Thursday, May 19, 2005

burns shaped like stoves

Sometimes I realize that touring life is real, but mostly it feels like an accident happening and I keep thinking real life will resume. And then there are the moments where I am able to stop and say “I am truly happy right now.” It's happening right now, sitting in the back of a stranger's car watching the sunlit pensylvania countryside rushing by, feeling my sore neck and my lost voice, listening to classic girl by jane's addiction on the speakers. It happened two nights ago, backstage at the hammerstein in NYC, sitting alone in the dressing room twenty minutes before our set, when my bloody valentine came over the house speakers and I could only half-hear it, but that was perfect. The music I love ties me to reality.

Things that should make me happy (from the outside) often don't. This or that thing related to the band, this or that achievment, how many records and tikkets all tends to blur together in one place in my brain. There's a lot of space left in there.

The diary checklist in my head of musical/rockstar accomplishments stays constant. I might has well just list them this time around, instead of trying to pepper them into the prose of the past two weeks, here goes

1. Met David Bowie backstage. He likes the band and complimented the record, which he said he got ages ago. Bowie is plugged in. Does it matter? Met David Bowie and feel complete/ok with dying.

2. Brian Bell, the guitarist from weezer, found us backstage. He likes the band too.

3. Jerome (the very wonderful drummer from NIN) suggested sitting in with us, so we've been playing “karma police” by radiohead in the set (I wanted to play an avril song, but jerome heavily vetoed)

4. Tom Hamilton, the bass player from Aerosmith, came and found us after the boston show. Boston Rock Powah. He likes the band too.

5. We've been invited to play the Royal Albert Hall in london as part of the patti smith-curated meltdown festival, we'll be playing songs by Brecht, as it is a Brecht tribute night, with the likes of Ms. smith, wonderful Antony (with or without the Johnsens I'm not sure), Sparks, Martha Wainwright and others.....

6. Margaret Cho gave us a shout-out at her show at the Orpheum in boston. I sort of want to run away to a desert island with her.

I'm not sure where this accomplishment goes in the box of life, but we made trent reznor a creative birthday surprise involving a living statue in a beautiful green dress, a dark and dank boiler room in therpheum basement, a fruit tart with candles and a neutral milk hotel cd (he'd never heard of it). He smiled.

Mid-tour malaise has set in and the throat-porcupines have returned to set up camp. This was not at all aided by the party we threw in boston, where I deemed it a reasonable idea to stay up til sunrise. I was actually saved by further debotchery that night by a freak accident at the party which found me and the NIN guitar tech driving the NIN PA tech to the emergency room in ye olde volvo. We had lit a fire in the old woodstove of the cloud club and the PA tech, a very sweet guy from france named Florent, stepped right through the floor plexiglass in front of it and fell through. Luckily he didn't fall into Lee's apartment, but he did break the fall by putting his forearm on the stove, which is from the 19th century, and so his burn is very beautiful and covered with tasteful lines and arabesque little curly-q's.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

first night in chicago with NIN

the set in st. loius was rough. i'm having a "aliens invading my brain" experience with the new in-ear moniters i'm using.
not only that, we hadn't played a dresden dolls-only (no NIN) show in a week, and i hadn't taken into account how rusty we would be without having practiced our other material. but the crowd seemed to love it. brian and i have been struggling with these mindfucks lately. what makes a good show? brian can play the shit out of those drums some nights and then go lock himslef in a closet after the gig, banging his head against a wall sobbing "i'm a bad drummer" (well, i exaggerate, but it can get dramatic.). sometimes i will feel like i played like total shit and, nonetheless, will get the most tear-jerked-you-changed-my-life-tonight comments from people after the set. one thing we've definitely determined (and this supports an overall theroy of mine) is that where brian has more musician in his blood, i have more performer. if i feel that the audience has gotten off, even if i've had a rough show for any number of reasons, i leave stage satisfied. if brian feels he didn't perform his absolute best, he feels he has let the audience down. Even if the audience is none the wiser and loves the show and his drumming, he leaves stage frustrated and unfulfilled. i only made this connection tonight as we were talking about this on the bus; it's like two schools of thought about acting. One school (the method acting camp) says that if you're "acting" and not directly experiencing the drama, tears and pain of your character, then it's fucking fake and you're phoning it in. The other school would say that only a true perfomer/actor/entertainer can fake it and convince you that the experience is real. I suppose, like gayness, everyone falls somewhere in the middle, but generally towards one side or the other.

