Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Beginning of the Both Aimee Mann, Ted Leo Combine Their Divergent Talents in New Duo Project

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Beginning of the Both Aimee Mann, Ted Leo Combine Their Divergent Talents in New Duo Project

Article excerpt

She's known for her cool, aloof delivery and the words "hush, hush" and he runs hot as a onetime hardcore punk with a blazing electric guitar. Aimee Mann and Ted Leo are something of a mismatch for a tour let alone a collaboration that goes by The Both.

The project, which has resulted in a newly released self-titled album, started with a tour they launched in 2012.

"I feel like I was the first one who felt like we should write some songs together," she says in a dual phone interview. "My initial feeling that it could be a thing was from listening to Ted play opening my shows and hearing what an interesting and full sound he got just playing electric guitar. My first thought was, how can I get in on that full sound?"

Ms. Mann had a band history, first with Boston art-punks The Young Snakes in the early '80s before moving on to lead New Wave band Til Tuesday with the hit "Voices Carry." Her acclaimed solo career, launched in 1993, picked up in 1999 with the song "Save Me," from the "Magnolia" soundtrack, earning both Grammy and Oscar nominations.

That was around the time that her new partner was hitting the underground with his most successful venture punk/power-pop band Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

As she noted, he was going solo on that 2012 tour.

"I asked him if I could play bass on a new song of his, 'The Gambler,' and that song really started to lock into my brain as 'This is what it would sound like if the two of us wrote songs,' " she says.

"The secret background history to that," he adds, "is that I was already thinking about that because I had actually begun writing that song with Aimee in mind. I came up with a chorus before the rest of it and the first thing that popped into my head was 'I betcha Aimee would dig this song. I should ask her if she would be interested in joining me on it,' and she beat me to it."

When that song gelled and they moved on to co-write "You Can't Help Me Now," she wrote a verse and chorus and threw it his way. His return verse was greeted, he says, by "a lot" of critical notes.

"I've never collaborated, at least not in many years, at this really deep level of writing, and certainly not with someone who I admire and respect both craft-wise and personally as much as Aimee. So there was an initial hurtle for me to get over in figuring out why getting notes back on a verse that I wrote that was making me feel weird," he says. "Identifying that feeling, understanding that it was just ego and then learning how to put that aside and then work with this person to create something better, that was one of the most important moments of my creative life, probably. Because I feel like from then on, the whole thing really took off and we were able to really take ideas back and forth without fear of ego inserting itself and if it did, we'd become good enough friends that we could talk ourselves through it. …

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