Tears For Fears

  • British New Wave band formed in 1981 from Bath England. The band consists of Roland Orzabal (guitars, keyboards, vocals, songwriting) and Curt Smith (bass guitar, keyboards, vocals). Ian Stanley (keyboards, backing vocals, songwriting) and Manny Elias (drummer) were members during their early years.
  • Orzabal and Smith were teenage friends with a similar interest in music, playing in a youth band called Duckz when they were 14 years old. A local band named Neon needed help with session musicians, and the two friends performed with the band. Soon after this, they joined a new wave/ska band, Graduate, and in 1980, this band released an album. Orzabal did not like touring and soon quit, with Smith following him. In 1981, the duo formed another band, initially called History of Headaches, and soon renamed Tears For Fears. The name was inspired by the psychotherapy technique of primal therapy, where repressed pain of childhood trauma is brought to conscious awareness.
  • Orzabal and Smith intended for the band to center on the pair, with other musicians brought in for recordings and concerts. Needing a drummer, Elias was tapped based on their initial introductions when they were with Neon. Stanley offered free use of his recording equipment, which led to his involvement as a musician and songwriter with the group. After several demo tapes were submitted to record companies, they were signed to a label in 1981. They released 2 singles over a 5 month period, but neither was successful.
  • Their third single, Mad World, turned their fortunes around. It was released in November 1982, and it peaked at #3 in the UK. It was included on their debut album, The Hurting, released in 1983. A second single from the album, Change, reached #4 in the UK, and was their first to chart in the U.S. The album highlighted their use of guitar and synthesizer, with songs that reflected Orzabal’s bitter childhood (hence the primal therapy reference to the band’s name), and it embraced the new wave sound that had become prevalent in the early 80s.
  • Their second album, Songs From the Big Chair, made them international superstars. Released in early 1985, it included the US #1 hits Shout and Everybody Wants To Rule The World. The album reached #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and sold over 5 million copies in the U.S. It was a move away from synth-pop, with a more sophisticated sound. The success of the band was fueled by their popularity on MTV, which was at its peak as an influencing force in music.
  • It was 4 years until their next album was released – The Seeds of Love. For this album, Tears For Fears officially was only Orzabal and Smith, with other musicians supporting. It was another big success, reaching #1 in the UK, #8 in the U.S., and it was certified platinum. The single Sowing The Seeds of Love peaked at #2 in the U.S. – it had the epic, big, emotional sound that fans of the band loved.
  • After The Seeds of Love, Orzabal and Smith’s relationship became strained, due to Orzabal’s intricate detail in music production, Smith’s desire to slow down, and financial problems with the group’s business management. By 1991, the duo split. Orzabal continued to use the name of the band for a single released in 1992 – Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down), as well as 2 albums released in 1993 and 1995. Songs from these records were not very successful, though Break It Down Again managed to make it to #25 in 1993.
  • In 2000, Smith and Orzabal reconnected, and decided to work together again. They wrote songs for a new album, and after recording and some record company snafus, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending was released in 2004. They sold a few records, and the single Closest Thing To Heaven charted at #40 in the UK. Since then, Tears For Fears has performed on limited tours, and reportedly they have recorded some new music, though it is unclear as to the status of that, and a planned tour in 2018 was postponed until 2019 due to “health concerns and on doctor’s orders.”
  • Tears For Fears definitely was a big deal with 80s New Wave fans. Personally, I love the song Mad World (see my April 26, 2017 AWESOME! post on the video for the cover version of this song done by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules). And, their 3 biggest hits – Shout, Everybody Wants To Rule The World and Sowing The Seeds of Love were such epic songs. Pick one – OK, here’s the video to Shout. Ahhh…the good old days of MTV!

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