Copyright 1996 Billboard Publications, Inc.
July 06, 1996
LENGTH: 1480 words
HEADLINE: DGC'S MANN EYES STUDIO
NEW YORK--After experiencing an initial burst of sales activity buoyed by the kind of ecstatic acclaim that critics have always lavished on her, oft-beleaguered singer/songwriter Aimee Mann, whose DGC/Geffen album debut, 'I'm With Stupid,' came out Jan. 30 (Billboard, Jan. 6), has been hitting the hustings, reintroducing herself to concert audiences via heavy touring, and finally settling into a more regular recording/release cycle.
Or so everyone hopes.
'I would hope that since this record sort of sat on the shelf awhile before it was released, she's got enough material for a new one before too long,' says Bob Bell, new-release buyer for the 280-store, Torrance, Calif.-based Wherehouse chain. 'From seeing her live, I've heard about three new songs that I hope to see on a new album before too long.'
Oedipus, VP/PD at Mann's hometown Boston modern rock station WBCN--where Mann, he says, is a 'staple'--likewise says that unless Geffen pursues another single from 'I'm With Stupid,' 'I'd like to see another album as soon as possible and not wait so long.'
Like Bell, Oedipus is, of course, acknowledging the long, unintended gap between the album and its predecessor, 'Whatever,' which was released by Imago in 1993 as her first solo album following her output with Epic recording act 'Til Tuesday. (Geffen/DGC has since rereleased 'Whatever.')
'Now it's time to instantly follow up with new music,' Oedipus continues. 'It can't be that long a time period in between, now that we know she has the songs.'
Indeed, the three-year break between, albums, which was mostly the result of the legal recording limbo Mann found herself in prior to Geffen buying her contract from the then nonfunctioning Imago, may have left fans with a mistaken impression about Mann's songwriting productivity, as her manager, Michael Hausman, notes.
'A lot of people don't realize she's pretty prolific, much more so than they might think from releasing albums three years apart,' he says. 'I'm listening to lots of songs now that she wrote which didn't make other records.'
Mann says that she could easily have put out at least two additional albums in the time it has taken to release her first two solo discs. (Indeed, the bonus tracks on the U.K., U.S., and Australian CD singles from her first two solo outings include a wealth of otherwise unavailable songs, such as 'Take It Back,' 'Jimmy Hoffa Jokes,' and 'Driving With One Hand On The Wheel,' as well as her cover of Badfinger's 'Baby Blue.') And with Geffen not likely to follow up the first single, 'Choice In The Matter,' Mann is turning her attention to what comes next.
'I guess this one's run its course, and it's time to make another one,' she says. Noting that 'I'm With Stupid' was actually recorded a year before it came out on Geffen, she adds, 'I get nervous about having so much time pass between albums. Previous business problems have delayed my releases--record deals weren't in place--but now it seems like here's an opportunity to finally have another record out without two or three years passing.'
Backing up her manager's and listeners' observations that she has a cache of unrecorded material, she says that while she has 'a bunch of songs' in the can, she 'wouldn't mind just having some time off to worry about nothing but writing.'
She should get that chance shortly. Having been working nonstop since 'I'm With Stupid' was released in the U.K. last October, Mann and her band are wrapping up a five-week tour on the West Coast, her second national headlining tour since the album was released domestically. She's already been in the studio briefly and is looking forward to re-entering its creative environment.
'I find that once I get into the studio, it's all about songwriting or just being creative,' she says.
'Recording a record has all the necessary ingredients for me to write: a quiet place to work while others are doing tedious tape stuff, stability and routine, and the creative resources and instruments--and a producer to play things for. And I've got to get in there when I know what the original emotional impetus behind a song is still about; when you're first writing a song, it's all clear, but you can forget the feel and tempo and arrangement, which is why it's good to work in the studio, where you can immediately record it.'
As for tentative titles and possible material for her third solo album, Mann confides with a laugh that 'the working title of the next record is, 'What Me, Bitter?,' and the hope is that I can get permission to use a caricature of myself as Alfred E. Newman, labeled 'Aime E. Mann.' But we'll have to see how far we get with that idea.
'At this point some of the songs I'm considering including on the next record are 'How Am I Different?,' 'Ready, Steady, Go,' and 'Nightmare Girl,' which is one of three songs written on the porch one night with Jon Brion and Michael Penn," Mann adds. 'There's also a song called 'Save Me,' whose sound my band describes as 'the Carpenters record 'The White Album" in Paris,' and I don't think I want to comment any further on that. All these songs are still in various stages of undress, but we have big plans, and I'm really excited about them."
'STUPID' SUPPORT ONGOING
But Mann's planning ahead doesn't necessarily mean that her work in support of 'I'm With Stupid' is over. 'We're still looking for opening slots, and if Aimee goes into the studio for the next three months, there's still time to do shows in the fall,' says Hausman. 'In fact, it's possible she may be doing some really special dates before Thanksgiving."
Bell, for one, notes that she would be a perfect candidate to open for her sometime-collaborator Elvis Costello on his upcoming summer tour.
'I'd like to see her on a major tour, too,' adds Oedipus. 'She'd be great on Lollapalooza or the H.O.R.D.E. tour, where her talent would lend another dimension and be exposed to different types of audiences.'
Bell would further encourage Geffen to release additional singles from 'I'm With Stupid,' especially in light of 'the nature of the triple-A format, which is such that they go several tracks deep into an album if given the opportunity, and there are a lot of very catchy songs on that record, like 'Sugarcoated' and 'It's Not Safe.' '
Geffen did briefly ply 'You Could Make A Killing,' the album track featuring background vocals by Juliana Hatfield, at triple-A and released 'Long Shot' overseas as a single in addition to the two promoted here.
More recently, the label included the album track 'All Over Now' in 'Buy- Product 2: Brief Encounters,' its second budget-priced compilation of songs by 'emerging, developing, or underground' roster artists, including Boss Hog, Beck, Elastica, Garbage, Sonic Youth, Gillian Welch, and Maria McKee.
'There are a lot of possibilities for her,' says Bell, noting that while sales of 'I'm With Stupid' have 'slowed down somewhat' at Wherehouse, it 'did pretty great out of the box' at the chain, thanks to the positive press and heavy media exposure. (Hausman reports that the album has sold 70,000-80,000 units and moved a career-record 12,000 units in its first week.)
'From my personal taste, it's the best pure pop record of the year,' adds Bell. 'Now that she's found the right label, I hope they stick with her, so we'll get to see her grow as an artist.'