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Tears for Fears

Tears for Fears

Fact Sheet

Musical genre:Pop  
Country  England, UK
Official site
Tears for Fears are a British pop band formed in the early 1980s by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, who emerged as a pairing from an early band in their home town of Bath. They were initially associated with new wave and the New Romantic movements, but quickly branched out into mainstream chart success.

The duo's name is derived from the primal therapy treatment formed by Arthur Janov. During primal therapy, the patient is encouraged to cry, scream, and beat objects to express childhood, perinatal and prenatal feelings; hence the name "Tears for Fears," and the content of the song "Shout."

Their first album The Hurting (1983) featured synthesizer-based songs whose lyrics reflected Orzabal's bitter growing-up experiences with his parents. Its singles were "Mad World", "Change" and "Pale Shelter". A previously unheard single called "The Way You Are" was released at the very beginning of 1984 to keep the band in the spotlight while they worked on the second album.

This album was Songs from the Big Chair (1985) - its title inspired by the 1976 US TV mini-series Sybil - and broke out of the new wave mold; featuring instead a big sound that would become the band's stylistic hallmark. Orzabal had been encouraged by producer Chris Hughes to pick up his guitar as he was a gifted player but wasn't using the instrument enough. Orzabal also took over the lion's share of lead vocal duty from Smith, who ended up with a comparative bit-part role of playing bass guitar.

The album was a massive success on both sides of the Atlantic and yielded the hit singles "Mothers Talk"; "Shout"; "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"; "Head Over Heels" and "I Believe". The album title stemmed from the B-side to "Shout", which was a song called "The Big Chair", though this song was absent from the album itself.

In 1986, a slightly rewritten version of their biggest hit was recorded and released for the British fundraising initiative Sport Aid, a splinter project of Band Aid in which people took part in running races of varying length and seriousness to raise more money for African projects. The slogan was "I Ran The World"; therefore Tears For Fears released "Everybody Wants To Run The World".

It was 1989 before the group released its third album, The Seeds of Love, at a reported production cost of over a quarter-million dollars. The album retained the band's epic sound while showing increasing influences ranging from jazz and blues to The Beatles, the last of which is extremely evident in the hit single "Sowing the Seeds of Love". Another single was "Woman in Chains," on which Phil Collins played drums and Oleta Adams whom Orzabal would guide to a successful solo career shared vocals.

After The Seeds of Love, Orzabal and Smith had an extremely acrimonious falling out, and Smith went on to release an unsuccessful solo album. In 1993, Orzabal recorded the album Elemental in collaboration with Alan Griffiths, and released it under the Tears for Fears moniker. It yielded the hit "Break It Down Again" and included the song "Fish Out of Water", a personal swipe at Smith. Orzabal and Griffiths released another Tears for Fears album in 1995, Raoul and the Kings of Spain, a more quiet and contemplative work that showed a new Latin music influence. (Raoul was originally the name Orzabal's parents wanted to give him.) It failed to perform well on the charts, but featured more of Orzabal's outstanding songwriting.

After a period of inactivity, Orzabal reteamed with Griffiths and released the 2000 album Tomcats Screaming Outside as a solo project, under his own name. As Elemental and Raoul had essentially been solo projects, the sound is identical to Tears for Fears, combining big production values with varied songwriting influences.

In recent years, Orzabal and Smith patched up their differences and began work on a Tears for Fears reunion album. They signed with Arista Records and recorded an album due to be released titled Everybody Loves a Happy Ending on September 14th 2004. The album was slightly overdue, having been scheduled for release in late 2003.

The name of Tears For Fears re-emerged with some surprise at the end of 2003 when a dark, piano-only version of their debut hit "Mad World", sung by Gary Jules and featured on the Donnie Darko soundtrack, reached the UK Number 1 spot for Christmas. Despite chart-topping success in the USA, Tears For Fears never themselves got to Number 1 in their home nation.