Interview

Tears For Fears on “The Hurting”

Tears For Fears / The Hurting four-disc box set

Tears For Fears 1983 debut album The Hurting is reissued this week as a two-CD deluxe edition and a 4-disc box set. Earlier this year we put some questions to Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith about the making of the album. Here’s what they had to say…


SuperDeluxeEdition: Graduate had a very different sound to Tears For Fears and The Hurting – were you keen to move on and doing something more ‘new wave’?

Curt Smith: We knew we didn’t want to be in a band anymore.

Roland Orzabal: Yes. We were acutely aware of the new electronic movement. I remember listening to the Radio One chart run down with Curt, and when they announced that Tubeway Army was number one with Are Friends Electric?, we both looked at each other and knew we had to change. That change didn’t really occur until a lot later: once we’d left Graduate and became a duo; the new direction was obvious.

SDE: Describe the song writing process – did Roland general turn up with completed or semi-completed demos?

Curt: Most of the time Roland would turn up with a completed or semi-completed song, then we’d demo them together.

Roland: Almost every song was written by me on acoustic guitar with the exception of Memories Fade which was written on Ian Stanley’s JP4. We were very lucky to meet Ian – he gave us the opportunity to demo, at his home studio, songs such as Pale Shelter, Change and Mad World.

SDE: When were most of the songs written?

Roland: I’d say, early 81 to 82. 

SDE: Did you have any reservations at all about releasing singles such as Suffer The Children with rather ‘dark’ lyrical content – did you have conversations at the time about ‘what was commercial’?

Curt: No. We honestly weren’t trying to be commercial at that age, we were trying to convey a message.

Roland: No reservations – that’s what we were about. We had embraced a philosophy called Primal Theory (from Arthur Janov’s book Primal Scream) and believed that the child was essentially a victim, born a blank slate, and that the traumas of childhood were a major influence on one’s character. I mean, some of that I still believe but having had kids, I’m not sure about the blank slate bit.

SDE: You had the songs from fairly early on, but could you describe the challenges in terms of finding a consistent ‘sound’ for what would become and The Hurting.

Roland: I [would] refer to [Peter Gabriel’s third album] Gabriel 3: we were pretty adamant about the no hi-hats, no cymbals rule, plus we wanted that ambient drum sound. Add to that our use of the Roland CR78 drum machine (thanks to Ian) and you have pretty much the sound.

Curt: I’m not convinced it was any conscious decision. It was normally a battle between us, the record company and our producer. All of the latter wanted the commercial side more prominent, whilst Roland and I fought for content.

SDE: [Keyboard player] Ian Stanley seemed to play a pivotal role in the sound of The Hurting – is it over simplistic to say that he brought ‘technology’ to the table?

Curt: Ian was a big part of the initial phase of The Hurting, but wasn’t as involved in the final recording process. He actually played a more pivotal role on Songs From The Big Chair. Having said that, he was the person that really taught us the nuts and bolts of technology and recording.

SDE: Although The Hurting contains lots of synths and programming, it has aged particularly well compared with other eighties’ albums – what do you attribute this to?

Curt: The thing we always fought for – subject matter.

Roland: [Producer] Ross Cullum’s exacting techniques and the raw, adolescent, and universal emotion of the songs.

SDE: While recording the album, were you careful to make sure you’d be able to play the songs live, or was that not really a consideration?

Curt: Not really. With technology you can always manage.

Roland: No, we knew were doomed to perform with a ReVox side stage playing the sequences, something we did up until the Seeds Of Love tour.

SDE: Describe your attitude to B-sides and non-album material – it seems to offer you the freedom to be more quirky and experimental…

Roland: Yes. B-sides were always fun and a chance to make more off-the-wall music, be indulgent etc. But it might be worth noting that Mad World was originally put forward as a B-side to Pale Shelter. It was [A&R man] David Bates at Polygram who thankfully put an end to that idea. He picked it as the next single.

Curt: B-sides were freedom for us. We did them ourselves and experimented a lot. It took us away from the confines of making an album for a major label.

