ROLAND ORZABAL – The inspiration that got us together again was simply because ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’, which is the title of the album, and it’s just one of those things that was always certainly hanging over my head – every time I walked into a record company with any music, they were going “Ah that’s great yeah – can you get back together with Curt?” It’s like, ugh, really, and on and on, and it’s like market forces and that kind of thing… we’ve always had business interests which have carried on after we split in 1990 so we’re always signing off on things together anyway. We have mutual friends. And it was just a matter of time really, I think, before so much water under the bridge, and it was like, well, what are we worried about? Let’s start chatting together and see where it goes.
RO – I think that we were coming to an end of an era anyway. At the end of the 80’s early 90s, I think even if we’d stayed together, we would have had quite a dip in our enthusiasm to pursue what we were pursuing. I think that we were both approaching 30, and certain things come along with that – such as wanting to become your own man, and wanting to take on the record company. We’d been together for such a long time, and I feel it’s only natural that at some point, just for purposes of breeding (laughs), you want to go your separate ways.
CURT SMITH – And the thing is, we had become hugely successful, and with that comes a certain amount of pressure – and I’m talking personally here, but under pressure I’m not really happy, I’m really not, and leaving was driven by pure unhappiness. I wasn’t enjoying it, it wasn’t doing anything for me anymore, and there was confusion and you need space and time and you’ve got to do that on your own. Me personally I went through a marriage split-up at that point in time, I’d met someone in America, my now wife, and we’d fallen in love and I wanted to move to America, I wanted to move to New York, I wanted to get away from England, and basically, personally, I wanted to start a new life. And to do that, you know, Tears for Fears at that point couldn’t be part of that equation because it’s not a new life. So you know, I think for both of us a lot of the reasons are similar but we were in different circumstances.
CS – For me, I actually didn’t want to perform that much, I think it was pretty much kicked out of me. I did make a solo record which I hated for Polygram, and then I basically took time off. I mean, I was still involved with music, I hosted MTV shows for a while, I had a syndicated college radio show that I did for nearly a year that was just live bands and it was syndicated through 300 colleges in America, and I guess about three or four years into it I met this guy, Charlton Pettus, in New York, who’s a songwriter. I guess I got the bug again. We started writing songs, and then he persuaded me to start going and playing in New York, so I just started playing clubs in New York and I had the best time ever because I would leave my apartment, walk to the club, play, and then walk home. And so it was basically for me rekindling my love of music, which was kind of the right reasons, which is you do it because you actually want to do it, as opposed to it just being a business, which is the side I didn’t really like.
RO – I’d just carried on, really. That’s the thing that really didn’t dawn on me, just to stop and pursue other things, so I carried on making records. I did two six-month world tours, and I had a good time. I really enjoyed touring in the 90s, it was a lot of fun because I was a bit older and a bit wiser, and I enjoyed a lot of the trappings of success which I’d denied myself in the 80s. (both laugh). And it came to 1996 and it was South America and it was a tough trip and we were playing Columbia and it was a tough trip, because Tears for Fears had had no success in Columbia since 1983, so they were kind of promoting the show with hits from the very first album. It was depressing. And so going on stage I knew what my job was – just to make everybody go crazy. And you know, after an hour and a half they were going crazy, and I was singing “Shout” as an encore and I thought – “I’ve had enough of this, I’ve had enough of this!”
And there were other things happening… with management – I’d separated with management, and then I did the semi-retirement thing. In 1996 I had two young boys at home, and I thought I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to go into free fall and instead of looking at a cash flow and thinking I have to do an album here, I have to do a tour here, I’d just go and see if I could live on what I’ve already made. So I did that, and I started working on what I considered to be something completely different from the inspiration to Tears for Fears. so I was working very much with technology-based music without any lyrical meaning, without any depth to the lyrics whatsoever. So that was quite new. That led me to produce a girl named Emiliana Torrini from Iceland, so I did that album and then I went back and listened to the solo stuff I’d been doing and I decided in the end I’d put it out, and it was called ‘Tomcats Screaming Outside’.
RO – I think when Curt and I were first talking about getting together and making another record, and he’d heard the suggestion – it was a joke for us – that the album should be called Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, because it’s like the Hollywood ending.
