the dirty inbox of a touring musician, REVEALED
ever wanted to know what an atypical musician who runs their own life & business is ACTUALLY doing when they sit emailing like a possessed demon on a plane for 7 hours?
i will show you.
i’ve actually fantasized about doing this for ages. it’s not QUITE like my underwear drawer – more like the odd-sock box under my bathtub, or the band-t-shirt graveyard above my toilet – but whevs.
i’ve also had the itching urge to do this since every time i go home and tell my parents how “fucking busy i am with work”, i feel like it’s impossible to explain what it is that i’m DOING when i sit behind this godforsaken fucking goddamned machine. it’s WORK but it has NO NAME.
i’m between tours. i finished the Evelyn Evelyn European tour a week or so ago and we start in vancouver again on monday.
in between, i went to africa with neil. i worked the whole time, but i still got backed up, because we’re getting set to finalize my radiohead covers record and emails were FLYING … mastering, artwork, mayhem.
i had over 1600 emails in my inbox this morning when i left africa, to fly home to boston for less than 48 hours to do laundry, check mail, and get on a plane again.
and i decided this morning on the plane from agadir to casablanca that on the flight from casblanca to new york i would do a massive, massive catch-up session.
i love and hate catching up on emails, and the older they are, the more intimidating it is.
so i made myself a fun little project and decided to log each and every one, as i wrote them. it gave me an incredible sense of accomplishment, actually.
i figured this would also be good for my team, so they can see my brain work.
a lesson for anyone who wants to be in a band: there are managers. there are agents. and lawyers, and business managers, and road crew, and endless help.
but nobody actually sorts and filters your personal mail but you. sometimes, especially on tour when you spend every waking hour in transit and on stage and doing press, the backlog gets STAGGERING.
be mindful. if you give your email to someone, they have it for life. if you tour, you meet about 1 exciting person per day. you exchange emails.
that means, if you tour for 10 years, you have approximately 3,500 exciting people to catch up with.
plus the bands you tour with. plus your idols who you might get lucky enough to meet and correspond with. plus your family. plus your old friends.
i hired beth two years ago with the hopes that i would email less. instead, she just emails more.
i mention beth, sean and hayley A LOT below. they are my team. we are Team Chaos. we are mighty and have a secret hidden powerful order that nobody has yet discovered, not even us.
i think the time might come soon to really fully introduce Team Chaos to you, complete with crayon self-portraits, for all y’all who haven’t been around very long, but the long and the short of it is that…..
-beth (@bethofalltrades) is my personal assistant, and also helps me RUN MY LIFE. she does everything from photo work, artwork, running the business and merch, and a list of various tasks that would be a few meters long if you printed it out in teeny type. she’s been working for me for over two years. i trust her with my life. beth loves cats.
-sean (@indecisean) has been working for me for ages, running My Internet Life. he is the brains and brawn behind all of my websites, the mailing list, and social media (facebook, twitter, myspace, etc etc)…he also posts and disseminates my blog. when we put out music through the internet, sean will be behind it. he is a magic man. sean loves cephalopods and his dog.
-hayley (@hayleyfiasco) is the newest member of the team and is the front desk of the operation, dealing with all sorts of management-y things like where we stay on tour, making sure projects don’t get dropped, following up on 100,001 little details, and running the massive calendar to which we all bow and kneel. hayley loves penguins.
i left agadir this morning at 10 am. i just got home to boston to post this blog. it is 1 am boston time, 7 am agadir time. i’ve been traveling in planes, busses, taxis and airport shuttles for almost 24 hours.
i also have no luggage.
but i only have 1023 messages in my inbox. which is awesome.
here we go, one email at a time, starting at the top.
i am protecting people where necessary and in some cases just being vague or name-free because it doesn’t matter.
another note: when i “file”, i file within mac mail. i have well over a thousand folders and subfolders with years and years worth of info in them. places, people, musicians, the whole thing.
it’s not well organized, but i never throw anything away, so i can search. ahhh, a topic for another blog. THAT one would be fascinating.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE………….
email #1. the guitar player who played on Who Killed Amanda Palmer, needs to get properly credited on itunes & needs a copy of my disc.
-email beth, get her to send CDs. email sean, get him to fix itunes. email hayley, have her keep tabs.
email #2. the engineer of unreleased tracks i did ages ago and faraway is wondering what the fuck is up & whether i’ll need re-mixing, and when the shit will be released
-write back, tell him i have no idea what the fuck is up. plans in life? what?
