"Voices Carry" was a huge hit in 1985, when the group 'Til Tuesday ruled the airwaves. With an unforgettable video and shocking platinum blonde hair, Aimee Mann fronted the band and continued on with a successful solo career. Aimee reflected on the past just before her recent Chicago appearance at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
Windy City Times: Good afternoon, Aimee. I have followed your career for a really long time; that is why I wanted to talk to you.
Aimee Mann: Awesome.
WCT: I was listening to your Smilers album again. It is a great accomplishment.
Aimee Mann: Thanks. I was really happy with it.
WCT: Are you poking fun at the smiley-face culture?
Aimee Mann: I didn't go into it saying, "This is what I am going to say with this record." I had a collection of songs that circled around a few different topics. On of them was living in Los Angeles and the culture of narcissism. Narcissism is about how things appear. LA is an industry town and it is interesting living there. Also, seeing the relationship people have to money. I have encountered a few people that are really obsessed with money and buying stuff. I never really knew people like that so that was mixed up in the album, narcissism and money.
WCT: You are currently working on a musical?
Aimee Mann: I am. I was approached several years ago by this guy who wanted to work with me because my album The Forgotten Arm. It was a concept album and he wanted to make it into a musical. I think for a long time I thought I would not know how to do that and it seems like a lot of work in a realm that I know nothing about. With that guy it never really work out but I kept thinking about the idea. I went to see some musicals and I gradually came to see how it might be possible. I started writing new songs for it with my producers Paul Bryan. We have just started writing it and only have one draft. About half of my past record would really serve a purpose and the rest would be new songs.
WCT: Wow, so lots of new tunes.
Aimee Mann: It has really been interesting. It has been way more fun that I would have thought, so I am pretty into it.
WCT: Recently, a few artists have had some success with musicals, such as Elton John.
Aimee Mann: Elton John did Billy Elliot, which is a traditional musical in that it has a real story and great choreography. It is a real Broadway production. There are a ton of kids in it. [ Laughs ] You know when there are kids involved that they are spending money. We went and saw a bunch of musicals and that was one we saw. We took a trip to New York and saw a bunch of stuff. I think that was my favorite because the story was so great. It was really well directed.
WCT: Were there ones that you didn't like?
Aimee Mann: There is a trend that I am not personally crazy about with the jukebox musical that takes an existing piece of music and sort of does a story around it. I like a real play and songs that make sense with the story and characters that sing for a reason not because it is just time for a song. I think that is harder to do. But that is why I wanted to write a bunch of new songs.
WCT: I always wanted to ask you if 'Til Tuesday would ever get back together, or was that in the past now?
Aimee Mann: The keyboard player left the band, then the guitar player left, so it was me and the drummer. [ Laughs ] So it was why not just be a solo artist? He is my manager anyway so we kept working together just in a different configuration. I don't think that anybody wanted to reform. I would never want to do that. Once you are on your own and realize that you can form a band with each new project, you realize that you can get that band experience without everyone being married to each other and tearing each other's throats out on the road.
WCT: You have done so well on your own. The Magnolia soundtrack is a masterpiece.
Aimee Mann: Thanks. It is nice to be able to do what you want to do. Also, when you are so young your interests change really quick. My music career went in one direction and the other guys were into other things. I barely knew back then what it was like to be in a band and be a musician. I didn't know if you changed musical direction that people have varying styles and it is not going to even sound right.
WCT: Then, you made SuperEgo Records with one past bandmate.
Aimee Mann: Yeah.
WCT: How long have you been with your husband, Michael Penn?
Aimee Mann: We have been married for 13 years.
Aimee Mann: Thanks. It has been, like, 15 years total, a long time.
WCT: You guys did the soundtrack for I Am Sam together.
Aimee Mann: We did a Beatles song together for it.
WCT: Have you been to the Old Town School of Folk Music before?
Aimee Mann: No, but I am looking forward to it.
WCT: I will see you there, and keep me posted on this musical.
Aimee Mann: Absolutely.
Keep up with Aimee at www.aimeemann.com and happy 25th anniversary from http://www.nunnontherun.com!