AS378 - 43
Abstract Series 378 - Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra Part 4
Official Site: bit.ly/AFPweb
Palmer was born in New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, and grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts. She attended Lexington High School, where she was involved in the drama department, and attended Wesleyan University where she was a member of the Eclectic Society. She staged performances based on work by the Legendary Pink Dots, an early influence, and was involved in the Legendary Pink Dots electronic mailing list, Cloud Zero. She then formed the Shadowbox Collective, devoted to street theatre and putting on theatrical shows (such as the 2002 play, Hotel Blanc, which she directed).
With an interest in the performing arts, both in music and in theatre, Palmer spent time busking as a living statue called "The Eight Foot Bride" in Harvard Square, Cambridge; Edinburgh, Scotland; Australia (where she met Jason Webley); as well as many other locations. She references this line of work on The Dresden Dolls' self-titled CD, with the song "The Perfect Fit":
"I can paint my face
And stand very, very still
It's not very practical
But it still pays the bills"
as well as on the A is for Accident track "Glass Slipper":
"I give out flowers
To curious strangers
who throw dollars at my feet."
The Dresden Dolls
Amanda Palmer performing with The Dresden Dolls at Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland, New Zealand, September 2006
At a Halloween party in 2000, Palmer met drummer Brian Viglione and afterwards they formed The Dresden Dolls. In an effort to expand the performance experience and interactivity, Palmer began inviting Lexington High School students to perform drama pieces at her live shows. The Dirty Business Brigade, a troupe of seasoned and new artists, performed at many gigs. The invited costumed characters mingled with the crowd before and during the show, and veteran groups sometimes joined in with a choreographed stage act. Life-sized marionettes, coin-operated boys, living statues, and other undergroundlings greeted fans while circus and burlesque drew the audience into the Dolls' music, creating a participatory atmosphere that allowed the audience to experience numerous types of art simultaneously.
After developing a cult following, the band recorded their eponymous debut album, The Dresden Dolls, in 2002 with producer Martin Bisi (of Indie, Brooklyn, New York fame). They produced the album before being picked up by Roadrunner Records.
In 2006, The Dresden Dolls Companion was published, with words, music & artwork by Amanda Palmer. In it she has written a history of the album The Dresden Dolls and of the duo, as well as a partial autobiography. The book also contains the lyrics, sheet music, and notes on each song in the album, all written by Palmer, as well as a DVD with a 20 minute interview of Amanda about making the book.
In June 2007, as part of the Dresden Dolls, she toured with the True Colors Tour 2007, including her debut in New York City's Radio City Music Hall, and her first review in the New York Times.
July 2008 saw the release of the second Dresden Dolls book, the Virginia Companion. It is a follow-up to The Dresden Dolls Companion, featuring the music and lyrics from the Yes, Virginia...(2006) and No, Virginia... (2008) albums.
The Onion Cellar and Cabaret
Palmer conceived the musical/production The Onion Cellar, based on a short story from The Tin Drum by Günter Grass. From December 9, 2006 through January 13, 2007, The Dresden Dolls performed the piece in conjunction with the American Repertory Theater at the Zero Arrow Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While Palmer was openly frustrated with the direction of the show, fan and critical reviews were very positive.
Palmer, as part of her solo career, returned to the A.R.T. in fall 2010 for a two-month run of Cabaret, starring as the Emcee.
2010 Reunion Tour
In 2010, a reunion tour to selected venues in the United States occurred. It started on Halloween in New York City and ended in San Francisco on New Years Eve.
Palmer (left) as one half of Evelyn Evelyn, with Jason Webley.
Palmer's solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, was released on September 16, 2008. Ben Folds produced and also played on the album. The title is a play on an expression used by fans during Twin Peaks' original run, "Who killed Laura Palmer?" A companion book of photos of Palmer looking as if she were murdered was released in July 2009 featuring photography by Kyle Cassidy and accompanying writing by Neil Gaiman.
August Strindberg was indirectly referenced in a song by Palmer titled "Strength Through Music," which contains an audio clip of a web cartoon called Strindberg and Helium. The cartoon almost exclusively quotes Strindberg's work.
In July 2007, Palmer played three sold out shows (in Boston, Hoboken, and NYC) in a rare "with band" format. Her backing band was Boston alternative rock group Aberdeen City, who also opened along with Dixie Dirt. In August 2007, Amanda traveled to perform in the Spiegeltent and other venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, and also performed on BBC Two's The Edinburgh Show. She collaborated with Australian theater company, The Danger Ensemble; both again appeared at the Spiegeltent in Melbourne and at other venues around Australia in December 2007. In September 2007 Palmer collaborated with Jason Webley to release Evelyn Evelyn's debut EP "Elephant Elephant" via Jason's Eleven Records. In June 2008, Palmer established her solo career with two well-received performances with the Boston Pops. In Autumn 2008, she toured Europe with Jason Webley, Zoe Keating and The Danger Ensemble, performing songs mostly from her debut solo album. She did most of the shows with a broken foot she had sustained in Ireland when a car ran over her foot as she stepped out into a street. In April 2009, she played at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
In 2009, Palmer went back to her alma mater, Lexington High School in Massachusetts to collaborate with her old director and mentor Steven Bogart on a workshop piece for the department's spring production. The play, With The Needle That Sings In Her Heart was inspired by Neutral Milk Hotel's album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and The Diary of Anne Frank. It received an overwhelmingly positive response from the Lexington community and abroad. NPR's Avishay Artsy interviewed the cast in a piece featured on All Things Considered on closing night of the production. Amanda described this process as "what it's all about" in her blog.
From August to October 2010, she performed in Cabaret at the A.R.T. in Boston, Massachusetts. She played the emcee, collaborating with long-time associates Lance Horne (music director), Steven Mitchell Wright of The Danger Ensemble ("movement master/choreographer"), and Steven Bogart (director, Amanda's high school drama teacher who directed the Lexington High School production of the Neutral Milk Hotel-inspired "With the Needle That Sings In Her Heart").
Palmer has increasingly used the ukulele in her career, including free ninja gigs in public locations, that are open to all ages.
On February 9, 2012, Palmer announced on her blog that she will begin recording a new solo album in collaboration with The Grand Theft Orchestra, under the name of 'Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra'. Palmer stated that there are "20+ songs" ready to record, and that "almost all of them have never been heard". The album is to be recorded in Melbourne with John Congleton producing.
On April 20th, 2012, Palmer announced on her blog that she launched a new album pre-order on Kickstarter. The Kickstarter project was ultimately supported by 24,883 backers for a grand total of $1,192,793, at the time, the most funds ever raised for a musical project on Kickstarter 
^ a b Banner on Palmer's web site and her Twitter page; poster for Amanda Palmer concert, Koko, London
^ a b Machel Spence; The Battered Suitcase. The Battered Suitcase Summer 2009. Vagabondage Press LLC. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-4524-6181-6. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
^ a b Amanda Palmer blog of April 6, 2010, titled "FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST (Dear Roadrunner Records…)"
^ Full name as stated by Palmer on Twitter, January 3, 2011.
^ interview by Chris Arnold (January 17, 2007). "Band Tries to Make It Big Without Going Broke". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. The web page also has audio and a transcript of the interview, and links to several of their songs.
^ Starfucking with Kevin Smith, Chapter 1 – The Neil/Amanda Interview, November 23, 2010
^ Perry, Jonathan (September 16, 2008). "On 'Who Killed,' Palmer looks behind the veil". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
^ Shanahan, Mark; Meredith Goldstein (May 11, 2009). "Palmer hangs out in Lexington". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
^ Sless-Kitain, Areif (December 3, 2008). "Amanda Palmer". Time Out. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
^ Bell, Sean (August 16, 2009). "A piece of my mind". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved February 19, 2010.
