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But, it actually works pretty well when one is improv-ing and one is enslaved, because the improv-ing one can hop over and visit the enslaved one, and then they can switch roles six months later. I’ve been happy with the records that I’ve made, and I loved both Dresden Dolls records, and I thought that my first solo album was pretty killer, but this is…this feels…This feels different and more special because it really is a record unlike anything that I’ve done before, and also, it’s a record that really is a piece of art created in the studio, as opposed to just documenting of a live band, which is sort of what it felt like with the Dresden Dolls, you know? They were great, but if you had seen the band, it was drums and piano and a lot of energy, and you bought the recording and that’s what you got and you were very satisfied. I’ve never really put out a record like that before so, for me, it’s very exciting. I knew that I wanted to put a backup band together.
But this record has a lot of surprises on it, and it’s full and layered and beautifully, crazily produced by John Congleton, with a lot of input and programming from my band, who are all weird geniuses in their own right. I didn’t know who it was going to be, and I was just starting to think about it, and…I was in Boston with my ex-boyfriend Michael Mc Quilken, who I had originally met because we were going to collaborate on theater stuff together, and then we wound up dating.
We both sort of learned that we actually get on a lot better if we’re both working. I mean, for instance, I’m working on this huge new record, and working on a huge new record with a backup band, with a tour, with a staff, means that my life pretty much has to be scheduled down to the day for a year-and-a-half. And I’ve had periods of my life where I don’t know what I’m doing next month and I don’t know what I’m doing the month after, and Neil has seen me in those periods, and he’s in one of those periods now, where he doesn’t know what he’s going to be doing next week or the month after or the month after that.
Amanda: Which is what most people’s normal relationships are. He has a vague idea, but his schedule is very, very improvisational right now, whereas mine is super strict.
And like every other project in my life, he’s now going to wear a couple of hats.
He’s basically being the tour director, and the drummer, and he had a lot of input in the studio, and then he grabbed a friend of his— he was in Yale School of Drama at the time doing his grad work, and he grabbed a student friend of his Chad Raines, who is in a very 80’s synth-y band called The Simple Pleasure who he knew I would just get on with like a house on fire, and he was right.
It’s a round…it’s a spontaneous way of making music. Hmm…There’s never been a time when nobody showed up, but there was a time in Byron Bay, Australia when I announced a ninja gig on the beach for like 6 or 7 at night, and my fan base in Australia is pretty big, and Byron Bay is a bustling beach town, but I learned that no one in Byron Bay is on the Internet.
So, Chad got brought in to play guitar, and then I stole Jason Webley’s bassist Jherek Bischoff, and he ended up being an incredible choice for a lot of reasons, but one of the best reasons was that he and Michael— because Michael Mc Quilken is Jason’s touring drummer, too, so he and Jherek had toured together and played together for eight or nine years. It’s those three guys, and the chemistry is really incredible. Everyone plays at least three instruments, and everyone had a lot of great creative input in the arranging.
To have a bassist and a drummer who are already solid and already kind of have a psychic, musical language is really, really key. Jherek is an orchestral arranger and is doing all the strings on the record, and even recording them and sending them over to John, and Chad arranged all the horns and conducted the horns in the studio.
Everyone had a really big ownership of the songs on the record.
I was going to say, I heard the demos, and heard the early versions of some of the songs, and sometimes I’d go ‘This is great!
A lot of trial and error, and a lot of error in trial and error.