When Fountains of Wayne broke into the mainstream back in 2003 with its hit single “Stacy’s Mom,” the band earned a “best new artist” Grammy nomination. Never mind the fact that the band had been around for seven years by then, and the song was off its third major-label album.
Fountains of Wayne is back now, after a four-year break since that breakthrough album, “Welcome Interstate Managers,” and, given the long break, it could be in the running for another “best new artist” award in 2007.
“That would be really funny, wouldn’t it?” bassist Adam Schlesinger said during a phone interview last week. “Every year we could just get a brand new start in life.”
The band returns to the Pacific Northwest on Sunday night with a stop at Neumo’s, a great venue, but a smaller one than might be expected for a band with FOW’s credentials.
“It’s really hard for us to tell (what the response will be) when we haven’t been to a city in a while,” Schlesinger said. “It’s always better to kind of undershoot it. I’d rather be in a smaller place and have it be a little crowded than to be in a big place and have it be half empty.”
Schlesinger said the band needs about two years to write an album, so even if it wanted to capitalize on the commercial success of “Stacy’s Mom,” the songwriting process wasn’t going to be sacrificed while writing “Traffic and Weather,” the new album that’s been out since April.
“Having a fluke hit single like that is something that’s somewhat beyond our control,” said Schlesinger, who, funnily enough, wrote the catchy title track for the 1996 Tom Hanks movie, “That Thing You Do,” about a band that breaks through with a fluke hit single.
“It involves a lot of stuff falling into place. I personally have felt like we had a lot of songs that could have done well in that larger pop world, but it takes a lot of luck and timing, and it also takes a record company really believing in a song and spending money on it and all that kind of stuff.”
The band has always been a hit with critics, and “Traffic and Weather” is no exception. Blender magazine called the new album “one of the reasons to love 2007,” but Schlesinger and his mates don’t let that go to their heads because a bad review could be just around the corner.
“When Chris (Collingwood) and I started playing music together when we were in college, our dream was just to be able to do it for a living and to be able to go pretty much anywhere and at least have some kind of audience come to see us that weren’t just a bunch of our friends that were badgered to come,” Schlesinger said, with a laugh.
“In that way, we’ve felt like we’ve been successful for a long time. I mean, we’re not a supergroup, but it’s more important to make records that we like than it is to chase some commercial mega-success. I don’t think we could do that if we wanted to. All you can do as a band is find something that’s your own and try to get good at it.”
Reporter Victor Balta: email@example.com.
Audrey Levi photo
Fountains of Wayne is singer Chris Collingwood, drummer Brian Young, guitarist Jody Porter and bassist Adam Schlesin-ger.