-write to team chaos and have them file and keep track of the engineer and the existence of the recordings.
3. rock singer-friend, sending updated contact info for herself. change shit around.
-(interception of brain into present) realize that we don’t HAVE to use the live version of prague for the final digital radiohead download, since i may be able to record it on the upcoming american tour.
-write sean an email telling him this and start brainstorming where it would be good to record. look over cities, mull soundguys i know, look up addresses, copy and paste them all to sean.
4. delete a bunch of shit from tour. hundreds of press emails. irrelevant. delete delete delete delete delete delete delete delete delete delete.
5. an old friend of neil’s who i met a while back wrote us a poem right after we got engaged and i never fully digested it. read it. digest it. try not to rush.
-write back with effusive thanks and love. copy neil.
take break to eat bad plane food. discover they don’t have my vegetarian meal, even though it was pre-arranged. get excited they thankfully have a fish option.
eat the fish. write an email to beth asking her to, from now on, put in her calendar to follow up with every airline the day i have flights to make sure there’s vegetarian food.
6. read an email from the string arranger of Who Killed Amanda Palmer about getting scores over to the Boston Pops (which happened).
-email all of team chaos and ask for a volunteer to organize, track down and archive all my scores. there’s a ton floating out there. wonder when i’ll need them.
7. a ZIP file of an audio book from a team of people who’ve asked me to write some demo songs for a musical they’re trying to fund. flag the file to download when i get home.
-write to team chaos and fill them in, i don’t think i told them about this. add this to the poke-my-ass projects list.
8. email from the german distributor of Evelyn Evelyn.
-email her back, copy the team, tell her the shows in germany were GEIL und AWESOME and ask how the record is doing over there.
9. email from a musician in a band that is awesome, sending me a clip to his new video. flag it to watch when i’m online.
10. forward some great art that has been sent by fans over to sean to put in the queue to be posted on twitter. add clever commentary.
some of them aren’t hi-res enough, poke sean to poke the artists for better res art.
11. forward a beautiful crayon drawing of the dresden dolls over to mr. brian viglione and send him huge love cakes.
12. read some fan poetry that accidentally came in an attachment through the art channel.
13. look at a tattoo inspired by my artwork and see it has a link to it’s backstory. email beth to check it out since i’m not online & get back to me.
14. email from kaitlin about the merch in the UK. take the moment to email her and audrey (the two volunteers who SAVED MY ASS when the volcano hit by agreeing to sell merch for us) and offer them our endless gratitude.
15. email from neil’s polish publisher looking for pictures of me for an article they were running. hope beth took care of it, assume she did, don’t even forward b/c it’s a moot point. delete.
16. read an email from an angry australian youth who wrote a tirade about how my venues weren’t all ages for the last tour. write a grumpy note to the team reminding us for the 5th time to demand all ages when possible, and even when not possible.
17. read some promo requests from a label who i gave a song to for a compilation. ask how the project ended up, apologize for dropping the ball, send on to the team to loop them in.
18. an employee at the moog factory asking if i’m still interested in a bass pedal, since i’d ogled one when we did our live sessions there. the answer: yes, when i can afford it. file him.
19. an email from my cousin in LA who neil hooked up with tickets to a talk there. she loved it. tell her i’ll see her soon, and email neil & his assistant lorraine for some books to bring to her. send lorraine their address. apologize for not being online and not having the zip code.
20. read an offer from a polish promotor about doing a little festival. send it on to the team with a larger-picture strategy email about fielding weird offers, and a lecture about how our booking agents HATE “weird stuff” and it’s our responsibility to keep track of it.
21. sort an offer to speak at a college graduation. i missed the opportunity. ask team chaos to file it for next year, maybe.
22. link from a publicist with an interview i did for a feminist magazine. flag the link to read later.
23. email from the wonderful man, nick, who put up me & sven in glasgow after the show AND took us jogging. tell him i’m going to kick his jogging ASS someday and thank him effusively for taking care of us.
24. (go to make a glasgow file. realize i have two running folders in my system for people in london. consolidate them.)
