Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists in a publicity photo by Kyle Cassidy.
Background information
Origin Washington, D.C.
Genres Punk rock, indie rock, art punk
Years active 1999–present
Labels Gern Blandsten, Ace Fu, Lookout!, Touch and Go, Matador
Associated acts Citizens Arrest, Chisel, The Sin-Eaters, The Both
Website www.tedleo.com
Members Ted Leo
James Canty
Chris Wilson
Past members Jodi V.B.
Amy Farina
Dorien Garry
Dave Lerner
Marty Key

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (sometimes written Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Ted Leo + Pharmacists, or TL/Rx) are an American rock band formed in 1999 in Washington, D.C. and currently recording for Matador Records. They have released six full-length studio albums and have toured internationally. Though the group's lineup has fluctuated throughout their career, singer/guitarist Ted Leo has remained the band's main songwriter, creative force, and only constant member. The group's music combines elements of punk rock, indie rock, art punk,[1] traditional rock, and occasionally folk music and dub reggae. Their most recent album, The Brutalist Bricks, was released on March 9, 2010.

Band history


Ted Leo started the Pharmacists essentially as a solo project in 1999. His previous band Chisel had broken up in the late 1990s, after which he spent time with The Spinanes and The Sin Eaters and acted as producer for The Secret Stars. In 1999 he recorded the album tej leo(?), Rx / pharmacists, a solo effort which was highly experimental and mixed elements of punk rock, reggae, dub, and audio experimentation. In 2000 Leo expanded the project to a full band including James Canty on guitar, Jodi V.B. on bass, and Amy Farina on drums. He named the backing band The Pharmacists, and the group released the EP Treble in Trouble. The EP moved away from many of the experimental elements of tej leo by relying on more traditional rock structures and instrumentation, though it still explored some non-traditional characteristics.

Lookout! Records years

The band signed to Lookout! Records in 2001 and experienced more lineup changes as V.B. and Farina left the group. For the album The Tyranny of Distance Leo and Canty utilized a number of in-studio backing musicians. The album incorporated multiple styles including Celtic rock, acoustic folk balladry, and pop rock. During the supporting tours for The Tyranny of Distance bassist Dave Lerner, drummer Chris Wilson, and keyboardist Dorien Garry became permanent members of the band. The group's next album, 2003's Hearts of Oak, drew from punk rock and new wave influences. The EP Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead soon followed and featured a number of Leo's solo songs and covers. The band's video documentary Dirty Old Town was released the same year.

Prior to the recording of 2004's Shake the Sheets Garry and Canty left the band, reducing the group to a trio. The album explored social and political topics and experienced some success with the single "Me and Mia." The iTunes-exclusive EP Sharkbite Sessions followed in 2005.

Recent activity

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists performing at the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle in 2007.

In 2006 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists left Lookout! Records amidst financial crises within the label, and signed a new contract with Chicago-based Touch and Go Records. The band's popularity continued to expand through constant touring and performances at large festivals such as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the Pitchfork Music Festival. Their fourth full-band album, Living with the Living, was released on March 20, 2007. First-run copies of the album also included the Mo' Living EP. Former guitarist James Canty rejoined them for touring in support of Living with the Living.

Bassist Dave Lerner played his last show with the band at McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn, NY on August 12, 2007.[2][3] Marty "Violence" Key of the (Young) Pioneers replaced him on tour,[4] and has remained with the band to the present. In April 2008 the band recorded a performance for the Beautiful Noise concert series in Toronto.[5] They then performed as openers for six dates of Pearl Jam's 2008 U.S. tour in June.[6]

They toured with Against Me! and Future of the Left in September and October 2008.

On September 15, 2008 the band released a surprise digital EP, Rapid Response, in response to the violence at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. The EP is available on the Touch and Go website for a choice of prices with all proceeds going to Democracy Now! and Food Not Bombs of St. Paul.

Ted Leo's most recent album, The Brutalist Bricks was released on March 9, 2010, followed by a tour of the United States and Europe. In September 2011, Marty Key left the band to open a record store. The band has continued as a trio with James Canty taking over on bass.

In a 2012 interview Leo alluded to a new album to be released that summer, which has yet to be issued.