^ Boston Phoenix review of Hotel Blanc
^ Chernov, Sergey (August 4, 2009), "Controversial Musician Prepares for Local Debut", St. Petersburg Times
^ a b The Dresden Dolls Companion, by Amanda Palmer, eight foot music publishing, June 2006, ISBN 1-57560-888-X ISBN 978-1-57560-888-4
^ True Colors Tour web site.
^ a b c Chinen, Nate; photos by Hiroyuki Ito (June 20, 2007). "Power to the People (and Some Pop Too)". The New York Times: pp. B1,B5. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on October 12 2007. Retrieved November 9, 2007. "A much more musical brand of theatricality animated the Dresden Dolls, a duo consisting of the pianist Amanda Palmer and the drummer Brian Viglione. Their set was a concise demonstration of cabaret-punk. Ms. Palmer, singing throatily at an electric keyboard, held her own not only on the band staple "Coin-Operated Boy" but also even amid the bombast of "War Pig," theBlack Sabbath screed."
^ Virginia Companion, by Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione, Cherry Lane Music Company, July 2008,ISBN 1-60378-079-3 ISBN 978-1-60378-079-7
^ "The onion cellar". American Repertory Theatre. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2007. "Inside the small confines of the mysterious club The Onion Cellar, the internationally renowned rock duo The Dresden Dolls provides nightly entertainment while a series of stories unfold around them. As singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Amanda Palmer and drummer Brian Viglione play their songs, the Onion Cellar becomes a space where rock and roll meets cabaret with humor and humanity." World Premiere.
^ On The Download editors; photo by Kelly Davidson (April 20, 2005). "Dresden Dolls take the ART".On The Download. Retrieved August 21, 2006. "The Dresden Dolls are taking the world by storm. This punk cabaret duo from Boston are incredible musicians whose smart, personal, intricate songs and mesmerizing live performance have earned them a cult following. Now don't tell anyone, but there's a rumor that the Dolls may be appearing at a bizarre underground club somewhere in Cambridge – an Onion Cellar, where the audience peel onions for emotional release, where you never quite know who's sitting next to you, where your life could change forever."
^ [www.americanrepertorytheater.org/node/4989 "Cabaret OBERON Shows August 31, 2010 through October 29, 2010"]. American Repertory Theatre.
^ Amanda Palmer (September 7, 2010). "THE DRESDEN DOLLS HALLOWEEN 10th ANNIVERSARY & FALL TOUR". Retrieved September 7, 2010.
^ Palmer, Amanda (May 10, 2008). "fish/people/belly". The Dresden Dolls Diary. Archived from the original on May 13 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2008. "the solo record got re-mastered and it's.....mind-blowing. it's so good. it's sooooooo gooooooooooooooooooooooood. so i feel safe in a deep way. because as long as the record is amazing then I can fuck everything else up and it's technically ok. it will be released September 16. that is now like Christmas day for me. it is four months away. that seems long."
^ "Dresden Doll Preps Solo Debut". spin.com music for life. spin.com. April 25, 2007. Archived from the original on December 13 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2007. "The Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer chats with SPIN.com about her forthcoming solo effort."
^ Palmer, Amanda (April 1, 2007). "here to dispel.". Speculation: Solo Album Title. The Dresden Dolls. Retrieved December 8, 2007. "... i am recording the solo album....in nashville, at ben folds' studio, with ben, who is producing the record and playing on it."
^ Eichler, Jeremy (June 20, 2008). "All dolled up at the Pops – Palmer brings the edge but the fest needs more". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on June 26 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2008. "Last night in Symphony Hall, Amanda Palmer brought some spark and much-needed edge to the Boston Pops's EdgeFest. On her own terms, Palmer, in strong gravelly voice, gave a richly satisfying performance that had this crowd roaring far more than most in Symphony Hall. But even she couldn't overcome the deeper tensions that make the EdgeFest a strained format."