the show tonight in Chicago (night 1 with NIN) was as dramatic as all get out. We had no soundcheck (not even a quick one), so we hit stage cold and the audience was THE most hardcore NIN-fanatic bunch we've seen yet. They warmed up, but they were a distant bunch. NIN hit the stage and two songs into their set, the house PA cut out and they halted the show for half and hour while the problem was figured out. The natives got restless. People started a sing-song-y "BUUULLLLLL-SHIIIIIIIT, BUUULLLLLL-SHIIIIIIIT, BUUULLLLLL-SHIIIIIIIT" chant and Brian and I, who were eating our dinner on the floor right above the stage, said

"bad fans.

poor trent and nails, this isn't their fault.

thank fucking god this didn't happen during our set."

it was amazing to see the Evil Trent that came back out on stage. finally i got a taste (or so i was told by the tech guys) of what NIN tours used to be like every night. jeepers, that guy was pissed (or maybe he was just acting pissed very convincingly. see above). lights kicked in, mic stands hari-kari'd into submission, instruments flung, mr. reznor writhing on the floor. the audience that had been forced to wait a half an hour was rewarded well with the most balls-out show i've yet seen on the tour.

in news:
and if you haven't seen, we've just announced a contest to win tickets to any of our shows between May 18th and June 2nd (yes, including NIN shows). All you have to do is send us a picture of a living statue in front of your local Police Station.
details at:
deadline is May 9.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Christpher Lydon

Christopher Lydon just emailed me and told me that he owes me dinner.
I think I'm going to die.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Vegas is Deceitful Above All Things

I've been waking up earlier than everybody else. Sometimes the bus is still moving, sometimes we're parked in a club lot or a Generic American Truck-stop, but either way it's glorious privacy and I can almost pretend I'm at home. I shock and awe myself at the pleasure I derive from doing the dishes in the sink of the bus kitchen. It feels like being home. When I was at home over this last break, I did the dishes first thing every morning, practically before the crust was out of my eyes. I don't know why but there they were and I was always drawn to them. I think it was the beauty of the mindless task, those few moments of freedom before the thoughts set in, before I realize that there are defintely priorities above the dishes, that the dishes can wait, that there is email in the inbox, phone calls to be answered, clothes to be laundered and bills to be looked at....before that avalanche came down on my poor little head would just stand there and scrub, throw teabags into trash, and put away the dry ones from the morning before. Amanda, the enemy of routine, actually deeply enjoying this. Something is not right. But as I feel myself aging and the little wrinkle lines appearing, I find myself enjoying things I never have. These things creep into my life surreptitiously, some dish-doing here, some exercise there, some terrible pop music here, a lack of typical inhibition here. It's all fine with me. I'm just watching. I think I spent so many years convincing myself of what would anchor me firmly in a wonderfully cool neverland of admirable recklessness, sexy carelessless, and an artistic-devil-may-care lifestyle that it's taken years of resistance to old habits to actually become a free man.

So in the morning, I wake up early and do dishes and clean and pick up JT LeRoy where I left off. Bill H sent me a copy of "Sarah" before out last european tour and I devoured it (that book left me feeling more sad than any other in recent memory) and I've started this tour off with the book that came out after that, "The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things". Bill H sent it via secret messenger to the Paradise show. And as we bump along the Great American Highway I plummet myself into his world of ten-year-old prostitutes and anal rape and mothers who leave their children out to rot and other unspeakable horrors, and I make reality collide with Semi-Fiction as we stop to shower at a truck-stop and I eyeball the big burly men sitting there in the Driver's Lounge, eyes glued to the screen, wondering if they too fork over greasy twenties to little boys dressed as girls when the sun goes down over the cemetery of shining Peterbilts outside. I read long after everyone else seems to be asleep, like the good old days with the flashlight under the covers long after I'd been warned a second time. But I still wake up earlier than everybody else. Napping is key.

