Monday, January 28, 2008

goin’ under the knife - northwest shows canceled

so. i have vocal nodes. i am going to have surgery to get them taken off.
this wasn't too surprising, honestly. but the randomness involved in HOW i found out is unbelievable.

i was at the studio one week ago finishing the new dolls recording, emailing during mixing. i'd been bitching about my scratchy voice to a writer friend at the boston globe and she sent a link to an article about a boston vocal surgeon (in fact, here it be) that the globe ran in 2004.
i was in brain-candy mode so i followed the link, read it, thought what the hell, googled the surgeon, found his email address, dropped him a line, and three days later i'm in a tall building in boston getting a scope stuck down my throat while i sing. "yep", they say. "you're a rock singer".

there's a fancy computer showing me what the scope is seeing, revealing the terrible vocal chords look like a vagina. well, to be fair, EVERYBODY'S vocal chords look like a vagina (they must get used to that after a while in the dept on laryngology).
but MY vocal chords look like a vagina that's, frankly, seen better days. i could go into some really uncomfortable poetic metaphors here involving busy and careless hookers but i WONT.

basically, i have what is typically referred to as vocal "nodes" - sort of like calluses that appear after years of battering. lots of people get them. teachers, lawyers, preachers, probably stockbrokers, you name it. if you are normal person and don't need your voice as a tool for your trade, you just deal with them. you have a scratchy voice. if you have a career that involves singing and touring, you get surgery to have them removed. i have been on a downward slop for years now, singing at half-mast because they just keep getting worse. dr. zeitels (i'm a fan - he's rad) has done lots of people. cher. julie andrews. steven
tyler. my favorite actor, jeremy geidt (some of you saw him in the onion cellar). GARY CHERONE OF EXTREME.

and my favorites: ozzy and sharon osbourne were in the office at the same time as me. what better endorsement than that, i ask? i called brian right after my appointment and was like "I have vocal nodes and need surgery and ozzy and sharon were there!" brian was like "OZZZYY!" and i was like "did you hear the part about the surgery?" brian was like "the ozman was sent from the metal gods to guide your voice to freedom".

anyway. long story short: i'll be getting this done in march and they ask that you go easy on your voice leading up the date. then it's 2 weeks of no talking (not even whispering) and another 4 weeks of rehab (and i said no, no, no). the good news is that i will have a shiny new set of vocal chords to sing with and the surgeon is the best in the country and just happens to be in boston. so i lucked out.

i am still going to head out to seattle to finish mixing the Evelyn Evelyn record but i canceled the 4 shows i was just about to announce in seattle, portland, eugene & olympia. i know some of you had already found out and bought tickets, and i'm sorry about that. is what it is. i've never canceled dates like this before, i don't plan to get all winehouse on you. anyone who bought a ticket can get a refund at the point of purchase, btw.

MEANWHILE, i am assured that next time i go into the vox doc i will get photo stills of my node-y throat and of course i will post forthwith because it's NARSTY. if you're really a glutton for punishment, a google image search on "vocal nodes" will probably make you lose your lunch. someone on the forum posted this handy wiki and i am pleased to see i've been added to the list of famous sufferers.

Bonnie Tyler, in 1977, found out that she had nodules that were so severe that she had to have surgery for their removal. After the surgery was performed, she was ordered to not speak for six weeks. One day while healing, she accidentally screamed and her voice took on a raspy quality. max (who's back in town, YAY!) informed me that bonnie tyler (yes, of "total eclipse of the heart fame") screamed because her mother didn't get bonnie strawberries (as instructed) for the ride home from the hospital.

on a brighter and more or less unrelated note:
here's a clip from tour of us covering "sweet dreams (are made of this)" by the eurythmics with our friends in the luminescent orchestrii.


ps "there will be blood" = awesome. saw it tonight.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

amanda at a poetry slam

well, it wasn't a poetry slam in the strict sense of the term.

