In January 2007, The Dolls wrapped up a string of 40 sold-out shows in an original piece of musical theatre, “The Onion Cellar”, which was written and performed in by the band, and produced with the distinguished American Repertory Theatre.
Long-time supporters of the GLBTQQ community, Amanda and Brian proudly brought their bittersweet, smart, and gender-role-defying music to Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors tour the following summer.
In addition to Lauper and The Dolls, the tour consisted of Deborah Harry, Erasure, Margaret Cho, and Rufus Wainwright amongst others.
Over the course of the next year, the band released a collection of previously un-heard studio recordings (“No, Virginia”) and trekked through North America and Europe, playing their final shows together by summer’s end.
The performing side of Amanda has caused her to struggle for all of her life with "the marriage of Rock music and theatre", and The Dresden Dolls' distinctive face-painted burlesque-influenced appearance is a result of their attempt to form an individual and fantastic amalgamation.
Their look wasn't fully formed from their inception.
For many years, The Dolls’ self-titled debut sold strong, steadily scanning 100,000 copies in the United States alone. records in the fall of 2003, the album was subsequently re-released upon the band’s signing with Roadrunner.
The release of two wildly different singles – the manic-punk “Girl Anachronism” and the cabaret-tinged and bittersweet “Coin-Operated Boy” – helped solidify the band’s presence on the internet, national radio, and MTV2 (wherein they received an MTVU award nomination for the “Coin-Op Boy” video).
Just for kicks Amanda "threw on some really trashy lingerie and painted my face white, a la Cabaret. It just sort of clicked, and from that day on, we kept doing it because it worked".
For eight years, the duo climbed steadily out of the artistic trenches and into the mainstream of rock on their own terms. The musical-theater and new-wave background of writer/singer/pianist Amanda Palmer mixed with drummer Brian Viglione’s heavy metal roots created a sonic smear of unclassifiable rock. It is this dichotomy that supplied the band with a yin-yang quality that kept them hurtling through space, pulling each other to and fro in an endless – and highly entertaining – match of musical wits.
After signing with Roadrunner Records in early 2004, the band enjoyed a whirlwind schedule that included sold-out headlining tours on four continents, an opening slot for Nine Inch Nails (after being hand-picked by Trent Reznor), performances at the world’s largest music festivals (including Coachella, Fuji Rock, Roskilde, and Glastonbury), writing and performing in an original musical (“The Onion Cellar”) at the prestigious American Repertory Theater, and releasing two innovative & acclaimed live DVDs.
Led through her Tim Burton-esque abode, he watched her playing unaccompanied on the piano in her attic, introduced himself, and a few days later they tried playing together.
Amanda, who had previously had her own band Amanda Palmer and the Void, had already tried playing with another drummer but found him insensitive to the style of her music.