By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Pianist/singer Amanda Palmer (or Amanda Fucking Palmer to her fans) is having a great fucking day.
It's the Friday of Halloween weekend—just hours before her final performance as the master of ceremonies in the American Repertory Theater's acclaimed two-month production of Cabaret in her hometown of Boston. In two days, she will join bandmate Brian Viglione for a Halloween reunion performance from the Dresden Dolls, the highly theatrical "punk cabaret" duo that consumed her life for much of the last decade. That performance coincides with the 10th anniversary of their first meeting, and ends a hiatus of two-plus years for the band.
But what really has her full attention this late morning is a riotous Twitter dialogue with some of her nearly half-million followers as they plan the faux—or not—launch of her new fragrance concept, called "FUCKING." Clever ideas are peppered by ardent followers—one particularly amusing tweet asks if "the FUCKING proceeds be donated to AIDS research."
This a far cry from the weary and apprehensive Palmer seen in the 2008 Youtube video created backstage at the "last" Dresden Dolls performance.
In that video Palmer, and especially Viglione, resolutely proclaim the end of their band. Obvious in the clip is the strain of their creating three albums, their constant touring and the endless bickering that had been their lives for the past eight years.
"It's like being brother and sister and married and business partners in a box 24 hours a day," lamented Palmer at the time.
And, not long after announcing that indefinite hiatus, Palmer and Viglione each found new creative outlets. For drummer and guitarist Viglione, (who loves the touring life) that meant non-stop projects, including recording and touring as drummer with Nine Inch Nails, releasing a solo album and contributing to 30 other releases and numerous tours.
Palmer, meanwhile, also went the solo route, releasing an album called Who Killed Amanda Palmer. She followed that up with a turn in Evelyn Evelyn, a musical about conjoined siblings that she helped develop, which turned into both an album and tour. And she successfully concluded years of legal wrangling and was released from her contract with Roadrunner Records—and, in July of this year, she released a kind-of-wacky EP of Radiohead covers played on her ukulele.
On top of all this came Cabaret. As has been made obvious in Dresden Dolls performances, theater has always been a big part of Palmer's life. And the role in Cabaret was a return to her theater roots in more ways than one; the production was led by her high school drama teacher as a rendition first staged at her old school in 2001.
Then there is the more personal project on which she has been focused lately: Three years ago, Palmer met Neil Gaiman, the British author of novels such as American Gods and Coraline and the graphic novel series The Sandman. The two are now engaged and leading a highly public life—at least for their combined Twitter community of nearly two million people.
So with such a vortex of activity, why the Dolls reunion? Why now? The answer lies in the chemistry that formed that immediate musical bond when the duo met ten years ago.
"I enjoy playing with Brian more than I can explain to another person," Palmer says. "We have a chemistry and psychic connection that makes playing so effortless and such a joy."
The reunion as currently planned is a short one. According to Palmer, the cities included in the tour were very strategically selected; in addition to reconnecting with their fan bases in some smaller markets, they made a clear point of avoiding the big, obvious cities where pressures and distractions would be unavoidable and might create unwanted tensions.
Dallas fit the fucking bill, thankfully.
"We wanted a really low-stress tour," Palmer says, "that would be as fun as fucking possible."