In the seven months since DiS last spoke to Fountains of Wayne, they've seen the single 'Stacy's Mom' zap them back into the limelight, and their third album, 'Welcome Interstate Managers' get thrust into magazine end-of-year polls.
With the single picking up speed in the UK and a mini tour on the horizon, DiS thought it would be a good idea to pop along to Virgin Records' posh pad in West London, to ask Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger about, y'know, music and telly and the internet and booze and stuff.
DiS: Last night, Ryan Adams was a bit drunk and fell off the stage at his gig in Liverpool, and badly damaged his arm. Have you had any similar gig disasters?
Chris: I can top that, totally. He got drunk and fell off stage? That’s not the first time that’s happened to him, actually. We were playing once in Berlin. We had an ass party.
DiS: What the hell is that?
Adam: That’s going to make no sense! That’s not really a story you can tell.
C: They put our liqueur out before the gig so we had a whole day to kill before we went onstage. The whole band spent the afternoon drinking Jameson. There was a megaphone left in the dressing room, somehow, I don’t know why. The dressing room was underground and they had like a window the overlooked the sidewalk, so we had the megaphone and were going “ass party! Ass party 3000!”…
A: Which doesn’t make any sense, by the way.
C: It’s not supposed to make sense. Anyway, we had a pretty rockin’ gig actually, for Berlin. The audience wasn’t really digging it, cos they’re German. So very last song, I tried to kick over the drum set. (Chris starts to recreate his actions, legs flailing and with added sound effects)
A: I’d like to see how she tries to transcribe this!
DiS: Yes, this’ll look great in ‘print’. Maybe I should add illustrations.
C: So yes. I fell over and broke a leg and two ribs, and spent the night in a German hospital. I did the rest of that tour with broken bones. I was in a chair and, y’know, it’s really hard to sing with a broken rib, cos every time you take a breath it hurts like hell.
A: You have to put this in a larger context that Chris basically injures himself once a week, some way or nuther. He’s the kind of guy who’ll walk into the same light fixture on the ceiling five times in a row. HEHEHE!
C: Actually, the two most recent American tours I did with a broken rib too. Well, the rib was detached from the breast plate (DiS winces). It’s really irritating.
DiS: How did you do that one?
C: I dunno, actually. I didn’t know what was wrong until I had a catscan. It takes forever to heal and I had to ice it up before and after the gig and take pills and stuff.
DiS: Any disasters for yourself, Adam?
A: I don’t think I’ve had any injuries as such. The only medical thing I can think of is that for some reason I was allergic to our last tour bus. I’d get a rash all over my neck and face. Josh had it too. There was some weird disgusting bug in our bus…
DiS: (deciding now is a good time to change the subject to something less unpleasant) ‘Stacy’s Mom’ then. Are you sick of it yet? In fact, are you sick of talking about it?
A: It’s gonna be nice when we can move onto our new single and get to play something else on TV. You can’t really complain if people want your single to last longer, so you just grin and bear it, playing it thousands of times.
DiS: You’ve got these Grammy nominations where in one, this song has apparently “established the public identity” of your band, which seems like a strange phrase to use. What do you think the public identity of your band is now based on this song?
C: Mostly Rachel Hunter, at this point.
A: Ha ha! She’s our identity.
C: We were saying it’d kinda make more sense if they changed that category from Best New Artist to Best Breakthrough Artist. But… we’re not insulted by it. It’s still really cool to be nominated.
DiS: Are you gonna be performing are the awards at all?
C: Nah. They didn’t ask us. We’re gonna be drunk, watching.
DiS: Have you got an acceptance speech worked out just in case?
A: Chris has talked for years that if he wins a Grammy he’ll throw it backwards over his head when they hand it to him. (Throws imaginary Grammy award over his head) Whoosh! Whoops, how did that happen?!
C: In the extremely unlikely event we win, we’ll just put a list of names together. The list of names will be about 25 Jewish people then Jeru the Damaja.
A: Yeah, we need one rapper just to break it up. Everyone we work with has these really Jewish names (they both list a load of, er, Jewish names)… we can add my parents in there just to add some more. (Sensing my ignorance) Do you know who Jeru the Damaja is?
DiS: Um, nope. Heh heh.
A: He was a rapper in the mid-90s who never really made it. He had a couple of records that did OK for a second then he kinda faded away. Our guitar player Jody says “now he’s probably Jeru the Janitor”. Ha ha ha ha!
DiS: Well I’d neva ‘eard of him. Anyways, ‘Sink to Bottom’ and ‘Radiation Vibe’ – were they not hits in America?
C: Minor hits.
