On Ted Leo


Spencer Ackerman  posts this great interview with Ted Leo. You can always tell when an interviewer knows their stuff; or rather, you can always tell when the interviewee believes the interviewer knows their stuff — more on this later.  While the whole economic analysis of living in a band is of interest, of particular note to this correspondent is his love of The New Pornographers, perhaps my favorite band:

What was the last newer song that you heard that you wanted to cover?

Ooh, last new one I heard that I wanted to cover? Actually, there are a couple of songs off the new New Pornographers record [Together], which comes out a month after ours, that I’ve already thought to myself, ‘I wonder if they’ll be pissed if I play this on tour before the album came out?’

They probably wouldn’t be that mad would they?

No, probably not, no. [laughs] There’s actually this song called “What Turns Up In The Night,” look out for it. It’s a corker, really really amazing song.

A goddamned corker! I am so excited for this album; the two songs leaked so far have been superb.

Anyway, one more comment on Leo, whose reputation for integrity and being great is personified by his willingness to play on the street after a brownout cancelled one of his concerts: I met Leo once, interviewing him for the Georgetown Voice (along with my buddy Chris) at an anti-war concert on the Washington Mall  sometime in 2005 or 2006, probably, and it went much worse than the above example. At the time, we hadn’t been expecting to interview Leo, who, in our estimation, ‘came to D.C. every five minutes’ — which isn’t too much of an exaggeration, the man loves playing in his old haunt. But some publicists  decided that we should stop by the band tent and say hi to Leo. We went along, despite having our faculties, um, slightly diminished by the day’s recreations.

Leo was clearly in a bad mood, uninterested in talking to us and being forced to engage by a pushy publicist. It probably didn’t help that my first question was “I love your stuff” and the second was “So, why are you here today?”, which was answered with eye-rolling and noting that this is an anti-war concert and I’m against the war. Chris, who knows more about tunes than I, managed to ask him some reasonable questions about music before Leo told the publicist to screw off and went on his merry way.

At the time I was embarrassed by the rejection , now I like Leo more for his brusqueness;  admirable people  should be able to display human foibles.  I also learned an important lesson about being prepared for interviews.

His set, as I recall, was bangin’.

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