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"Come Alive"
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Spotlights [Issue # 11 ]
Tears For Fears: Reinventing The Seeds Of Love

By Lynne Bronstein

We rarely make records that we enjoy making,” says Tears For Fears’ Curt Smith. “The only criteria we normally enter a studio with is: ‘That’s the last record - let’s not do that again, because it will be boring.’

Fortunately, the new Tears For Fears record isn’t boring. Everybody Loves A Happy Ending is the first album by the reunited duo of Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal since 1989’s The Seeds Of Love. With its colorful cover art and guitar-based pop-rock sound, Happy Ending is a worthy successor to the Beatle-esque Seeds, and is also a bold reinvention for Tears For Fears, whose synth-flavored, quietly anxious songs were a major contribution to ‘80s rock.

Regarding the new album’s 1960s vibe, Curt notes: “The songs were written like they were from that kind of era. We didn’t use any modern technology for the writing process . . . the whole instrumentation on the record is just guitar, bass, upright piano, Hammond organ, mini-Moog - they were just old, old instruments and that’s what really makes the sound.”

Lyrically, TFF are still mining contemporary angst, with song titles like “Killing With Kindness,” “Quiet Ones,” and “Who Killed Tangerine.” Curt describes Everybody’s second cut, “Closest Thing To Heaven,” as a “love song with political overtones.”

“The lyrical content of ‘Closest Thing To Heaven’ is very much tied to ‘Sowing The Seeds of Love.’ Our politics haven’t changed that much in the time we’ve not worked together - we’re certainly still left of center. [But] I don’t think we ever feel comfortable thrusting our politics down anyone’s throat because politicians do that enough.”

The time Curt and Roland spent apart saw upheaval both in world politics and in music. While the early ‘90s rock scene was overtaken by post-punkers like Nirvana, Roland Orzabal struggled along under the Tears For Fears moniker, releasing three albums that, except for 1993’s Elemental, had little impact. Curt moved to New York because as he now frankly admits, he was tired of the rock star lifestyle. “It was just becoming a big business and I had lost my passion for music. The business side was never really something I was comfortable with. I’m a homebody. I didn’t enjoy the lack of a private life.” In New York, Curt found the anonymity he wanted. But he also met up with a new collaborator, Charlton Pettus

“He convinced me to start writing again. So we got into these writing sessions and then he said ‘Let’s go play.’” Curt and Charlton played in small New York clubs and recorded an album under the name Mayfield. They both eventually moved to Los Angeles and had started work on another Mayfield project when Curt and Roland began to talk about renewing their collaboration.

“Roland met [Charlton] and really liked him,” says Curt. “So he became the ‘third person.’ ’We’ve always had a ‘third guy’ in the studio because you need someone to cast the deciding vote.” Charlton co-produced Everybody Loves A Happy Ending and Curt describes him as someone who “brings out the best in people.”

As for the title, ironic in that Tears For Fears is beginning again rather than ending, Curt says it was Roland’s suggestion. “He was joking. But I said, ‘That’s perfect!’ We’re not known for our humor so that’s why we used it.

“For us the biggest bonus is that we finished the record and we had a great time doing it. We got on together better than we ever had before and at the end of the record we both really like it.”

Everybody Loves A Happy Ending
New Door

Reinventing The Seeds Of Love Tears For Fears Everybody Loves A Happy Ending

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