Amanda Palmer

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Amanda Palmer


In typical Amanda Palmer fashion, when it came to making her latest record, Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under the ex-Dresden Doll and queen of punk-cabaret just couldn’t keep it simple.

In typical Amanda Palmer fashion, when it came to making her latest record, Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under the ex-Dresden Doll and queen of punk-cabaret just couldn’t keep it simple.

"I think the whole album actually happened backwards," laughs Palmer. "I first realised I had a collection of songs so it made sense to record them. At the time I had enough for an EP, which was actually the original idea, not to make a huge deal out of it, but being Amanda Palmer, of course, it was impossible for me to keep it nice and simple!

"I really like how it came out, though," she admits, "because one half of it is very polished and the other half is very raw and live."

Recommended by her good mate and former Adelaidean Ben Folds, Palmer joined forces with Adelaide producer Mick Wordley which saw her make a much-anticipated return to her "other home" Australia.

"I always try to get back as much as I can but this time was especially a fun time because I was staying with Mick and his wife," recalls Palmer. "I spent a week with them and Mick really gets the creative juices going. Ben Folds turned me onto Mick because Ben used to live in Adelaide so that’s how the connection happened.

"It turned out to be a very Australian-influenced record, probably more than I would have expected. Maybe it’s not so much about Australia as it is about me personally, but using Australia as a backdrop.

"I’ve had this ongoing love affair with that country and I’ve tried to escape there every year, so I feel incredibly at home over there. I’ve never put out an album with such extremes on it – but the common rule was that it either had to be recorded in Australia or inspired or written in Australia. The only song that was written in the ‘States is Australia."

According to Palmer, Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under is the singer’s most interesting and eclectic album yet. These days a solo artist, Palmer claims having the power to call all the shots has meant she can do what she loves doing best – taking improvisation to the limits.

"I’ve always loved making art with my friends but it’s nice to learn to stand on your own too; especially after so many years of being in a band," Palmer points out. "This album is such an extremity of emotions. It’s full of longing, and silliness, and some parts are incredibly sad and some parts are downright hilarious. There’s definitely a huge stack of pros and cons to being a solo artist and having the freedom to be impulsive is one of the pros. I can literally decide what I want to do, where I want to do it and how, without having to consult everybody else. That’s always been a turn-on for me, I’ve always been happiest when I could function through improvisation, and I think it shows."

Still, it’s nice to reminisce and get a little nostalgic over your old band, as Palmer points out. With the Dresden Dolls briefly reuniting over the New Year’s Eve celebrations for a one-off epic show in the US, Palmer says it’s been a bittersweet experience to be a part of a duo.

"Brian [Viglione] and I were mostly driving each other crazy," says Palmer of the Dresden Dolls’ split. "We were constantly stuffed together in a van or a bus for the better of seven years. It’s not that you start to hate it, but it really can take its toll on you after so many years, and the last thing you want is for it to influence your art.

"I know that Brian was feeling it too. It’s not hard to understand why that came to an end. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of touring solo as well as being coupled in a band, but once again, there’s a bigger stack of pros than cons to calling the shots yourself."

Having said that, Palmer adds that she still enjoys the odd collaboration here and there when she has some spare time on her hands. Recently teaming up with good friend Jason Webley as punk cabaret duo Evelyn Evelyn, Palmer says she’s bringing a small entourage along with her to Australia this month.

"Jason and I met in Adelaide about 10 years ago, maybe more. We were both street performers at the time and we used to watch each other, so I guess this collaboration was bound to happen sooner or later. So many people warned me not to do it: ‘career suicide’ got thrown around a lot in my face, but I think if I listened to what most people told me I wouldn’t be here right now."

And her fans wouldn’t have her any other way either. Often controversial but mostly entertaining, Palmer is renowned for pushing both the musical and visual boundaries at her live performances which are best described as ‘spectacles’.

"I always make the Opera House a little nervous when I come," she laughs. "There’s going to be a lot of people coming and going off the stage, a lot of improv… But I promise it works!

"I just got married recently too, so I’m going to have my husband (author Neil Gaiman) come up on stage and read some stuff he’s written. Working with Neil was always going to be a risk because our relationship is something that I’ve always wanted to keep safe. When you collaborate with people there is always the danger of falling out or not seeing eye to eye… That’s not something you want to happen with your partner and it hasn’t yet.

"I’m also going to have a backup band which I’m bringing from Melbourne called The Jane Austen Argument who are also on this record. There’s going to be a lot of odd, random surprises."

We wouldn’t have it any other way.

AMANDA PALMER launches her new album Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under with a huge show at The Forum on Saturday February 26 – tickets from or 136 100. Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under is out now through Liberation.