My birthday came and went under the tacky Vegas sun without much incident. I had been to Vegas twice before, once on a cross-country trip when I was five (my mother let us each gamble a dollar at Circus Circus)
and once in 1999, when I went to visit with Brett and his uncle and tried to make some money on the strip as the Eight Foot Bride, my living statue charater. I set up illegally in front of different casinos until they chased me away. Brett put on his tuxedo and we got married by a mime in the Venetian. Brian had never been, so I took him for a walk on the strip and we indulged in AquaMassages and ten minutes of Oxygen Inhaling at a kiosk next to an outdoor cover band playing Eagles covers. Vegas fascinates me. It is a place, and yet a non-place. A tourist attraction from the ground up, a disneyland for the depraved. But somwehere off the strip must be a real town, i wonder where....maybe The Killers could tell us. But they're mormons. Ah, who cares.

The show with Nine Inch Nails that night went well and the NIN folk sent an Amanda birthday cake over to the bus. All Black, one solitary candle. Very NIN. The band and crew have been wonderfully kind. The NIN keyboard techs went to town on my abused Kurzweil the other night and I watched like a nervous mother watching her child get a appendix out as they spent a solid half-hour trying to get it open to see if they could repair a broken key. You can tell when people are passionate about gear, they get this gleam in their eye that reminds me of little boys pulling the wings off of flies. Mr. Trent Renzor and some of the other guys in the band and crew came out to our non-NIN show in San Francisco and apparently loved it. Trent loved the Brigade and the was an A+ night in the world of the Brigade, Casey pulled out all the stops and there were painted crazed people everywhere, stilts, puppets, evil, costumes that had to be seen to be believed and the crown jewel of the Vau de Vire Society, a wonderful troupe of vaudelvillian pranksters who did a choreographed stage show to both Missed Me and Girl Anachronism. Little Sunday, one of our youngest fans (i think she's 4) wheeled her toy piano backstage in a red wagon and played me the opening chords of "Coin-Operated Boy" on it for my birthday.

The Coachella festival was a surreal experience and felt like a historic landmark for the band....the desert filled with music and illuminated palmtrees and sound sculptures, made me regret that my hallucinogenic days came to an untimely end long ago. All of the artists (there were at least 40 bands on our day including Bright Eyes, NIN, Gang of Four and New Order) were set up in this wonderful David Lynchian Trailer Park with Picket Fences, so that every band had a little home and a yard set up in a grid about the size of a city block. The Arcade Fire hung out in our yard because it was in the shade and I felt very honored. They were amazing, though we only got to catch about 6 minutes of their set as they went in right before us. I can't wait to see them again. Our set was in a large tent and it was packed to the brim with about 3000 people. We played one of the most intense 45-minute sets of our career and left stage delirious. More unreality set in as Peter Murphy grabbed me back stage and told me that he loved the set (important note: Amanda was a Bauhaus Fanatic for a while in High School). He came back to our
yard and we drank wine while I pinched my proverbial arm every fifteen minutes or so. I went and forraged for cigarettes for all of us.

Brian and I just bought airbrushed T-shirts at the Generic American Truck-stop in Arizona yesterday. His is reddish orange has a big Wolf and mine is blue and purple and has two Dolphins.



p.s. media lately:

Antony and the Johnson's new CD "I am a bird now" is fucking genius, a cd to cry and die to.

kathleen edwards' new cd - "back to me" is growing on me, still very standard alt-country but brilliant songwriting.

just finished "the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime" by Mark Haddon and highly recommend, it can be a long one-sitting read....