25. an email from a friend who runs a cafe i love in edinburgh, who also writes poetry and mailed me a copy of his book, which i indeed received while in UK at the cunningham’s house, who know him too. confirm receipt, admit i have read nothing, write longingly about how much i’ll miss the fringe this summer due to cabaret but hope i’ll be there for ALL of next summer unless something awful happens or david bowie offers me an opening slot or something. while i’m at it, write the cunninghams to tell them i love them & that they’re the best family in edinburgh. file as a reminder to set something up there in 2011.
26. said friend sent another email with a song he wants me to hear. flag for when i’m online and can download it. realize the link’s almost def expired. ask him to resend.
27. tasmanian friend who hooked me up with a member of the violent femmes who runs a festival there. write to tell her i’ve followed up and will hopefully be there in january. send love.
28. musician friend i’ve toured with sent me her new record. the link’s defintiely expired and i never downloaded it. i am a bad person. ask for a second chance. send love and craziness.
29. old email from the director at a new york rep theater company who helped me arrange the theater for our new york run of evelyn evelyn. send update, thanks, and tell her about cabaret & the new ART season. realize i hand’t made a file for her & her theater company. do so, so i don’t lose track.
30. request from a comic/bookstore in london who was stocking the Who Killed Amanda Palmer hardcover book, asking me to sign some more books while i was there…a month ago. oops. apologize, tell about the exciting new Evelyn Evelyn graphic novel, and say i might be there over the summer, you never know. make a file.
31. a zip file of photos from the sydney opera house ninja gig. amazing shots. forward on to beth and lauren for the archive. thank the photographer profusely and hope to see him next year when i’m back in oz.
32. make a file for the sydney string players who played with me at the last sydney opera house show in case i need them again.
33. file an email my dad wrote to me.
34. read a long email from the fancy uk DJ who is going to be working on one of my songs for the (yet to be named) ”australia” release next year. write back about all sorts of legal things, deadlines, and didgeridoo player information.
-get team chaos in the loop and set up a failsafe system so that we don’t wind up forgetting to make a contract with the DJ when the song is finished.
35. crazy poem email from a favorite friend. file. send love.
36. email from a writer-friend at a hip new york website asking if we want to do a party there when we’re in town. would be perfect for evelyn evelyn. reach out.
-pass the ball over to beth. invite her to the show, too. start a file.
37. file away the email address and some offers from a russian promotor.
38. flag a link to a file from a russian friend, that i THINK is the radiohead cover jason and i did by the river. not sure. i’m going to have lots of shit to download when i get home.
-take a break. lend my book on silence to the old moroccan dude sitting next to me, who barely speaks english. glow in the happiness that people on planes still ask each other to borrow books. pee.
39. email i neglected from an awesome random cure fan i met at coachella and struck up a friendship with. exchange stories, invite him to the Evelyn Evelyn tour, make general love.
40. this one’s awesome…my SEVENTH GRADE MATH TEACHER and i keep trying to meet up to have lunch in boston. we’ve been missing each other for 2 years. he wrote to congratulate me on the engagement to neil, i write back to tell him i’ll be in town for three months for cabaret and we’ll meet come hell or high water. we all used to make fun of his cowboy boots. he seems incredibly cool in retrospect.
let mind wander. start a list of people i need to see in boston. write some emails to people telling them i’ll be around and to expect dinner.
41. epic email catching up on life, fear, death and the nature of being a cuddle-slut with a friend.
42. forward an email from a contact made at the MIDEM festival to sean to poke around and see if it’s worthwhile.
43. re-read email about the nature of art and disability from a old friend of mine who has no legs below the knees and no fingers. she weighed in on the evelyn evelyn controversy…choice quote: “We seem to really get psychological or philosophical dilemmas through our experience of our bodies- in particular – our fear or understanding of loss, alienation, or our own hidden monster. Metaphorically, there is so much in conjoined twins- and also parasitic twins- about relationships and dichotomies with the self and with others. I don’t think anything is free from critique, of course. But, its not the idea of ‘monsters’ in art is new. Its a pretty traditional.” wrote her back, filling her in on the fall-out. sent love and thanks.
44. email from the director of a NYC performance art space asking how i was. wrote back, invited him to the Evelyn Evelyn shows and maybe a lunch while i’m in NYC.
45.write an email to some fancy NYC theater/producer/director people and invite them to the show. hit them up for lunch. hell, i’m there for 5 days.
46. file away the contact info for the engineer at sydney opera house. send to sean.
