Fountains of Wayne
is Brian Young
and Jody Porter.
'Traffic and Weather' is more perky power pop from Fountains of Wayne
Published: Jun 7th, 2007
Author: Scott Mervis
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Fountains of Wayne seemed destined to belong to the little cult of power-pop fans who admired their cleverness and Beatlesque qualities.
Members of Fountains of Wayne try to ground their songs in the everyday world.
Then came the tantalizing video with Rachel Hunter, and the next thing you knew, all the little kids on the street were running around singing "Stacy's Mom."
You can imagine that when talk began of the follow-up to "Welcome Interstate Managers," people wanted to know if there was another "Stacy's Mom" coming down the pike.
"Even if I tried to replicate that, I wouldn't be able to, so it's just a waste of time to think along those lines," says bassist/writer Adam Schlesinger. "We always try to write catchy songs and melodies that are memorable. I don't think anyone thought that song would be a hit till it was one either, so it's not like we walked in with that song and everyone jumped up and down and said, 'That's a hit!' "
"Traffic and Weather," a follow-up that arrives four years later, continues in the FoW tradition of punchy songs with more emphasis on the pop than the power. The influences range from the Beatles to the Cars to Weezer, and lyrics linger over the colorful details of everyday life, love and work. A recent headline about the band referred to them as "mining the mundane."
"I guess that's fair," Schlesinger says. "I definitely think we try to ground a lot of songs in the real world, rather than writing about abstract general things, so I guess whether or not that's mundane is a judgment call."
Sprinkled through "Traffic and Weather" are classic rock references, be it the Who-like synths on "'92 Subaru" or the Billy Joel-like "heart-attack-ack-ack-ack" takeoff on "Strapped for Cash."
"We're all big classic rock fans," Schlesinger says. "The sad thing is, if we're driving together somewhere in a van, we always end up listening to the classic rock station, because at this point it's always so much more fun than the stupid modern rock station that's playing horrible aggressive crap. It's fun to listen to Boston instead."
So far, "Traffic and Weather" isn't getting the attention or the overwhelmingly glowing reviews that "Welcome Interstate Managers" pulled in.
"What's happened to us on this record is that most of the response is good, but the people who have decided they don't like it, have decided '[Forget] those guys and their hit song and their Grammy. Blow it out your [behind].' It's a little bit of an anger that I think comes from the fact that we were an underdog band for a while and now a bit more of an overdog band, so we had it coming. It's not like we really succeeded in the grand scheme of things, but in the eyes of the secret underground police, it looks like we're gone forever."
During the downtime between records, Schlesinger was busy juggling a number of other projects, including his other band, Ivy, writing songs for the movie "Music and Lyrics" (which he says was "pretty cute") and doing production and co-writing on a reunion record of '70s soft-rock band America. It grew out of an e-mail friendship with Gerry Beckley of America, a band that doesn't normally rank high with hipsters.
"You get to a certain point, where you don't think of things of guilty pleasures," Schlesinger says. "If you like something you like something. And I like that band. They wrote a lot of songs that still sound good 30 or 40 years after the fact. I think the thing is, you can enjoy different kinds of music for different reasons or in different ways. I think they took some criticism, especially lyrically. But who would listen to that 'cause they wanted Bob Dylan lyrics? I think that would be missing the point."
Schlesinger's other project the past few years has been playing dad to a pair of young toddlers.
"I have to find myself a little space to do any work, because I realized quickly as soon as I pick up a guitar at home, my daughter tells me to put it down, so that's not good for business."