Ted Leo Gets Personal on March Matador Debut "Brutalist Bricks"

December 8, 2009 12:00 AM ET

When Touch & Go Records folded earlier this year, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists were left stranded — but only momentarily. After a few months in limbo, they signed with Matador and are now prepping the release of their sixth studio record, March 9th's The Brutalist Bricks. Leo tells Rolling Stone the LP was recorded over the last several months at Brooklyn's Seaside Lounge, and that its 13 tracks are a mix between "snappy pop" and "straight-up punk."

"It certainly sounds like guys of a certain age who used to be in hardcore bands," Leo says. "The older I get, the more I go back to primary sources in my listening. For better or for worse, I really don't get mellower politically — it winds up leaving me sometimes to just want to play hardcore. I'm ultimately a better singer than I am a screamer."

Over the years, Leo's work has often been overly political in scope; while the music leans more towards '70s pop-punk in the vein of Elvis Costello, on Bricks he's still exploring common Leo lyrical themes. "It veers more towards the personal side of things. 'Even Heroes Have To Die' is about how to grow old with dignity. There are songs that are specific in being about veganism, to songs that are broad, personal perseverance in the face of a world that drags you down."

Recording was a cinch, but Leo says naming this new album was "more an excruciating process than it should have been." "I was just putting too much thought into it. It's 'Brutalist' as in 'Brutalist architecture,' not like brutality. Although it's of course called that because of the brutal nature of the concrete that they were using."

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists will be on tour throughout 2010, and "Even Heroes Have to Die" can be heard at Matador's Website.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »