For Amanda Palmer, Return to Music Is Like 'Getting in Bed With an Old Lover'

Photo by Kyle Cassidy
Amanda Palmer
To say Amanda Palmer has caught some flak online over the last several years would be a gross understatement. Even if you don't know her music, you might have heard she raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter — then faced accusations of not paying musicians on her tour. (She paid them.) Or you might know she married a famous writer, Neil Gaiman, and got branded a gold-digger, or that she blogged a poem after the Boston Marathon bombings that offended people who thought she was a terrorist sympathizer, or that she wrote an "open letter" to SinĂ©ad O'Connor re: Miley Cyrus that critics thought amounted to butting into other people's business (or piggybacking on an A-list celebrity feud to get attention).

On the other hand, if you don't hate her, you might have loved her now-famous TED Talk or read her book, The Art of Asking, a New York Times bestseller. And you still might not know her music.

"I've missed being identified primarily as a music person," she confessed Monday night over oysters at the John Dory, next to the Ace Hotel.

It's a state of affairs Palmer wants to remedy immediately. Today, in fact.

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The Ten Best Musician/Comic Artist Friendships

Grant Morrison in the video for My Chemical Romance's "Sing"

Grant Morrison is a U.K. comic book writer known for known for highly singular--or insane, if you prefer, in a good way--takes on established mainstream properties like X-Men and Doom Patrol as well as his own, peyotesque original series like The Invisibles and Seaguy. He is also a friend and mentor to My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way, and even adroitly played the part of "menacing bald guy in a rock video" for their "Sing" and "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" clips.

Their relationship is an example of a long-running but increasingly public trend. Comic books and rock/rap music have always had a close relationship. Both were tagged as mind-rotting, juvenile trash for much of their early existence, and over the years we've seen everything from KISS getting their own Marvel comic (printed in their own blood, they would have you believe) to Rivers Cuomo singing about his favorite X-Men members.

With the rise in cultural prominence and respect for funny-book creators, liking comic books--or graphic novels, if you're fancy--is no longer an activity that will blow your cultural cachet or get your lunch money stolen, and many musicians have quit being shy about waving their fanboy/fangirl flags. In honor of our recent Comics Issue, we present the ten best musician and graphic novel-type friendships. We even reached out to some of our favorite artists about their collaborations.

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Tonight They're Gonna Rock You Tonight: Afrobeat, Modernist Jazz, and the Steadily Improving Amanda Palmer

The Daily News reports that tonight's Femi Kuti gig has been cancelled. But if you can't delay your fix, the Knitting Factory's New York AfroBeat Festival will otherwise continue as planned. Catch clarinetist Oran Etkin's free-form jazz at the early show, or Wunmigirl's African breakbeats late.

David Byrne shleps to Jersey to continue supporting his latest Brian Eno-produced venture. City-folk should consider waiting until Monday, when the former Talking Heads frontman does a free show at Prospect Park.

Guillermo Klein, the Argentinean composer and pianist, leads his orchestra through the labyrinth of modernist jazz at the Village Vanguard. Somehow, they keep it funky.

Low-budget bliss-rockers Holiday Shores leave us puzzling over the "tree falls in a forest" riddle with a 5 p.m. in-studio set at WNYU. Then they bring bubbly, old-world pop arrangements to the Cake Shop.

Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman perform at the Spin Book Club in Soho. The $25 tag may be steep for a pair of goths meandering over the piano, but it's a rare chance to see the Dresden Dolls frontwoman and Coraline author riff on each others' work.

Interview: Dresden Dolls Leading Lady Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer plays late on New Years Eve at the Bowery Ballroom. Tickets are still available.


2008 has been an up-and-down year for Dresden Dolls leading lady Amanda Palmer. Her first foray into solo work appeared this past September in the form of Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, a twelve song set of quirky piano rock. She's currently collaborating with science-fiction author Neil Gaimon on a story-book companion, due sometime in 2009. But Palmer's had a fraught relationship with her record label, Roadrunner Records. Roadrunner's parent company, Warner Bros, recently pulled all of her videos from YouTube in a squabble with the online video behemoth. And in one of the oddest forms of spontaneous protest of this year, after a meeting with her A&R person went sour over Palmer's exposed midriff, her fans snapped up pictures of their own stomachs: More than a few read "Fuck Roadrunner."--Michael D. Ayers

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