Copyright 1984 The Boston Globe Company
The Boston Globe
Date: March 11, 1984
Source: D.C. Denisonq
Section: NEW ENGLAND MAGAZINE
TWENTY-ONE: AIMEE MANN
Q. How long have you been living in Boston?
A. Four years, maybe five. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and I came up here to go to the Berklee School of Music. After high school I had no idea what to do, but I sort of liked music. I had heard about Berklee and I knew that you didn't have to audition, so I figured, well, let's go. If you don't have to audition, why not?
Q. You came to Berklee without any musical training?
A. I was completely untrained. I had just bought a bass and I knew that's what I wanted to play, but I didn't even know what a chord progression was. I wound up staying at Berklee for only about a year, but at least I learned how to play bass.
Q. What kind of music were you listening to then?
A. I was just getting into what was called New Wave, which was about a million different things. I really liked Devo, but I was listening to anything I could get my hands on - Talking Heads and so on. But back then I was considered really weird. There was a pretty sharp line between normal and weird.
Q. Has that distinction been smudged a bit lately?
A. Oh yeah, I think so, I really do, because if you look at something like the latest Pat Benatar video, for example, she looks almost like I do, with the hair sticking out and the kind of wild clothes. A couple of years ago, they would have called her a punk or something. And now I'm playing pretty commercial music when just a few years ago I was considered a complete weirdo, hopeless.
Q. How about your musical taste now? What records have been on your turntable in the last 24 hours?
A. I haven't played a record in so long. I go through periods where I just don't want to hear anything. But I guess Elvis Costello - I always love him.
Q. What do you like to listen to on the radio when you're driving?
A. When the band has a really long drive, a lot of times we'll put the radio on a muzak station, or not really muzak, which is all strings, but sort of a Frank Sinatra, easy-listening kind of station. I really love Frank Sinatra. I think all of us really like Frank. But a station that has stuff like the Carpenters, and really schlocky, old mellow pop songs - we all really love that stuff. It's pretty hilarious. We also listen to Kiss 108 and BCN, too.
Q. Is there any song on the radio that forces you to change the station?
A. Yes, any hard rock, like AC/DC. I hate it, I really can't deal with it. It's just too loud. I'm the person in the band who has retained the most hearing, because I've only been in a band for three years or so, while the others have been playing for years. So I can't take it. I've never liked really loud guitar solos. Hard rock - just get it away.
Q. Do you have any favorite nonmusical sounds?
A. Let's see... a cat purring is a good sound, really nice. Also when it's raining outside and you're driving a car - the sound of the tires on the wet pavement. And walking in snow - really, really cold snow - and it sort of crunches. I could go on all day.
Q. Where do you buy your clothes?
A. Alan Bilzerian on Newbury Street. I think it's an amazing place. It's really, really expensive, but it's the only place in town where you can buy stuff by people like the new Japanese designers Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcon. I have a few dresses from there that cost $100 or $150, which represents a week's salary for me. But I really like them, and I figure that they'll last for years and years.
Q. Do you have your hair done professionally?
A. Yeah, I do. I used to cut it myself, but now it's done by Liseanne at Ibis, which is on Newbury Street. They give the whole band free haircuts and dyes and whatnot.
Q. Do you do much reading?
A. I just bought a book on Palmistry, which is really hilarious. I'm interested in all that kind of stuff. I just went to Sister Angela to get my palm read. It was completely ludicrous. First of all she hardly looked at my palm. She just said, "put your hand out," and then she didn't even glance at it. Nor did she touch it at all. I was sitting there saying to myself, "this is a joke."
Q. Do you read the music magazines?
A. Yeah, I read Rolling Stone and all that rubbish. I always buy them, and then they never really tell you anything. I buy Billboard once and a while. if you want to keep up on the business end of the music world, it's really good, but the business end is something that always worries me to death, so I try to avoid it.
Q. What is the most common day job for local musicians?
A. Well I worked at a record store, Newbury Comics, which, I guess, is probably one of the most coveted day jobs. Most likely, a lot of musicians are waiting on tables. I know two different people in bands - actually three different ones - who work in mental institutions. But I don't think that's a common occurrence.
Q. What did you learn about the music business working at Newbury Comics?
A. Well you'd know exactly what the trends were going to be before they hit. England is always a good barometer. But you also lose your enthusiasm, or I did, for other bands pretty quickly, because there's just so much music coming in. You get saturated.
Q. Did you become pretty cynical about the whole system?
A. Definitely. You know what's going to come over. What's big in England always comes over here, or at least it's been that way for the last couple of years. In England they have about six national music papers and, once you see Boy George or Duran Duran on the covers of all six, you get tired of them before they even get to America. I think it's surprising, though, that all those guys got so popular over here. I think it's encouraging because they look weird. Americans always go, "the guy looks like a fag so why should I listen to him?" I'm really glad, actually, that they've been successful here.
Q. Do you set aside a certain time every day or every week for songwriting?
A. Not at all. I just write garbage that way. I mean I could write songs that way, but I'd hate 'em, so what's the point? But a lot of times listening to other music I'll get inspired to write lyrics, or if something happens to me, like I'm unlucky in love.
Q. What bands do you go out to see on your nights off?
A. If I have a free evening, I'll go to see a movie, or watch an old one on TV. I just saw Vertigo, which is great. But, as far as local bands go, I really like The Buddy System. Adventure Set is pretty good. Nobody else really.
Q. Where did the name 'Til Tuesday come from?
A. It was just something that finally sounded all right after hours and hours of stupid suggestions. We liked using a day of the week. We wanted a little phrase; we considered Sunday Best, that kind of thing. There's a rumor that we chose our name because we're all fans of Tuesday Weld. That's just not true.
Q. What makes a good band name, in your opinion?
A. Well, I don't really like names like "the" plus a plural noun - The Romantics - because that's been done so much. I like a name to conjure up something, a nice sort of feeling. Ministry is the most beautiful name - they're out of Chicago. I would love to have figured out that name. I would
have loved to call our band Ministry of Love. But that's the only name that I've taken to my bosom, so to speak. It's got a really nice connotation, like a religious connotation. A team sort of feeling.
Q. Your old band, The Young Snakes, was atonal and kind of avant-garde. Are you aiming for a more mainstream audience now?
A. Definitely. When I first quit The Young Snakes, I was like - art rock - get it out of here! Avant-garde - forget about it! I just listened to really mainstream stuff like KISS 108. I bought records that were the same kind of thing, and I immersed myself in that kind of music. I just felt a sort of contempt for that whole art rock kind of thing. If you just play absolutely weird stuff like we were playing, you're fooling yourself if you say, "Well I'm so good that somebody's just going to bestow success on me."
Q. So 'Til Tuesday is a more calculated attempt at mass appeal?
A. Well, it's not like I calculated something and resigned myself to playing music that I wasn't really that interested in. Because I really like pretty songs. I like the Carpenters' songs, and I like Burt Bacharach. I love that stuff. I'm just trying to find a balance. But, yeah, with this group I know there's a huge place in the market that we're going to fit in. I know this band is going to be successful. It's not like I'm fooling myself - there's a definite place for us. There's a need for us. It may be a small one, but we're different enough, and we're the same enough. We thought it all out. We know what we're doing."