Viral video: Somehow Mann has succeeded without one
Former Richmonder Aimee Mann started out in a new-wave band and indulged a few solid alt-rock tendencies on her 1993 solo debut, but she had started down the long road of maturing into a folk-pop songwriter for grown-ups by the time director Paul Thomas Anderson stuffed his three-hour Tom Cruise vehicle Magnolia full of her songs in 1999. This trajectory– which included Emmy and Academy Award nominations– led straight to her 2005 record The Forgotten Arm, a finely-crafted narrative-driven concept album about a couple that meets at the Virginia State Fair.
The Hook: I was surprised to learn that you're really into boxing.
Aimee Mann: I have not done it in a while. I think just because when you go on tour, and that sort of level of workout gets interrupted, boy, is it hard to get back into it. And it's so exhausting, and you have to be in such good shape just to not feel like throwing up after three rounds with a trainer on the mids and stuff.
The Hook: That's where you got the title for The Forgotten Arm, which also has boxers on the cover. So does it now feel like you've cashed in that topic, like it'll be hard to make more music tied to this sport you love?
Aimee Mann: To me, it remains interesting. Boxing was also more of a metaphor for how people act out their past trauma. On the record, this was a guy who had been in Vietnam, and he's kind of carrying this trauma around with him, acting out this sort of violence upon himself. I've done a lot of reading about post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction and how those two things are intertwined. I don't ever really get sick of that, because it's the underlying psychology that's interesting.
The Hook: A lot of people look to Magnolia as a defining moment in your career. What do you think today's equivalent of that might be?
Aimee Mann: I think a lot of these things are really pure accidents, your song appears in a movie or a commercial or some other thing, and then suddenly people are interested. It isn't something you can plan.
The Hook: I'm a little surprised that your go-to answer for that question wasn't "viral video on YouTube."
Aimee Mann: People who make the best videos are people who have great ideas for videos, and I am not one of those people. Or they know people who make videos and who have great ideas for videos; I don't know those people. I'm not saying that it's not possible to have some amazing idea that I could take a Flip camera and it'd be awesome. But I'm a musician. I don't think in terms of movies and visual stuff. That's just not my thing. Having said that, I probably will make a video with Tom Scharpling, who just did a video for the last New Pornographers single. Have you seen that? It's called "Moves."
The Hook: I think I saw it on a blog but didn't actually click the play button.
Aimee Mann: So I think I'll make a video with him, because we're really good friends. But the New Pornographers video is fantastic, and yet you haven't seen it yet. A video just has to get so viral before it can do anything for anybody.
Aimee Mann performs at the Paramount Theater on April 15. $28.50-$35.50, 8pm.