Tears For Fears was a hugely popular new wave band in the 80s. In fact, their name might as well be a synonym for the 80’s sound.
But what are they up to today? Is Tears For Fears still touring?
Let’s find out!
Who is Tears For Fears?
Tears For Fears is a British band formed by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith in 1981. The two are the co-captains of Tears For Fears. They both sing, compose, and play various instruments, including keyboards.
Roland Orzabal was born in 1961 in a small town in Southern England. He began singing in theater groups in his youth. In addition to being a primary artist in Tears For Fears, Orzabal has produced records by musicians such as Oleta Adams and Emiliana Torrini. He wrote a novel called Sex, Drugs & Opera, published in 2014.
Curt Smith grew up in Bath, England, and met Orzabal there when they were teenagers. They played in a band called Duckz when they were both 14. Curt later joined Orzabal briefly in his band Graduate before they broke away to form Tears For Fears. Smith also released five solo albums between 1993 and 2013.
Smith dabbled in acting here and there during those years too. He starred as himself twice on the TV show Psych, a detective comedy-drama. Main character Shawn Spencer is a big fan of Tears For Fears. So when Smith made a surprise appearance at the TV show’s 2010 Comicon panel, the audience was…psyched!! He also did a remake of the show’s main theme song.
The Story of Tears For Fears
Growing up, Orzabal and Smith had many things in common. They were both the middle of three sons and raised by single mothers. In addition, they had an early interest in psychology, thirsty for answers on why life was filled with pain. Their band’s name, Tears For Fears, came from a chapter in a shared favorite book by psychologist Arthur Janov.
Tears For Fears released three highly successful albums from 1983 to 1989. Each contained chart-topping singles worldwide. But by the time they were in the studio for their third album, The Seeds of Love, internal strife was growing. The album took months to produce, partially due to Orzabal’s perfectionism. Smith’s jet-setting lifestyle didn’t help matters either.
Things were sour between the two collaborators, and Curt Smith left Tears For Fears in 1991. Orzabal forged on as Tears For Fears and released two more albums.
After nine years, Smith and Orzabal made amends and began collaborating again. They released the sixth studio album for Tears For Fears in 2004, called Everybody Loves a Happy Ending. Although the album experienced lukewarm success, Tears For Fears toured with regularity afterward.
Tears For Fears’ Best Known Songs
The two best-known Tears For Fears hits came from their 1985 Album called Songs From The Big Chair. Shout, released in November of 1984, is one of the most identifiable songs of the mid-80s. The anthem’s chorus was a sign of the times: Shout, shout, let it all out. These are the things I can do without. Cold War anxieties were globally abundant.
Everybody Wants to Rule The World was the next single, released in March 1985. It was the first #1 hit by Tears For Fears in America. The band was in heavy rotation on MTV during this era.
The hit was another song related to politics of the day, but this time about the misery caused by power-lust. A light, easy-breezy melody cloaks the dark subject matter. Ironically, the BBC banned airplay of Everybody Wants To Rule The World during the first Gulf War in 1990.
Head Over Heels was released shortly after that, and Tears For Fears essentially took over 1985. They were everywhere. Head Over Heels broke the top 20 and solidified Songs From The Big Chair as an essential new wave pop album.
The song’s meaning is obvious, but the musicianship is incredibly clever. Not only is the 1985 music video ridiculously brilliant, but its use in the 2001 film Donnie Darko deserves equal applause.
This brings us to the fourth best-known song of Tears For Fears. And probably the coolest. That song is called Mad World, released on their 1983 album, The Hurting.
The majority of listeners will recognize the cover of Mad World by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules from 2001. Remade for the soundtrack to Donnie Darko, the cover was so cult-popular that Andrews released it as a proper single in late 2003.
But the original version of Mad World by Tears For Fears beats them all! Well, at least in terms of cool factor. In 1982, the single got Tears For Fears on the new wave map in the UK, Ireland, and South Africa. It also played in heavy rotation in underground clubs in the US. The first three or four notes are strange, born of the pure synth and drum machine of the early 80s.
What Happened to Roland Orzabal’s Wife?
Roland Orzabal and Caroline Johnston were married for 35 years. She contributed vocals and artwork to some of their very early work. Unfortunately, Caroline struggled with depression. Her challenges lead to alcoholism and subsequently a slew of health issues.
Orzabal didn’t cope well with becoming her caregiver. He admits that he should have stopped drinking and gotten all alcohol out of the house, but he didn’t. Caroline developed alcohol-related dementia and died of cirrhosis of the liver in 2017.
Orzabel, exhausted and devastated, subsequently spiraled through his own mental health crisis.
Luckily, music and his long-time collaborator pulled him back up. Tipping Point, the latest Tears For Fears album, was created out of the anguish Orzabal endured.
So, is Tears For Fears Still Touring?
Yes! Tears For Fears have scheduled a three-month tour for the summer of 2022. The tour is in support of their new album, entitled Tipping Point.
Orzabal began writing songs during the painful years of his wife’s illness. Catharsis was calling. Most songs on the album are about what he experienced. My Demons and Rivers of Mercy are two preludes of inner struggle.
Please Be Happy is what Orzabal wished for his wife as he watched her instead fade away under depression. According to Orzabal, Smith’s vocals during the recording moved him so much that he had to leave the room.
The album’s title song, Tipping Point, speaks to Orzabal’s reckoning with the denial he had of his wife’s illness. The song is haunting. Co-written with composer/producer Charlton Pettus, the composition blends signature sounds of Tears For Fears with a current, forward-moving arrangement.
Other songs, like No Small Thing, take a completely different direction. The tune started from a riff by Smith and grew when the collaborators sat in the recording studio with acoustic guitars in hand. They went back to the way they first wrote music together as teenagers. No producers, no slick plans. The song opened the floodgates for the duo and is the first track on the new album.
Tears For Fears Still Impressing After All This Time
We’re lucky to have bands like Tears of Fears who are still touring. For some, seeing the band on tour will be an excellent opportunity to hear songs from their youth. And for the next wave of youth falling in love with that 80s sound, it brings them their first chance to experience it live.
The fact that they have a new and meaningful album out after a long recording hiatus makes the experience that much more special.
Have you heard Tears For Fears’ new singles yet? Let us know what you think of them!