Fountains of Wayne
is Brian Young
and Jody Porter.
Fountains hook 'em
Published: Apr 3rd, 2007
Author: Dan Aquilante
Source: New York Post
A three-minute, infectiously catchy, verse/chorus/verse song is the Holy Grail of pop music. And nobody does it better than Fountains of Wayne.
You can hear it on "Stacy's Mom," the band's biggest hit to date, which was propelled by a shiny hook, sardonic lyrics - and Rachel Hunter as the video's hot mom.
Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood - the band's Lennon and McCartney - are so good at squeezing into that tight pop corset that another songwriter, Nashville's Robbie Fulks, wrote a tribute to them called "Fountains of Wayne Hotline," in which he twangs how he wants to phone the band for help when he gets writer's block.
Today, the boys drop their new CD, "Traffic and Weather," another collection of colorful characters cast in catchy parables.
Take the new song "Someone To Love." It tells the story of two lonely yuppies - Seth Shapiro and Beth Mackenzie.
Describing the song from his Greenwich Village home, Schlesinger says the number's power comes from "loneliness being a universal feeling that everyone's experienced.
"This is one of those songs, when I started writing it, I didn't know where it was going. I started by free-associating images about these characters. After I had six or eight lines, the paradox of living in a big city but still being totally alone hit me.
"I was aiming at a straightforward love song, where Seth and Beth meet at the end, but it hit me that it would be more interesting if they didn't." In the final lines of the tune, Schlesinger writes: "Seth Shapiro is trying in vain/ to hail a taxi in the morning in the pouring rain/ Beth Mackenzie sees one just ahead/ she cuts in front of him and leaves him for dead."
With sad satisfaction in his tone - knowing that he kept his fiction real - he adds, "Another near miss in the city."
Near misses are familiar to Schlesinger. He once almost won an Oscar for a song he wrote for the Tom Hanks movie "That Thing You Do!" And near misses were the story of Fountains of Wayne until the band hit the big time with "Stacy's Mom."
"I don't expect the 'Stacy's Mom' phenomena again," he says. "We didn't go into this record trying to do that. That song was a lucky combination of subject matter, timing, a great video and a motivated record company. It was all the things you can't plan on.
"So we didn't try to do that song again. We just did what we always do, write songs we like. I mean, we write pop music so we didn't have to convince ourselves to write choruses, that's how we already write."
While Schlesinger isn't going to leave his day job - as bassist and songsmith of Fountains - he's challenging himself with a side project writing for the musical production of John Waters' "Cry Baby" that's currently in workshop and expected to bow on Broadway early next year.
Schlesinger recalls how the theater critics killed Paul Simon's musical "The Capeman," but he remains undaunted, saying, "When you do what I do for a living, you can't sit around the house and think about stuff like that. If you do, you won't do anything.
"You have to just try to do something good, or at least something that you think works."