How Amanda Palmer & Pals Cut an Album in One Day

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Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Damian Kulash, & Neil Gaiman at Mad Oak Studios in Allston, MA (Photo: Phil Farnsworth)
WRITTEN BY
Kevin O'Donnell

At this week's Rethink Music conference, held at Boston's Berklee College of Music, the school invited musicians, industry insiders, and pundits to come together and discuss the music industry in today's fast-paced digital era. But when the school asked Amanda Palmer to join in the discussion, she responded with a radical idea: how quickly could an artist write, record, and release an album of new material — and what would it sound like?

Last night, she answered that question by roping in her pals Ben Folds, OK Go's Damian Kulash, and her husband, Coraline author Neil Gaiman, to lay down an 8-track album in 8 hours, and broadcast the whole thing live. The group has just put out the result of that marathon session, under the moniker 8in8, for sale via Bandcamp to raise money for Berklee City Music Network. But SPIN has a first listen of the track "One Tiny Thing" here.

8In8, "One Tiny Thing" (DOWNLOAD)

For the project, Palmer and Co. holed up in a Berklee studio yesterday starting at 4 P.M. While they attempted to cut eight tracks in eight hours, they fell a bit short of their goal, instead laying down six tracks in 12 hours.

"We didn't get out of there until 4:30 in the morning," Palmer tells SPIN. "And then I just went home and slept!"

Palmer says the creation of the 8in8 album, titled Nighty Night, was pretty chaotic: each member would serve as "captain" for a song, while the rest would work up additional bits and pieces (a melody here, a riff there). Gaiman, meanwhile, was primarily responsible for writing the lyrics and passing them onto Palmer, Folds, and Kulash. "We would spend maybe fifteen minutes arranging a song, and then Damien would go program drums, or Ben would work on the piano in the next room, or I would go into the vocal booth," says Palmer. "But the engineers would put it all together and mix the song without us."

Still, Palmer says it wasn't a completely slavish undertaking. They allowed themselves intermittent breaks to snack on sushi or sip gin and tonics — "You'll hear them creeping up on us midway through the album," she says — and Palmer admits the reason she undertook such a task was just to hang out with her pals in the first place. "I just wanted an excuse to hang out with these guys," she says. "I wouldn't have been able to come visit me and Boston and just shoot the shit. I had to devise some sort of devious plan."

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