Very Aimeeable

"IRELAND'S always my favourite place to play." How many times have we heard that old platitude?

"IRELAND'S always my favourite place to play." How many times have we heard that old platitude?

But Aimee Mann is not trying to plamas us, she's telling the truth. "Trust me on this one," she says on the phone from Los Angeles, where she is rehearsing for her next tour. "The shows I played at the Gaiety have been absolutely the best shows. To be absolutely fair I think I played a show in London that was right up there too. But the Gaiety shows are always really special."

Since releasing her second solo album, I'm With Stupid, last year, the former Til Tuesday front woman has had little time to sit down and write songs, being too busy on the road in both Europe and America. Unlike some rock stars who can trot out a few hits on the tour bus, Aimee Mann needs to pull off to the side for a protracted period to replenish her creative juices.

"I need to be bored," she says. "I need to be in one place and to have my life so uneventful that it's verging on boredom, so that I can concentrate better on the music."


Nor does she need personal upheaval to feed her incisive songs about love and relationships I find that adversity makes for the best songwriting topics, but not the best circumstances.

Aimee Mann has recently uprooted to the sunny climes of Los Angeles from her Boston base she hasn't been lured there by the bright lights of Hollywood, though she just wants to be closer to her boyfriend. Her time with Til Tuesday has already taught Mann that fame carries a high price, and these days she's perfectly happy to be a minor player in the music biz crap shoot.

That's the nice thing about being in a place like L.A., they're so used to seeing super big stars that if anybody recognises me, they're pretty blase about it. I'm not really that well known here. It's a curse as far as selling records and making money, I suppose, but I think it improves my personal life. I would much rather worry about writing better songs than worry about becoming a bigger star."

During her solo career, Mann has worked with such respected artists as Elvis Costello, Juliana Hatfield, Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford from Squeeze, and ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler. How does she go about getting these people to write a song with her or play on her album?

"It's always, you ask your manager to get in touch with their manager or call their record company, so I don't have to pick up the phone and face possible rejection myself."

MANN'S current tastes range from fellow American band The Posies to current Britpop darlings Oasis "I like great song writers and melodic players, and you know, if any body has the Beatles for an influence that's fine by me."

However, Noel Gallager probably won't be getting a call from Aimee's manager, not until he sorts out one little problem.

"I wish that the lyrics were a little better. I hate to say that, because I really like Noel and I love the songs, but I do wish the lyrics were a little better, because, you know, I'm a person who reads a lot and I like interesting use of language, and I think its just a little too, kind of, standard rock lyrics right at the moment."

Unlike, say, the smart, savvy word play of Elvis Costello or Difford & Tilbrook, or the arch, ironic styles of Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker (He's amazing Great lyricist). Or even, indeed, Aimee Mann herself, whose prowess with a verse has had grown critics gasping with admiration.

I love really super clever lyrics like Elvis's, but I don't really write like that, I don't think I'm that good. I would if I could. If I get one semi clever thing in per song I'm happy, but aside from that I just try to be accurate.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist