of a national breakthrough, even as they remain visibly rooted in the local scene. Letters to Cleo, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Dropkick Murphys are three of the more recent examples. So there’s nothing strange about the strong showing the Dresden Dolls had in this year’s poll. It was a year in which they supported their second proper studio album, Yes, Virginia (Roadrunner), were invited by Perry Farrell to play Coachella, and were taken on the road by Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails.

They’ve also maintained a strong local presence that’s included a collaboration with the American Repertory Theatre in the original production The Onion Cellar. And the next year promises to see more, as they prepare to join the eclectic True Colors tour with Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, Debbie Harry, the Gossip, and, yes, Margaret Cho. In the meantime, vocalist/pianist Amanda Palmer’s halfway through recording her first solo album, with Ben Folds producing, and drummer Brian Viglione’s been playing with Humanwine.

I caught up with Amanda over the phone in Bordeaux, France, where she was supposed to be on vacation.

So where are you?
I’m in heaven.

What particular sector of Heaven?
Well, the Dresden Dolls played two years ago in Bordeaux. And I did a long walk around town and it was just one of those love-at-first-sight things. I just decided this was a place I was going to come back to and retreat and spend some time. And I didn’t even research the city. I just said “I’m going to go there. I’m going to go back.” I tried to plan the vacation for two years. And then when our schedule finally stopped, and all the touring and everything came to a halt, I called our promoter in France and asked him to help me find a sublet, because I didn’t want to stay in a hotel. And he was like, “Sure. I hook it up for Snoop Dogg, I hook it up for you.” And the next thing I know, he’s got me this government-subsidized artist residence. It’s literally a 10-minute walk from the center of town, in a totally private courtyard, with no other apartments around so I can make as much noise as I want. I rented a keyboard and an amp. So I’m sort of beside myself in complete happiness. Last night I drank wine in my apartment and communed with my keyboard. So I guess you could say that I’m in the French Quarter of heaven. I can’t even start to tell you how magnificent my day and my night have been. I got here like three days ago. And things in general have been going so well that I’m sort of afraid there’s going to be some terrible karmic payback. Things are getting dangerously good.

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