Band members

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists lineups
(only official members listed)
tej leo(?), Rx / pharmacists
  • Ted Leo – vocals, instrumentation
  • Jodi V.B. – collaboration
Treble in Trouble
  • Ted Leo – vocals, guitar
  • James Canty – guitar
  • Jodi V.B. – bass
  • Amy Farina – drums
The Tyranny of Distance
  • Ted Leo – vocals, guitar
  • James Canty – guitar
  • Pete Kerlin, Alex Minoff – bass
  • Brendan Canty, James Canty, Danny Leo, Ted Leo, Seb Thompson – drums
Hearts of Oak
Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead
  • Ted Leo – vocals, guitar
  • James Canty – guitar
  • Dave Lerner – bass
  • Dorien Garry – keyboards
  • Chris Wilson – drums
Shake the Sheets
Sharkbite Sessions
Living with the Living
Mo' Living
  • Ted Leo – vocals, guitar
  • Dave Lerner – bass
  • Chris Wilson – drums
live shows only
  • Ted Leo – vocals, guitar
  • James Canty – guitar
  • Dave Lerner – bass
  • Chris Wilson – drums
The Brutalist Bricks
  • Ted Leo – vocals, guitar
  • James Canty – guitar
  • Marty Key – bass
  • Chris Wilson – drums

Current members

Past members



Year Title Label Format Other information
1999 tej leo(?), Rx / pharmacists Gern Blandsten Records CD Technically the first Ted Leo and the Pharmacists album, though it is a Ted Leo solo recording.
2001 The Tyranny of Distance Lookout! Records CD First album as a full band.
2003 Hearts of Oak Lookout! Records CD
2004 Shake the Sheets Lookout! Records CD
2007 Living with the Living Touch and Go Records CD
2010 The Brutalist Bricks Matador Records CD
2010 The Brutalist Bricks La Castanya LP/CD Licensed from Matador for Spain and Portugal. Colored vinyl and CD including the bonus track "One Polaroid a Day (Remix - Featuring Rebecca Gates)".


Year Title Label Format Other information
1999 Guitar for Jodi Persona Records vinyl 7"
2000 Treble in Trouble Ace Fu Records CD First release as a full band.
2003 Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead Lookout! Records CD Single from Hearts of Oak backed with 9 Leo solo songs and covers.
2005 Split with Blueline Medic Casadeldisco Records EP
2005 Sharkbite Sessions Lookout! Records/iTunes digital iTunes-exclusive downloadable EP.
2007 Mo' Living Touch and Go Records CD Bonus EP included with first run pressings of Living with the Living.
2008 Rapid Response Touch and Go Records digital


Year Title Label Format Other information
1999 Split with One AM Radio Garbage Czar Records 7" vinyl 2 tracks: "The Latest Dart" and a cover of Lungfish's "To Whom You Were Born." Re-released in 2003 on CD by Translucence Records.
2002 Split with Karla from Ida and Beekeeper Tigerstyle Records 7" vinyl 1 track: "Bridges, Squares (Bilbao to Glasgow)"
2008 Split with Zach Galifianakis Chunklet Magazine 7" vinyl 1 track: " Rock'n'Roll Dreams'll Come Through"
2010 "The Oldest House" Matador Records 7" vinyl 2 tracks: "The Oldest House" and "North Coast"; Record Store Day release
2010 "Bottled in Cork" Matador Records digital 2 tracks: "Bottled in Cork" and "Bottled in Cork [Demo Version]"

Non-album tracks

Year Title Label Song(s) Other information
2000 Transmission One: Tea at the Palaz of Hoon Cosmodemonic Telegraph Records "You Always Hate the One You Love"
2002 Don't Know When I'll Be Back Again Exotic Fever Records "Many Rivers to Cross"
2013 La Castanya 5 La Castanya "La Costa Brava (Versió Català)" New recording with lyrics in Catalan of the song "La Costa Brava"


Music videos

Year Title Album Other information
2003 "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" Hearts of Oak
2004 "Me and Mia" Shake the Sheets
2007 "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb." Living with the Living
2007 "Colleen" Living with the Living
2010 "The Mighty Sparrow" The Brutalist Bricks
2010 "Bottled in Cork" The Brutalist Bricks

Video releases

Year Title Label Format Content Other information
2004 Dirty Old Town Plexifilm DVD


  1. "Thursday, September 29". Now Toronto. September 29, 2005. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  2. White, Adam (August 13, 2007). "Ted Leo and the Pharmacists part ways with bassist Dave Lerner". Punknews.org. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  3. Muir, Ryan (August 13, 2007). "Ted Leo Bassist Leaves Band". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  4. White, Adam (September 6, 2007). "Young Pioneers bassist joins Ted Leo for upcoming tour". Punknews.org. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
  5. "Beautiful Noise taping schedule: March/April 2008". Archived from the original on April 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  6. "Pearl Jam on tour in 2008". Official Pearl Jam website. Archived from the original on February 23, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
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