07.12 The Amazing Amanda Palmer Releases Her First New Studio Album in Four Years with Her New Band, The Grand Theft Orchestra
Album Dropping in September, Followed by Fall Touring in U.S. and Europe
Six-City Summer Tour Includes Art Exhibit Featuring Over 30 Visual Artists
By Kristie Bartlett
Amanda Palmer can’t remember a time when she didn’t imagine being an artist, performer, and provocateur. Growing up in Lexington, MA, little Amanda spent her Saturdays dreaming up imaginary street fairs, great kaleidoscopes bursting with color and sound and people swirling around her, having a wonderful time.
“I spent lots of time drawing flyers for events that never existed,” Palmer says. “I would plan everything late at night in my room, conjuring up the most incredible, magical event on the planet, imagining everyone in the town would come and eat the candy, ride the bizarre rides that my friends and I would create, and buy the art that I would draw, so that I would never need to rely on my parents for an allowance again. At nine I was already fantasizing about throwing the ultimate party. Being a musician or rock star seemed like the most obvious ‘real’ job that would line up with that dream,” she muses. “I think that’s why I turned to music. The rock stars I was idolizing on MTV seemed to have the most leverage when it came to art-party-throwing.”
But as anyone who’s ever seen or heard Palmer (and for those of you who haven’t, you are missing out on spectacular talent) ~ whether raising eyebrows and attracting onlookers as The Eight Foot Bride living statue in Cambridge’s Harvard Square, delivering dramatically direct, wildly theatrical performances as one half of the cabaret-punk duo The Dresden Dolls (whom we had the pleasure of interviewing back in 2007), or, most recently, as a solo artist/force whose uncompromising vision has frequently made her a magnet for both admiration and controversy ~ will attest, this unique artist has never treated being a musician and rock star as a job…rather, it is an extension, an expression, of every part of her being. Palmer is her art, and is never stagnant; she is always becoming ~ a voracious seeker of creative catharsis and emotional release, a bold participant in games of truth or dare (she always opts for both) on a life-sized stage, and, above all, an utterly un-categorize-able work-in-progress. She’s a fearless (and often hilariously witty!) blogger, singer and songwriter, of course, and an audaciously expressive pianist who simultaneously embraces and bursts through traditional frameworks of composition.
Now Amanda Palmer is preparing to release her first new studio album in four years, in conjunction with her new band, The Grand Theft Orchestra: Michael McQuilken, Chad Raines and Jherek Bischoff. The album, recently recorded in Melbourne with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Murder By Death, Modest Mouse, Xiu Xiu), will also include a visual art exhibit featuring 30 visual artists who have created work inspired by the album. And true to form, the undisputed queen of fan engagement turned to her fans for help, launching a new Kickstarter campaign that enabled her to execute the ambitious global release at levels rarely seen by independent artists.
Amanda shared that “I’ve been waiting what seems like ages to release this album, trying to figure out how to serve it best, since I think it’s the best material I’ve ever written. I had to find the right business team, the right musicians, the right producer, and most importantly, the right system through which to release it. I’ve been experimenting with self-releasing little projects for a while, learning as I go, and my team knows enough now to self-release a massive record.”
Since parting ways with her record label four years ago, Amanda Palmer has navigated her own fiercely independent path through the music business. A long-time blogger who routinely tweets incredibly intimate details of her life, and who maintains constant and genuine communication with her fans, Palmer has fully embraced the “pay what you want” business model to proven (and much-deserved!) financial success (See Palmer’s “HowtoGetRichonTwitter” as an example of a random Friday night in Amandaland). Through it all she has built a loyal community of supporters (now over 500,000 on Twitter) that continues to grow with every piece of music she gives away (all of which is free on her website save for mechanical royalty charges) and every concert and flash-mob-style free “ninja gig” she performs. Amanda has earned her reputation as one of the most accessible, gracious, honest, hard-working artists to come along in many decades.
Now Palmer has raised the bar even higher, planning a 2-year global release of creative output that will feature a multitude of videos and remixes, 18 months of global touring, and a pop-up art exhibition. To finance all the work involved, Palmer once again relied on Kickstarter, with a “macro-lending” add-on she called Loanspark that allowed for larger contributions that surpass Kickstarter’s $10,000 maximum limit. The backer-incentives on Kickstarter range from $1 (a digital download of the album) to $10,000 (a live portrait sitting, painted by Amanda herself, including wine and dinner). Palmer’s last Kickstarter campaign, which funded the recording of a sold-out tour with author and husband Neil Gaiman, raised $133,000 ~ this time, she raised $1,192,793.
There has rarely been an Amanda Palmer (or Dresden Dolls) release without a strong visual art component, and Palmer’s upcoming album is no exception: in conjunction with the album’s release in September 2012, Amanda has commissioned 30 unique artists (many of whom are musicians as well) to create work inspired by the new album. This art will be featured ~ live on local gallery walls ~ in the traveling “Pop-Up” art exhibit that will touch down in 6-8 cities in the U.S. and Europe, where Amanda & The Grand Theft Orchestra will perform exclusive shows within the gallery to reward local Kickstarter backers. Palmer muses, “I’m pretty sure I became a musician so I’d have an excellent excuse to throw an Art Party everywhere I went. This upcoming gallery tour is about as close as I get to fulfilling that fantasy. Wine flowing, visual art and artists everywhere, music playing loudly, everybody excited about the album in one tiny room, jumping up and down…it doesn’t get any better than that, really.”
The Pop-Up Artists
- DJSpooky (Paul Miller)
- Hans Rickheit
- Kyle Cassidy
- Lee Barron
- Michael Pope
- Tony Albert
- Walter Sickert
AMANDA’S TWO ROCK SHOWS IN BOSTON SOLD OUT IN RECORD TIME, BUT DON’T MISS THE POP-UP ART EXHIBIT WHEN IT TOUCHES DOWN AT THE MIDDLE EAST RESTAURANT!
July 31: Rock show (sold out)
Aug 1: Press / artist reception, 7-10pm (PRIVATE / Invite Only, RSVP required)
Aug 2: Rock Show (sold out)
Aug 2 – 4: Exhibition open to the public (11am – 12am daily)
Top photo by Andrius Lipsys
Middle photo by Kyle Cassidy
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