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How Amanda Palmer & Pals Cut an Album in One Day

The artist ropes in Ben Folds, Damian Kulash, and Neil Gaiman to write and record new music in less than 24 hours.

Kevin O'Donnell | April 26, 2011 - 10:07 pm

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.”