After receiving an Oscar nomination for her work on Paul Thomas Anderson's film "Magnolia," singer Aimee Mann became relatively well known. With this fame Mann founded her own label, SuperEgo Records, in 1999. She released her albums Bachelor No. 2, Lost In Space and her newest album The Forgotten Arm independently on this label.
With a sound that cannot be pigeonholed and lyrics that challenge convention, Mann has been able to steer her own career with great results. Her new album has received critical acclaim and inspired a national tour with a stop in Tucson on Tuesday.
Wildcat: In The Forgotten Arm, the songs are set up like a storybook. What was the inspiration behind that?
Mann: You know, I really think that I just tend to write songs that reference one or two certain ideas that I'm interested in. They sort of circle around the same kind of themes from album to album. If I get interested in something, I really want to explore it through more than just one song.
Wildcat: What is your process for songwriting for this album? You just sort of went with a theme?
Mann: I think emotionally, the dynamic between them was something that I was familiar with because I had a couple of friends who had problems with either drugs or alcohol, and another good friend of mine's mother is an alcoholic. So just in sort of thinking about that dynamic and learning more about it and observing it for myself, that sort of became the underlying tone of the relationship of these characters.
Wildcat: Is it frustrating not getting played on the radio? Because I know, just as a part-time listener of the radio, it is frustrating to me the things that get played or don't get played.
Mann: You know, when I was on major labels, I would never get played on the radio anyway. That's something that is up to the label, you know, because they basically pay for it to be played. So it really is a money consideration. It was back then anyway. But I think that's something that's being investigated again. I guess I just got used to the idea that I wouldn't get played on the radio anyway and we would just have to find different ways to promote the record and get the word out there.
Wildcat: So your experience on SuperEgo Records is better than with Interscope?
Mann: Yeah, I mean I think a major label is great if they're really pulling out all the stops for you. But they usually have hundreds of acts and only focus on three or four, so there are a lot of artists that just sort of languish. And then they kind of almost do more harm than good. So, it's really all or nothing with them. So, at least if I own my own label I can make sure that the record gets in the stores. It was very frustrating being on a major label with that kind of all or nothing mentality.
Wildcat: How is the tour going?
Mann: It's great. I am really enjoying playing these songs live. Probably because they were recorded live in the studio, they really translate well into a live experience.
Wildcat: So are you playing stuff from both this record and your previous records?
Mann: Yeah. We kind of mix it up. I keep songs more predicated on how they sound live and what the set needs. I am playing a lot of new songs, but I am playing a fair number of older songs too.
Aimee Mann is playing at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Tuesday at 8 p.m.