Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra: “Want It Back”
When artists wanted to get out of record deals in the past, they often released provocative, hurried work as a means to fulfill their contracts (see: Neil Young’s truly awful synthesizer-and-boys’-choir experiment Landing On Water). Nowadays, musicians can appeal directly to their fans, and it’s having a marketable effect.
Case in point: Amanda Palmer–formerly of the group Dresden Dolls–tussled with her label Roadrunner Records when executives felt Palmer’s stomach looked too fat in the video for “Leeds United.” Palmer took to her blog to voice her concern, resulting in a fan-made campaign cheekily titled “The ReBellyon.” She soon released a song aimed directly at Roadrunner called “Please Drop Me” and her wish was granted.
Yet she didn’t stop there. Kickstarter has become a useful tool for musicians to independently fund their projects, but nobody could have foreseen the grand slam that Palmer would hit when she used the site. With the help of her fan base, the singer raised almost $1.2 million dollars, attracting the attention of music and business writers the world over. She proved that with a little homegrown love (and a rabid following) a musician could strike out on their own.
September 11 sees the release of Theatre Is Evil, Palmer’s third solo album and first for her very own label 8ft. records. Produced by John Congleton–who’s worked with the Walkmen, Modest Mouse, and St. Vincent–the LP finds Palmer still employing her signature Broadway-inspired sound, but with a pop-inclined bent. On “Want It Back,” Palmer’s band the Grand Theft Orchestra provides a synthesized foundation for her cartwheeling vocals. She sounds triumphant and confident, the result of having support everywhere her talent turns.