Brian Viglione is an American drummer best known for his work with The Dresden Dolls, Nine Inch Nails, and Violent Femmes. He was also a prominent member of New York City's cabaret-punk orchestra, The World/Inferno Friendship Society. He co-founded Scarlet Sails in 2015 with his wife, songwriter Olya Viglione.
Known for his energetic and expressive drumming style, Viglione has often aligned himself with groups who incorporate eclectic musical styles and theatrical elements. A multi-instrumentalist, Viglione also plays guitar, bass, percussion, and sings in several of his collaborations, as well as having done producing work.
He starred in the American Repertory Theater's 2007 production of "The Onion Cellar" with The Dresden Dolls, performed in Addicted To Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's 20th Century with The World/Inferno Friendship Society in 2008, and appeared in multiple productions from 2011 - 2013 with Botanica at Theater Dortmund in Germany.
Viglione also played drums on the Nine Inch Nails album "Ghosts I-IV" in 2008 on a drum kit he built on site out of scrap metal and found objects. In addition to his various recording and touring work, he also gives drumming workshops to help participants develop personal creativity on the instrument and has lectured at Harvard University, RISD, The Boston Day and Evening Academy, as well as other schools around the northeastern U.S.
Brian was introduced to the drums by his parents on Christmas Day at age five with his interest quickly deepening at age nine when rock music became a primary focus and passion. A pivotal moment occurred in 1990 when Viglione's father brought him to see The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine and Brian witnessed his first up-close exposure to the drummer who would become his principal inspiration on the instrument. "I spent every possible hour jamming with my friends up in our attic from the time I was in the fourth grade through when I graduated high school. You could hardly tear us all away from playing!"
At sixteen years old, Viglione began playing gigs in clubs with bands around New England before moving from New Hampshire to Boston in 1999. There, he played with several Boston punk bands on both drums and bass guitar. "I knew it was 'now or never' when I moved from my small town to pursue my dream. Both of my parents understood how dedicated I was to making it come true and I was very lucky to have their encouragement through all of the craziness and uncertainty of those times."
There, Brian exposed to music that played a large and influential role in his playing. "I was listening to a lot of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Black Flag, Swans, Miles Davis, Diamanda Galas, The Gun Club, Einstürzende Neubauten, Charles Mingus, and John Coltrane records. Very cathartic music that taught me a lot about the beauty of how to balance using space and aggression in music."
At a Halloween party in October 2000, Viglione first met Amanda Palmer, and together they formed The Dresden Dolls after their first time playing together. They are a Boston-based keyboard/drum duo.
After signing with Roadrunner Records in early 2004, the duo re-released their self-titled debut The Dresden Dolls to worldwide acclaim and made their Billboard chart debut with the equally applauded follow-up Yes, Virginia.... In addition, the duo's live audiences continue to grow exponentially around the planet as The Dresden Dolls have completed sold-out tours on four continents, supported Nine Inch Nails, and performed at prestigious world festivals including Reading, Bonnaroo, Leeds, Coachella, Fuji Rock, Roskilde, Glastonbury, and Download. Locally, they have won numerous awards ranging from multiple Boston Music Awards to topping the Boston Phoenix/FNX Best Music Poll. In 2006, the band recorded their second live DVD chronicling their two sold-out shows at The Roundhouse in London. The concert DVD captures the band with their fan base, many of whom traveled from all over the US, Australia, and Europe to attend the concerts at the peak of the band's most active period.
In addition to playing drums, Viglione also plays guitar and bass on several Dresden Dolls songs including the first single, "Sing", from their 2006 album Yes, Virginia... and sings back-up vocals, most notably on their version of "Pierre" from The Dresden Dolls: Live in Paradise DVD 2005.
In January 2007, Viglione co-starred in the American Repertory Theater's production of The Onion Cellar, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The show was co-written by The Dresden Dolls, cast, and director, Marcus Stern, loosely based on a chapter from Günter Grass's book, The Tin Drum. The band's music was often used in unconventional ways to depict the drama and humor in a "call and response" method with the actors on stage, and Viglione was given a featured drum solo following one actor's moving scene recalling childhood abuse. The entire 40-show run sold out and the production garnered rave reviews.
