(The Guide, 9/26/08) — When your trusty yet vigilant and skeptical Guide staff first heard a rumor about Ted Leo coming to Hilton Head Island, a contest immediately arose to see who in the newsroom believed it least.
No one here wanted to fall prey to what was certainly an apocryphal story, that a political powerhouse who once earned comparisons to punk royalty Fugazi and the Clash would soon be slashing his way through the manicured landscape of Hilton Head.
We were never so happy to be wrong.
It turns out that Leo’s actually been to Hilton Head many times (though not to play music), and has fond memories of it. But when Leo and his band the Pharmacists return to the island Oct. 2, on tour with Against Me! and Future of the Left, it will be a day for the history books. Here’s why:
Question. We did a little bit of research, and we think this may be the first punk show in Hilton Head history.
Answer. I used to go out with someone who lived on Hilton Head. I used to actually go down there a lot and visit her and we’d hang out and see shows in Savannah.
But there was one night where some ska band that I actually knew from New York was playing at like some crazy frat bar, and we went. And I remember her being so freaked out, like, ‘God, this is so weird, there’s actually a band that’s not like the String Cheese Incident or Widespread Panic or something that’s playing here.’
Wow, but I would have figured since then, that since there are kind of ‘punk’ shows everywhere, I’m surprised to hear that I’m the first.
Q. How does that feel?
A. It’s exciting. It’s auspicious. I had no idea.
Q. What’s it like going from a big tour with Pearl Jam back to playing little clubs?
A. It’s not that awing to be on a big stage. In fact, it’s usually not that fun.
In the middle of the Pearl Jam tour, we had some days off and we threw in some of our own shows. So we went from playing the Verizon Center in D.C., which is like 18,000 people, to playing a 200-capacity art gallery in Richmond, Va., and you know, that was kind of actually more fun. I hate to limit our ambitions, but it feels much more at home.
Q. So you still prefer the smaller venues?
A. Our tours are always kind of up-and-down like that, to a certain degree, and that also is really nice. It’s like you go from playing at Metro in Chicago to the aquarium in Fargo, N.D.
It’s a nice way to keep things in perspective, I guess is what I’m trying to say. The Fargo show can be just as fun, and almost feel like more important in some ways.
Q. You guys have been around for a while, and have a big following. Do you still enjoy introducing new people to music when you’re in strange places?
A. Definitely. I don’t think we play any different in those circumstances, whether it’s somewhere relatively new or whether it’s somewhere we’ve been a million times. What it actually enables us to do was kind of change our set list up in ways that we normally wouldn’t. It’s not like a total hometown crowd. In a weird way, it gives you a little more freedom to be a little looser in your choices.
Q. Do you ever edit your own Wikipedia page?
A. No (laughs). Should I? I don’t look at it. I don’t really want to know what people are saying about me on there. I think the last time I looked at it was probably two years ago, when I first realized there was a Wikipedia page for me: ‘Oh, wow, that’s interesting. Hmm, that’s not true. Oh, that’s true, I guess.’
I think things like that are better. Unless it’s meant to be some kind of professional resume that I have specific things that I want to be mentioned on it, I would prefer to just let people do that if they want to do it.
Q. Anything else you want to say about the tour?
A. Just psyched to go back to that beach.