Ted Leo is a grandmaster of independent music, leaving his mark in punk, hardcore and indie rock circles for more than two decades without losing a DIY attitude. Ted Leo has been the frontman of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists since 1999.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have been touring since the 2010 release of “The Brutalist Bricks,” but are now writing new songs and getting ready to record their next album. The band is adapting to a recent line-up change, as their longtime bassist Marty Key left over the summer. Marty wanted to stop touring and settle down; he opened a record store in Richmond Virginia, Steady Sounds. ‘Pharmacists’ guitarist James Canty took over on bass for the live performances.
Recently, AudioFile caught up with Ted Leo before a show at The Bell House in Brooklyn. Here are some of the questions that didn’t make it into the video:
What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2012?
I really must, once and for all, stop ever reading the comments section of websites. Especially when I am referenced. That’s my big New Year’s resolution. Never read the comments.
Where did the idea behind the video for “Bottled in Cork” come from?
The director, Tom Scharpling, and I had been talking about doing a video for that song for a little while. We went through a couple different ideas. We were relatively happy with a number of them. And then, just like out of the blue, as the deadline was approaching for us to actually be working on it – it just popped into his head, he got this whole new idea. Probably from conversations that we’d been having about, you know, just the current state of live musical theater, where so many of the biggest, most popular things are song catalogs that have a narrative woven around them instead of something that’s built from the ground up. His idea about having us attempt that and fail at it just seemed hilarious.
If you could pick a band to play Ted Leo and the Pharmacists cover set, who would it be?
There’s a punk band here in New York called the Night Birds who I love. And they mostly play in the hardcore scene, but they have these leanings in some of the pop directions that I appreciate. I think they could do a really interesting, louder, faster version of us.
And then there are bands that would actually, just by the nature of what the band is, have to mix it up in a possibly interesting way. I’d like to see Wye Oak, which is a two-piece with a woman singing.
Last year you got back together with Citizens Arrest for a series of reunion shows, and then this year the new EP came out. Will we see more of Citizens Arrest in the future?
It all came together pretty organically in that we all found ourselves at a reunion show of another group of friends of ours’, a band called Rorschach. A few of us hadn’t seen each other going on 20 years. We just stayed in touch, and then about a year later, we were like, “Hey, we should play! We should play some more.” And we did.
We all have our own other things going on. A couple of the other guys have kids, and I’m not the only one who’s in another more active band. So it’s not something that we’re planning on ratcheting up to any massive level of activity. But it is something that’s been fun for us to re-engage with. And I’m sure that here and there we’ll continue to do so.