Around this time, Viglione taught drum lessons in Boston and collaborated with many other artists including The Gill Aharon Trio, Neovoxer Ensemble, and Reverend Glasseye.
Viglione played drums on Fighting Naked, the debut album from his childhood friend, Holly Brewer's band, HUMANWINE released through Warner Music Group's Cordless Recordings. Through March and April 2007, he went on a US national tour to support this release.
Shortly thereafter, he performed drums for the Nine Inch Nails album, Ghosts I-IV. "Collaborating with Trent on 'Ghosts' was a great experience and he really allowed it to be a truly creative atmosphere, in having me build a drum kit and allowing me to improvise my drum parts."
From May 2008 – October 2009, Viglione was the drummer for Brooklyn's punk-orchestra, The WORLD/INFERNO Friendship Society, touring 16 countries and recording a new studio album with The Dresden Dolls' production team of Sean Slade, Paul Q. Kolderie, Adam Taylor, and Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios in Allston, Massachusetts. He also performed in the band's theatrical production, Addicted To Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's 20th Century, in the US, Canada, Netherlands, and Finland. Viglione's final performance with the group was a sold-out performance at The Grand Ball Room, NYC, for the annual HALLOWMAS 2009 gala, where amidst a sea of balloons and video projections, hundreds of fans rushed the stage during the encore.
During this period, Viglione also was heavily involved with various side-projects and albums; First with New York singer, Emilyn Brodsky. Of playing with Emilyn, Viglione has been quoted as saying "Emilyn and I have been friends for a long time and when she asked me to produce and play on her album of ukulele songs I was thrilled and, surprisingly, wound up playing marimba on it as well."
After that, he worked on Black Tape for a Blue Girl's album 10 Neurotics. Viglione recorded his parts for 12 of the 14 tracks (drums, bass & guitar) in December 2008 and January 2009, at B.C. Studio, owned by Martin Bisi, where the first Dresden Dolls album was recorded. He also co-produced the album. In both cases, Viglione performed multiple instruments and helped shape the arrangements and sonic direction of the albums.
On November 8, 2009 an official press release was issued, announcing that Viglione would be joining up with Toronto-based rock outfit, The Cliks for a small handful of shows around New England in the fall and winter of 2009. These shows consisted of Viglione on drums, founder Lucas Silveira on guitar and vocals, and bassist Tobi Parks. In February and March 2010, Viglione toured throughout Europe with NYC based punk-cabaret band Botanica. He also played shows with Martin Bisi, The Land of Dreams, and Black Tape for a Blue Girl. In 2010 Brian recorded with Franz Nicolay (The Hold Steady), and NYC folk singer, Anthony da Costa.
Viglione has performed with a number of artists and musicians at Dances Of Vice, a monthly Victorian and Jazz Age-themed cabaret in New York City. Past collaborators at Dances of Vice have included Nicki Jaine, Fern Knight, and The Ragwater Review.
In December 2011, in conjunction with Helio Magazine, Brian presented the Sound Central Drum Workshop -a drum workshop via Skype with musicians from Afghanistan, Brazil, Iran, Turkey, and the United States conferencing in on the call.
On July 15, 2013, it was announced that Brian joined Violent Femmes as their new drummer, and recorded two albums with the band- the Happy New Year EP (2016), and We Can Do Anything (2017), their first recorded music since 2000's Freak Magnet album, and toured extensively with the band in North America, Australia, Europe and the UK.
In 2014, 2015 and 2016 Brian Viglione collaborated with the German Wave Cabaret act Feline & Strange on 3 records, LIES, TRUTHS, and OUT (motor entertainment). He has recorded a total of six albums with New York gothic-humorist songwriter, Aurello Voltaire.
Since relocating to Los Angeles in April 2019, Brian now works regularly with numerous artists, including country-rockabilly singer, Kasey Lansdale, thrash-punk band BARFBAG, Kalen Chase (Korn, Vimic) and HiFi Americana, piano chanteuse Stephanie Meyers, experimental artist Kyle Nadeau, as well as leading is own 1950s rock'n'roll revival act, and playing drums in the Neil Young & Crazy Horse tribute, Mr. Soul.