we've been in the studio in boston literally non-stop since coming back from tour. a revelation, exactly what i was hoping would happen.
since there's no huge pressure to make this album some sort of definitive statement (what does that even MEAN anymore....i dunno) we just laid the tracks down, all in one day more or less.
i started with vocals yesterday, sucked because my voice was blown out from being out of practice in the studio, went back in today and nailed all five songs in under 5 hours. i'm happy now.
i would tell you the songs we're working on but i feel some (useless?) need to keep it SOMEWHAT of a surprise.

i realize as i spend more and more time in the studio that it's an actual skill set, and i've become better. i can walk into a studio and DO IT now. i know how things work, i understand how to prioritize and conserve, how to let certain things go and get stuck on certain other things. it was never my intention to learn how to do this. i always wanted to be able to go into a studio and with as little pain and effort as possible, re-emerge with a record. i've never been very process-oriented. that's changing. i'm enjoying it.

sheri hausey, one of our fav boston photographers, came by and took some pictures the other day.....

yours truly getting jiggy on the hot german mic

brian the intern of doom, sean slade, most well-edumucated producer in the west and benny the engineer in the control room

b-dog's kit

sponge bob squarepants presiding over the soundstage

tonight i finished vocals and sean (our esteemed producer) let me off the hook while they starting piecing together some takes and edits.
i hadn't checked my phone messages for as few days. i finally listened to them all while eating my thai food in the studio kitchen and i got a message from cormac from several days ago telling me that saul williams was doing a spoken-word show at brandeis (a university about 30 minutes outside of boston) tonight at 8 pm. i looked at the time and it was 7:45. i managed to get over there and i am so fucking glad i did.

saul williams is a fucking hero. if any of you are NIN fans, you probably know that trent reznor produced his latest record and they released it as a free internet-only download a few months ago (right after the radiohead campaign, same concept more or less, you can either download free or pay $5...hint: pay the fucking money)

i first saw saul a few years ago when we were on a bill together at the sundance film festival (random) in utah and i was just floored, blown away. we made fast friends. i remember pope being blown away too and us all pointing and going: PUNK ROCK! THE PUNK ROCK! this man is truly fucking PUNK ROCK!! fuck it! he's a steely and hilarious and passionate performer with poetry and music unparalleled. part spoken word, part hip-hop, all sharp as a razor, he's just THE SHIT. check out his site (and his new record "the inevitable rise and liberation of niggy tardust") here:

we showed up and the night was a long program of incredible, heavy, political/personal/bad-ass spoken-word, really well-known and insanely talented folks from all over the place. saul was headlining but the night had a fantastic family vibe. i found saul backstage and he asked if i wanted to do anything. i don't write poems. but wait, i remembered....i DID write one. back in edinburgh in august. i had it on my computer in cormac's car. so i went out, got it, copied it down onto a piece of paper backstage and all of a sudden i was up there, in front of 1000 strangers in a college auditorium on a saturday night, about to read a poem. saul let me cut into his set. it could've been way worse. i think it went well.

poetry and spoken word, as evidenced by the crowd tonight, is a fucking THING, man. it is it's own genre with it's own code. it's the same feeling when you go to a hardcore show and you realize there are all these unspoken but commonly understood rules about how the crowd and interactions will proceed. etiquette. this was a spoken word crowd at it's best...people shouting and standing up and hootin' and hollerin', REAL talent, searing words, hallelujah kinds poems and art jettisoning off that was a cross between a rock concert, a political rally and a kicking sunday gospel service.

people went nuts for saul and he delivered, starting his set from a balcony in the house, roaming the aisles while he spitted endless wonders out of his mouth, everybody's knuckles on their chair edges, screams of "YES!!!" inside and outside everybody's lips.
when i was got there, about to read my poem, i felt so out of place. i wasn't going to measure up to all of these performers. i started to make some sort of half-assed excuses about what was about to happen and people from the audience started yelling "FAMILY!" at me. as in: shut up with your excuses. read your shit, bare your soul, you're with family, you won't be judged.
i did. i wasn't. the whole experience was exhilarating and made me want to write poems. fuck this music shit. all i needs a mic, bitches! maybe i can beatbox.

