Fountains of Wayne
is Brian Young
and Jody Porter.
Fountains of Wayne makes unusual music from ordinary
Published: Jun 9th, 2007
Author: Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Source: The Flint Journal
Baggage claim, the Department of Motor Vehicles, a 1992 Subaru and inexpensive hotels aren't exactly fodder for pop songs. But the Grammy-nominated band Fountains of Wayne can turn ordinary, everyday happenings into pop gems.
"I don't really know what inspires them, but we just like writing about everyday things and keeping them grounded in reality rather than making up songs that are really general and vague," bassist/songwriter Adam Schlesinger said recently.
"We like to be very specific and write about things that people actually might see in their normal lives."
Fans of Fountains of Wayne - which also includes vocalist/guitarist Chris Collingwood, guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young - can see the band's latest album in stores. The cast of characters on "Traffic and Weather," the follow-up to 2003's "Welcome Interstate Managers" (which featured the hit "Stacy's Mom") is indelible.
Featuring Hole/Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur on backing vocals, the first single, "Someone to Love," tells the story of two New Yorkers, Seth Shapiro and Beth Mackenzie, who cross paths. The main character in "Yolanda Hayes" is an object of affection behind the glass at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Sonically, "Traffic and Weather" is much fuller than previous efforts by Fountains of Wayne, and Schlesinger agrees.
"I think it's kind of the best-sounding record we've done in terms of the recording and the mixing and the arrangements. I'm really happy with the way it sounds," he said.
"We never really plan it out too much beforehand. I guess that's just kind of the way it turned out. We did sort of realize as we were working on it that there weren't quite as many stripped-down acoustic kind of songs on this record. There's more going on in general. There's a few more intimate ones."
On the opposite end is "Someone to Love," a Euro-disco, 1980s-inspired tune. Those beats pop up here and there on "Traffic and Weather."
"It's definitely got some synthesizers that are pretty prominent," Schlesinger said. "Kind of a disco-y beat, which is kind of a different thing for us. That was actually a song that I wrote music first, which is not usually how I work. I was kind of just playing around with this melody and this chord progression, that beat, I just thought it would be something fun to try."
In the four years between albums, Schlesinger kept busy, between writing music and lyrics for the film "Music and Lyrics" and penning songs and touring with his other band, Ivy. He and James Iha, formerly of the Smashing Pumpkins, also produced an album for the classic pop band America.
"It was great," Schlesinger said of the America record, "Here & Now." "It was a learning experience for us because those guys have made so many records.
"They really know how to focus on the essential elements of the songs - the vocals, melodies, harmonies. Their biggest songs are actually kind of minimalist, and they just have a good groove and a nice melody. They don't let too much distract from that. I think they're good at sort of keeping that big picture in mind. That's what we tried to do with that record."