Amanda Palmer is exhausted. Slouched in a dining room booth at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Austin, she arrived Tuesday night after an Australian tour and has already performed once this afternoon. The 17-hour time difference between Oz and Texas has left her jet-lagged, but she has an afternoon of press lined up, followed by three more appearances this week - including Houston's House of Blues Saturday night.
The answer to the query in the title of her solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, just might be...Amanda Palmer.
Rocks Off: You work a lot, I've noticed. It seems like you're always on the go.
Amanda Palmer: Yeah...it's true.
AP: I don't know. You've asked me on a day when I could have chosen to make my tour in Australia shorter. I could have chosen to not play SXSW. I could make a lot of different choices, but I think my basic instinct is to be a workaholic. That's hard, though, because often I feel really idiotic, like I'm actually not as effective as I could be if I were pacing myself better.
But the thing that's really frustrating is that the shows never suffer. Like when I'm really, really fucked up and tired and cranky and emotional, the shows are just fucking awesome. And so that can be really frustrating (laughs).
RO: Do you ever run into dry spells as a songwriter?
AP: No, because I never deliberately sit down to write. So you can't have writer's block unless you're sitting yourself down with a blank sheet of paper and saying, "OK, I have to write a song." I maybe have the opposite situation where I often feel guilty that I'm not a productive songwriter, and I don't make time to write.
RO: I know you've had some trouble with your record label, Roadrunner. Have you thought about owning your own label?
AP: Yeah. I'm angling to get dropped in June.
RO: How does that work?
AP: You call them up, and you say, "Hey, Dave, how are things going with me getting dropped from the label? And who do I have to blow to have you not pick up that next option?" (laughs) And then they laugh uncomfortably. That's kind of how it goes (Laughs again.).
RO: Is it going to happen?
AP: God, I hope so. It doesn't make any sense anymore for me to be on that label.
RO: Why not?
AP: They just have a very different agenda. They want me to be a commercial artist.
RO: And you don't want to be?
AP: No, it's not even that. I just think that trying to sell records with that intention is totally an anathema to what I do. I just don't know that they have a fundamental understanding of who I am and why I'm doing what I'm doing. And so you don't want to be in business with people who don't understand why you're doing what you're doing. It's just bad business.
RO: So if and when they drop you, what is your plan after that?
AP: I don't know. I think I'll figure it out when I get there, which is what I'm good at doing. I think if I plan too much on the front end, then I won't have flexibility when the time comes. So I will react like a ninja. Or a pirate. Whichever your poison happens to be.
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RO: You're very connected to and open with your fans. How much of yourself do you reveal publicly?
AP: I try to reveal as much as I can without fucking things up. It can actually be really invigorating to share so much of yourself. You have to have that sort of strange love affair with extroversion. I really struggled with it for a lot of my life, in my teen years and in my twenties. Especially the way that I was brought up - I was taught that it was really shameful to seek attention. But my natural tendencies were to run around like a freak in a fucking fairy costume saying, "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!"
That's also why I feel so constantly grateful that I figured out what to do with my life. There are a hundred roads that that need [for attention] could have taken me on, and 99 of them were fucked up and negative. But I managed to find the one thing I could do that would actually have a positive impact on the world instead of a negative one. Instead of being this black hole of need, bringing everybody down and being this narcissistic void, I could actually apply it in such a way that it could feed people.
With Vermillion Lies, 8 p.m. tonight at House of Blues (Bronze Peacock Room), 1204 Caroline, 888-402-5837 or www.hob.com/houston.