FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE: Bright Future in Sales

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Videos by American Songwriter

“Sometimes you come up with a song and everyone you play it for is like, ‘That was great…that feels nice,'” Adam continues. “But I try to stay away from that whole ‘writing the perfect song’ mentality. All that does is make you sit under your bed in the fetal position. It keeps you from doing anything productive.”

When asked about the tendency for a gap of three or more years between studio records, Collingwood says a lot of it has to do with those pesky touring commitments. “We get so tour weary,” he says. “Neither Adam or I has much luck writing on the road. You’ve got to get home and take a breather for a while.” For Collingwood, it involves hitting the links with one of his teenage heroes, fellow Northampton celebrity and singer/songwriter Lloyd Cole. “I don’t take golf seriously. It’s a nice way to be outside and drink beer. I’ve played golf with Lloyd and he is amazing. He has won tournaments for crying out loud.”

When pressed for advice for up and coming songwriters, Chris says simply, “I’m the wrong guy to ask,” but Schlesinger takes the bait. “First of all, if you’re doing it because you think you’re going to get rich, go do something else, because there are a lot easier ways to make a lot of money in the world,” he says. “You might get lucky, but if you want to be rich, go work in a bank. Most musicians that I know have done it for a long time and just do it because they can’t imagine doing anything else. And no matter how bad things get, they haven’t figured out what they’d rather be doing. And that’s kind of how it is for us. We just like to play music. And it may be a cliché, but we’d be doing it anyway. And I think you have to have that attitude, despite whatever stupidity you might be put through.”

 

Such foolishness might include Atlantic’s decision not to renew their contract after the critically praised Utopia Parkway didn’t become an enormous seller. “Look, every record company wants hits,” Adam admits. “When we became less and less hit- oriented, it started to fall apart.”

“When we were between labels, it was a little hard on us,” Schlesinger continues. “I think Chris felt especially bummed during that whole period. He just sort of felt that we worked for a really long time and it didn’t really add up to anything. And it didn’t seem like the future had much in the way of promise. Chris wasn’t writing a lot. I don’t know if it was the whole thing of being in between labels but more just the whole thing of putting all that time into it and feeling it tapering off. Then we started working on the third record, because it was the only way that I could get Chris to want to be a part of it. I was just like, ‘Hey look, let’s just go in and do like we have always done when we were 18. If we have a song we like, we’ll just record it and eventually we’ll see if we have an album. And a year later we did, and that just sort of turned things around.”

“I’ve always been cynical about the music business,” Chris says. “I’ve never had the feeling that it’s a bunch of nice people looking out for my best interest. We’ve been dropped and picked up by more labels than anyone I can think of, so I never sort of set myself up for any big kind of expectations.”

Schlesinger attributes much of the momentum behind the success of Welcome Interstate Managers to road testing the material in November 2002. “Well before the record came out, we did a tour and it turned out to be a great thing for us,” he says. “I think it really helped to set the record up. People who were big fans were really psyched we were coming back and it helped to build anticipation.”

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