Aimee Mann, Ted Leo come together in The Both 

click to enlarge The Both
  • Unlikely collaborators Aimee Mann and Ted Leo are recording as a new duo, The Both.
On paper, new duo The Both is a collaboration that never should have worked — sensitive former ’Til Tuesday anchor Aimee Mann joining songwriting forces with the punk-fueled frontman for Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Ted Leo. But the band’s eponymous debut — issued on Mann’s indie imprint SuperEgo Records — makes great aesthetic sense, from the propulsive folk-rockers “Milwaukee,” “The Gambler” and “The Prisoner” to the vintage Thin Lizzy cover “Honesty is No Excuse.” It started innocently enough, with Leo taking an opening slot on Mann’s 2012 tour, before they knew they had so much in common.

How did you guys wind up touring together?

Mann: I don’t know how it happened! I was told the promoter suggested it, but I’m not really sure how that went down, or if somebody else suggested it to the promoter.

Leo: One of the promoters suggested it, but then Aimee fought hard against it!

Mann: How dare you! I was very excited at the idea, and I thought, “I would have done this a long time ago if the people in charge thought it was an appropriate match.” I thought I might have gotten pushback from management, because Ted’s a punk icon and he might be too rough on my delicate audience.

But your song “The Gambler” was the turning point.

Leo: That’s true. When Aimee asked me to do the tour, I was actually in the midst of working on that song. So it was a moment where I thought, “Wow — this is a lot of weird things coming together at once!” Because I really was thinking about her when I was writing, and that I would eventually ask her to do something on it.

Mann: Fate had decreed that we were meant to collaborate. And the first step was me playing on “The Gambler” in Ted’s set. And that was unusual for me, to want to sit in or jam with anyone in any way. But that song felt like an embodiment of what a collaboration between us would sound like. And it was just a small next step to start writing additional songs.

Did your husband, Michael Penn, ever walk into the living room and go, “Hey! Who’s THIS guy?”

Mann: We did not record in the living room, for one. But I’ll assume you’re asking if he might have felt, “Why are you recording with another gentleman?” I’ve done projects with him, but he’s scoring two different television shows now, “Girls” and “Masters of Sex.” And he just doesn’t have that … that performer thing. So I don’t think he’s feeling “Hey, why not me!” He’s probably thinking “Hey, glad it’s not me!”


The Both

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $26

Contact: (415) 885-0750,

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Tom Lanham

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