July 16, 2004


Ted Leo.jpg

Ted Leo enlists Chris Shaw to produce new album

Musicians recruit outside ears all the time in an effort to upgrade their sound -- or at least take it to a sonic place they probably wouldn't be able to achieve on their own. Indie-rock veteran Ted Leo, who fronts the Pharmacists, is no exception.

Realizing that he lacked the wherewithal to capture what he wanted to do on his next album, Leo enlisted the services of Chris Shaw, whose studio credits include discs by Bob Dylan, Weezer and Public Enemy.

"I thought he had such a diverse thing going on that I should at least meet him," says Leo. "So, we met, and just through talking about music and where he was at, I thought it would be a cool thing to do. He seemed to really get where I was coming from, and he was really psyched to work on an indie project on an indie budget. We got along really well, and I liked a lot of the ideas he had for the demos that I had been making, so we just went with it."

The result was the Shaw-produced Shake the Sheets, which was recorded in New York at Avatar Studios (formerly the Power Station) and Stratosphere (co-owned by James Iha, Adam Schlesinger and Andy Chase).

"I had pretty elaborate demos of everything thatís on the record," Leo says. "We didn't go too far afield from anything, and I felt kind of complimented that [Shaw] didnít feel the need to push us too far afield from the stuff we had been working on. It sounds so much better than anything I could have achieved.

"He really [understood] that we're a band and that I'm a musician who micromanages every aspect of what we do," adds Leo. "He made me feel really comfortable, and he would listen to what my ideas were and ultimately often defer to me if there was something that we disagreed on."

The mixing of Shake the Sheets, due Oct. 19 on Lookout! Records, was completed in June. As for the writing, it took place during the spring, with riffs coming much easier than lyrics, according to Leo.

"I wrote this record in a big block of about six weeks, right up until we went into the studio," he explains. "It was kind of crazy. I actually had to put in an eight-hour day of writing, which was cool. Because of that, I have a lot of unfinished ideas. As the deadline approached, it was like, 'OK, here's 11 songs. I'm going to put everything else that's not done to the side because we have to get stuff tightened up to make the record.'

"I do have a lot of leftover ideas that I would start working on, but I think I kind of have to check myself on that and really kind of focus on putting everything behind this record, at least until maybe this time next year."

-- By Chris M. Junior

Official Ted Leo site:

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists on tour (schedule subject to change):

July 16: The Firehouse -- North Manchester, Ind.

July 17: Call the Office -- Ontario, Canada

July 18: Xtreme Wheels -- Buffalo, N.Y.

July 19: Valentine's -- Albany, N.Y.

July 21: The Downtown -- Farmingdale, N.Y.

July 22: Black Cat -- Washington, D.C.

July 23: Cafť Metropolis -- Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

July 24: East River Park Amphitheatre -- New York

July 25: The Bar -- New Haven, Conn.

July 27: The Middle East -- Cambridge, Mass.

Posted by medleyville at July 16, 2004 12:15 PM