SDE: Do you wince at the term ‘concept album’ being used in reference to The Hurting, or is that a fair way to describe the record?

Curt: It’s what it was intended to be, so no wincing here!

SDE: Given the subject matter, is there any pain in revisiting these songs night after night when you perform them on stage?

Roland: Well, the songs from The Hurting we still perform live give me great pleasure, but there are songs I would find difficult to sing now, like Suffer The Children. It’s not so much the emotion but it’s the naivety of how the song was written. A song like Memories Fade still stands up because of the depth of the lyric.

Curt: I wouldn’t say pain. I would say that some of the emotions don’t resonate now but that’s just a part of growing up. I’m still very proud of the album.

SDE: Do you still believe in Primal Therapy as a way to deal with early childhood trauma? Do either of you practise this now?

Curt: I believe that it certainly has some validity, but it also has many flaws. Most of these I discovered when I became a parent.

Roland: I believe in therapy as a way for people to mourn the past or, indeed, those who have passed. I did Primal Therapy for five years and have very positive feelings and memories about it. I had great therapists, it was a great time in my life and it coincided with the making of Seeds Of Love. It was when my first child was born that I no longer felt the need to purge.

SDE: Is it true you met Arthur Janov in the mid-eighties? Did the man live up to how you had perceived him?

Roland: Yes, we met Janov. He came to one of our shows in London during the Big Chair tour.

Curt: When he asked if we’d write a musical about Primal Theory I lost the plot a little.

Roland: Needless to say, we turned the offer down. Big character, I guess you’d have to be; he was a kind of guru, but that’s not what real therapy is about.

SDE: What were you expectations for The Hurting, both commercially and artistically?

Roland:We were very surprised by how successful Mad World became. We never really saw it as a hit. Obviously, following that, it was no surprise when The Hurting got to number one and that other hits followed.

TFF_Mad_World

Roland: “We were very surprised by how successful Mad World became”

SDE: Is The Hurting your most complete or successful artist statement?

Curt: I think it’s an important one and it certainly resonates with a lot of people. As far as “most complete or successful” I’d say no. The joy of it was that it crossed over to commercial. There are many things we’ve done under the radar that are more complete.

Roland: It’s a very consistent album with its own distinct personality. I’m not sure if we’ve made a more emotional record since, but I’d like to think we’ve hit higher musical peaks.

SDE: There’s talk of possible live dates. What would be the challenges of playing The Hurting live these days?

Curt: I don’t think there will be any musical challenges. We’re better musicians now. The challenge would be channelling our 21 year old angst.

Roland: Playing live nowadays is so much easier. A lot of that is down to technology: in-ear monitors, computers etc. But it’s also down to having done the job for so long: you do actually improve. I’m not sure if I enjoyed playing live back then; having just one album’s worth of material makes for a very tedious time.

SDE: Was live performance important to you in 1983, or were you happier in the confines of a studio?

Curt: Much happier in the confines of a studio. It’s only been in the last 10 or 15 years that I’ve really embraced live playing.

Roland: We were home bunnies and very much happier in the studio!

SDE: Memories Fade is a memorable track from the album…

Roland: Written on Ian Stanley’s JP4 using one of the preset sounds (if I remember correctly) – a kind of electronic wah-wah-wah. I remember spending a long time on the lyrics because there’s not much to the song itself, but it’s a very Janovian (can I use that word?) sentiment.

SDE: The new 30th anniversary reissue also sees the CD debut of Wino – possibly the most un-Tears For Fears sounding song in your canon – what’s the story behind this track?

Roland: Oh dear. Can we take that one off?

SDE: The box set edition of the reissue has a CD made up largely of radio sessions – John Peel and David Jensen. What are your memories of doing these shows and did you enjoy these sessions?

Roland: All I remember is during the recording of both The Prisoner and Ideas As Opiates, the producer (Dale Griffin) stopped the tape thinking I’d played the wrong chords. I had to explain that they were just discordant chords and that once the vocals went on, it would all make sense.

SDE: Did anything from The Hurting-era get held back from Songs From The Big Chair or just left on the shelf?

Roland: Not that I recall.

SDE: How involved did you get with the making of the twelve inch remixes?

Roland: Very much. They were just a chop up of the original single and instrumental versions.

SDE: Curt ended up singing on all three singles from The Hurting – how would you decide who would sing which song?

Roland: Simply by who sounded the best. Again, it’s coincidence that those songs became the hits, although I must say, I was very glad to be more in the background.

SDE: Mad World has become elevated from the other songs on the record, thanks to the Michael Andrews/Gary Jules cover. How did this cover and the TFF content in Donnie Darko – affect you, if at all?

Roland: I remember receiving a fax from my publisher asking if I would sign off on the use of Mad World for a film called Donnie Darko – there was a brief plot description and I noticed that Drew Barrymore was one of the producers. That was good enough for me. I then completely forgot about it until a friend brought over the sound track from America. She played me Gary and Michael’s version and I was blown away. I had never imagined it being arranged like that. A lot of people think we got back together and recorded a new album on the back of the success of that track. It’s not true: we had already been signed by Arista and were very deep into the recording of Everybody Loves A Happy Ending. It’s just a very lucky coincidence and, of course, rekindled interest in us, pushing our greatest hits record back into the UK top 40.

SDE: Tell us something about The Hurting that you’ve never told anyone before?

Roland: We stole the opening drum sound from the Band Aid single. No, actually, it was the other way round.


The Hurting 3CD+DVD box set is out now.

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41 responses to Tears For Fears on “The Hurting”

  1. JO says:

    I love this site – interviews like this are just fab!
    Only glanced at it so far but I look forward to reading it when I have a moment or two to take it in properly.

    Thanks SDE.

    P.S. Unfortunately even though I had a despatched notice neither my deluxe box nor my 7″ have arrived. Pretty disappointed…
    Maybe my Postie is a TFF fan :-)

  2. Don says:

    Excellent interview! SDE just gets better and better.

  3. omar says:

    Got my 2cd set yesterday. Love it ! My only question is about Change. The (New Version) runs at 4.40min where’s the vinyl mix is 5.14min. Do we actually have an edited mix here or what ? Also the ext. mix runs at 6.01 min where as all previous cd and vinyl mixes are listed at 5.51 min. Not complaining just wondering…

  4. Steve Marine says:

    YAY! Thank you so much for this interview. When I read that you were involved with the Hurting re-release I was hoping there would be an eventual interview. And it’s great! THANKS!!!

  5. Mike says:

    Last line funny!

  6. Max says:

    Great interview, thanks. As for this album I have to say I will continue to buy every new issue of it. Just one of those albums that never fades.

  7. Jan Arne Hansen says:

    @JO:

    Don’t give up hope!

    I live in Denmark, and I received the box set two days ago, and the single came seperately today.

  8. This is a great interview and all the questions are very spot-on! But I also would have asked why they didn’t want to include Saxophone As Opiates…also, Roland didn’t want to include Wino but in the end it was included all the same, so who had the final say about what to include?
    Anyway I’m disappointed that he doesn’t like the song, since I find it a very good song!

  9. Eric says:

    Yet another ace interview. Cheers Paul!

  10. Michael Fortin says:

    Never heard this album before, but I picked up the 2-CD deluxe edition because of this site. Can’t wait to hear it!

  11. David Whiting says:

    Just received the 2CD. It is wonderful. Haven’t heard some of these songs for years. The set sits nicely against my test pressing of the first 12″. The stamp says “Tears For Fars”.
    Just a small thing, Palmer is spelt “Plamer” on the credits.

    • SimonP says:

      Matches the Chris Huges on the back of the bonus Change 7″ that came with the box set. Maybe they were put there on purpose for the anoraks to spot?!

  12. Mike says:

    I’m quite surprised at the price of both sets compared to other recent reissues, i am sure its worth the premium, but it is top end for a basic reissue?

  13. Michael Fortin says:

    Anyone else hear an audio glitch at 2:25 in “Ideas as Opiates”? It’s there on Spotify too so I don’t think it’s my CD.

    I have the 2-CD edition.

    • Eric says:

      Yes, there’s a tiny background glitch on the CD1 version isn’t there. Not as bad as the kind that affected the My Bloody Valentine reissue last year, though. The waveform shows a small spike at 2:25.

      • Howard May says:

        The audio glitch in “Ideas for Opiates” mentioned was also on another master (24/96) supplied by UM for another purpose. Clearly, this glitch (a digital drop-out in the left-hand channel only compensated for, quite badly, by interpolation) was not picked-up during QC for the CD. I am now part of the mastering process and have complained about this, and am listening right now in the studio to a new master which does not have this artefact. This master is intended to be used for all future re-releases.

  14. JJ Delmas says:

    Got my copy yesterday at FNAC. Nice job and at a very reasonable price for its content. The remastered sound is very lively and feels like it was recorded yesterday! However, I am quite surprised by the lack of printed lyrics, considering the booklet and the facsimile tourbook included.

    • Julian says:

      No lyrics?? WTF??? And that with a band that was so keen to put their message forward, and admitted it was a concept album?

      I mean, not to put this set down, but that’s just ridiculous. Lyrics are elemental! (pun intended)

  15. JO says:

    Hmm… getting a bit frustrated here… still not received mine a week and a half after my despatch notice.
    Will have to contact Universal again…

    Still, everything I have read seems to prove it is worth the wait.
    Hope they give “Songs from…” similar treatment.

  16. Leemer says:

    Thanks for this. Quite interesting.

  17. Mike F says:

    @Michael Fortin

    – What’s the glitch?

    @Omar – the original 12″ of Change fades just as it’s about to end properly. The longer version (also on the 1999 remaster) ends properly.

  18. RPM says:

    Track 4 sounds odd at 2:33 – is this a mastering issue?

  19. Mike F says:

    Interesting. The glitch appears not to be a spike, actually the opposite – is seems to be pretty much a blank/low level noise moment in the left channel. Some people may be interested to know that the polarity is opposite to the 1999 remaster (at least on this track) and that the hiss has not been removed.

    • Eric says:

      Hmm, I must have been looking at the wrong channel! There is something at 2.25 which spikes very slightly. I’ll take another look. Interesting re: the 1999 remaster, though.

      • Mike F says:

        Do check and let me know – I may have missed the spike. When I tried to fix the blank part it looked better, but still had the glitch sound, so I may have missed it – or there may be more than one.

  20. Mike F says:

    Also the 1999 doesn’t have the glitch.

  21. Michael Fortin says:

    The “glitch” appears to be mostly or entirely in the left channel at 2:24/2:25 of Ideas as Opiates on Disc 1.

    It’s hard to describe exactly what it is, sounds like a tape scratch or something.

    I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t only my copy that’s affected.

  22. fedge says:

    No fix for faulty TFF The Hurting disc 1…

    Thank you for your email regarding your damaged CD in your ‘Tears For Fears / The Hurting Box Set 2013 ‘ (xxxxxxxx).

    I have received confirmation back from our eCommerce team, who advise that unfortunately this could only have come from the original master tape as this re-issue was heavily re-mastered. In this case unfortunately there is no way of us amending the glitch and as it was approved and signed off by the band no further action can be taken.

    If you are not satisfied with the product, we will of course offer a full refund for return of the goods.

    Please let me know, how you would like to move forward. if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

    Kind regards,
    Universal Music Direct Support Team

  23. Is it just me, or are both versions (CD1/Track4 + CD2/Track4) of “Ideas As Opiates” identical except for the 10 sec longer fade out of the second version? Could it be that the “Alternate Version” of CD2 was meant to be the original version that came as the B-Side to “Mad World”?

    Also, the track labeled as “We Are Broken” is clearly “Broken Revisited”.