as for saul, you gotta see it to believe it. i tried to dig up a good clip, here's one. this is saul doing "telegram to hip-hop", one of my favorites.
please watch it, so you can understand what i fucking mean:

then, go see him.
go see saul. he's touring all over this spring to support his new record.
if you see him, tell him i said hi.



eyecandy dept/more tour media:

here's an awesome clip of us doing a led zeppelin cover with two ton boa.
we decided to do this very last minute and it was a toss up between this ("immigrant song") and "ocean song"....thus the confusion at the start.
i forgot to tell brian what the rest of the band decided.
i had the lyrics written on my left arm and if you look closely you can see me desperately trying to rock out and read them at the same time
we got volunteers from the audience to play Rowing Vikings, The Ocean (and obviously, later in the song, Heaven), A Lonesome Tree and Moonshine.
serious 4th grade drama shit and how splendid it was!!!!

from comments:

natasha drake wrote:

Badass Prince thingamabob back there lady!
My mama gave me her Purple Rain tourbook as an apology for fibbing to me on that night in '85 when she was on her way to see the Revolution and told me children weren't allowed to go to concerts.

i am so glad someone noticed my prince poster. i just had to acknowledge that.

thanks all y'all for your continued feedback about release formats. all taken under advisement....



p.s. one more endorsement....sweeney todd = A+

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

us tour: finale

we're home.

i slept 14 hours last night.

brian and i are going into the studio tomorrow to record some old dolls songs and get the shit out of our system and off my brain.

for those who have been asking or conjecturing on new recordings, since there hasn't been an official release:
we have a collection of songs from yes, virginia that weren't used on the album but that i deemed too GOOD to be relegated as "b-sides".
so they were never released.
these include The Kill, Boston & Gardener (we thought we recorded glass slipper, but now i can't seem to find it. hm.)
we also have some rarer stuff and with these new recordings, we're currently trying to decide how we want to package and release this stuff.

we might put it out on one whole album, make things available gradual-like online, or put out two EPs.
seeing as you are the audience, mofos, if you have thoughts please hit me. i'm clueless, (in dumb-ass italian voice, with glare) i just make-a-da-music.

"who killed amanda palmer" is going to most likely be released in september.

i am going to take a general apartment-and-life-and-relationship-cleaning-and-feeding break from now til june, when i will come back in full force and start doing record promo for WKAP all over the states and europa. then in september i'll be doing a full world tour (some dates with danger ensemble and hopefully some dates with estradaspehre, and some dates pure solo AP).
thank you for all the venue ideas for this spring. we'll see what i get to. it's hard. i want to go everywhere. play everywhere. i heard recently that we have a huge fanbase in kluj,

"Evelyn Evelyn: the full score musical extravaganza (or whatever they decide to call it)" is going to be finished in march (the reason i am planning a few west coast solo shows is to be in seattle with jason to finish the record with them) and we have NO IDEA when it will be released. but i'm hoping we won't have to wait too long. the twins are frail and impatient, they don't understand all this waiting around shit and i am tired of explaining things like releases schedules and promo. they want to post everything to myspace the day we record it and i'm like NO NO NO. anyway.

after WKAP my next solo record (due for relase 2011) is going to feature an all-star cast of feist, 50 cent, neil young, conor oberst, kenny g, britney spears, the klaxons, avril lavigne and peaches and the working title is

more tour media..........

favorite moment of tour:

when brian invited everyone to join us onstage for "fight for your right (to party)" at the vic in chicago and the entire pit climbed onto stage and rocked out....

the club workers shit a brick, but nothing got broken (i don't think).

some clever person (iris in iowa aka PlacesParallel) captured it and edited it down for youtube.....

great new years shot....grand ballroom in NYC:

photo by Lisette M. Voytko

amanda holding the mic for Care Failure of Die Mannequin (in toronto):

photo by Brandy Alexander.

dolls, our bad-ass crew and two ton boa backstage at the norva in virginia....

(photo by lauren goldberg)


from comments:

steph g:
"I sometimes wonder if you find your fans offputting. The screams of 'I love you Amanda!'. Isn't there an important distinction between loving the work and loving the person? Does it get freaky that people declare their love for you over and over when they don't know you? Or, in doing things like self-promotion and blogging are you deliberately tearing down that wall, becoming more human and letting people know you, and so soaking in the love-fest? Don't misunderstand--I love the fans, or most of them. But the occasional one seems so rabid and insistent that I wonder if it gets creepy."

this is an excellent question.
i grapple with it a lot. i am trying to suck everybody in. i'm a performer. i need you to love me. that's how this works, to a certain extent. but love comes in all shapes and sizes. you need me to love you. for the most part, i do. really do., i never like hearing screams of "i love you amanda" when i'm trying to actually play a song. especially a quiet one. it's annoying. i think i talked about this some while back on another blog. anu difranco used to have the most irritating fans at her shows (brian and i went to several together, she's amazing live). i mean, real psychos who would just scream I LOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU ANNNNNNNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII again and again and not shut up. that is not love. that is something else. what do you do? she ignored it.

i usually hope that the crowd takes care of those people. a good crowd can be very effective at self-policing. when people drink it becomes more difficult, because they stop giving a shit what anyone is yelling back at them. different venues effect it. when we play sit down theater shows the crowd sometimes drops to a complete silence. there were moments on this tour, during "glass slipper", where not a single person was talking. in a crowd of almost 2000 people, you could hear a pin drop. i am amazed by that, proud of that. sometimes you know its a losing battle, especially if there's a bar in the club. forget it. sometimes it can get quiet and stay too quiet. it's a weird artform, that noise thing.

this very distracting and disturbing thing happened on the last night of tour at the norva in virginia. i was among the crowd, singing from my wireless microphone, on the balcony facing the crowd beneath during "the gardener". someone came up behind me and literally grabbed my ass, with two hands, and didn't let go. i kept singing and tried to ignore it, thinking it was a quick prank. then the person (mind you, i couldn't see them, so i had no idea what i was dealing with, man or woman, football player or fairy?) grabbed my right tit. i sort of donkey-kicked them with my boot, hoping to get them to lay off. and i kept singing. i turned around and in that moment, i saw this person and i just couldn't be angry. i was just confused. it was a girl, maybe in her twenties. i just left, kept singing, used it, felt a little violated, let the song bring me close to tears. i was emotional anyway, it was our last night of tour.

the thing about moments like this, and they are few and far between, is that it breaks this implicit faith that i have in our audience...that i'm always totally safe out there, that i can crowd-surf without anybody pulling my pants off, that nobody would ever do something stupid, that i don't need security (sometimes the club provides it but i never ask for it)...i just feel safe. people ask me if i have any truly crazy insane stalker fans and i can proudly say no. our fans are the most loving and civilized bunch of people i've ever met. they're all amazing humans....they're artists, they're thinkers, they are intelligent, they are respectful, they are kind to one another, they love music. i don't have to believe this, i see it because i meet them and i know them. and when i come across someone not fitting that description, i feel upset. and almost guilty, like: what did we do to attract this sort of shit? no, no, no.

so this event. it preoccupied my brain for the next 3-4 songs of the set because i kept replaying it in my head and finding myself unable to let it go. i finally just got fed up and told the audience what happened and started talking a little bit about how odd it felt. you're out there and you're in a totally different context. these are the people who are supposed to respect you, be with you, on your side, and they're objectifying you and doing something they would never dare do to a total stranger (lest they get punched in the fucking face).