A: ‘Radiation Vibe’ got a lot of radio play in the UK and started to in the US, but in both cases it seemed like the record company (Atlantic) didn’t expect that to happen, so they were caught a little short-handed. It’s so funny, cos for years ‘Radiation Vibe’ was the only song people knew, but now we’ve been away for so long that there’s this generation of kids who’ve never heard of that song. When we play it we get blank stares; they only know ‘Stacy’s Mom’. It’s very strange.
DiS: So ‘Mexican Wine’ is the next single. It’s gone to radio stations in America at least. What are your expectations of that one?
A: I honestly don’t expect it to do as well. I hope that I’m wrong, y’know, but ‘Stacy’s Mom’, because of the subject matter, transcended the band. It’s more this funny thing that’s in the culture. ‘Mexican Wine’ may be one of those songs that confuses people, which is something that’s happened to us in the past! Whatever. It’d be great if did well because it would broaden people’s view of the band a little bit.
DiS: What’s the video for that one like then?
A: Heh… um… a big mess!
C: You can’t really describe it. There’s like 10 different things going on. The main piece is we’re playing on a yacht with a bunch of girls in bikinis. It’s a bit of a spoof of the gangster videos - check out my bling bling, sorta thing.
A: We were supposed to have this huge party on the yacht with hundreds of people but we only ended up getting eight people, so it’s kind of a small gathering instead of a party.
DiS: What other songs of yours have confused people?
C: ‘Radiation Vibe’ definitely did.
A: I think all our singles have, to a certain degree.
Then we all get distracted by an array of teas and coffees brought in by the band’s PR. Adam notices a packet of muffins.
A: Ha ha! Look at this (reading from the wrapping): “With a fruity mouthwatering blueberry filling.” We have a running joke with the way the English describe food compared to the Americans. This is exactly the opposite of what you’d see on American ones.
DiS: What would the Americans say?
A: Light, low fat… They’d try and make it sound healthy even if it was just a bag of potato chips, whereas in England it’s always a full-fatted, veiny cheese, double cream!
DiS: Do you guys ever get recognised on the street, etc?
A: I saw a guy from the Offspring in the elevator in our hotel earlier. I said, Hey, you’re the guy in the Offspring. And he was.
DiS: Great story. Did he say anything back?
A: No. We talked for a second. Every time we stay in that hotel, it’s always full of rock musicians.
DiS: After ‘Mexican Wine’ do you have other ideas for singles, or is that left to the record label?
A: Basically the label. We certainly have a discussion with everybody about it. Ultimately it’s one of those things where they have to want to work the song, so if you try to convince them to work something they don’t think is right, they’re not gonna do it anyway. Unless we felt we were really against it, we just let them have the final word.
DiS: Now the album’s been out for a while are there any songs on it you feel a bit disappointed by, that shouldn’t have been on it? Or are you happy with all of it?
C: That’s a dangerous game to start playing.
A: I think in general our philosophy with this record is that we wanted it to be all over the map; an eclectic, varied record. When you set yourself up to make a record like that, you’re always going to have certain moods when you like some things better than others, then you change later. In that context it all fits on there pretty well.
DiS: Have you had chance to work on new songs or are you still in full-on publicity mode for this album?
A: In general we don’t write on the road at all cos it’s kinda impossible, but we’ve been asked to do a couple of songs for some movies, where we have to turn around something really quickly. So we may have to try do something for that. As far as another album…
C: Even if we did write on the road, we’ve never been so busy. On the last record there wasn’t a lot of downtime from town-to-town, just a lot of press. So there’s hardly any time to do anything.
A: Muffins. Gotta eat muffins.
C: Yup. Muffins.
DiS: When you recorded this album, you didn’t have a deal at the time. What would’ve happened to the recordings if you hadn’t been signed? Would you have released it yourself?
A: We had confidence it would’ve come out somehow. Apart from other things, our managers own a label and I own a small label with James Iha, so we had those two options as the bottom line. It would’ve been weird if our managers also became our record label, so we’re glad that didn’t happen.
C: I don’t know if I’d want them choosing our singles.
A: Before we even started the record we’d had offers from a bunch of smaller labels. We just decided not to make any commitments to anybody until it was done.
DiS: How much involvement do you have with Scratchie Records at the moment?
A: At this point it’s basically just talent scouts for New Line Records. We just find bands and send them the music and if they like it, they’re the ones who market it and do all the work, and we do what we can to help out, whether it’s trying to take one of the bands on as an opening act occasionally or do some press for them. The problem when we first started it in the mid-90s was that we were kinda expected to know how to market records, and we had no idea and didn’t have the resources and stuff.
DiS: Are you gonna be taking one of the bands on the European tour?
A: On this little tour we’re gonna be taking David Mead, who’s just a friend of ours and has played with us in the past. It’s not really much of a tour, so I don’t really know who we’ll take beyond that.
DiS: Has there been a point in the last few years where you’ve thought you’ve had enough of being in a band?
A: We got pretty close to that… there was definitely a period when we were not sure if we were gonna make a record any time soon.
C: Our first two records were on Atlantic and we got dropped after we’d been working really hard for five years. It’s a natural reaction to take a step back after that. At the end of that period I had nothing to show for it; I was dead broke and exhausted, didn’t have a record deal, so naturally you have this period where you reflect whether or not you wanna keep doing that.
DiS: What was the turning point? Where did you get the drive to do it again?
A: I don’t think it was a particular moment… we just crept back into the recording process, little-by-little, whenever we felt like we had something worth recording. We’d do a batch of songs a time, and take breaks inbetween. It was a pretty slow process but eventually we had enough songs for a record.
DiS: What were the audiences like to you on the Matchbox 20 tour?
C: They were really receptive. A lot of people at those shows are dads bringing their daughters. How would you describe it?
A: It’s very middle America, mainstream, people that probably don’t know anything about indie rock or obscure bands. But, y’know, those are the sort of people we want to know about our band.
C: The swinging voters!
A: Matchbox 20 is massive in America. They sell millions and millions of records. We can go round on tour on our own and play to the same 1,500 people in every city, which is fine and more ego-satisfying, but the truth is that Matchbox 20’s audience don’t know who we are. They just see another bunch of guys with guitars who they can sing along to, and it’s sorta easy to like.
DiS: What have been the best bands you’ve toured with, who you’ve supported or who’s supported you?
C: We’ve only done four different support tours.
A: Four? Lemonheads… Pumpkins…
C: Matchbox… Cake…
A: Oh yeah, Cake, that was a good tour. Grandaddy was on some of the shows, though at the time we didn’t really know them, but now we’re big fans of theirs. We’ve also had a lot of good support bands.
C: Owsley, Sloan…
A: OK Go.
C: David Mead, of course. Ben Lee. Who else?
A: Er… dunno. We’ve played with millions of bands at festivals. We did this big festival last fall in Los Angeles and it was Duran Duran, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen.
DiS: Oh yeah! I saw that on the website. Sooo wanted to go.
C: Yeah, that was a really cool show.
DiS: Did you get to watch many of the bands?
A: We saw everybody except The Cure, because by that point we’d been there 12 hours and they were on last.
C: Apparently they played for, like, three-and-a-half hours.
DiS: They’re headlining Glastonbury this year.
A: The Cure are still huge. The radio station packaged it as this nostalgia thing. The Cure said ‘Fuck that’ and played a lot of really obscure stuff. They’re not ready to be relegated to a greatest hits band.
DiS: How did you feel being stuck on this ‘nostalgia’ thing?
C: We didn’t feel stuck, we were honoured. There were only three of four other younger bands on that bill.
A: Interpol, Hot Hot Heat, us, and Dashboard Confessional.
DiS: Do you think you’ll be doing any of the UK festivals this year, or is it a bit too early to tell?
A: It’s a bit early. I was talking to our booking agent this morning. Thing is, we’ve been away for so long and the record got held back here, so it’s hard to tell if we’re gonna get asked to do stuff like that or not. We’ve never done Glastonbury but we did Reading a couple of times and a few others. It’s fun to do that sort of thing.
DiS: Um. Um. What bands suck?
A: Good question! Nobody’s ever got the balls to just ask that. Heheh.
DiS: Well, let’s not beat about the bush.
C: That’s a long list. It’s easier to say what bands don’t suck, cos most bands suck.
A: The problem is you say they suck, then the next day you meet them…
DiS: I ain’t tryin’ to start any fights!
A: We’ve talked a lot of shit about a lot of bands. We were on the radio in Chicago and Chris, for whatever reason, went on a tirade about The Barenaked Ladies. I was trying to go on the record as saying “that’s Chris speaking, I actually don’t mind that band,” and he was like “yes you do! Don’t give me that shit!” So we got all these emails from Barenaked Ladies fans who were listening to the station, saying “I thought you guys were cool, but you guys are a bunch of jerks. Didn’t your mother ever tell you, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything?”
C: “I was planning on buying your album for Christmas for my whole family but now, like, I’m not going to.”
A: “I’m cancelling my order of one million Fountains of Wayne CDs!” The Barenaked Ladies, two weeks after that - their agent called to ask if we wanted to open for them. I said even if we’d wanted to, we can’t anymore!
C: What bands do you think suck?
