Singer-songwriter collaboration The Both to play in Ann ArborWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember Arthur Fonzarelli, the quintessentially cool character played by Henry Winkler on “Happy Days”?
Aimee Mann and Ted Leo will never forget the leather jacket-wearing biker who had a way with women and engines, thanks to happening upon a sculpture on the Milwaukee Riverwalk.
“Bronze Fonz” cast a creative flash, and the singer-songwriters came up with their first single as The Both: “Milwaukee.”
“There’s a lot about a particularly weird and interesting and fun day we had in Milwaukee that went into that song, but it is really encapsulated by stumbling upon this very bizarre statue of the Fonz,” Leo said.
“It’s almost lifelike,” Mann said. “It’s a tiny bit off.”
“It being that close, it becomes infinitely creepier than had it just been more of an impressionistic stab at the Fonz or a larger-than-life-size Fonz. But it’s just like a hair too short,” Leo said.
“It’s a little less than life-size, a little too delicate; it’s teeth are weirdly large,” Mann added.
“Not knowing it was there was the big surprise about it because you stumble upon this incredible weird piece of art. And then you remember, oh, yeah, that all took place in Milwaukee, meaning ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Laverne & Shirley,’ ” Leo said. “We kept trying to take pictures of ourselves with it, and no matter what we did, they were horrible.”
“Every time I think, oh, I’m exaggerating — we were just in Milwaukee and we saw it again, and we’re like, ‘Let’s try to take a picture of ourselves with it again,’ ” Mann said. “Once again, all pictures were disasters.”
But the collaboration by the indie artists is a success. Released last month, The Both’s self-titled debut features Mann’s melancholy voice, Leo’s brash guitar and the pair’s clever lyrics.
The disc opens with driving fret work on “The Gambler.”
Mann remembered hearing Leo play that song when he was opening for her on tour.
“It’s Ted’s song, a new song, and he was playing it in his set, and I was really drawn to that song and asked him if I could sit in with him and play bass and sing on it, which is really unusual for me; I don’t really generally have that feeling of I want to be a part of this. Just listening to that song, I could picture how a band with the two of us would sound — that was a really exciting moment,” she said during a call from Los Angeles.
“I think that’s some of the kismet around our creative partnership is the fact that I had actually been working on that song with Aimee in mind before we even decided to do that tour together,” Leo said during a call from New York. “As I was working on that song, it felt to me like something she would appreciate, and I had always planned on eventually seeing if she wanted to play on it with me. It was a nice signal that it was meant to happen.”
The Both will play May 7 at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 8 p.m.
“We’re going to be a classic power trio, us and a drummer,” Leo said.
“Being the bass player in a power trio with a guitarist as interesting and one-of-kind and exciting as Ted is really makes me feel I’m playing a special brand of music,” Mann said.