CS – I’m sure we may have different takes on it, but for me, I went completely one direction, Roland went completely the other direction for the last couple of projects we did. I’m really – I spend all my time only worrying about melodies and not production, and like Roland was saying the last thing he really did was really more production based and he didn’t really care about lyrics or anything like that. You know, those are completely two opposite things, and the interesting thing is getting back together and working together again to me was “oh you know, it does sound better when it’s produced well.” (laughs) You’ve got to pay attention to that, and for me I still want the melody there, so it’s interesting. It definitely is from two different worlds, and when they come together there’s a certain thing that happens that makes it ‘sound like us’.
RO – I would say for me I had really become quite reliant on technology and having all the latest samples and grooves and that kind of stuff. Obviously I was living in England and Curt was living in America, so I was following all the trip-hop stuff and all that, and we were having a huge local scene in the West Country with Portishead and Massive Attack, and “melody” was a dirty word. And initially when we came together there was a little bit of vying like “well what the hell are we going to do? Are we going to just write ‘song songs’, or are we going to do something that’s ultra-contemporary?” And Curt won. (laughs) And we ended up – I hadn’t done this for absolute years, sitting down with acoustic guitars and an upright piano, with Charlton Pettus, and just waiting for things to emerge.
CS – It can be tedious as hell at times, and depressing, but a few weeks in suddenly a song comes up that gets finished in a day and it’s great.
RO – Ladybird.
Curt: To me I think the first song we did together to be honest was Closest Thing to Heaven, because Ladybird was a chorus that I’d written with Charlton on something that I was working on, but I could never get a verse to fit this chorus. I’d played this chorus to Roland and to Chris Hughes, our old producer, who was in Bath at the time, and so we liked the chorus, we wanted to work on that. And Roland suddenly started strumming the verse, chords, and the melody, and we thought “that’s great.” So the first song was kind of pieced together from something Roland did and something I did and we stuck them both together. The first song we actually “wrote wrote” was Closest Thing to Heaven just sitting in a room. And that was one of those songs that came in a day, from the start of playing it to virtually finishing it bar all the lyrics, it was done.
RO – That was the point at which we thought, hang on a minute…
CS – …we can do this…
RO – Something must happen, because I hadn’t done melodies like that for years!
RO – I think that when you decide you are going to do something quite standard and melodic, then you tend to look at all your favourite bands who did that kind of music, so I would say a lot of the classic English pop bands, going through Blur, the Jam, Madness, back to the Beatles.
RO – I would say that Curt was pretty much responsible for the direction of the album, because I can kind of come up with a lot of different stuff, but Curt was very much editing a lot of what we were doing. And it was really his enthusiasm for a certain direction, and for specific melodies, and in the end you just go “oh ok, I think I get it!” I haven’t worked with anyone else who’s really that adamant and that fussy (laughs) about making sure the songs are damn good.
CS – For me, I get enthusiastic about melody and songs, and if I’ve heard something the next day I still remember it. Sometimes you have to have someone there to tell you when something’s great or not great, but having said that there are different perceptions. What I consider really great, Roland may not some of the time, and those do fall by the wayside. Obviously Roland’s strength is in his song writing and production – he’s a lot fussier about production than I am, I mean I let things slide but he won’t let slide as far as making a record sound really good.
RO – Well this is the album that should have followed Seeds of Love in many ways, because you can see definitely, as far as I’m concerned, quite a direct link between Seeds of Love and this album.
CS – I agree, I think there are definite threads that go through Songs from the Big Chair and the Seeds of Love to this record, and this is definitely – you know, we took two years between one and two, four years between two and three, and thirteen years between three and four, but there’s definitely links, and the interesting thing is that when I’ve played it to people, people who have been fans of ours or whatever, it’s been on and people know who it is. There’s a sound, whatever it is and there’s no way of pinpointing it or trying to analyse it, it’s just a sound that happens, but it sounds like a Tears for Fears record, and Tears for Fears is the two of us.
RO – Making the album was very enjoyable. I would say it was a fantastic journey. I think if we can continue in that vein, with all the touring and all the promotion, then we will look back on this period as having been wonderful.
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