it made things even more difficult to find out that this person turned out to be a real fan, someone who posts on the board and is part of our community. she emailed me an apology.
things like that are easier to take if you think it's some random friend-of-a-boyfriends-sister who came to the show and was just acting like a drunk dick. i wrote back, no hard feelings. truly. i related how unpleasant it was and i feared for her safety because she's headed for a possibly very icky experience of getting smacked by someone less non-violent if she goes around doing that to other people in virginia.

what can you do other than just be with it?
that's this life. didn't tori amos get raped by some crazy fan on the way home from a show? didn't eddie vedder have some crazy chick drive her car into his living room?

i had lots of these interesting encounters when i was a living statue on the street (i really need to write a book about that someday). people would literally treat me like an object, even when they knew i was real. throw things at me. poke me. grab me. i stood still through it all, never blinking. it gave me nerves of steel. and excellent peripheral vision (both of which, i may point out, came in serious handy for my stage career with the dresden dolls). i trusted that the general public would protect me from anybody truly crazy. and a few times, they did. i was literally laying my fate down at the feet of humanity, every day. my feet literally bound, relying only on the goodwill of others to keep some random asshole from toppling my delicately constructed self. i really miss my old job sometimes.

when people ask about the stalker thing, i say: i think i don't attract actual stalkers because there is NOTHNG MYSTERIOUS about me, and nothing to find out. i air out my dirty laundry with a frequency that makes it impossible for someone to want to root through my garbage. what are you going to find that you can't find out anyway? not very much.
does that make sense? it's just a theory. i think that people who actually cultivate mystique (whether deliberately or not) are easier to target.
i feel like i'm really cursing myself here, maybe it's time to shut up.

so we're done, for a while. brian is off to tour with other bands and i am off to get my life together and start work on this new solo record.

we talked a lot on this tour about how wonderful these last years have been despite the hardships.
our community, our slowly built land of punks, thespians, nerds, jocks, geeks, moms, kids, queers and whatever else you can imagine is a testament to the worthwhileness of all of it.
to see all these people actually in a room together, rocking out, getting it, loving each other, loving the experience.
you can't buy that in a store, you cannot download it from the internet, you cannot feel it unless you are there.
it's simple, it's REAL, and it's why live music will never die, ever.

the final hug ( rock love ).

(photo by lauren goldberg)

love (your mom),

p.s. mad props to the awesome person who brought me this shirt on the
last night of tour, excellent touch with the blackberry.

(self-portait with nice new shirt, 2:43 am. january 16, 2008)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

US tour: days 4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and ELEVEN

the flu hunged around. but it's mostly gone.

now brian has it and so does jaron, our monitor tech. we're in tampa florida, taking a day off.
things started going very fast and i got back into the tour rhythm, sleeping 10-12 hours a night, waking in the dark in parking lots, staggering into a venue, becoming coherent in time for soundcheck and watching the rest of the day turn into a blur. pouring everything out on stage, meeting people all night, falling asleep, waking up, repeating and trying to battle exhaustion effectively.

occasionally breathing deep turn the phone and computer on and put on my "i can still do business, i swear" t-shirt and trying to negotiate my life off tour.
i got to a yoga class in chicago before the show.
i went to two yoga classes on our off day in nashville.
i went to cafe coco (my nashville again cafe) a total of 4 times, in one day.
Again is an addiction.

new years eve was a beautiful family affair....
photos from The Grand Ballroom, NYC

brian during "in the flesh" from The Wall

meow meow:

me & lance on "mandy"

1 - check out the hot drummer (thats me)
2 - katie kay's getting action on far right!!!!!)

