WFMU’s Tom Scharpling talks with Ted Leo for the Believer (and Sasquatch aftermath six)

TS: When you’re writing songs that have a point, how far do you have to get into each song when you’re just banging them out night after night? Is there a minimum that you need to do to feel like you sold the song properly?

TL: Absolutely. I don’t know if this is just cheesy or this is borderline self-aggrandizing or what, but I sometimes do feel that way if I’m working up a set list. Like, yeah, I guess we kind of do have to play “Me and Mia,” don’t we? [Laughs.] But the thing is, I don’t let a song go that I’m not pretty invested in—and that’s also part of the reason why it took two years for me to get this record out. I was trying to find the lyrics that could theoretically take me through the next two years of having me actually connect with that song every night, because I can’t get onstage and not believe in what I’m putting over if I’m attempting to get other people to come along, you know what I mean?

I’ve had the pleasure to hearing “Me and Mia” twice live in the last twelve months. I’m forever grateful Leo hasn’t scrapped this one. It’s always fresh and exciting.

Leo’s Sasquatch 2012 set was especially brilliant because his sound in contrast with all of the other artists at the festival had a punk feeling to it. Perhaps it was Leo’s punk roots showing. The crowd was somewhere between moshing and dancing, which was relatively refreshing comparing it to “punk” shows I go to these days. It was also dusty as hell.


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