The duo are back with their first album for eighteen years, The Tipping Point. Like many iconic groups they have been through some major ups and downs. In fact, they revealed they did not speak at all for almost a decade and have been battling the record industry in the past few years. In a new interview on BBC Breakfast Time over the weekend, they discussed what had happened and the unique way they were reunited.
In 1985 the Bath band topped the US charts with their sophomore album Songs From The Big Chair, which spawned number one smash singles Shout and Everybody Wants To Rule The World. Never prolific, it was four years before the follow-up arrived. The Seeds of Love was also a worldwide hit but tensions in the band led to an acrimonious split in 1991.
Smith wanted to get away so badly, he left the country and never returned. Although now permanently based in the US, he eventually reached out to his bandmate, who had continued Tears For Fears without him.
The pair appeared on BBC Breakfast Time to talk about the tumultuous split and how and why they reunited.
Smith said: “We grew up together and became successful together. By our mid-twenties we’d become this very big band and for me personally, I was trying to find some individuality. When you’re growing up in your twenties and you’re always known as ‘that guy from Tears For Fears,’ you’re not Curt Smith, you’re not Roland Orzabal, you’re that guy from Tears For Fears.
“And certainly by your mid to late twenties you have a desire to be an individual and you’re trying to find yourself. So I think that’s when I decided I needed to get away from England. I ended up moving to New York and I met my wife and I’ve been there now for 35 years. I just think I needed to disappear for a while.”
Orzabal added: “We reconnected by fax – the reverse of Phil Collins who divorced by fax. He sent me a fax, it popped up on the printer… We had business things on the go so were always dealing with things and signing off on songs for publishing and adverts and films.
“Then all of a sudden Curt popped up and said ‘Here’s my number, it’s nine years, give me call.’ I was like, ‘should I, should I not?'”
In the end he decided to make the call and quickly discovered some changes in his friend.
Orzabal said: “By this time Curt has been living in America and he’s got this mid-Atlantic way of talking about inspiration and motivation and direction… This is a kid from the Snow Hill Flats in Bath! He changed a lot.”
The musician is referring to the council estate on Snow Hill, which remains one of the most deprived parts of the city. The pair had met as teenagers and had formed their first band, Duckz, when they were just fourteen. They formed Graduate in 1978, and had a minor number 82 hit with Elvis Should Play Ska, although it went top ten in Spain. Discouraged by gruelling touring and limited success, both left in 1980, before they finally created Tears For Fears in 1981.
Major success followed in the mid and late 1980s, with other hits including Mad World and Woman In Chains with their protégée Oleta Adams.
Despite that, they found themselves faced with a shocking “lack of trust” from record companies.
Orzabal revealed that they struggled to make the new album: “There was a lack of trust from management and record companies, (who said) ‘Can you guys make a record now?’ So we ended up working with teams of songwriters. It was very, very strange. (I thought) ’I’ve been doing this all my life!’
“We had to let all that go and in 2020 we found ourselves with no manager and no record company. I said to Curt, ‘Let’s just get together with two of his guitars and see what comes out. That worked really well.”
Smith said The Tipping Point title track is for Roland’s late wife but the album is inspired by a world that has been through the pandemic, The Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements, the Trump Presidency and rise of the far right – as well as the duo’s own long road to completing their new music.
TEARS FOR FEARS’ NEW ALBUM THE TIPPING POINT IS OUT NOW