DiS: Erm… I hate, like, er, Nickelback and stuff.
C: That’s just a gimme though, isn’t it. It’s too easy. They’re not even worth hating. It’s not worth the brain space.
DiS: (struggling. Too busy thinking happy thoughts) Erm… and there’s, er, the influx of boybands. I don’t mind some of their songs, but they’re easy targets, aren’t they? I’ll shut up now.
A: There’s a lot of these bands in America, what they’re doing isn’t necessarily that heinous but there’s something really hateable about the singer that makes everyone hate them… like Train? You listen to Train songs and the lyrics are absolute gibberish but it’s actually not that terrible.
C: Yes it is.
A: Alright, yes it is. It’s just that pop rock. But that guy, everybody really hates that guy. There’s something about watching him…
C: He’s got that Christ complex.
A: But now, y’know, now we’ll probably bump into him in the hotel, and he’ll be a really nice guy.
DiS: Was just asking really cos if we put up something on our site that has a slight dig at somebody, like Paul Weller, then we’ll get hate mail.
C: Why would you have a dig at that guy?
A: Somebody might want to! Even your heroes though, you can make fun of them because they’ve probably done something crappy at some point. Look at Paul McCartney and how much horrible shit he’s responsible for, but he’s probably also my biggest musical idol.
DiS: Well, yeah, I love The Jam. I only said Weller cos that was the most recent one and people would post something like “this is the worst website ever” or some other rubbish.
A: Hehe. Worst. Website. Ever.
C: You remember Homer Simpson’s website? He just stole a bunch of shit from other websites, like a flying toaster.
DiS: Do you have much input into your own website?
A: Our drummer does it. Do you remember that TV commercial where it goes to a guy “congratulations, you’ve reached the end of the internet?” Hehehehehe. What was that a commercial for?
C: MSN, I think.
DiS: What was at the end of the internet?
A: A person congratulating him, like he’d seen everything there is to see.
C: Do you know that when Bill Clinton took office, there were fewer than 100 websites? It’s amazing, isn’t it?
DiS: Oh, really.
C: That’s f’real.
A: Now there’s at least 200.
DiS: When does this band thing ever feel like it’s a job? Like, erm, this interview.
A: Nahhh. I know we like to bitch a lot but it’s not a job. We really enjoy playing, writing and recording songs, so it just goes with the territory.
C: There are harder things than sitting around, talking about yourself all day. It’s not so bad. It only feels like a job when you’re travelling; busses and trains and planes and taxis. And hotels. I don’t sleep so well in hotels.
DiS: Because of the subject matter on ‘Welcome Interstate Managers’ – are you aware of a UK sitcom called ‘The Office’?
A: Yeah, that’s starting to get quite popular in the US, actually.
DiS: A lot of UK sitcoms get remade for US audiences.
A: And destroyed in the process! They’re going to do an American ‘Office’?
C: Oh no… Americans already know the English one. Why would they do that?
A: (on a roll now) It’s so condescending, thinking Americans can’t handle it with a British accent. If they just left it alone it’d probably become more popular. Anything like that, it’s not the premise, it’s the actual execution that makes it work. That show ‘Coupling’ – it was probably horrible in its British version too, I don’t know – but they did this American version and it’s just the lamest thing.
C: What else has been done? ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’, I guess…
A: All the reality shows.
DiS: ‘Steptoe and Son’ was one.
A: ‘Sanford and Son’, from the ‘70s? That was a British show? Really?
A: Ali G did a bunch of American shows which were absolutely brilliant. But he is a genius. I think that was the best thing on television last year.
DiS: Well he used to do it as a joke over here, taking the piss out of politicians and that, but now he’s too famous and everybody knows who he is and what he’s up to, so he has to find new prey in America.
C: (in awe) He got incredibly high-ranking politicians in America.
DiS: Final question then, cos I’m getting booted out now – if a UK band was to remake your album, who would it be?
A: Ladytron! Hehehe. I’d like to hear that.
C: The Darkness.
DiS: (head in hands) Oh god, I thought I’d go a whole day without hearing their name. Go on then - what do you think of The Darkness?
A: I only heard that single that I really like. They’re a big huge band over here, right?
C: Does it have to be a current band? Cos I think The Kinks would do a really good job of it (hah, DiS knew he’d say this).
A: Did you hear about Ray Davies getting shot?
C: (horrified) WHAT?
A: He got shot in the leg. He and his girlfriend were walking round New Orleans and somebody took her purse, so he went after them and got shot in the leg. He’s OK though!
You can listen to a short acoustic set Chris and Adam played for a Dutch radio station here, as well as watch video footage of them playing 'Stacy's Mom'.