47. send a musician friend an email full of well wishes for her probably-baby, since she was due around now.
48. email back a super-cool improv-leader of a huge NYC group about maybe doing something craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy in june
49. write an email to my whole family about my step-father’s upcoming 70th birthday. wonder if dancing girls will be appropriate. reconsider.
50. a missed email from a london photographer friend who’d wanted to hook up and shoot. i’d missed it. apologize, sigh, move on.
51. write an email to the muso in melbourne who found me through twitter and email-introduced me to mick harvey. thank him profusely and ask him what he does, exactly.
52. an email from a friend i made at yoga bootcamp in australia, who i hooked up with tickets to the melbourne show. she was thanking me, i thank her for coming, send love.
53. email from a dude at a sound company who’s trying to sell me gear and knows what i may be looking for. he sent me a link of imogen using some gear i might want. flagged the link, will look.
54. interview request with a german magazine that i think i may have missed deadline of. send to hayley to research.
55. fuck, fuck. email from the place in NYC that did my hair before the golden globes and never received their check. write emails to figure out what happened.
56. questions from my merchandiser about putting Who Killed Amanda Palmer shirts in hot topic. email beth to make sure she’s on it.
57. radiohead photos from the studio i sent to my ex, who’s also an engineer & who mixed one of the radiohead songs for the upcoming record. file.
58. an invitation to host a crazy music yoga party in NYC…in march. i was in australia. apologize for not getting back in time.
59. another Evelyn Evelyn Drama Drama email from another disabled (and gay) friend, who’s a stand-up comedian and has a hilarious youtube clip called “fuck the disabled”. add to my “to tweet” file.
60. email about the legality of using a live track, for which we need a venue’s permission. send along to the team.
61. college friend from san fran emailing to say hi, invite her to one the evelyn evelyn shows at great american music hall.
62. email my ex-step-mother. she was apologizing, she missed my birthday. i never remember hers. imbalance; life’s retarded. email her to invite her to NYC show.
63. write an email to a friend/investor, update on business life.
-get off my flight and head into new york kennedy airport to take beth, hayley and kayla out to dinner. dinner winds up being cake and wine. get back on plane to finally hit boston, home –
64. forward a legal email from my lawyer to the team about song usage.
65. answer and make a file for a sydney radio DJ who loves my record.
66. file away a friend of neil’s from brisbane who came to my last gig there.
67. forward on a request to hayley from an LA-based webzine that wants an interview with me.
68. read and file am email i wrote to myself in australia reminding myself to fucking make sure i double-check all-ages and curfew issues next time, it BLEWWWWW.
69. file away a song paul kelly sent as an idea for my australia CD.
70. write to my old friend jen about finding a NYC venue in the summer for a webcast on the beach. maybe coney island.
71. return an email from an engineer in australia who recorded my brisbane gig. double check that the recordings got to my main engineer. thank him.
72. email an old friend in NYC, yes i’ll be there in june. would love to guest-list you, can’t. am starting to feel daunted by the new york guest list. onwards.
73. write to a new zealander named hamish who i met at the yoga retreat, who came to new zealand. send love and thanks and a hit to hera, who he sees at yoga.
74. write to a boston journalist who wants an interview.
75. copy and paste some song lyrics i sent to myself from my phone.
76. email an actress friend in LA, discuss life, crazy celebrities, and weirdness and career. invite her to the evelyn evelyn shows at largo.
77. contact an australian TVC show about footage they offered to give me for a possible DVD.
-email sean to follow up on that.
78. return email from an old high school mate living in italy who heard i was heading to europe. missed her.
79. send hayley a setlist to file.
80. forward onto hayley an odd and awesome offer to visit an ecoterrestial wildlife park in australia. file. weird. awesome.
81. return an email to marie who sent photos with both her wrists broke with no fucking explanation. what? why are both your wrists broke, woman? also, paris update.
82. update some email addresses. boringgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg.
my battery died. i can’t read, my brain is too wired, so i listen to a steel train song i’m supposed to cover for an upcoming project. and doodle. my doodle starts as an eye and turns into neil’s face and before you know it i’ve dran an entire neil. it’s not bad. i miss drawing. i also love this man a lot.
