For someone in a band whose sound has been described as grotesque vaudeville, Brian Viglione, drummer of The Dresden Dolls, sure comes across as a chipper dude.
"If someone ever compares us to Gwar, I'd feel honored but underqualified," Viglione says from his house just outside of Boston. Indeed, even though the band's name invokes images of burned out toy factories in the fatherland or German prostitutes, The Dresden Dolls are more indie than industrial.
"We don't just appeal to the 15-year-old goth girl," Viglione says with a laugh. "We feel like we are a very accessible rock band."
The Dresden Dolls
The Dresden Dolls perform Saturday, May 31, at the Palladium Ballroom
Well, that may be going a bit too far.
The band's basis alone is somewhat out there. After Viglione met singer/keyboardist Amanda Palmer at a Halloween party in 2000, the pair quickly realized an artistic connection: Combining their shared love of cabaret jazz of the 1920s and '30s with modern rock, Palmer and Viglione quickly set themselves apart from any genre, and the band's sophomore effort, Yes, Virginia, came out in 2006 and was hailed as a unique hybrid of pop and art.
"Perhaps we have a certain flair here or there," Viglione says. "Perhaps because The Rocky Horror Picture Show was more of an influence than The Cure or Bauhaus."
With a surprisingly loud ruckus for a duo of just piano and drums, The Dresden Dolls have created a niche all its own, a theatrical, slightly pretentious forte that has found an audience in spite (and probably because) of its artistic posturing. The Dresden Dolls are currently out in support of the recently released No, Virginia, a companion piece to the earlier effort. Viglione sees this tour as an opportunity to expand the band's audience by continuing to espouse exactly what has worked in the past: fashion.
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"People don't see rock musicians dressing creatively anymore," Viglione says with an air of complaint. Such is certainly not a problem for this pair—whiteface and pinstripes are the order of the day.
"We started with the makeup and suits as a connection and a nod to our heroes of the '20s and '30s," Viglione explains.
Those cabaret images are quickly apparent in the subject matter and music of songs like "Lonesome Organist Rapes Page Turner" and "Night Reconnaissance." More earnest than eerie, Palmer and Viglione have been successful by defining their image and sticking to it. By carefully creating a balance of stage production and musical craft, they persevere with a tongue-in-cheek perversity.
Says Viglione: "We hope we are a band that creates a world all our own, where the amount of visuals never overshadows the music."