What happened when singer-songwriter Aimee Mann asked indie and punk guy Ted Leo to open some shows for her in the fall of 2012? They became big fans of one another and together as The Both, have just released their debut record. Their tour brings the pair, along with a drummer, to Portland for a show on Saturday night.

During a phone interview on the day the album dropped, Mann was in her home in Los Angeles and Leo was in his place in New York City. The pair talked about the collaboration, and there was no shortage of mutual admiration.

How does it feel to have the record out in the world?

AM: I’m really excited. We’ve been getting a wonderful reception from various people.

TL: We’ve been working really hard and being bi-coastal there’s been a lot of traveling to rehearse and do this or that, and to wake up today and all of a sudden be like ‘oh my god we did it’ feels nice.

Do either of you have a favorite song on it?

AM: I think my favorite is “No Sir.” It’s interesting to me because it’s kind of the perfect collaboration between the two of us. It’s a song that I wrote a verse to and Ted wrote this really interesting sort of chorus bridge. First of all, that’s interesting in of itself that it’s a bridge that kind of functions as a second chorus and then changes. Musically, that’s so interesting to me and so like nothing I would have ever come up with and it’s really exciting, it goes to an exciting place.

TL: I think that by and large since we began writing, I would probably say that “No Sir” remains my favorite as well, and for the same exact reasons but from the other side of the fence. It’s moody and spooky, but it’s a rock song and it’s soulful. It really represents our collaboration well to me.

Did anything in particular inspire the song?

AM: I think “No Sir” is a little bit of a portrait of a character whose thinking was becoming distorted to the point of paranoia. And thus the kind of reference to the black helicopters, it’s almost like emotional black helicopters where you start thinking that everybody is against you or that everybody’s motives are somehow tainted and instead of the idea that “people around me are human, maybe they make mistakes” it becomes “no, they did this deliberately.”

TL: Our goal is to write about life and universal questions through telling a specific story. Thinking about how often we trip ourselves up and get in our way and become our own worst enemies and at the same time also cannot manipulate and control what other people are thinking and doing. You find your own way through these interpersonal struggles.

Let’s talk about the hilarious video to the song “Milwaukee” in which you, Ted, play the dual role of yourself and your drumming uncle Ed.

TL: This whole thing came up because on Twitter somebody was writing something about me and misspelled my name as Ed Leo and people began just adding to it, imagining what the character Ed Leo would be like.

You both have been writing songs for a long time. What was it like collaborating with each other?

TL: Because I respect Aimee so highly and also because she has actually drawn this out of me, I feel like I definitely honed some things. Over the course of writing with Aimee, I’ve gotten a lot more knowledge on a number of different things. One specific thing is how my voice works, because when you’re singing with somebody else you really have to pay attention to things that you don’t when you’re the lead singer driving the engine.

AM: Ted has a rhythmic vocabulary that I think is much more extensive than mine that I find very interesting. He has an approach to playing guitar that’s completely unique and brilliant. Lyrically, we’re not really that far apart, but I think that we really do amplify and help each other come up with the best possible final result. To have somebody to bounce things off of definitely helps us arrive at a satisfying conclusion a lot faster than when you’re doing it alone.

Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455or at: [email protected]