Curt Smith is confident that Tears For Fears fans will be happy with the duo’s first new studio album since 2004, which he and partner Roland Orzabal plan to release this year.
“It’s always hard when someone asks you what it sounds like. To me it sounds like us,” Smith tells Billboard. The album, which Tears For Fears say is currently being mixed and sequenced, has been in motion for several years, while the group has also been logging time on the road. “When I listen to it I hear the fact we’ve been playing live, which we have been doing over the last few years without making a record,” Smith says. “We still go on tour; Not huge tours, but on tour. So I feel it’s definitely been influenced by us playing live and aspects of the live show. I definitely hear that in it.”
The continuing touring, in fact, helped encourage the duo to get to work in earnest on something new. “I think we felt like it was time,” Smith notes. “We’ve been doing the same…Obviously we change it up, but having the same list of songs to play with we felt we needed more. It’s getting a little boring for us, so it seemed the right time. And musically it seemed the right time as well.”
Smith and Orzabal worked on the album in Los Angeles and London, with Sacha Skarbek collaborating during the latter sessions, but the bulk of the set was “primarily us,” according to Smith. The duo also wrote a song with members of Bastille, a nod to Tears’ readily acknowledged influence on a modern crop of rock and pop bands.
“I actually met The 1975 at Coachella last year because they were big fans of ours and I love them, and my eldest daughter is the hugest 1975 fan,” Smith says. “So I got major brownie points for that. I’m becoming hip to my children because bands of their generation name us as influences, so you can definitely hear it, the same way as we were influenced by other people.”
Lyrically, most of the songs were written before the twin upheavals of Brexit and the U.S. presidential election and campaign. That means the album will deal with more personal concerns. “Our own lives always influence the way we write,” Smith says. “Roland’s going through saying goodbye to his children in the sense they are growing and leaving; One’s already left, and the other will be leaving soon. My kids are nearly at that age — my eldest is in 11th grade, so next year she’ll be graduating and going to college, and my next one is two years younger than that. So it’s sort of me and the wife playing ‘getting to know you’ again, having dinner just the two of us on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s peculiar. So there are always things in the fodder for writing songs, that’s for sure.”
Tears will be spending time on the road this year as well — starting with a run with Daryl Hall & John Oates on May 4 in Tulsa, Okla. The trek brings together a pair of duos that shared time at the top of the charts during the mid-80s but did not cross paths. “I’ve never met Daryl or John, but I’ve always quite liked their music,” Smith says. “I like the sort of Philly soul and how authentic sounding it is. Daryl’s an amazing singer. So when it was brought up as a tour I thought, ‘Well, yeah, I can listen to those songs.’ That’s always a good sign, so we’re looking forward to it. It should be a great night, with the two of us.”