Fountains Of Wayne Celebrates Biz World

Excerpted from the magazine for

While listening to the new Fountains of Wayne album "Welcome Interstate Managers," which arrives June 10 on S-Curve/Virgin, one might think that songwriters Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger had some experience writing fiction. Not so.

"My few attempts at actual fiction were so horrendous that I would never want anyone in the world to see them," multi-instrumentalist Schlesinger says.

Guitarist/vocalist Collingwood has not penned any fiction since high school. "I don't have the patience to do that, either," he says. "A pop song is over before you get bored with it."

But the tartly funny, literate, highly detailed pop-rock songs on the band's third album (its first for S-Curve after a pair for Atlantic) has the punch of the best fiction.

The members of Fountains of Wayne crafted their latest album -- the quartet's first in four years -- without a record deal.

"We parted ways with Atlantic, as they say, and we had some preliminary meetings and conversations with other labels," Collingwood explains. "We got a lot of positive, enthusiastic inquiries from a lot of people, but everybody wanted to hear some new material, and at that point we didn't have any new material. So basically we just decided the best thing for us to do was make another record on our own, when we felt like we had the songs to do it."

Some of the funding for the recording came from the band's work on VH1's as-yet-unaired animated series "Hey Joel."

"We were asked to be in it as animated characters and actually write original music for the series," Schlesinger says. "We produced a whole season's worth of shows for them -- including two songs per episode. Then we did the whole score. We did 13 episodes and a pilot."

The songs on "Welcome Interstate Managers" are droll character studies. As the album's title suggests, several tracks involve the world of business and work.

"Chris was actually named 'temp of the month' three times by his temp agency," Schlesinger says. "He's proud of it."

Collingwood adds, "There's probably just something about the rhythm of everyday business life that's fascinating to both of us. We both have big collections of photographs of salesmen from the '30s and '20s -- things you can get at flea markets [or] sales conventions. The album art is based on that."

The album's leadoff track, "Stacy's Mom," is a comic, Cars-like number detailing a teenager's fantasies about a classmate's mother. A video for the track, directed by Chris Applebaum, was shot in Los Angeles.

Formal touring for the album will be preceded by four in-store appearances this week at Tower Records in Chicago and L.A., Vintage Vinyl in Fords, N.J., and Newbury Comics in Cambridge, Mass.

The group, which includes guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young, begins formal roadwork with a one-off July 3 appearance opening for Wilco at Summerfest in Milwaukee. A headlining tour with Ben Lee opening opens July 5 in Nashville.

The band is scheduled to appear June 22 on NPR's "Morning Edition" and June 24 on "The Late Show With David Letterman."

Excerpted from the June 14, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

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