Fans come to their shows with the dedication only found in fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And with good reason. The Dresden Dolls have a theatrical feel to them that captures a feeling all of its own – thus the reason why the coined the term “punk cabaret.” Two clueless Droogs from Smashed Chair got a chance to chat with one half of the Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer. She fires off words lyrics like a machine gunner on stage, so we were prepared for anything. Wearing a shirt that said “NAMASTE MOTHERFUCKer” we knew that this was going to be fun. We talked about being “GOTH” and working with Ben Fold. Oh and we touched on being a pirate, too.
Smashed Chair Droog #1: What’s up with this crazy Los Angeles weather, one minute it’s hot the next it’s raining.
Amanda: It’s just like New England, so I’m used to it.
Droog #1: Last year, you were with the True Colors tour. What’s Cindy Lauper like?
Amanda: She’s totally amazing. She’s a really down to earth, generous, fast moving person. I was actually thinking about her today, she moves so quickly through a room like a hurricane and I know that I’m the same way. And I was watching her and I thought, ‘WOW, that must be how I look’ for other people. It’s like ‘nicetomeetyou, nicetomeetyou, whatlovelypantsyougot,’ and she leaves the room and she’s just this explosive thing.
I mean it was her tour, so she was focused on everything. She was just trying to make everyone happy and she brought it every night.
Droog #1: So, we’re in California and they just passed the same sex marriage thing. What’re your thoughts on that?
Amanda: I have mixed feelings about it. I think it’s fucking awesome that people could have the freedom to do what they want. But I think in some strange way it might be a side–step instead of a step forward, because the institute of marriage has become so antiquated. I would applaud more loudly if we restructured the way we politicized marriage. I think long–term relationships are fantastic and the idea of marriage is great, but the fact that people get married for tax cuts. I mean it’s just – marriage just doesn’t mean what it meant a hundred years ago and the whole social structure has changed. I wish we could change more things than just include people into a party that’s kinda fucked up.
I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth, because I have gay friends that want to get married, and I want them to be able to do what they want and I wish the world was a little different. And the whole idea of how marriage fits into what happens can be changed politically – I’m watching more people get divorced than get married and I’m watching the whole thing turn out so ugly. I want to encourage people to have twenty-year relationships and then get married when it becomes useless.
I’m just jaded today.
Droog#1: That’s OK. It’s a jaded day. When the band first started you didn’t want the word Goth associated with the band. You started your own term “cabaret...” what was it?
Amanda: Punk Cabaret.
Droog #1: Right, punk cabaret. So, why didn’t you want the term goth associated with the band?
Amanda: Well, that’s a tricky question. I was a kind of Goth in high school, but I realized pretty quickly that that type of crowd and genre was very limiting and pretty unidimensional and it still is and it’s getting worse and worse. The bands that are considered Goth today are pretty terrible. Part of it is my musical heritage. I loved bands that were considered or are Goth bands: Joy Division, Bauhaus, and I worshiped The Cure.
Droog #1: Siouxsie?
Amanda: Not so much into Siouxsie. But I really loved The Cure, they were my jam in high school. You know, I found myself as a teenager thinking, ‘If I find the people who listen to this music, they’ll be my friends, I’ll get along with them and we’ll have stuff to talk about.’ But I actually didn’t find much friendship in that category. I found much goths to be kind of petty and mean. And you know my friends were punks and hippies and other artistic weirdos. Especially given the way Goth music has evolved or devolved or whatever way you want to call it - it’s straight cartoony and there’s this esthetic, it just doesn’t taste quite right to me. We definitely have a lot of Goth fans and I’m in touch with my Goth roots. We get called Goth all the time in the press. From the outside they go, “Well, they’re wearing black, she’s screaming.” I go out of my way to not hang out in the Goth arena, because I just don’t feel that it fits me very well. I’m not really a dark negative brooding person. Not that Goth is that, it’s become so cartoony. I just don’t want to limit myself. I think that that’s lame, and I think that you should be able to express yourself in whatever way you want to that day. And Goth is just a box.
Droog #1: Sort of like the Hot Topic stores.
Amanda: It’s sort of hard for me to understand what it’s like to be 15 and you know what Goth means to a 15 year old now is really different from what it meant to me 17 years ago. Seventeen years ago it was like this “Oh those fucked up people, with crazy hair and clove cigarettes.” It was a very small niche and it was dark and mysterious and the music was alive. The whole thing felt very magic. And now I can’t imagine that it feels that way, it’s a much larger, amorphous kind of differently defined thing. For all I know they’re looking at us and saying, “Well, you know, I’m really into Goth. And I listen to the Dresden Dolls.”
Droog #1: I don’t want to get you in trouble with your record label, but Trent Reznor is giving out albums now and he’s like, “Fuck it, I don’t want to work with the middle man.”
Amanda: Yeah, that’s awesome.
Droog #1: Would you want to do something like that?
Amanda: I would want to, if we were contracted. But you know, record labels have their use. But you know, Trent Reznor has a huge fan base. And as far as I’m concerned I’m still growing and the label helps me with that – with different types of promotions. You know, there an office filled with people. But yeah, I can totally see myself releasing my shit on the net and just giving it to the fans.
Droog #1: Do you think this is the future of the record industry?
Amanda: I’m not sure. We’re going to figure it out soon. I definitely we’re going to back to a system of patronage more than...
Droog #1: Commercialism?
Amanda: Yeah, because music is just going to become inevitably free. And so artists are going to have to become creative in how they support themselves.
Droog #1: How’s Ben Fold?
Amanda: He’s amazing.
Droog #1: You guys worked together on your last album.
Amanda: Yeah we worked together for a while – we’re working together to this day, we’re trying to get the thing mastered. He’s incredible. He’s also all over the place. He’s got really smart ideas and he’s been working on his records for so long that he knows how to do a project. He knows how to realize an idea. He’s a fantastic producer – my album is mind blowing (Laughs).
Droog #1: You don’t have to be modest; it’s your album.
Amanda: No, it’s his album too, so that’s why it’s easy to say.
Droog #1: I mean he made Shatner cool again.
Amanda: Isn’t that a cool album?
Droog #1: The reason why this guy is so quiet is because he’s going to be photographing you tonight. So that’s why he’s the silent guy right now. Got any questions?
Droog #2: Yeah, you ever go to taco trucks or hot dog stands?
Amanda: Do I have a favorite? Yeah, it’s in my hometown, because I don’t go to many in L.A. There’s one in Cambridge. That’s a falafel stand, we don’t really have taco stands.
Droog #1: If you could be anything else, besides a fucking rockstar, what would you be?
Amanda: You mean what would have happened or like fantasy?
Droog #1: Strictly fantasy.
Amanda: You know I think I’m doing pretty well, I can’t think of anything else I would be doing. I wouldn’t mind doing something… I don’t know something really romantic. Like Indiana Jones, being some type of adventure type of archeologist in South America. Or maybe a…
Droog #1: A pirate?
Amanda: Yeah! Or maybe an astronaut. If I could drop in on that job for a week, that would be awesome.