Tears For Fears relishing the roadby jmaloni
Hitmakers return Friday to Western New York
Preview by Joshua Maloni
Tears For Fears has something new to shout about these days.
The duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith hit it big in the '80s thanks to the album "Songs from the Big Chair" and smash hits "Shout" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." However, it wasn't until recently that the band figured out how to make the most of their musical opportunities.
"It's certainly, over the last year-and-a-half/two years, it's the best we've ever played - the best we've ever sung - which makes our lives much easier; which is a joy," Smith said in a phone interview. "Unfortunately, it's taken us this long to get there. (But) it makes touring much easier for us. We know how to tour now."
"I actually get to see a lot of the cities that I play in - which never used to happen - and I get to relax during the day, and focus on playing at night," Smith added. "And that's the way it should be. The whole point of touring is to do great shows, and I'd rather just focus on that than do anything else."
After more than a decade apart, Orzabal and Smith reunited in 2004 for a Tears For Fears album, "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending," and together went back out on tour. Their new material was well received by critics and fans, and produced the hit single "Call Me Mellow."
Since Orzabal lives in England and Smith in Los Angeles, and with a shrinking market for albums, it's unlikely Tears For Fears will release another disc anytime soon. That doesn't mean the band is winding down, though. Far from it, in fact. Tears For Fears has unleashed new material while on the road and, as Smith said, "If we continue to improve, then we'll continue to (tour)."
Prior to performing Friday at the free Molson Canal Concert Series in Lockport, Smith spoke more about the progression of Tears For Fears.
You and Roland were apart for a few years, and yet you were able to come back with a great new album and, as you said, you're now performing at your highest level ever. To what do you attribute this?
"Shear luck (he joked). Hard to pinpoint. ... We never really analyzed it before, and I'm only analyzing now in retrospect. You know, if one were to listen to any work I did on my own, solo work, and any work Roland did on his own, and then listen to a Tears For Fears album, it kind of makes sense.
"You know, Tears For Fears, the nature of being the two of us is it's an album of compromise - effectively. And I don't mean that in a bad way. The stuff that makes it to the record is stuff that we agree on. If one of us disagrees about something, it doesn't make it on to the record. That's the nature of a Tears For Fears project.
"What we agree on tends to be more vibrant and commercial than what we tend to do when we're being very self-indulgent and on our own."
Obviously, certain fans want to hear certain songs. How do you feel about performing your hit songs?
"Certain ones are better than others. We don't really mind doing them. The only thing that's happened is there are certain ones we change a little bit because we don't have the same emotional connection to that emotion - to that content - when we were in our 20s.
"A case in point being ‘Shout.' Even though the song gets to where the song gets to on the record, we don't start it that way. It's a lot more low-key to start with. And that's what works for us now. We're not angry, young 24-year-olds anymore. We're a little older than that.
"We have to update some things for them to resonate with us, and I think that's fine. Because I think that maybe the audience actually, probably, has grown up with us, as well, and it resonates with them better, as well.
"But there are also certain songs where we wouldn't touch them because they are what they are, and they're sort of as near to the perfect recording of those songs as we were going to get. And I think songs like ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World' and ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love' are a case in point for those kinds of songs, where we just wouldn't think of messing with them.
"So, it's really dependent on the song."
What are the songs you look forward to performing these days?
"You know, it can vary. I think the joy of playing now, and us being more relaxed about it and having far better musicians than we had in our heyday - the guys that play with us now are of a different sort of level of musicianship - is there tends to be more freedom on stage."
"I think the bigger joy is not that I'm sitting there looking forward to specific songs, it's that I'm sitting there thinking, ‘I wonder which ones will go to the next level tonight?' because we do have that freedom.
"So, you get off stage going, ‘Wasn't that song great tonight?' or, you know, ‘This song wasn't so good tonight, what can we do about that?'
"You don't kind of know what's going to happen; it's been more unpredictable, and I like that aspect of it.
(Smith said he didn't especially like his band's touring configuration from back in the day - the combination of lighting and musical accompaniment.)
"It tended to get a bit boring, whereas now I don't find any night boring. I actually thoroughly enjoy it."
Tears For Fears performs Friday at the Molson Canal Concert Series in Lockport. The show begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Ulrich City Courtyard behind Main Street's Taboo and Metropolitan Restaurant.