May , 1985
By David Huff
'til Tuesday letting 'voices carry' them to the top
"About a half hour ago while I was jogging," said a stunned female voice over the telephone. "This guy saw me and I guess had recognized me from MTV. He started running after me. It was really weird and frightening,"
The now calm voice is singer / songwriter Aimee Mann, the leader of the Boston-based synth-rock band, ‘til Tuesday. And like everything else that has surrounded the hectic life of the bass player this past year, the unexpected success of her band is still sending shock waves through her system. Gradually, she has learned to expect the unexpected with a smile instead of a quizzical look.
The band Mann fronts just released their debut album, Voices Carry, on Epic Records. The title track from the album has landed in the Top Ten. Overall reaction to the record itself has been quite strong. It has been so positive that singer Daryl Hall personally invited the band to open second leg of Hall & Oates nationwide tour. One evening during an off night in Savannah, Georgia, Daryl Hall and guitarist G.E. Smith were in Daryl's room watching music videos with the sound down low when the video of the single, "Voices Carry," came on the screen.
""This hasn’t been as easy as at wasn't as easy it might appear to have been," said Mann. “G.E. went over to the TV and turned up the sound and told Daryl to watch the video. He then turned to him and said, 'They're good aren't they?' Daryl replied, 'Yeah! They're really good!’ G.E. then said, 'Why don't we get them on the tour?' Daryl said okay and he rang up the band’s manager."
There were some reservations by Hall & Oates manager about ‘til Tuesday that had to be answered before he would make the call. First off, the Boston band was so new to the music scene that their debut album had yet to be released by Epic. Radio stations across the country were just now receiving their copies of the lead single, “Voices Carry.” Outside of video rotation on MTV, no one really knew anything about the band. Daryl Hall didn’t care.
"It seemed as though people in the Hall & Oates organization,” relayed Mann, “where hesitant to book an unknown band as the opening act on the tour. Daryl said, 'Listen! Does a band have to have a hit single before they can open for us anywhere?' They said no and he said, 'Good, put them on the tour.' And that was it. We're with them through the first of May."
'til Tuesday is a combination of luck, determination and timing. Aimee Mann, a bit reluctantly, is the undisputed leader of the band. Her soaring vocals and heartfelt lyrics stir the emotions of love and happiness that she says laid the foundation for her philosophy on life. "Love is the answer. That is all we are about."
To look in-depth at 'til Tuesday is to peer inside the inner workings of Mann herself. A native of Richmond, Virginia, the future star travelled to Boston right out of high school to attend the prestigious Berklee School of Music. All you had to do was hand your money over to them and run, she says. “There was no auditions, no entrance exams, nothing."
Mann studied bass and theory for a year and a half, discovering during that time she was 'pretty good' at what she was doing. With a degree in confidence, Mann ventured out into the Boston music scene and joined a band called the Young Snakes. It would be a memorable experience.
"The Young Snakes definitely were not for public consumption." laughed Mann. "They were my first band. After my brief experience with them, I thought all groups were like that. We fought all the time about everything. It took so long to write songs, the atmosphere was difficult to work in."
Mann left the Snakes and became involved in a band called Ministry, which basically evolved around a man named Al Jurgenson who was recording and album under that name in Boston.
"Meeting Al,” commented the singer, “sort of made me think that writing music didn't have to be that difficult. Before that, I thought all bands were like the Young Snakes where fighting with one another was all part of a game."
Mann's musical involvement with Jurgenson not only shook her negative image of the music business, she says it also gave her the confidence and an awareness she could do anything with music if she just set her mind to it.
"I had to believe in myself," she said simply. "I had to believe I could work within myself and write songs completely on my own. I had to get musicians I could work with and thought along the same way I did. That was the frame of mind I was in when I met Robert."
Robert Holmes was a London-born guitarist/vocalist who was introduced to Mann by mutual friends at a party. Holmes, discouraged and disillusioned with the Boston music scene, was two weeks away from hopping a plane back to London before his chance meeting with a fellow troubadour.