^ Smith, Rachel (June 20, 2008). "All Dolled up, Amanda Palmer and the Boston Pops, Symphony Hall, June 19, 2008". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved June 28, 2008. "Last night, Amanda Palmer kicked off this season of the Boston Pops EdgeFest, the orchestra's collaboration with younger, "edgier" bands and performers drawing the iPod generation into Symphony Hall. The choice of pairing Palmer with the Pops lead me to wonder if the Pops had ever listened to a Dresden Dolls album or seen The Onion Cellar or, you know, met her."
^ Palmer, Amanda (April 1, 2007). "The Dresden Doll's Forum". Speculation: Solo Album Title. The Dresden Dolls. Retrieved December 8, 2007. "... i am recording the solo album....in nashville, at ben folds' studio, with ben, who is producing the record and playing on it."
^ "Amanda Palmer: broken foot explanation". Retrieved November 7, 2008.
^ Palmer, Amanda. "With The Needle That Sings In Her Heart". amandapalmer.net. Archived from the original on December 12 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2010. "AMANDA PALMER–celebrated punk-chanteuse and pianist for the popular rock band THE DRESDEN DOLLS, and, more recently, hailed for the success of her Ben Folds-produced solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer–is returning to her old stomping grounds at alma mater LEXINGTON HIGH SCHOOL. The reason? To create an original play with her former drama teacher, STEVEN BOGART along with a cast of twenty students. The play is written from scratch by the ensemble, the content of which is inspired by the music and lyrics of the critically hailed album, "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea" by celebrated indie rock band NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL."
^ Artsy, Avishay. "Neutral Milk Hotel Album Transformed For Stage : NPR". Archived from the original on December 02 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2010. ""I watch people proselytize this record all over the world, and it's like this secret brotherhood of awesome music that's never had any kind of big mainstream publicity," Palmer says. "It's just this sacred record that people connect through.""
^ Amanda Palmer Blog of May 8, 2010 titled "AMANDA PALMER in CABARET at the American Repertory Theater"
^ American Repertory Theater, about "Cabaret"
^ Amanda Palmer Blog of June 28, 2010 titled "chocolate is worth its weight in gold"
^ Ben Sisario (November 17, 2011). "Eddie Vedder, Amanda Palmer and Magnetic Fields Join Ukulele Craze". The New York Times: p. 9, Arts & LEISURE section. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 25, 2011. "A few years ago, as a one-off concert gag, Ms. Palmer strummed a uke as she sang Radiohead’s “Creep,” accompanying herself on a $19 model she had bought the day before. But the performance turned out to be so starkly intense it could not remain a joke. So she began taking a ukulele everywhere, and before long she had recorded a full album: “Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele,” released last year. That Ms. Palmer absorbed the basics in a day – her usual instrument is the piano – indicates one of the ukulele’s great advantages: it’s so easy to learn that it’s said to be almost impossible to play it badly. Even when slightly off key, it serves as a blank canvas that can accent the character of any voice. And in the right hands, it can strip a song to its skeletal core. ... As Ms. Palmer sees it, the ukulele is the zeitgeist instrument for the D.I.Y. age. “This is the age of the democratization of music,” she says. “Anyone can be a musician. And in a recession, when you have a $20 instrument and there’s a big musical renaissance, anyone will want to join in.”"
^ a b "my earth-shattering news, by amanda fucking palmer.". amandapalmer.net. February 9, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
^ "IT’S MY BIRTHDAY AND HERE’S WHAT I WOULD LOVE.". amandapalmer.net. April 20, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
^ "Amanda Palmer: The new RECORD, ART BOOK, and TOUR.". kickstarter.com. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
^ "Amanda Palmer Raises $1.2 Million On Kickstarter, And The Crowd Goes Wild". techdirt.com. June 1, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
^ "Kickstarter-Most-Funded". July 2, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2012.