Ted Leo (Ted Leo And The Pharmacists)

Skanknsmile (also of KTXT Radio) recently had a chance to speak with Ted Leo at SXSW. Leo spoke to our correspondant about the recent Touch and Go signing, future plans and veganism.

So I’m here with Ted Leo from Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and I just have a few questions for your, how are you doing today?

I’m doing alright.

Awesome, so you left Lookout and your next record is going to be coming out on Touch and Go records, how has that whole situation worked out?

Pretty amazing, you know I wouldn’t have left Lookout if I didn’t have to, but on sites like punknews.org there has been way to much time spent with people, who don’t know anything, opinions being said about the pro’s and con’s about what’s been going on.  The fact is, Lookout made some decisions that didn’t work and I won’t even say that they were bad decisions. The got themselves in a little bit of trouble and they are essentially not going to be putting out any new records until they catch up on all their debts.  There is nothing wrong with that, you know, that’s the way it goes sometimes, unfortunately and unfortunately for me that means I need to find someone else to put out my next record.

The fact is, Lookout made some decisions that didn’t work and I won’t even say that they were bad decisions.

I did a lot of looking around and a lot of thinking and you know Touch and Go is one of those things that’s almost the perfect situation for me.  It’s an independent label, uh, slightly bigger than Lookout, but not to much, but it’s a really nice place to be.  Most importantly its people that I have known for years, a label that I have know for years, a label that like in whatever press thing I said about it, it’s a label I share a history with, and that is…the way I approach my life and my business has been always attempting to maintain a certain connection with that history and the move to touch and go is the perfect move. 

Talking about influences and history and everything like that, what bands have you been listening to, like your from the hardcore scene and now your in this awesome indie outfit, what have you been doing lately listening to that has been influencing you and your writing

New stuff or just in general?

Well you were talking about a band during your set.

Oh! Les Aus, they are from Barcelona and they are incredible.  It’s almost impossible to describe actually, I can’t even describe them.  They have a myspace page and all that but, yeah they are amazing we played at this festival last August in Spain and I was like I don’t care what it takes I need to take you guys on tour with us in the states people need to hear their music.  Also, the stuff that my brother Chris is doing called the vague angels.  For me its like mind blowing because, guitar wise especially, but in all its just amazing stuff.  Those are like two bands for example that no one is like hearing and better than like 99.9% of bands out there.

You’re not just saying that because he is your brother are you?

No, not at all, as a matter of fact, my brother and I and my other brother Danny the two of them were in groups together and are both considerably younger than me.  And you know it’s that kind of thing when I was 17 they were 13, and 17 year olds don’t hang out with 13 year olds.  We did as a family but not socially, and then when I was 23 they were 17 and the same thing holds true and you know. So, regarding our relationship and music and stuff, there a was their was never really any competition, but their b was that there was enough distance from the work that they and I were doing, I feel that I can make an objective assessment about it and say that it blows my mind, ya know?  I mean they are both much better at what they do then I am, it’s just that I have been doing it more.

Do you have any upcoming side projects and tours that you are going to be working on?

No, I actually don’t want to be on tour right now actually.  I mean these shows are great, but I booked this tour thinking that I would have more new songs and be better and essentially be playing what would be our next record on the road.  But the writing has been really slow for me this winter and I feel that now is the time that I should be home working on writing.  So when I do get back from this that’s going to be my main focus, we are not really touring for the whole summer, we are doing a few dates here and there but for the most part is basically going to be trying to nail a new record.

How do you feel about the new record that’s coming out?  I heard some of the new songs today and they were great, they sounded amazing, and what do you feel like the direction you guys are going to take, or you as the songwriter?

T:  Well our last record, Shake the Sheets, it has a very consistent aesthetic.  It’s very striped down, much shorter songs, a lot more to the point than some of my other records and I think that the next one will be maybe a bit broader in scope.  The stuff that I have been writing and the stuff that I have been playing live, I’m not trying to be grandioso because I haven’t actually written these songs yet, but in my head that’s the tip of the iceberg.  I have a much grander vision about the largesse about what’s going to come. 

Well I’m looking forward to hearing what your going put out.  Now being down here in Texas I saw you cringe at the mention of the word barbeque, so how is this trip affecting your vegetarian lifestyle or just in general?

Well, I am vegan, and its been a long road in my life with different things.  I find that im not interested in hating my friends because they eat meat.  I don’t want to eat around them while they are eating meat, but ultimately I made my decision so long ago that I barely remember why I made it. Its just a part of my life, if someone wants to talk to me about it I’ll gladly talk to them about it, but when it comes to people that I know and respect in other ways, I would rather be able to enjoy those human relationships than not.  We talk about it, they bust my balls, I bust there balls, maybe some of them change there minds maybe some don’t, but my choice is my choice.

Well thanks a lot Ted and have a good time at the festival.

Thanks, I’ll see you around here I’m sure.