Originally published in The Columbus Edge magazine (August 13 – 26, 1993)
As the lead singer/bassist for ‘Til Tuesday, Aimee Mann garnered a great deal of attention for both her spiked blond hair and her stirring voice. The band burst onto the pop scene back in 1985 when it’s video “Voices Carry” received massive promotion from the usual video outlets. As part of the pop scene, ‘Til Tuesday paid its touring dues by opening for some of the heavyweights of Top 40 music.
“We toured with Tom Petty for like two weeks and our managers at the time pulled us off to go on tour with Rick Springfield,” Mann says sarcastically. 1985 was a different era for music and Mann is well aware of it. One listen to her first solo album, Whatever, proves the fact that Mann is a very emotional songwriter who doesn’t rely on current trends to influence her music. “I draw on obvious influences, most of them older,” Mann says.
She is surprised that Duran Duran, one of the only bands left over from the big arena rock days, is achieving success these days. “I think that first single (‘Ordinary World’) was lovely. Even the production is still very 80s, but the song is just beautiful. But, they’re still a bunch of wienies,” Mann says with a small laugh.
Escaping her past with ‘Til Tuesday and forging ahead with her solo career was a difficult task for Mann. Although ‘Til Tuesday, for the most part, was a one-hit wonder, its record company insisted that the band fulfill it’s contract. The label agreed to free Mann from her contract in 1991 and, with the help from her manager, Patrick Rains, but without the help of a record company, she recorded an album’s worth of material that would eventually become Whatever.
Mann’s insightful lyrics and musical stories are what makes Whatever such an easy album to listen to. “I get ideas from everywhere,” Mann says, “but it’s always personal because I always have an emotional connection to it. So whether or not it is a real story doesn’t really matter because I try to make it my own story by investing emotional content.”
“A song like ‘Put Me on Top’ was written about a friend of mine, from his point of view, who used to call me up and crank about how other people get all the breaks,” Mann says.
Mann’s way with words has captured the attention of many of her peers, including Elvis Costello with whom she co-wrote a song. “I looked up to Elvis Costello, and I look up to Scott Miller of The Loud Family … I think Tom Petty’s really great. Ray Davies is fucking great,” Mann says about songwriters she admires.
While ‘Til Tuesday built up a following, Mann is not sure if people will associate her name with her former band.
“People might know what ‘Til Tuesday is, but are they going to buy the record? I doubt it … a-Ha had a hit single, like we did, in fact, they did even better than we did, and I wouldn’t go out and buy that guy’s solo record. Why? Cuz you’d probably assume it’s like the old stuff,” Mann comments.