The Dresden Dolls Biography
The Dresden Dolls are a two-piece band from Boston, Massachusetts, formed mid-2000 and made up of singer/pianist Amanda Palmer and drummer/occasional guitarist and vocalist Brian Viglione. They describe their style as "Brechtian punk cabaret", and have exposed an underground dark cabaret movement that started gaining momentum in the early 90's with artists like Salon Betty and Gavin Friday.
The band formed shortly after Brian Viglione witnessed Amanda Palmer performing a solo set at a Halloween party. They found a cult following through the efforts of their dramatic live performances. During these performances the two band members often wear make-up and clothing which push their cabaret/theater aesthetic. They encourage fans to become involved at their shows.
The name, according to Palmer, was "inspired by a combination of things", including the firebombing of Dresden, Germany and the porcelain dolls which were a hallmark of prewar Dresden industry; an early song of the same name by The Fall; and a reference to the V.C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic where the classically blond and blue-eyed protagonists are called "the Dresden dolls." The name also evokes Weimar Germany and its cabaret culture. Additionally, she "liked the parallel between Dresden (destruction) and Dolls (innocence, delicacy), because it is very much in keeping with the dynamics of the music, which sometimes goes from a childlike whisper to a banshee scream within a few seconds."
The band was featured in a webcast performance at the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After a self-produced demo, their first release was the mostly live compilation A Is for Accident (Important Records), followed in 2004 by a self-titled debut produced by Martin Bisi (Swans, Sonic Youth). Two songs off the album ranked in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2004, "Girl Anachronism at #30 and "Coin-Operated Boy" at #12. In 2003 they were crowned the winners of Boston's long-running WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble.
On October 6, 2005 The Dresden Dolls were interviewed by the subject of one of their songs, Christopher Lydon, on the radio show Open Source.
In March 2005, they supported Nine Inch Nails on tour. On June 5, 2005, The Dresden Dolls hosted a free concert at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. When a power outage unexpectedly delayed their performance, city streets became a temporary stage for some of the many performers (living statues, stilt-walkers, and fire-breathers) who had come from across the world to entertain audiences. The entire event -- both concert and street performances -- was filmed and the resulting DVD, Paradise, was released on November 22, 2005.
The Dresden Dolls latest album, Yes, Virginia, was released on April 18, 2006 . Over the summer, the band performed at South by Southwest, Bonnaroo, Britain's Reading and Leeds Festivals, Lollapalooza, in addition to winning the coveted opening act spot for pop-punk heart throbs, Panic! At the Disco.
The band toured with Panic! At the Disco from June 27 through August 2, which included the Dolls' own "celluloid vaudeville" show, "Fuck The Back Row". During the tour, the Dolls created the video for "Backstabber: The Dresden Dolls vs. Panic! at the Disco", a humorous series of "backstabbing" pranks between the bands, which has been availablle on the video-sharing site YouTube and various BitTorrent trackers.
Palmer blogged that the inspiration for the video was that "They're here, they're bored like we are, they're hilarious.... We aren't making a 'real' video for our next single. 'What's more real than this?' We keep asking. Nothing.". Panic drummer Spencer Smith told the online publication Undercover, "It was just something that we were having fun doing ... while being on tour. It's just a fun bonus thing." Panic! frontman Brendon Urie told dose.ca that the video was made "to kind of poke fun at our [separate bands'] fans for not being nice to each other."
In December 2006, the music of the Dresden Dolls will be featured in an original production, The Onion Cellar, at the American Repertory Theatre's Zero Arrow Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.