    • Julian says:

      Yes, you’re right. The alternate version of “Ideas as Opiates” is the album version without the crossfade, and it runs a bit faster. It should have been the original b-side version, which sounds more like the BBC sessions versions (on disc 3). And “Broken Revisited” was newly remastered for this set – it’s not the same master found on the SFTBC deluxe. So they must’ve realized they had the wrong track!

  24. Tiago Teixeira says:

    Last night I sat down and created my own Hurting Deluxe Edition:

    CD1
    01 – The Hurting.mp3
    02 – Mad World.mp3
    03 – Pale Shelter.mp3
    04 – Ideas As Opiates.mp3
    05 – Memories Fade.mp3
    06 – Suffer The Children.mp3
    07 – Watch Me Bleed.mp3
    08 – Change.mp3
    09 – The Prisoner.mp3
    10 – Start Of The Breakdown.mp3
    11 – The Way You Are.mp3
    12 – The Conflict.mp3
    13 – We Are Broken.mp3
    14 – The Marauders.mp3
    15 – Wino.mp3

    CD2
    01 – Change [Original 12” Mix].mp3
    02 – Change [Original 7” Mix].mp3
    03 – Change [New Version].mp3
    04 – Pale Shelter [Extended].mp3
    05 – The Way You Are [Extended].mp3
    06 – Mad World [World Remix].mp3
    07 – Ideas As Opiates [Original 1982 Version].mp3
    08 – Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love) [Original 12” Mix].mp3
    09 – Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love) [Original 7” Mix].mp3
    10 – The Prisoner [Original 1982 Version].mp3
    11 – Suffer The Children [Remix].mp3
    12 – Suffer The Children [Instrumental].mp3
    13 – Suffer The Children [Original 7” Short Intro Mix].mp3
    14 – Suffer The Children [Original 7” Long Intro Mix / 1989 Promo CD Edit].mp3

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  26. Pin Ball says:

    Yes – I too noticed that both CD1 and CD2 have the same version of “Ideas As Opiates” – when the latter should have had the proper B-side version from “Mad World” as stated above. It only took two seconds for me to realise this because the percussion which opens it is vastly different on the album version (it’s heavily treated with thunderous gated effects), whilst the B-side version is just as it originally sounded (the congas or somesuch).

    Nevertheless, loving the whole 2CD remastered reissue though, as it was always one of my favourite early 1980s albums and certainly one of the best debuts in a decade where there were a surprising number of great debut albums from other contemporaries such as ABC, Yazoo, Propaganda, etc etc……. the only minor niggle is why have they now left off the subsequent non-album single “The Way You Are” (which was on previous [1999] remastered CD versions of this title, albeit in a 12″ version) from CD2. Okay, it wasn’t one of their stronger singles (charting outside the top 20) but it should have been included here instead of the 7″ edit being inexplicably added to the 2CD deluxe edition of “Songs From The Big Chair”.

    • Pin Ball says:

      Just forgot to mention that “We Are Broken” on CD2 is also identical to “Broken Revisited” from the extra tracks off “Songs From The Big Chair”, with its backwards intro. The B-side of “Pale Shelter” doesn’t begin in this way! These small details may be deemed a tad trivial, but when you compile these remastered versions that claim to round up all the odds and ends, at last make it accurate as well as definitive!! ;)

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        That was unfortunate, but given that Broken Revisited IS “We Are Broken” with some backwards stuff tacked onto the beginning in my opinion no one is really ‘missing’ anything, although obviously it would have been better – and historically more accurate – to have included the proper ‘We Are Broken’.

        • Julian H says:

          “…given that Broken Revisited IS “We Are Broken” with some backwards stuff tacked onto the beginning…”

          …which isn’t true.

          The original We are Broken is a different mix, sounding much drier than Broken Revisited which was probably treated with reverb to fit the SFTBC-era tracks (I assume there were plans to use Revisited for the album). The dry mix is only on the “Tears Laid Low” CD which is a rarity in itself.

  27. Will says:

    Paul is there any chance of the hurting boxset being made available again anytime soon?, thanks

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