Ted Leo denies retirement, but is “figuring out what happens next”


    Recently, Ted Leo sat down for an interview with Joseph Lord of Louisville’s Velocity, where he conveyed the idea that 2010 may be his last as a full-fledged independent musician. “People don’t think record sales matter to musicians. If you’re selling less than 10,000 records, it probably doesn’t matter. And if you’re selling more than 100,000 records, it probably doesn’t matter. But if you’re selling somewhere in the middle, it can make a huge difference,” explained Leo. He then added, “I’m going to be totally honest with you. By next year, there’s no way I’m going to be able to be on tour like I have been these last few years. There’s no way I’m going to be able to keep writing and recording and playing music.”

    Earlier this morning, the website 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 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:


    There’s 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 – it’s not at all a “woe is me” type of complaint – in fact, it’s not even a complaint at all – anyone who’s seen us play in the last few months knows that we’re having as good a time doing it as we ever have, and from my side of things, I can tell you that we’re actually having MORE fun most of the time – but I’ve decided to be honest with interviewers who ask me about “the state of things,” because what’s 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.

    It’s true – there’s no way we can continue forever as we have – but that doesn’t mean we won’t 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 we’re completely booked through the end of 2010, but that yes – by next year, you will see some changes – it simply can’t go on like this forever; followed by “I’M SURE I’LL 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 doesn’t come completely out of left field), pretty soon, I have to start figuring out what comes next.


    One thing I don’t want to have happen, is to wake up turning 50, and have to just be starting this conversation then. I’m looking at things realistically, I’m looking ahead, I’m telling the truth about it, and I’m hoping to find the right way forward.

    Oh, and I’ve 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