Recently, Ted Leo sat down for an interview with Joseph Lord of Louisvilles Velocity, where he conveyed the idea that 2010 may be his last as a full-fledged independent musician. “People dont think record sales matter to musicians. If youre selling less than 10,000 records, it probably doesnt matter. And if youre selling more than 100,000 records, it probably doesnt matter. But if youre selling somewhere in the middle, it can make a huge difference,” explained Leo. He then added, “Im going to be totally honest with you. By next year, theres no way Im going to be able to be on tour like I have been these last few years. Theres no way Im going to be able to keep writing and recording and playing music.”
Earlier this morning, the website Buzzgrinder.com picked up his comments and, well, before you could say Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Leo’s impending retirement was the topic of the day on every indie blog’s Twitter.
Of course, as most things on the Internet tend to be, the story was blown a bit out of proportion. Leo has since set the record straight by posting an extensive open letter on Tedleo.com. I’d cut it down, but Leo was especially annoyed that his quote was taken out of context, so (after removing an intro paragraph about how they were losing money) here’s the post, in its entirety:
Theres no money in it for us anymore, and to maintain even a semblance of solvency, we have to keep up the same touring schedule that we and I have been keeping up for the last nearly twenty years a touring schedule that even the most hardened in our community will tell you is exceptional.
The energy we have inside us is not as boundless as it once seemed, and the amount we have to expend each year becomes more and more of a drain for less and less pay off. These are simple facts its not at all a woe is me type of complaint in fact, its not even a complaint at all anyone whos seen us play in the last few months knows that were having as good a time doing it as we ever have, and from my side of things, I can tell you that were actually having MORE fun most of the time but Ive decided to be honest with interviewers who ask me about the state of things, because whats the point in sugar coating the realities? As we all push toward forty, exactly how to go forward wisely, in a way that allows each of us to live a full life (and not die between rest stops on I-80), is something I need to think about, and I am thinking about it.
Its true theres no way we can continue forever as we have but that doesnt mean we wont continue in some other way. The important part of what I said in the particular interview that was re-quoted without full context by Buzzgrinder, is that were completely booked through the end of 2010, but that yes by next year, you will see some changes it simply cant go on like this forever; followed by IM SURE ILL NEVER STOP MAKING MUSIC, which is a statement I stand behind, but as I said in Spin a while ago (just to make sure you understand that this doesnt come completely out of left field), pretty soon, I have to start figuring out what comes next.Advertisement
One thing I dont want to have happen, is to wake up turning 50, and have to just be starting this conversation then. Im looking at things realistically, Im looking ahead, Im telling the truth about it, and Im hoping to find the right way forward.
Oh, and Ive got plenty of better songs to come
Leo doesn’t sound like someone who’s leaving the music business, but rather someone who is struggling to make a buck and figuring out a business plan. The fact that he ends it with “Oh, and I’ve got plenty of better songs to come…” is especially telling. Ted Leo has tour dates booked through mid-October and though he may need to re-tool before going back on the road in 2011, I would bet against a full fledged retirement any time soon.
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists 2010 Tour Dates:
07/10 – Columbus, OH @ Skully’s
07/11 – Louisville, KY @ Belverdere
07/17 – Brooklyn, NY @ Siren Music Festival
09/03 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah
09/06 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
09/07 – Victoria, BC @ Legends Nightclub
09/08 – Seattle, WA @ Vera Project
09/09 – Portland, OR @ Lolas Room
09/23 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Diesel Club
09/24 – Newport, KY @ Southgate House
09/25 – Urbana, IL @ Pygmalion Festival
09/26 – Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note
09/28 – Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Saloon
09/29 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
10/01 – Las Vegas, NV @ Matador at 21
10/04 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
10/05 – Santa Fe, NM @ Corazon
10/06 – Norman, OK @ The Opolis
10/10 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits
10/12 – Gainseville, FL @ Common Grounds
10/13 – Orlando, FL @ The Social