Copyright 1995 The Gobe Company
The Boston Globe
Date: Thursday, November 28, 1985
Author: By Steve Morse, Globe Staff
'TIL TUESDAY PUSHING THE FAST FORWARD BUTTON
More than an hour had passed since 'til tuesday finished their show in Montreal's Spectrum club, but a dozen fans were still waiting for them at the backstage door. Braving the chill, these diehard Canadian youths were clutching posters, T-shirts and album covers for the group to autograph.
When the band finally popped out, they headed to their waiting limousine, but not before graciously signing whatever was handed them. Singer Aimee Mann, her tousled blonde hair spiralling into the night, signed everything with the words, "Love, Aimee."
It was exactly the sort of harmonious interaction one would hope for between a rock band and their fans. There were no ego displays, no complaints about having to rush back to the hotel, no hint of insecurity or tension.
Boston's 'til tuesday, having scored this year with a Top Ten single, ''Voices Carry" and a gold album by the same name, were only showing the confidence that has been theirs since starting three years ago in local clubs like the Rat, the Channel and Jack's.
"I know that we weren't that good in those days, but we always had this overwhelming, unlimited confidence in ourselves," Mann said backstage before meeting her Canadian fans. "We just projected what we knew we were going to become onto everyone."
The rise of 'til tuesday has been meteoric. They've toured this year with Tom Petty and Hall & Oates and are now on their first North American solo tour, stopping at Boston's Orpheum Theater next Wednesday.
They've had the followup hit singles, "Looking Over My Shoulder" and ''Love in a Vacuum." They've also become familiar faces on rock video shows, and won this year's MTV award for best new band video for "Voices Carry," which was filmed in Dorchester's Strand Theater.
They've taken it all in stride, as they have since winning Boston's vaunted battle of the bands, the WBCN-FM Rock 'n' Roll Rumble, two years ago.
"Being in the Rumble gave us the atmosphere of being winners, and that built up a momentum that hasn't stopped," said the slender guitarist Robert Holmes, a British native who first came to America at 8 when his father took an administrative post with the Christian Science Monitor.
The 'til tuesday story first started when Mann dropped out of Boston's Young Snakes, an art-punk band in which she'd been an eerie vocalist who jumped octaves and sang in an exaggerated, off-putting style. "We were deluding ourselves," Mann said of the experience.
She then formed 'til tuesday with Holmes, whom she had met at a party; drummer Michael Hausman, her boyfriend at the time and a percussionist with the Boston band the Dark; and Joey Pesce, a keyboard player who had been in a band called My Hip before he got the call from Mann.
Within a year, they had won the Rumble and were on their way. "I know we would have gotten a record deal without it, but I know it would have taken longer without the Rumble," said Mann, who did most of the talking as she and the band sat in a mirrored dressing room.
Next stop was the recording of "Voices Carry," an album of techno-spiced love songs which now sound pretty laid-back compared to the way they're done in the band's stage show, at least if the Montreal date were any indication.
"We recorded it a year ago, you must remember," Hausman said of the album. "And we've grown a lot since then."
"The album sounds a little careful to me. Now we're a lot more confident. We just blast through the songs," said Holmes, who is clearly the rock 'n' roller in the bunch and would prefer playing four nights at the 500-capacity Paradise Theater instead of one night at the 2800-seat Orpheum.
Mann herself is now a little embarrassed by the negative view of relationships that colors the album. She's tired of the "zillion interviewers" who ask what tragedy happened to her so she could write a song like "Voices Carry," which is about a boyfriend telling her to shut up.
"We want to try different things, or at least approach relationships by not dwelling on the negative, because a lot of songs on the first album were sort of revenge songs," she said, adding they weren't necessarily autobiographical.
"They were songs about being in a bad relationship or witnessing a bad relationship, so you try to get even by writing a song about it," she explained. "I did lean toward conflict because I thought the songs would be more interesting. I wasn't conscious that all the songs had that sort of conflict."
Her newest songs, unveiled in Montreal, are more positive. One is about driving around with friends in Iowa, stopping in the middle of the road, looking at the stars, then going back into the car to listen to a Bob Dylan tape. Hardly the stuff of tragedy.
Several new songs also find Mann switching from bass to acoustic guitar, while Joey Pesce leaves his synthesizers to play her bass. This gives more of a feel of an old-fashioned rock quartet, the result of Tom Petty's influence, she said, and is how the band has recently started finishing their shows.
"We also knew," she said, "that since we were playing an hour-and-a-half to people who probably had heard very little of our material, that to break it up by switching instruments and having a different feel would probably keep boredom at bay."
As 'til tuesday evolves, there is bound to be more pressure on Mann, the group's focal point and chief songwriter. For example, the wonders of video have already turned her into an unwilling sex symbol. "I don't feel like any sort of sexy person," she snapped, "but hopefully I look reasonably slender, attractive and well-groomed."
She'll admit to a spacy childhood in Richmond, Va., where she sang from an Elton John songbook and laterplayed haphazardly in coffeehouses. But she is much more focused and controlled today.
She has acquired a quiet tenacity, ever since she proved to herself she could be a musician by attending Berklee College of Music. That tenacity has seen her through a battle to make sure the band recorded "Voices Carry," since two members at first didn't like the song. Plus, she had to battle New York video directors Ken Ross and Richard Levine, who made the "Love in a Vacuum" video. She insisted that they didn't have her slavishly copy romantic scenes from Jean-Luc Godard's film, "Breathless," upon which the new video is based.
"They wanted to actually quote from the movie," she said with a shake of her head. She got her way, and feels the more improvised tone of the video makes it much stronger.
Above all, Mann is the main powerbroker in the band. "I think we're pretty much a democracy. We're four parts, but with Aimee as a tiebreaker," Holmes said tactfully.
"If we had major disagreements, we'd just break up. That's what it comes down to," Mann concluded. "I like to get my way, but my way is everybody else's way - usually."