Copyright 1985 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved


November 11, 1985


LENGTH: 509 words




It ain't Cheers. In fact the only common ground shared by this working-class bar and the cheery TV tavern seems to be its Boston locale. All of which might explain why the bartender here is throwing angry glances toward Aimee Mann and her 'til tuesday bandmates -- guitarist-vocalist Robert Holmes, 26, keyboardist Joey Pesce, 23, and drummer Michael Hausman, 25. Mann, after all, is sporting rock threads and a nest of platinum blond from which snakes a single pigtail -- eye-catchers for sure in this no-frills, blue-collar-and-beer joint. "I find a lot of hostility wherever I go in Boston," concedes the 24-year-old singer. "There are fans who recognize me, but there are still people who yell things like 'Freak show' and 'Get a haircut.' It's strange."

Home-turf troubles haven't hampered the band's acceptance out of town, however. 'til tuesday's first LP, Voices Carry, has gone gold, sent its title song into the Top 10 and earned the band MTV's Best New Artist in a Video award. Mann's dagger-deadly soprano and angry, dark-side-of-love songs have clearly found a sympathetic audience among a generation of teens who "identify with me because they know I'm different, and they feel like I'm sensitive," figures Mann. "I think they feel that I know what it's like to be ostracized because of the way I look, which is true."

Not just offbeat looks but a legacy of early woes helped bring Mann to her present pass. Raised in Richmond, Va., she was kidnapped at age 4 by her estranged mother, taken briefly to England and eventually ended up back in the States on a child psychiatrist's couch. Withdrawn as a teenager ("I wouldn't talk at all," she has said), Mann enrolled at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music and there in 1980 met Hausman, with whom she lived until last summer. Their failed romance caused still more pain but also kindled a sense of romantic angst that would infuse her lyrics. Voices Carry, for example, is, she says, "about being with someone who's colder than you are, who doesn't want to show affection in public and who doesn't want to talk about the future, and you think, 'Why am I wasting my time?' If a song is autobiographical, I always get the last word."

If her continuing professional pairing with Hausman adds some creative tension to the group, it is a kind the band obviously hopes to use. A follow-up LP is scheduled for next spring, preceded by the group's first-ever tour as headliners. Its only worry at the moment is that Mann will find the kind of happiness that just might ruin a good thing. Now bewitched by New York singer-songwriter Jules Shear, she admits to having some trouble dredging up the old feelings of foreboding. "Once I started going out with Jules and got really happy about everything, I didn't have anything to draw from." That just might call for drastic measures, at least according to guitarist Holmes, the band's resident comedian. "Quick, call Jules; we need some pain here," he cracks. "Fix him up with some floozy, fast."

GRAPHIC: Photograph 1, Hailed as "a hard rock Joni Mitchell," Mann makes kids feel "like she's singing their life story," says a bandmate.; Photograph 2, Champagne days lie ahead, but for now Hausman, Pesce, Holmes and Mann take a break at the local bar and grill.; Photographs 1 and 2, by Peter Serling