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Amanda Palmer Talks To Musos' Guide

  • Written by  Marky Edison


Amanda Palmer’s press release for her upcoming U.K. & Ireland tour describes her as an “International performing artist, musician, activist, blogger, New York Times best-selling author”, but to her fans she is much more; she is a role model, a mentor, a counselor, and a friend. She is famous for a self-sufficient, independent career that is simultaneously reliant on the community spirit of friends, fans, and well- wishers the world over.

Amanda first found fame as one half of the Dresden Dolls, a punk cabaret act from Boston, Massachusetts. Drummer Brain Viglione, now with Violent Femmes, partnered her expressive piano playing and theatrical vocals. A falling out with the record company ultimately halted the Dolls rise and it took years to disentangle herself from the contract with the label.

Since her emancipation Amanda Palmer has worked ceaselessly in various media. Along with her solo work, there is her band; The Grand Theft Orchestra, and collaborations with other musicians and writers.    

In 2012, she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 towards the production of her Theatre Is Evil album. The campaign was a runaway success and fans pledged $1.2 million. Amanda hit the headlines and was invited to give a T.E.D. talk about her career and about crowd-funding. More than 10 million people have since viewed the 14 minute talk on YouTube and, on the back of it, Amanda secured a book deal.

The next few weeks will see Amanda's first solo tour in these parts without either of her bands, although she did play in Dublin without the band in 2010 when her colleagues were stranded following the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland.

This tour is unusual in that it is a concert tour in support of a book, rather than an album. The show, titled An Evening With Amanda Palmer, is billed as an “intimate mix of original songs, spoken word pieces, cover tunes, audience Q & As and more”. Musos' Guide caught up with Amanda on the eve of her first U.K. performances since 2013.

Musos' Guide- You and Neil Gaiman are guest-editing the New Statesman. How did that come about? Are you enjoying the process? Are you getting flashbacks of the final weeks of writing The Art Of Asking?

Amanda Palmer- Ha! Yes, I am. I just stayed up until 4am actually, finishing off my piece for the issue. I’m really, really proud of what we’ve done and the friends we’ve roped into this undertaking. It’s a great combination of writers and art. I think we may be the first magazine to feature a former Archbishop of Canterbury and a feminist porn star both discussing the issues they care about.

MG- Motherhood is almost on you, and touring and performing will likely be on hold for a wee while, have you anything planned for your period of maternity leave to vent your creative urge?

AP- I am literally planning NOTHING. I think it took impending motherhood to finally, for the first time in fifteen years, to actually clear six months of total freedom into my schedule. I know I won’t be free, I’m not crazy. I’ll be a milk vendor and a diaper-changer. But I also plan to do some reading, while I feed this baby. As someone who loves love, I’m expecting it to be quite a love triangle between me, this kid, and the crazy dad. 

MG- You’ve had to curtail the amount of time you spend with fans after shows, signing sessions etc. You’ve adapted your live show too. From my own experience of seeing you live, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ AFP gig. What can we in Dublin expect from your new live show?

AP- Well, since I got pregnant my live shows have felt like quite the community-fest - these people know me so well from years of touring and online communication. I’ll have a piano with me, and my ukulele, and I’ll probably read a bit from the book and might share some new poems and stories. I have really grown to love completely winging it, which is something I can’t do when I tour with The Dresden Dolls or the Grand Theft Orchestra. I’m also getting ready for my opening gig for Morrissey. So I may bust out some Smiths covers.

MG- You have a close, intense, and often personal, relationship with your core audience. They participate in, and enable your work. For each of those there are more still who fund your work through Kickstarter, Patreon, etc. And more again, who follow your career from a distance though social media. You live your life in the public eye and you have embraced that. Being Amanda Fucking Palmer seems to be a full time job, even aside from performing and recording. Do you get the chance to clock out at the end of the day and enjoy your private time? Or would you even want that?

AP- You know, I love being alone, but I almost never turn off the Twitter faucet, because it’s often when I’m alone and reflecting that I feel most like chatting with people. There are all these cliché maxims about introverts and extroverts and solitude and re-charging but I think we’re all so, so different. I love being in bars and cafes, sitting alone at a table with a journal. That thought makes a lot of people feel lonely. I hate being in the middle of nowhere in nature, with no hum of humanity around, whereas that really blows a lot of other peoples dresses up. There’s just no accounting for taste. What I’ve found is that I love being alone among people, which is why my spiritual feeding time and “recharging” usually happens when I’m alone and talking at my own pace on twitter, or in a room full of people practicing yoga together, or on a week-long silent meditation retreat. It’s not even the communicating I love - it’s the sense of being “among” people. I’m really curious to see what this baby brings into my life. I have a feeling that it’s going to get really interesting. Do they let you bring babies to silent mediation retreats? Forget I asked, actually.

MG- You recently had a one-off Dresden Dolls reunion which was successfully webcast and lapped up by fans. Was it easy to slip back in to band mode? I can imagine a Dresden Dolls tour blazing across the world somewhere down the line, is that something you can envision happening?

AP- The Dresden Dolls will never die. As long as Brian and I exist, I can’t imagine that we won’t love making, writing and playing music with each other. Whether or not we want to live in a tour bus for two years together is another matter. Let me pop out the kid first. Then ask me about a reunion. Brian would actually make a great uncle. He’s so fully tuned into the universe that he’s really amazing with kids.

Amanda Palmer's tour continues as follows:-


Thu 28 London Hackney Empire

Fri 29 Bristol St. George’s

Sat 30 Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival   


Mon 01 Edinburgh Queens Hall

Wed 03 Manchester RNCM

Fri 05 Leeds City Varieties

Mon 08 London Union Chapel

Tue 09 London Union Chapel

Sat 13 Dublin Dalkey Book Festival (day) / Dublin Academy (evening)

Sun 14 Belfast Limelight

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1 comment

  • shitshow

    This is funny, in a sad way. She's going to go crazy, maybe she already is. She and Neil have never lived together or spent significant time together. Add a screeching pooping infant to that - even if it is the magical mystery child of her & Neil Gaiman!!! And according to Amanda, she's actually thinking to care for it?!? I'd guess it will go straight to the nanny (which would be the best thing for all involved). Amanda is too self-involved & needs too much attention herself to successfully care for an infant.

    Oh, and the bit about Brian as an Uncle!?! HAH! They may have a professional association, but Brian is not going near that shit. Kudos to Brian for making a life that doesn't include Amanda.

    Yes, this is mean - but my god, Amanda is mean! She's a mean narcissist! And now she's having a child. God help the child!

    posted by shitshow Tuesday, 26 May 2015 23:55 Comment Link
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