Ted Leo unveils benefit EP prompted by RNC

Responds to 'bullying'; band also working on new album

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- After releasing a four-song political benefit EP on Monday, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists are well under way on their next studio album, which could be out by spring.

The group has "almost a whole album written" and has already finished recording some songs, "some of which I'm happy with and some of which I think we'll probably want to rerecord," Leo said. "We have a few more songs to write."

The Pharmacists will get back into the studio to finish the as-yet-untitled follow up to 2007's "Living With the Living" once they finish a tour opening for fellow punks Against Me! in October.

On Monday, the band made available for download a quickly assembled four-song EP, "Rapid Response," to help raise money and awareness for the victims of what Leo called "transparent bullying" that occurred at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., last month.

"There was this whole series of pre-emptive arrests and detentions that went on before the Republican National Convention that were excessive in their brutality -- and I don't think it's really a stretch to use that word -- and excessive in their show of force and their methodology and excessive even in their choice of targets," he said. "It really, really offended me."

A version of one of the songs, "Mourning in America," will likely be featured on the forthcoming full-length. Another, "Paranoia (Never Enough)," was written specifically in response to the events and was put together in two days.

The EP was inspired by the sense of outrage Leo found when watching protesters met with pepper spray and stun guns outside the convention. Leo, no stranger to politically potent songs, e-mailed the other band members and asked if anyone was interested in doing something, initially kicking around the idea of a benefit show.

"Immediately everybody was like 'Yeah, yeah, yeah! Let's do something!' " he said. The EP is rounded out by "I Got Your Number" by Cock Sparrer and "Nobody's Driving" by Amebix.

"Rapid Response" is available for two weeks through Touch & Go's Web site for $4, with options for an additional donation. After two weeks, the tracks will be available for individual purchase at online retailers. All proceeds will be split evenly between Minneapolis Food Not Bombs and Democracy Now! to help pay for medical and legal expenses for people involved in the protests.