What is “Brechtian punk cabaret” you ask, as you click into this post? It’s how the seminal band The Dresden Dolls describe the style of their music. It’s their music, and their fan community in the mid aughts that ultimately helped me to graduate college. However, that’s not the whole story, and I want to take a step back to create a fuller story here.
Wait, the website is named what…?
The story truly starts in the spring of 2003 and the end of my freshman semester. A friend of mine, Deborah, introduced me to a website named “Bangme.net” and despite how I know it sounds, it actually is not adult content. Some may recall a website named “HotOrNot” where you create a profile, and people can rank you one way or another…are you hot? or are you not? Very superficial and whatnot, but when has the internet not been?
Bangme.net was very much in the same vein but with the question “would you bang me?” So much ego feeding, and it is what it is. One of the site features was a chat room, where you could join and chat with fellow members on the website in real time. I spent a good amount of time in that chat over the years at the time, and made some friends that lasted awhile, and even still have a friend or two to this day.
The Dresden Dolls
One friend at the time was Shelly, and she had the handle “girl_anachronism”, based on the song from the fore-mentioned band The Dresden Dolls. Take a moment to check out the music video below. I’ll see you afterwards.
Nonetheless her user handle struck me curious and I inquired what the source of the name was. Shelly pointed me to the band and I took a listen, as best I could. Remember that this was 2004 time-frame, and YouTube wasn’t even a thing yet, let alone for independent Boston-area bands. Chances are I was checking out their MySpace and hopefully the band’s website.
Anyways, I was a bit hooked and starting to listen to their self titled album.
Anyone remember forums? I do, and Amanda and Brian had a community forum available for their fans to communicate and share and discuss the band, fandoms, and life in general. It was a great time. It also helped introduce my virgin South Dakota eyes to a number of things I simply wasn’t seeing or experiencing in my daily life, but were common elsewhere in the world.
One day I decided to post the oddest but best question I could have asked at the time. “What are some Prog Rock bands that I should check out?” or something close to that. Key words being “Prog Rock”. I imagine I got a lot of the typically known and legendary prog band recommendations at the time, but one person chiming in also happened to mention another independent Boston-area band named Fluttr/Fluttr Effect. They were going through a name change around this time, but the spelling is accurate.
I followed the lead, I checked out Fluttr Effect, and I started to get hooked on this new-to-me band. I was liking what I was hearing, and being a college age music fan who was, to a degree elitist and all “I know great bands you’ve never heard of”, I liked finding new music. It didn’t hurt at all, in my mind, that Fluttr Effect were not as well known as The Dresden Dolls. I was in.
Fluttr Effect also had their own dedicated forums and I joined that as well, and started integrating with their community. They had recently done really well in a music competition and were getting some great press. I was going to college to get a double major in “Multimedia/Web Development” as well as “Graphic Design”. The band had their new album coming out in the spring of 2006, named “Marking Time”.
I wanted to help out as much as I could. I reached out to Troy, the guitarist for the band and primary web developer for the band. I decided to pitch to him that I help with a site redesign to correspond with the album launch, and in exchange he vouch for me in the form of one internship credit. I do recall a small requirement of needing compensated in some way, as it was not a no-pay internship. I bargained in the form of some free merchandise/swag which I turned around and distributed to college friends.
Troy agreed and became my boss for roughly 90 hours of work, and I put in my time helping with the site redesign and launch, some promotion including posting available videos to this new service named Youtube, creating media for the fans, things like that. I recall making downloadable wallpapers for people to use on their computers if they wanted. I also helped with forum moderation and spam cleanup.
I was having the time of my life, I was earning college credit, I was helping myself graduate in less than a year. Oh and I forgot to mention that this was completely remote work…in 2006. As I post this in 2021, remote work is becoming old hat. It already kind of was pre-pandemic, and I haven’t had a local office job since early 2011. Add in a pandemic, and for a time it seemed like literally everyone was a remote worker, especially if you were in the tech industry. I first did that 15 years ago. I’m really starting to feel like a trailblazer again.
I got to work with an independent band with their web presence in the mid 00s, helping with their brand new album, and in turn I got real world experience. I’ve yet to forget to deploy Internet Explorer-specific stylesheets since my gaffe there, but I also no longer have to worry about Internet Explorer in general either. That was a long morning hindered by classes.
I have not met any of the band members from either Dresden Dolls or Fluttr Effect. However if we’re ever in the same area, I absolutely would love to, even 15 years later. They were all influential in shaping how parts of my life have turned out.
I would be remiss if I didn’t offer direct thanks to various people. Presented in order of timeline:
- Amanda F’n Palmer and Brian Viglione from The Dresden Dolls.
- I can’t recall the Dresden Dolls forum person who recommended Fluttr Effect, but you deserve credit!
- Troy and Vessela and Kara and Valerie and Jason from Fluttr Effect.
- Dan, my student advisor at Dakota State who agreed to accept remote work as credit when it really was not common.
Without these people and potentially even more unmentioned, I’m not sure how I would have fulfilled all my needed credits. I’m proud that I got to in the way I did, and the trails I helped pave, with my own little footsteps.