"My friends knew that I was looking for people to play and record with,” explained Mann, “so that's why they introduced Robert to me. At the point I met him, he was about ready to leave this country. Robert had packed stuff he wanted to keep and given away everything else. I persuaded him to help me on this tape I was doing. When we started writing songs together, the two of us got along great. There was such a force between us we had to make a band."
In March 1983, 'til Tuesday made their first public appearance with drummer Michael Hausmann and keyboardist Joey Pesce rounding out the group. A few weeks later, they recorded a five-song demo tape. One of the tracks, "Are You Serious," made it into the regular rotation on the Boston heavyweight rock station, WBCN. The group then decided to sign up for a Battle of the Bands contest despite the fact they had only been together four short months.
"We had developed this attitude,” ventured Mann, “that nothing could stop us and we totally believed in ourselves. In our eyes, we definitely knew we could do anything. Our friends thought our attitude was ludicrous and there was no way we'd go anywhere in the contest. At that point, we just started to play gigs and develop our music."
And develop they did. BCN's annual Rock and Roll Rumble attracted 24 bands. When the amps had died down and the smoke cleared, the previous unknown 'til Tuesday emerged victorious.
"All of us had been in bands before,” continued the singer, “that were sort of underground types of things. The rebellious attitude we had back then was ridiculous. 'til Tuesday was an opportunity for four people disillusioned with their past to play the type of music they liked. We wanted the music to be accessible, emotional and played with our hearts. We weren't out to cultivate a Boston sound, because I really don't think there is one. Underground bands may be the darlings of the critics, but they never go anywhere."
Thanks to the Battle of the Bands victory, ‘til Tuesday began creating some excitement in the Boston music scene. They released a second demo tape that included the song, "Love in a Vacuum," that became a local sensation. Also included on their debut album, "Love in a Vacuum," may very well be the single that pushes 'til Tuesday over the top. But that's in the future.
Today, 'til Tuesday is still the unknown band that intrigued singer Daryl Hall enough to ask the band to open part of their tour. Today they are in Austin, Texas at the luxurious Travel Lodge Inn laying over in preparation for another Hall & Oates the next night.
"Two years ago," mused Mann, "I would have thought, 'No way would I be on tour with Hall & Oates,' let alone have an album on the charts that’s actually selling. In this business, you can never feel secure in what you are doing. With everything that has happened to us, you would figure we’re rolling in dough and people would be rushing all over the place after you. Well, here I am in a Travel Lodge. I cannot afford to buy new clothes. In fact, I don't even know how I am going to wash my clothes, so there you have it. Let's just say that it's too bad that the two, fame and fortune, don't catch up with each other at the same time."
A point well taken and unfortunately, so very true!
"One night Daryl and I were watching a film called This is Spinal Tap," continued Mann. "The movie really hit home with him because what the film sort of mocked in our industry was so real and true for him and John. He told me they knew what it felt like to go from playing arenas to small clubs back to arenas again. That's why musicians can't take what they do seriously. They are mortal, not demi-Gods. People can recognize you one year, and then the next they don't want to take your calls."
There is no denying the power music holds over people whether they're in the business or not. It's an addiction that has no cure, and its alluring qualities are more powerful than any drug.
"I don't get along in the real world," replied Mann. "I just don't. I couldn't work from 9-5. There are some things that I can't do, and the energy for doing this whole thing and getting into this strange business is because you make your own rules.
"I have a grasp on reality but it is a constant struggle to keep things in perspective. You have to be on top of your game and aware of everything. In this business, it is very easy to get caught up in a rat race. I know what is important in life. Those who watch me or the band perform know what is important in life.
"When 100 people recognize you, it's only because you have been on TV, most probably in a music video. Those things are like being in a commercial. It has nothing to do with your art. If people recognize you and have told you that your music really does something for them, then that is important. But the fact that people know your face is such a transient thing. If our record were to go no further up the charts right now and next year I walk down the street, no one would recognize me. That aspect of this business is not important in life. Love, something to work for and being happy are."
Spoken like a season professional.