Ted Leo sticks it to Radiohead, which makes him even cooler.

If you’ve never listened to Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, I reluctantly ask that you do so now. I say reluctantly because while they are the best band in the world right now, if you listen to Max and the Marginalized and have never heard TL/Rx, you will listen to Ted + co. and consider the distinct possibility that we are a mere Wayne Newton to his Frank Sinatra. Indeed, if I could write songs as well as his I wouldn’t have to write so damn many.

My bandmates will undoubtedly give me shit about being this self-deprecating and revealing of our influences in our public forum, but the fact is I spent a lot of hours driving late at night on tour with The Actual blasting Ted Leo to keep me awake while everyone else was passed out, taking in another day of playing songs I had written years ago that didn’t mean much to me anymore. Repeated listens to such vitriolic political tunefulness from someone who clearly liked both 7 Seconds AND Thin Lizzy as much as I did made me itch to get home and write songs about what I read on the New York Times opinion page, rather than sing songs on the Warped Tour about my ex-girlfriend from 3 years prior. Hence, my happiest dive into debt ever, Max and the Marginalized.

Anyways, we’re always down for a bleeding of a sacred cow here at Marginalized HQ, and I just read this interview with Ted where the interviewer asks him about Radiohead’s releasing In Rainbows the way they did, and his answer is just awesome:

Honestly, I’m kind of pissed off at Radiohead for doing that because they’re fucking multi-millionaires. So fuck them, you know, they can do whatever the fuck they want. It makes it harder for everybody else to try to figure out a workable idea. It’s like a red herring or a cul-de-sac to me to go down that road. Now, if the whole world becomes ‘you release your music for free’ and playing live becomes the way that you get compensated for it, then so be it. But it’s not at that stage right now, and the overhead for actually making a record with a label and putting it out still requires an investment, and nobody wants to lose money. Nobody wants to fucking wind up in the gutter in a year or two. The Radiohead thing also was like a weird scam in my mind because they knew that they were going to be releasing the hard copies of the record eventually. It’s bizarre man… Public Enemy’s been doing it for years as well. And that’s a whole different model, that’s just like ‘you know what, we’re just giving our shit away on the Internet. You wanna come to the shows… and we’re self-releasing our record, etcetera etcetera.’ We’re not quite in a position to be able to accommodate either model properly, like having big label support or doing things completely gratis. It’ll shake out as it will and we’ll roll with it.

As a band who uses a similar model (we got our idea from Juliana Hatfield, whose b-sides she sells on the honor system would still be cash well spent at $1000 per song), I can’t help but agree. They weren’t taking a chance, and it was an amazing publicity piece that got them into the fucking Time 100, for doing what was really nothing more than leaking their album with a donate button. Last month we spent $1600 recording and made $340 in donations which was more than I ever expected to make on those things, and I’m honored that a few people shelled out 40 bucks for the Marginography – and while Radiohead are a fine band, but he’s totally right. It took no balls for them to release their album that way, and tons of balls for Ted to call them out for this since the rock and roll pasture has no cow more sacred.

So, good work, Ted… and if you have a Google Alert for yourself (this goes for you too, Ms. Hatfield) and have landed on our page here, give us a listen and say hi ’cause we love you. Thanks!

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One Response

  1. a. i love ted leo.
    b. still haven’t paypalled you money.
    c. i suck because of point b.
    d. i need to change my bank info to stop sucking at point b.
    e. much love and i’ll be sending some bill$ your way soon.
    <3 tamara

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