happy birthday, dear brian…and a dresden dolls update
just hopping away from mom breakfast duty for a second to wish my dear bandmate and beautiful friend and co-conspirator, brian viglione, otherwise known as dick biglione, otherwise known as The Best Drummer In The World, a HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! it’s may 16th and he’s made it one more time around the sun.
he’s been riding out the lockdown in his place in los angeles.
i posted a thread here on the forum for everyone to wish him love, and post photos and memories, and effectively cheer him up, because having a birthday in lockdown is a bummer. so if you only ever go do ONE thing on the forum, go cheer our friend. people have already been posting wonderful wonderful things. thank you.
a few days ago, i sent him this picture of ash playing the drums (this was, if you were wondering, ash’s rendition of “you’re welcome” from moana, photo by xanthea):
brian responded with this photo.
can you feel the love?
i can feel the love.
we need this love.
it’s even better if you see the screenshot of the text exchange.
i wonder what i would have thought of this, twenty years ago.
if you were wondering, ash responded to brian’s beautiful photo-homage with this very profound and enigmatic text:
major points if anyone can figure out what it means.
a word or two, if i may, about my friend brian, who’s 41 today.
i met brian viglione on halloween night of 2000, just a bit over twenty years ago. that week, we started a band. our band was called the dresden dolls.
we traveled the world multiple times over, said yes to everything, played our asses off, exhausted ourselves, raised one another up to exalted heights, pissed each other off to the max, confused each other, worked through a lot of problems, shared a lot of heavy life experiences, losses and joy together, and i regret not a minute of it. we made some of the most profound musical moments and memories i’ve been a part of.
we helped a lot of people, and that was the main thing. we felt it. we helped.
i talked about it a little in my stage show: i’m not sure i would have come into my own as a musician without brian. i was older, but he was more experienced, and he DEMANDED that i believe in myself.
this man helped me find my voice, he believed in my songwriting and my words and weird chords and howling vocal style. he not only accepted me, he embraced me. he never tried to change me or tell me to be quieter. on the contrary, we made each other better, bigger, louder, realer.
my life would have taken a very different turn if he hadn’t given me that deep belief in myself back when i was young and scared and insecure. i can never thank him enough for that.
brian is the kind of artist and musician that comes around once in a generation. people who see him pay the drums are in awe of his uncanny ability to merge with his instrument. as someone who has played with thousands of other musicians, i feel i can say this without exaggeration: i have never met a person more passionately in tune with the musical universe than brian viglione.
when he plays, he becomes music.
and as many of you know (do you know? i think most of you know…), we were about to hop back in the saddle, and slowly work towards re-launching our band.
that was the plan, at least. i was going to take a lonnnng rest after the huge There Will Be No Intermission tour, and then The Dresden Dolls were going to finally, after about 15 years, put out another record and go back out on the road.
now? we don’t know.
we are talking amongst ourselves about how to now re-incarnate, given the changing world situation.
about a week ago, our old friend, the photographer francine daveta (i went to high school with her, and then she became a pro photographer and david-lynch-themed party-thrower in NYC), posted this SUPER-early polaroid of the dolls. this would have been around 2002, taken at joe’s pub in downtown manhattan, where we used to play little shows…we were so little.
life keeps offering me more and more perspective and context.
i stitch it together….why things happened the way they did.
what happened when they happened, when i wasn’t noticing.
it’s taken me a long time to really grasp that the dresden dolls were, without meaning to be, a post-9/11 band.
we were a healing band. we needed to heal ourselves, and we wanted to find our friends. we rose out of the toxic ashes of 9/11, driving around in a station wagon, sleeping on couches, and playing constantly between NYC and boston as the smoke cleared (and didn’t clear), trying to gather our little, broken, scared, angry, confused friends around us in a circle we could trust.
we used to always end our sets with the “truce”, a twelve (or thirteen, or sometimes fifteen) minute song that poetically collided the worst break-up in history with the collapse of the twin towers.
every night, that song would extend for as long as it needed to, while we banged the shit out of our instruments, breaking keyboards, breaking drumsticks, sweating and bleeding, and getting out every ounce of frustration we were holding: towards our lives, towards our country, towards the fear that was gathering all around us, towards our pasts, and sometimes even towards each other. music is weird that way.
we found release through making those loud sounds, together. i’ve tried to play that song solo.
it just. doesn’t. work.
there is a thing that we can do, only together.
so i find it heartening, actually, to think that we’re going back to square one, in some ways….now.
in this time.
brian and i have now been a band for twenty years, and dormant for most of the past decade, and we are going to have to figure out how to rise from the ashes of the coronavirus….whatever that means to us, and to you.
wherever we are going to play, however we are going to manage….it’s going to have to be a whole new plan. i am scrapping most of the songs i had planned for the record. they don’t mean much to me anymore, now that all of this has happened.
i’ll start again.
brian and i have both been through really hard times in the past few years, with our hearts.
this is what the dresden dolls are best at doing: recovering, in communion with one another. for us, and with the people around us. we heal through music, through making it, through playing it, through singing it together.
we all need it.
brian, i love you so much, you’re the Best Drummer Ever, and happy birthday.
i know this community loves you and has your back as much as they got mine….and i cannot wait to take your hand again and make the kind of music and moment that is way bigger than the two of us.
we’ve done it before, we’ll do it again.
let’s do this shit.
and everybody, if you want a good cry, and to see the magnificence of brian-on-the-drums, here’s the best clip i could think of for the moment:
it’s the dresden dolls playing “sing” live at the roundhouse in london.
watch brian’s face….
…..and tell me that you aren’t excited to see this band again.
punk cabaret is freedom.
punk cabaret forever.
LONG LIVE THE PUNK CABARET!!!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRIAN.
p.s. stay tuned for a little dresden dolls patreon surprise, we are trying to make one for you this month, a lockdown hope-present….if we can get it together.
and last reminder…. brian birthday forum thread: https://forum.theshadowbox.net/t/brian-birthday-love/3052/13
——THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS———
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