36 years ago, synth-pop greats Tears For Fears rose from their unassuming hometown of Bath to become one of the defining groups of the ‘80s. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith will hit the road this summer with contemporaries Daryl Hall & John Oates. Get familiar with the influential duo below.
Grab tickets to Daryl Hall & John Oates and Tears For Fears here.
1. “Mad World” came from a place of depression for Roland Orzabal
It’s probably not a stretch of the imagination to think that a song that contains the lyric “The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had” came from a dark place, but songwriter Orzabal has professed gratitude for his melancholic state of mind that birthed the song. “I was in my 40s and had forgotten how I felt when I wrote all those Tears for Fears songs. I thought: ‘Thank God for the 19-year-old Roland Orzabal. Thank God he got depressed,’” he told the Guardian in 2013. In the same interview, Orzabal revealed that the title of the song came from a band called Dalek I Love You and also said when he was 18 he dropped out of school and, “couldn't even be bothered to get out of bed. I poured all this into the song.”
2. Roland Orzabal’s amazing dance moves in the “Mad World” video were born in the recording studio
The video for “Mad World” remains memorable for many reasons. Haircuts. Chunky sweaters. And Roland Orzabal’s beautiful and strange dance moves. The group filmed the video and had Roland dance because he had nothing else to do in the video while Curt sang. Speaking with the Quietus, Phonogram A&R David Bates said, “I wanted to make a video for it. In the recording studio Roland used to do this dance when he was enjoying himself. I had never seen anyone dance this way: odd, weird, unique. Perfect for the video, some odd plot of being able to see the world from a different view through a window. He did this dance of his in the video, which became very eye-catching.”
3. Their band name and a lot of their music revolves around primal therapy
Primal therapy was all the rage back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, so much so that Tears For Fears took their band name from the popular method of psychotherapy. Orzabal and Smith both experienced childhood traumas and experiences that led to them fostering an attraction to Arthur Janov and his groundbreaking work, “The Primal Scream.”
“My father was a bit of a monster,” Orzabal told People in 1985. “My brothers and I would lie in our room at night crying. I’ve always been distrusting of males since then.” A guitar teacher introduced Orzabal to “The Primal Scream” and its practices which included therapy that compelled patients to recall repressed memories, and overcomes them via deep grieving and crying. According to the Quietus, the duo met Janov, who suggested writing a play based on primal therapy.
“I ended up doing primal therapy after Big Chair and during Seeds Of Love, and then I realized so much of you is your character, and you’re born like it,” says Orzabal. “I think that definitely any trauma – whether it’s childhood or later in life – affects you negatively, especially when it’s suppressed, but there’s so much of us which is already in place. I believe that primal theory – which has been absorbed into modern psychotherapy practices – is very, very valid, but a good therapist is a good therapist. He doesn’t have to be a primal therapist.”
4. Their third album The Seeds of Love broke the band...almost
After the successes of The Hurting and Songs from the Big Chair, the latter of which hit No. 1 on the charts in the U.S., the group waited four years to issue the follow-up, 1989’s The Seeds of Love. Like so many artists before them, the duo sought to create a grand artistic statement, a career-defining musical masterpiece. The Seeds of Love got the band that result, but it nearly broke them. The group set out to change their sound in a radical way, fusing the psychedelia of the ‘60s and The Beatles with several other influences. The record achieves that, standing out as a stark departure from the two albums and singles that made the global superstars. Acrimony ensued, however. The album passed through the hands of several producers, and recording costs ballooned. In the end, they created The Seeds of Love, but it also cost Tears for Fears their band status as Orzabal and Roland split. Orzabal continued recording solo, releasing Elemental and Raoul and the Kings of Spain under the Tears for Fears banner in 1993 and 1995. It wouldn’t be until 2004’s Everybody Loves A Happy Ending that the duo would record together again.
5. Roland Orzabal is a published novelist
In 2014, Orzabal released his debut novel “Sex, Drugs & Opera: There's Life After Rock 'n' Roll.” The humorous book follows a semi-retired pop star who enters into a reality TV competition to get his wife back. As far as we know, the book is not autobiographical. Yet.
Tears for Fears will go on tour with Hall & Oates this summer. Check out the full list of dates here.