Aimee Mann doesn’t actually moonlight as a housekeeper, but even her fans who don’t watch Portlandia can be forgiven for wondering if she’d picked up a day job or something, given how quiet she’s been after her last album, 2008’s @#%&*! Smilers. They can rest easy now, though: Mann returned last month with her new album, Charmer, and she sat down to explain both her new album and the things she found herself doing over the past four years in this latest episode of The Hivecast with Matt Pinfield. Spoiler: It included watching a lot of Hoarders.
“Hoarders are the saddest kind of addictive behavior,” Mann says. “Anytime anybody’s trying to help them, they’re met with this real hostility. And then the sad part is when you realize that there are kids involved, and the kids have to live with a relative because they’re literally crowded out of their own house by stuff.” If watching a bunch of episode of Hoarders seems like an unproductive way to spend time, though, she did get a song — “Gumby” — out of it for Charmer. “I started thinking about that kind of dynamic, because of how tragic it is, and how difficult dealing with somebody like that must be.” The result is one of the sadder songs to come out of reality television.
Of course, the new album isn’t all Hoarders episodes, and Mann and Matt have plenty to say about the rest of what she’s been working on. She also spills the beans about where that memorable Portlandia sketch actually came from. “Apparently Carrie [Brownstein] had this experience where she’d hired a cleaning service, and the woman who showed up was someone who was in a band that she knew,” Mann says. To hear the full story about that, as well as what else she learned from Hoarders and how she persuaded Jon Hamm to appear in the video for “Labrador,” tune into the Hivecast. [Download & subscribe to the Hivecast via iTunes.]