When the record dropped in June of 2003, it was met with the best reviews of the band’s career. The amazingly catchy “Stacy’s Mom” was a top ten hit and the number one video on VH1, thanks to help from model Rachel Hunter in the role of the super hot MILF. And that momentum kept going up to a point, but then a second single and video for “Mexican Wine” died on arrival.
“We got very lucky and things sort of came together for us for one brief period, but the music business is still kind of the way it always is,” says Schlesinger. “It’s a bit of a struggle and you have to do what you do and stick to your guns. That single was great for us, but it didn’t particularly open lots of doors, because our next single didn’t really do much.”
In the fall of 2003, many FoW loyalists were surprised the group accepted the opening slot on Matchbox Twenty’s tour of U.S. arenas. “I guess the way we looked at that was that they’re a massive band with a very open minded audience,” says Schlesinger defending the decision. “I think that a lot of people that listen to that band aren’t necessarily exposed to a lot of new stuff-they’re not necessarily seeking it out. And this was a way for them to hear us. And it worked…it was great. We made a lot of new fans on that tour and sold a lot of CDs and got to play in front of a lot of people who had never seen us before.”
“Matchbox Twenty are really great guys and we got along really well,” Adam continues. “And the funny thing is that we feel like we have this bond with that band anyway because we were originally on Atlantic together, and our first record and their first record came out the same day in 1996. And for a month or so there, we had equal levels of promotion going on between the two bands and then their record shot through the roof and suddenly it was like, ‘Fountains of who?’ Say what you want about Rob Thomas, but he knows how to write songs that are embraced by millions.”
So what about lending “Stacy’s Mom” to hawk diet soda? “I think that’s one of the things you just sort of have to take case by case,” says Adam, who isn’t sure he’d ‘sell out’ again. “I don’t think we have a philosophical objection to having our songs used in commercials,” he says, “but it has to be something that we can live with. In that case, what I liked about what they were doing was just sort of parodying our video. I thought it was kind of cool that we’ve made a video that is so well known that a big soda company could mimic it for an ad campaign. I sort of took that as a compliment.”
“I think that people think if they hear your song on the radio all the time that you must be super rich,” Collingwood adds. “But it’s very, very hard to squeeze out a living being a musician. I’m not complaining about it because at least I’m doing it and not I’m working in an office every day. But we do draw the line. We got offered a gig to play for the corporation that makes Marlboro cigarettes and that was kind of a no brainer to say ‘no.’ It didn’t take more than five seconds to turn that down. But I think Dr. Pepper is kind of harmless. And it’s also very hard to turn around to your bandmates and say, ‘I’m not taking this money, because I’ve got principles.’ I mean, I do have them, but I don’t want to be the one who says, ‘We’re not getting a Christmas bonus.’