meow stage-diving during "we are the champions"

brian and sarah from luminescent orchestrii


brian and jaron luksa, our kick-ass monitor tech


amanda and meow

all the above:

i wish i could separate out each day of tour from the cluster and enjoy it as an isolated event.
night after night i feel like an overloaded sponge.
our fanbase is so fucking incredible. i can't get over it.
i read constantly about the decline of the recorded music industry and about how people aren't going out to shows anymore because there's nothing to believe in anymore....and i want to drag each and every one of those cynical bastards out of their cubicles and go "NO!!! LOOK! LOOK! LOOOOOOOOK!!!!"
i'm tired as shit. thank you so much, all of you.
thank you for making our lives this month so wonderful.
i want to burst with joy from all the glee and craziness and love we feel every night coming out of the audience.

random thoughts:

some journalist read my blog about going out barefoot in the snow and wrote a preview of the show calling me crazy.
i kind of like being called crazy, it's sort of romantic. but i really don't feel crazy. i feel pretty sane.
i think a lot of people think that i'm crazy because of the lyrics, the music, the image. that bugs me.
my theory, and we were discussing this in the bus last night. there are four kinds of music:

1. negative negative music.
2. positive negative music.
3. negative positive music.
4. positive positive music.

the first adjective describes the lyrical and musical content of the band (ie: what kind of music is this?)
the second adjective describes the overall vibe of the band and the quality of performative connection (ie what kind of people are these?).

we tried to come up with perfect examples of each and an overarching phrase to encapsulate:

1. negative negative music = "we are sad the world sucks and fuck you too you bloody cunts" = sex pistols, gg allin
2. positive negative music = "we are sad the world sucks but don't you feel the same way and let's all bond together in mass sorrow and anger" = rage against the machine, the smiths, nine inch nails
3. negative positive music = "let's all dance and sing and be happy but don't fuckin' bother me you bloody cunt i'm a rock star" = any bitchy pop band out there (you name it, i ain't gonna take the heat)
4. positive positive music = "yay! we love happy music and everythings great and we love you too" = polyphonic spree, yanni

dave argued that the dresden dolls fall into the "positive negative" category. i think we straddle that line between positive negative and positive positive. depends on the song. i mean, ALL the songs aren't about pain.
o god. no, wait. maybe they are. well, fuck it.


six days ago it was MINUS 17 degrees in montreal. today it is 70 in tampa. this schedule is not human.


t-shirt slogan ideas from the last while:



and the winner



i am trying to come up with a plan for next year. i think i am going to take the spring almost fully off and start gearing up in june for the release of the record.
i might do a few casual solo dates here and there when i travel around to visit friends (right now thinking about chapel hill, DC, nashville, santa fe, paris and berlin).
if you have any ideas for good venues (think: small, weird, good...maybe 300 capacity as i want to keep these shows small, easy and family) tell me now!


i was reading about amma the hugging guru in india and was thinking ....
....good promotional idea for the record.

what if i just GAVE AWAY THE RECORD FOR FREE with the catch that you PHYSICALLY HAD TO WREST IT FROM ME??
yes, you must meet me at 6 am, on the golden gate bridge the day i am playing san fran, at the eiffel tower plaza in paris, in tiergarten in berlin, on the docks near pier 51 in NYC, on the cliffs of dover the day of the london show.......i'll be there. with a box of records to give away. but you have to wake your ass up at 6 am (and so do i for the matter) and if you make it over, you get the record and a hug and my supreme admiration.
i wonder how many people will actually show. i wonder if this idea is even REMOTELY feasible.

did you realize that Cuisinart is actually "cuisine art" (as in, french-for-kitchen ART).
i didn't catch that until about two years ago and shared the information with brian last night, to whom it was also a revelation. thought i should share.


some random tour pix:
everybody on stage with us in chicago during Fight For Your Right....(yes, we got in trouble with the venue)....can you find the band?

hugging and loving

luminescent orchestrii:

"yes, juliet" at the vic in chicago

tea-pouring brigade at orpheum in boston

lexington high school drama dept. performing to "snow song" by neutral milk hotel, orpheum in boston:


gravity plays favorites in st louis

jonas woolverton and the rou cyr:

covering "golden age" by beck in st louis

more soon......