Theodore Francis Leo just refuses to write bad songs. While it might be true that the infectious "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" is better than some of the other rockist enticements he's come up with over the years, it's damned near impossible to find any clunkers from more than a decade's worth of work under the Ted Leo & the Pharmacists moniker. As for his earlier work, Puzzlehead haters can crawl back into their holes.
Now that the articulate punk vet (Chisel, Citizen's Arrest) is coming back to South Florida for a show at Churchill's on October 30 -- his first in the area since 2007 -- it's the ideal time to get into the many fascinating components of the Leo.
UPDATED: There are now a baker's dozen below.
12. He's a great interviewer. J. Mascis gives him absolutely nothing to work with, but Leo just keeps going. Even gets a dig in there against lazy journalists!
11. He wrote "Fuck Foghat" on this poster.
10. He recently performed a ten-year anniversary show in New York for 2001's full-length debut with the Pharmacists, The Tyranny of Distance. This gradual descent into batshit riffage is one of its finest moments -- and Leo at his muscular best.
9. He's funny on the Twitter.
Quick poll: how many ppl want my next record to sound like 1974 heavy riffage proto-punk glam + late '80s post-hXc + tender Irish baladry?
8. Regarding the last point,he really does like "The Sick Bed of Cúchulaínn" by the Pogues, a lot.
7. He can throw down with a bottle and admitted to it while battling a norovirus during an interview I conducted with him a few years ago regarding a song about a situation like that.
If they put that bottle in your hand, would you be able to fight back?
I don't want to get myself in trouble here, but I would know how to use it.
Anyhow, this would've been handy during a run-in with Iggy Pop's road crew ten years ago, but Ted was wise enough to deflect such invitations for violence.
6. He was born on September 11.
5. He gets down with the Beatles without embarrassing himself. Here's "I'm Looking Through You" off This Bird Has Flown - A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul.
4. He's willing to facilitate your embarrassment. Ted Leo is a big fan of off-the-wall covers but is fine with sharing the microphone. Here's an impressive list of songs he chose for a live-band karaoke night at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory to promote The Brutalist Bricks. No shock to see Black Flag and Fugazi on there, but just imagine the power of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."
3. He's willing to risk embarrassing himself -- for a good cause. Here's Leo with Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard and WFMU's Tom Scharpling singing ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me" for a fundraiser in 2008 for the New Jersey radio station.
1. He's still got it. From 2010's Matador debut, The Brutalist Bricks:
Bonus (13): We challenged Ted Leo on Twitter to retweet our story with the promise that we would reveal an additional "intriguing fact" about him. He took the bait. Thanks to some unnamed sources within Leo's inner circle, we have uncovered this rare factoid.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"Get this -- he despises cilantro. Can't and won't eat it." Fascinating, man.
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. Sunday, October 30 at Churchill's Pub. Tickets cost $12 to $14. Click here.