-land in JFK in NYC. i have a 3-hour layover. meet up with beth, hayley and beth’s girlfriend kayla and have dinner (ie cake and wine). give them gifts from morocco. talk about life and business and being tired. hug. charge my computer for the next leg using stolen outlet at the cake and wine cafe.-
now on plane to boston and
-shitfuck, i’m getting travel sick. i’m really tired. my nose is starting to run. i’ve been in transit and emailing 19 hours. flown from agadir to casablanca to new york and have been sitting on the new york tarmac for two hours, because the runway is clogged. i am ON EMAIL FIRE. and about to pass out. they’re bringing peanuts.
83. forward an email from an obscure countryside french venue that loves me and wants to book me. someday.
84. forward on & file the info for an amazing polish promotor for when i hit europe again.
85. copy and paste the little picture of me in glamour magazine for later tweetage.
86. email the director of sydney opera house ab
out possible new shows.
87. forward on a request to do a workshop in belgium that i’m not ever sure came past my radar.
88. send US evelyn evelyn tour dates to a friend who may or may not still be living in connecticut.
89. write to an old acquaintance from LA who has a band and has been sending me stuff for ages that i haven’t had a chance to listen to. apologize. flag it.
90. listen to an orignal marianne faithful song alongside a friends cover. loving the MP3s and not having to flag this. both are gorgeous. write to him and express awe.
91. answer a very grumpy email from my mother about the vinyl records (specifically fleetwood mac, the beatles and her saturday night fever soundtrack) i stole when i left for college 16 years ago and have yet to return.
promise the day is coming.
92. write to the wonderful girl who helped me rent my costume for the golden globes and invite her to the LA show.
93. ask an old high school friend for an email address of a friend i’ve fallen out with, who i’ve heard is getting married. time to bridge the gap.
94. email my wonderful benevolent and ever-understanding landlord about rent, which i think may be hideously overdue.
95. write to my san francisco acupuncture guru, renee, apologize for being so awful about being in touch and try to set up a session while i’m at the great american with Evelyn Evelyn.
96. email an orchestra leader form london about doing future projects.
97. look over and file an email from the australian national radio about doing a radio drama. RAD.
98. look over some photos that beth sent when we needed photos of me with armpit hair for the new york times article. this shit is awesome. save one for tweeting, forward one back to beth for a book we’re working on.
-arrive at boston airport, two and half hours late. really, really, tired. wait for luggage no luggage comes.-
99. look at some photos my mom sent me while we were rehearsing Evelyn Evelyn at my old house. decide their twitter life is over, file them away for posterity.
100. email back neil’s guide from china – who finally located a long-missing package from the post which seems to have now made 3 world-wide journeys.
101. respond to an author who’s written a book about my death to be published sometime soon. talk about cross-promoting and what we’re doing.
102. ugh. more apology emails to nice bookstore people in dublin who wanted to catch me on tour to come in a sign copied of the Who Killed Amanda Palmer book. i royally dropped all balls on that one.
-find out my luggage is still at JFK in NYC. find out it’s my fault, i was supposed to pick it up there. feel like a fucking idiot. drag ass to lost luggage counter. get all numbers. call beth. ask her to save my ass tomorrow and work on this so i can spend the day at home actually practicing and working. bless her fucking soul.-
-take a cab home. am braindead. look for wine. find none. who always takes my wine? there is a bottle of 4-year old absinthe given to me by some fancy absinthe-maker fan. i am that desperate for a drink. i do it. –
103. one last one. to neil. to tell him i love him.
i will sleep hard. i will dream of luggage.
p.s. the US/CANADIAN tour dates, because if you don’t come see us play on this tour, i will cry:
May 17 – VENUE in Vancouver, BC
May 19 – Showbox at the Market in Seattle, WA
May 20 – Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR
May 22 – Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA
May 23 – Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA
May 25 – Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, CA
May 26 – Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, CA
May 27 – Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, CA
June 1 – Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, MN
June 2 – Park West in Chicago, IL
June 4 – The Great Hall in Toronto, ON
June 5 – Théâtre Corona in Montreal, QC
June 8 – Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York, NY *
June 9 – Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York, NY *
June 10 – Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York, NY *
June 11 – Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York, NY *
June 12 – Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York, NY *
June 17 – 9:30 Club in Washington, DC
June 18 – Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia, PA
June 19 – House of Blues in Boston, MAtickets, directions, times, and all that other info is HERE…
* Soho Rep. presents Evelyn Evelyn (with Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, and Sxip Shirey), By Special Arrangement with the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation.