Interview

Tears For Fears’ Roland Orzabal in the Big Chair: The SDE interview

Tears For Fears‘ classic 1985 album Songs From The Big Chair is 35 years old. To celebrate, the band filmed a ‘Classic Albums’ documentary (recently broadcast on BBC Four in the UK) and Universal Music are making available again the 30th anniversary box set that was issued back in 2014 (now already sold out on pre-order!).

SDE recently caught up with the band’s primary songwriter and vocalist Roland Orzabal to discuss the album that changed everything for him and Curt Smith…

SDE: Let’s talk about Songs from the Big Chair.

Roland Orzabal: Ah, that old chestnut.

SDE: Exactly. It’s 35 years old, can you believe that?

RO: Well, it seems like yesterday.

SDE: Does it?

RO: No, not really, no, 35 years… it could be worse, it could be 40 I suppose. I don’t know, it’s not really a massive anniversary, is it? I guess it’s the BBC special that has kind of putting in the spotlight again.

SDE: How did that ‘Classic Albums’ documentary come about then?

RO: I’ve no idea, they’ve been trying to do it for many years actually, you know, quite a few years. And I’ve kind of avoided it, I don’t know why… I think after the shows in England we did last year, especially the arena tour, I think it made it probably more significant, visibility wise. You know, the Radio 2 [In Concert] special put us back into people’s homes and so, it’s probably more of a talking point now than it was.

SDE: Did you enjoy the process of doing that; you know, being on camera, getting it together with some of the guys again.

RO: Well, obviously we were doing it in separate rooms and separate countries, so…

SDE: But you and Curt were there together, weren’t you?

RO: Ah yes, we were together, yes [laughs]. Yeah, it was a practice… what’s the word… it was test of diplomacy, I think.

SDE: What is it, do you think, about the album, that resonates so much with people? Is it just the fact that it’s got massive hit singles on it, or is it something more than that?

RO: I think… I mean, at the time it felt completely disjointed, that we were clutching at straws regarding available songs. We started off with two or three songs and bits of b-sides and within one month I came up with ‘Shout’, ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’, and ‘I Believe’. And I think it was when we did ‘Shout’ that we really moved to a completely different gear.

One of the reasons it was called ‘Songs from the Big Chair’, I probably told you this a million times, is that it felt disparate; it wasn’t like The Hurting which was almost like a life work for us. Albeit we were teenagers. Hence the title ‘Songs’ because it just seemed to me like eight separate songs, and even the track ‘Listen’ was an Ian Stanley [keyboard player] demo and made while we were recording The Hurting. But I don’t know why… I think it was possibly the fact that we’d done our initial first demo’s in Ian’s house in Bath. And then he won a little bit of money from the publishing, we built the studio there in a bigger room, in his house. And I think it was almost like coming back to the West Country and even [producer] Chris Hughes had links to Bath, because his mum lived there. So, I think getting out of the huge studios and into this real intimate [setting], the birthplace of Tears for Fears almost, which was Ian Stanley’s house. I think that created this, you know, more of a calm but hot-housed environment. Plus, this massive input of new technology, like the Fairlight, the Synclavier and the Drumulator. We had all these cutting-edge sounds to play with and I think that the secrets are in the arrangement and production, because it really is superb.

SDE: It’s interesting that it was recorded in effectively a home studio, albeit you would’ve had great kit in there, because there is so much technology in the album and you wouldn’t think it was recorded in that kind of setting, necessarily, would you?

RO: No, there is a sense of economy in the record, which turned out to be quite rare for us, because you’ve got no sense of the opulence that was to come with The Seeds of Love, which was made in [commercial] recording studios.

SDE: Another thing that people will learn from the documentary, which isn’t necessarily apparent to the average person, is this relationship, between you, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes. I mean, is it fair to say that the three of you were the creative engine behind the album?

RO: Definitely. Without wishing to put anyone’s nose out of joint…that’s definitely true. And it was a bit strange because Ian was really there from the beginning, he was the guy who offered us the time and the place to record. And then he was squeezed out of The Hurting, not for any particular reason and certainly [there was] no malice. But, yeah, I think Ian provided this huge bridge between the artist – which was Curt and I – and Chris Hughes. So, we had a very, very strong chain of command, right from the lowly artist up to the record company. So, we had us, then Ian, and then Chris – and their relationship was amazing at the time – and then Chris was a good friend of Dave Bates, the A&R man for Polygram. So, that’s, you know, the communication within that chain of command was excellent.

SDE: I think you and Curt have always been very open in terms of how significant Ian’s contribution was to the Songs from the Big Chair album. He’s obviously been well rewarded, because he’s got loads of song writing credits on it. But he was important, wasn’t he?

RO: Very, very important, yeah.

SDE: The professional relationship finished during the early parts of the Seeds of Love album, didn’t it? But have you stayed in touch over the years or is that relationship now in the past?

RO: No, he came to Dublin last year, he came to that show. I mean, he’s lived in Ireland, so we don’t see a lot of him. He made the move back in the 80s, the late 80s. So, he came to the show in Dublin and he came back to the hotel afterwards and we hung out and talked about the old times [Roland laughs mischievously here, a suggestion perhaps that this didn’t actually happen].

SDE: Chris Hughes, was fired early on, but then came back. It seems to be tradition to fire Chris Hughes once or twice for each album…

RO: Yeah, fire Chris Hughes as many times as possible. I don’t know why [we did that]… We were definitely keen not to repeat the experience of The Hurting; that was a painful record to make. There was so much attention to detail and deliberating over hi-hat velocity [laughs]. We wanted to move away from that, we tried a guy called Jeremy Green, that didn’t work out, then Chris came back in. He once again tore up the rule book, it was very painful, but again, if it wasn’t for Chris, I don’t think ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ would even be a song. He pushed that, 100 percent – I didn’t like it, even though I came up with the main body of the song.

SDE: In terms of personnel, the other person to mention is Dave Bascombe, who was new – he wasn’t there for the first album. [Hurting co-producer] Ross Cullum went off to do something else; what did Dave bring to the table then?

RO: First of all, Dave didn’t interfere and he wasn’t hugely opinionated, like Ross. So, it was a four-way… not a battle, but a four-way discussion over every element in The Hurting, whereas the balance completely shifted and to have someone like Dave, who is a superb engineer, getting on with his business very quietly – again, he has a very calm demeanour – and that, I think, calmed everyone down, especially Chris, who can be… what’s the word? [Let’s just say] once there’s an intellectual battle in the room, over music, there’s only going to be one winner, and that’s Chris! [laughs]. So, the best thing to do is not even go there. And the good thing about Dave is he is extremely practical and down to earth, and he would bring the debate down to a kind of ‘ground zero.’

SDE: One thing that always interests me is that you go on about The Hurting being this year long struggle in the studio, and then famously The Seeds of Love took an age, but the one in the middle of the original trio of albums in the 1980s, the biggest seller, was the easiest one. That struck me when we spoke back in 2014; you saying that it wasn’t ‘the difficult second album’ it was an easy second album, it was almost effortless.

RO: Yeah, it was, and I think again, that’s to do with pressure from Dave Bates, as we’d already scored with some hits from The Hurting. And he was – and this is probably an example to us nowadays, where we’d been sitting on an album for five years – his attitude was, “you’ve got a song, we’re putting it out as a single. It sounds like a single, we’re putting it out.” He was constantly keeping us in the market, and it was through that [first] single [‘Mothers Talk’] that we got to ‘Shout’. And then we go to ‘Everybody wants to Rule the World’.

So it was Dave Bates’ time pressure, flooding into Chris Hughes’s creativity and production pressure. I think there was so much frustration around recording ‘Mothers Talk’ as well, because we did Jeremy Green and we got back with Chris, and I didn’t like any of that, and then all of a sudden I was given this month off to write, once more in my own home, with a Prophet synthesiser and a LinnDrum [machine], and it was just a phenomenal release, at a good time of the year; spring or spring into summer. To [then] have all these songs suddenly at our disposal, worked out really well.

SDE: The weird thing is, you had all those big hits off The Hurting – three top five hits, or whatever it was – so you should’ve been coming into the second album buoyant with lots of confidence. But you had the bump in the road that was ‘The Way You Are’ single and then the early version of ‘Mothers Talk’ with Jeremy Green, so that must have put a slight dent in that confidence.

RO: Yeah, but we were transitioning and transitions are notoriously difficult because you don’t know where you are in that process. We knew we were getting somewhere else, going somewhere else, but we didn’t quite know where. It was daunting, but we were constantly working and there was never a sense that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

SDE: You mentioned ‘Mother’s Talk’. You ended up taking a year to, ‘get that right’ because I remember you saying, you really liked the US version of it that came out, much later. Have you made your peace with that track or do you still not like it?

RO: No, not really. No, I don’t like it.

SDE: What don’t you like about it?

RO: I know what I was trying to do at the time; I was always slightly obsessed with Talking Heads and David Byrne, the melodies, or lack of melodies that he used to come up with. And I think that’s what I was trying to do, I just couldn’t do it.

SDE: Apart from the first album, you’ve largely thrived as a collaborator, whether that’s working with Curt directly or Ian Stanley, Nicky Holland and then later, Alan Griffiths. Why do you think that is?

RO: I think that it’s partly economics… when I wrote The Hurting it was largely in flat in Bath above a pizza place, with an acoustic guitar; I was the bedroom guitarist, the bedroom strummer. I think Caroline at the time was working two or three jobs, so I was on my own for large portions of time, or even Curt would come around and we’d have a cup of tea and we’d talk about music, and I’d be actually writing, as he reminded me the other day, with him in the room, almost sonically picking his brain. I remember when he went to see [Bristol band] Electric Guitars support the Thompson Twins, when they were a seven piece, before they became a trio. And it was all this highly percussive, Talking Heads-inspired music and he described to me what it was, and I came up with a song that was in that mould, that’s called The Hurting. That’s the way our relationship was then, and I think as a young man I was a sponge for everything. My antenna was incredibly powerful. And I was, you know, depressed, without a doubt. And I had all these things going on; moving away from home and into a relationship, being faced with the threat of adulthood.

I continued to write on my own and the collaborations with Big Chair happened after my writing sessions. So, I would have songs without a middle eight, or songs without a verse. And that’s when Ian and Chris forced the issue, with pure creativity and it was blatantly obvious that their arrangements, productions and finishings of the song were superb. Likewise, throughout the years, if I’m working with someone and they play something, like Nicky used to do on tour, I would grab it. And Al [Alan Griffiths] was just a genius. He would just do these sketches, five a day. It was like he’d give me eight bars and I would go off on one. It was incredible.

SDE: And I noticed on the ‘The Working Hour’, Manny [Elias, the drummer] gets a songwriting credit. Is that because you felt like he was a fundamental part of the creation of that track?

RO: WithThe Working Hour’ I used to go in to Ian’s place – he was splitting with his then wife – and he had this incredibly doleful piano piece, which became the B-side When in Love with a Blind Man. And at the same time, I was working on the verse; they were separate songs. So, it was difficult to convince Ian that it should be one thing, and we were doing the rehearsals for ‘The Way You Are’ tour, and I was mucking about with the guitar riff and going into Ian’s piano motif. , and we had a Linn [drum machine] programmed but it was Manny’s drumbeat as well, which kept it all together, so, that’s why he got a credit.

SDE: And with ‘Everyone Wants to Rule the World’, I mean there’s probably not too much to say about that record because we’ve talked about it a lot. Dave Bates got his ‘drive-time’ hit and it’s by far the most popular Tears for Fears song. But it’s also the least typical Tears for Fears single you ever recorded. What are your thoughts on that duality, that conflict? You had massive success, but it’s not necessarily what Tears for Fears was supposed to be about?

RO: Well, there’s the rub. I mean that track has just got a life of its own. It’s crazy, I mean, it was always popular, but then… I did an interview with Reuters or something like that, a while back, with this lady who went on Spotify and worked out that there are about 140 cover versions of that song; I mean, from Don Henley to Patti Smith, to Weezer, to Lorde, obviously. It’s crazy, it’s one of those songs, isn’t it? I remember from my childhood, there’d be songs like ‘Lola’ by The Kinks, it just, you know, it’s always going to be around; it’s a classic. I don’t get it and I didn’t get it at the time, I mean, I think it was the way that Chris made us improvise it every day, after our recording session, I would get on the guitar and Ian would get on the keyboards, Chris would be on the Fairlight and it soon became effortless. Every time we’d push up the faders, even if they were out of balance – because you didn’t have total recall back then, and nothing like we have nowadays with computers, Pro Tools and Logic – every time we pushed them up it was just, “wow”. There’s something intrinsic to it, you know, it’s just, it’s got a magic quality and so damn bloody simple. But yeah, in some ways there’s only one real Tears for Fears album and that was The Hurting. Because we went off script pretty much straight away, the moment we moved out of making personal statements to almost semi-political statements and then with Seeds of Love, very political statements… But yeah, I’ll take it, though. I’m happy.

SDE: Dave Bates did this canny thing in America, where he got the order of the release of ‘Shout’ and ‘Everybody Wants to Rule The World’ swapped around. I get the feeling with ‘Shout’, you perhaps get a bit more satisfaction from that being a massive hit, because it’s a lot more ‘Tears for Fears’.

RO: Yeah, it was very much in the Tears for Fears theme, based on The Hurting. Not a lot of people know this, obviously it was a big hit at Christmas, but behind the scenes there a bit of struggle to get that traction on the radio, probably because of ‘The Way You Are’ and ‘Mother’s Talk’. Dave had to do his very best bullying, I think, to make sure that it took off. Once we had it on MTV and once we did Top of The Pops, it started to fly. But it could’ve been a completely different story if Dave hadn’t been so stubborn.

SDE: ‘Shout’ was in the UK top 10 for a very long time..

RO: Well, it was a chock-a-block chart. I mean, you had Band Aid and Paul McCartney’s Frog Chorus [‘We All Stand Together’], ‘Last Christmas’ from Wham!, you know, those were the songs keeping us off the top spot. All excellent works, in and of themselves [laughs].

SDE: The Songs From The Big Chair tour was a bit of a gruelling exercise, wasn’t it? What was it about that tour that got to you? Was it the playing along with a Revox tape machine, or was it just the sheer length of being on the road?

RO: Yeah, I mean, you know, again still very much a home buddy. I found the travel quite difficult. The playing every night to the Revox, and I think there were a few drugs floating around as well, behind my back. Yeah, there was a bit of… everyone was dealing with the tour in their own different way, relationships in the band, between Ian Stanley and Nicky Holland were strained. Our first guitarist, Andy, fell out with the management and was changed half way through to Alan [Griffiths], which I think balanced the tour much better. There was, behind the scenes, a lot of bad things happening, and a lot of drugs. Typical ’80s drugs, typical ’80s excess.

SDE: When you tour now, is it different because the tours are shorter, or because everyone is more grown up – what’s different?

RO: What’s different is we have an increasing number of sober people in the band [laughs]. You know, the rider is shrinking… Nowadays we are doing it in luxury; even then we were one of the biggest bands in the world, but we were still taking a bus overnight to Biloxi, Mississippi, heading into a motel to try and get some sleep, and a cheap motel! Now we’re in the best hotels in the world, you know, there’s no comparison – even the odd private jet every now and again!

SDE: When those hits happened, when you were massive and you had ‘Shout’ and ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ topping the charts, did you at any point consider your future and just think “that’s it, I’m financially secure forever – I never have to do anything again if I don’t want to…”

RO: No, I didn’t. Because I was very much into the Arthur Janov and Primal Scream, and that for me was… I remember going out for a meal with Ian Stanley and his girlfriend and my wife at the time. And he said to me, “do you know how much money you’ve made?” And I didn’t really care because I wanted to do Primal Therapy, because that’s the kind of guy I was. And that’s what I did, and clearly it was the most important thing to me at that time.

SDE: Getting back to the here and now, we’ve had 15 years since the last Tears for Fears studio album. You did refer to it a bit earlier, that the new album that hasn’t come out yet. What’s the situation with that? Has it been scrapped or is it still going to happen?

RO: Going back to Dave Bates putting songs out as singles, a lot of people seem to be doing that nowadays because you can. So, we have finally decided to start releasing them track-by-track and it’s probably going to come out, I believe in April. We are going to release ‘The Tipping Point’ as a standalone track, and then take it from there, really.

SDE: What about The Seeds of Love box set?

RO: Yeah, that’s coming, that’s coming this year.

SDE: And anymore plans for doing some touring? Dates later this year, perhaps? 

RO: We did two big tours last year and I think we are more keen to work on new material now, and then we’ll no doubt be going out next year.

SDE: So you’re working on new material? You’re not packing it all in, you and Curt?

RO: No, no, no, I’m too young.[laughs]


Thanks to Roland Orzabal who was talking to Paul Sinclair for SDE.

This interview will form part of the content of the SDE keepsake A4 booklet ‘How Songs From The Big Chair Ruled The World’ which you can order exclusively via this link or using the button below (these will ship next week).

Songs From The Big Chair and The Hurting box sets are also reissued next week, along with a Big Chair vinyl picture disc. Amazon in the UK now has some availability of both Songs From The Big Chair and The Hurting box sets, although we don’t know for how long!

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Songs From The Big Chair - vinyl picture disc

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Songs From The Big Chair - super deluxe box set

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The Hurting - super deluxe edition box set

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Tears For Fears / The Hurting four-disc box set

CD 1 – The Hurting

  1. The Hurting
  2. Mad World
  3. Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love)
  4. Ideas As Opiates
  5. Memories Fade
  6. Suffer The Children
  7. Watch Me Bleed
  8. Change
  9. The Prisoner
  10. Start Of The Breakdown

CD 2 – B-sides and Remixes

  1. Suffer The Children (7″ Version)
  2. Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love)
  3. The Prisoner (B-side)
  4. Ideas As Opiates (B-side)
  5. Change (New Version)
  6. Suffer The Children (Remix)
  7. Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love) (Extended Version)
  8. Mad World (World Remix)
  9. Change (Extended Version)
  10. Pale Shelter (Extended Version)
  11. Suffer The Children (Instrumental)
  12. Change (7″ Edit)
  13. Wino (B-Side)
  14. The Conflict (B-Side)
  15. We Are Broken (B-Side)
  16. Suffer The Children (Promo CD Version)

CD 3 – Live Sessions

Peel Session 01.09.1982

  • 1. Ideas As Opiates
  • 2. Suffer The Children
  • 3. The Prisoner
  • 4. The Hurting

Jensen Session 20.10.1982

  • 5. Memories Fade
  • 6. The Prisoner
  • 7. The Start Of The Breakdown
  • 8. The Hurting

From ‘The Way You Are’ single

  • 9. Start Of The Breakdown (Live)
  • 10. Change (Live)

CD 4 – DVD – In My Mind’s Eye – Live At Hammersmith Odeon

  1. Start Of The Breakdown
  2. Mothers Talk
  3. Pale Shelter
  4. The Working Hour
  5. The Prisoner
  6. Ideas As Opiates
  7. Mad World
  8. We Are Broken
  9. Head Over Heels
  10. Suffer The Children
  11. The Hurting
  12. Memories Fade
  13. Change

Songs From The Big Chair – 4CD+DVD super deluxe edition

DISC ONE – Album with special cassette-only bonus tracks recreated

01. SHOUT : 6:31
02. THE WORKING HOUR : 6:29
03. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD : 4:09
04. MOTHERS TALK : 5:04
05. I BELIEVE : 4:54
06. BROKEN : 2:38
07. HEAD OVER HEELS : 5:02
08. LISTEN : 6:54

Bonus tracks

09. THE BIG CHAIR : 3:20
10. EMPIRE BUILDING : 2:41
11. THE MARAUDERS : 4:13
12. BROKEN REVISITED : 5:15
13. THE CONFLICT : 4:02
14. THE WORKING HOUR – Piano Version : 2:08
15. PHARAOHS : 03:42
16. WHEN IN LOVE WITH A BLIND MAN : 2:22
17. SEA SONG : 3:51

DISC TWO – Edited Songs From The Big Chair

01. THE WAY YOU ARE : 4:49
02. MOTHERS TALK – Single Version : 3:53
03. SHOUT – Single Version : 5:58
04. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD – Single Version : 4:14
05. HEAD OVER HEELS – Remix : 4:15
06. I BELIEVE (A Soulful Re-Recording) : 4:39
07. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RUN THE WORLD : 4:30
08. THE WAY YOU ARE – Short Version : 4:21
09. MOTHERS TALK – U.S. Remix : 4:14
10. SHOUT – U.S. Single Version : 4:51
11. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RUN THE WORLD – Running Version : 4:30
12. HEAD OVER HEELS – Radio Version : 4.20
13. MOTHERS TALK – Video Version : 4:14
14. SHOUT – Short Version : 4:03
15. LISTEN – Clean Intro : 6:52
15. INTERVIEW WITH CURT & ROLAND : 7:35

DISC THREE – Remixed Songs From The Big Chair (exclusive to box)

01. THE WAY YOU ARE – Extended Version : 7:37
02. MOTHERS TALK – Extended Version : 6:18
03. SHOUT – Extended Remix Version : 7:40
04. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD – Extended Version : 5:40
05. BROKEN / HEAD OVER HEELS / BROKEN – Preacher Mix : 8:00
06. MOTHERS TALK – Beat Of The Drum Mix : 8:54
07. SHOUT – U.S. Remix : 8:02
08. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD – Urban Mix : 6:06
09. MOTHERS TALK – U.S. Remix alternate : 4:12
10. SHOUT – Dub : 6:49
11. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD – Instrumental : 4:21
12. SHOUT – Acappella : 5:02

DISC FOUR – Unreleased Songs From The Big Chair (exclusive to box)

01. HEAD OVER HEELS : 4:14 Richard Skinner Session
02. THE WORKING HOUR : 6:06 Richard Skinner Session
03. BROKEN : 3:19 Richard Skinner Session
04. MOTHERS TALK : 4:05 Live At Massey Hall
05. BROKEN / HEAD OVER HEELS : 5:01 Live At Massey Hall
06. MEMORIES FADE : 6:50 Live At Massey Hall
07. THE WORKING HOUR : 7:31 Live At Massey Hall
08. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD : 4:19 Live At Massey Hall
09. SHOUT : 7:50 Live At Massey Hall
10. MOTHERS TALK – Early Mix / Instrumental : 4:39
11. THE WAY YOU ARE – Early Mix : 4:25
12. BROKEN – Early Mix : 5:38
13. SHOUT – Early Mix : 5:08
14. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD – Alternate Single Version: 4.20

DISC FIVE (DVD)

5.1 and Stereo mix

SHOUT : 6:32
THE WORKING HOUR : 6:31
EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD : 4:11
MOTHERS TALK : 5:10
I BELIEVE : 4:54
BROKEN : 2:38
HEAD OVER HEELS : 5:20
LISTEN : 6:49

DISC SIX (DVD)

Documentary

01. SCENES FROM THE BIG CHAIR – Documentary : 1:14:43
02. INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCER CHRIS HUGHES : 35:00
Promos

03. THE WAY YOU ARE – Music Video : 3:57
04. MOTHERS TALK – Alternative UK Video : 4:00
05..MOTHERS TALK – Music Video : 4.49
06. SHOUT – Music Video : 6:31
07. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD – Music Video : 4:52
08. HEAD OVER HEELS – Music Video : 4:26
09. I BELIEVE – Music Video : 4:45
10. MOTHERS TALK – US Mix – Music Video : 4:52
11. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RUN THE WORLD – Music Video : 4:52
BBC TV Appearances

03. THE WAY YOU ARE : 4:11 Top Of The Pops
04. MOTHERS TALK : 3:48 Top Of The Pops
05. MOTHERS TALK : 3:51 Top Of The Pops
06. SHOUT : 4:20 Top Of The Pops
07. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD : 4:08 Wogan
08. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD : 3.35 Top Of The Pops
09. EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD : 3.45 Top Of The Pops
10. THE WORKING HOUR : 4:28 Wogan

92 responses to Tears For Fears’ Roland Orzabal in the Big Chair: The SDE interview

  1. AHII says:

    What’s the point of having BBC America as a channel if they only show old American films an none of the great documentaries? I want to see the Classic Albums episode!

  2. David Young says:

    Where the hell is The Tipping Point?

  3. Pingback:Engineer Dave Bascombe on Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair | superdeluxeedition

  4. R.naud says:

    Received the TFF booklet yesterday. As with McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt and Kate Bush – Before the Dawn booklets, it is an absolute gem. There is so much more covering the before and after SFTBC om either side of Roland’s interview. Only started to read it but waiting for the weekend so I can have the album playing in the background. Great stuff!

  5. Trash says:

    Hi Paul –
    Just received my TFF booklet and I wanted to congratulate you on another fantastic piece of work. I havent read it yet but it looks great (layout-wise and content-wise). Nice that there you covered the post SFTBC albums as well.

    Also please pass on my thanks to ‘Anne’ who sorted out my screw-up (ordering a duplicate copy by mistake).
    Thanks again – look forward to ordering more items from you.

  6. Andrea Grasso says:

    Paul, out of curiosity, when this interview was done?

  7. J.M.D says:

    I think I paid around $80 N.Z for both sets, same for Simple Minds ‘New Gold Dream’ which is very similar in package. There are a few special albums to me where price goes out the window, but I understand there is always a limit for everyone and I am very far from rich, I sacrifice alot for the music I love actually! Never got that Superdeluxe ‘Station to Station’ set…them are the breaks.

  8. J.M.D says:

    Not to be rude, but I don’t really understand how so many of you didn’t buy the boxes sets 1st time around the 1st time they came out. I dropped everything to buy them as soon as they were in the shops…what was the wait/problem? I’m in New Zealand so you had better chances than me too.

    • Larry Davis says:

      JMD…first time round?? I did get ‘The Hurting” box kinda late but at a good price…as for “Songs From The Big Chair”, I was looking around for a copy for a better price, as it was selling kind of high, like $80-90US, and I was looking for a copy for $50 or less, no more than $60… there was a store in NYC called Discorama and I was friends with this woman there named Gloria and she would usually be able to get boxsets & the like in the store for good prices…she tried to get the “Big Chair” box in for me from their distributor, and I held out for an answer…nope…then I recalled this store in New Jersey called Vintage Vinyl having it in for $89.99, I gave up looking for my better price and went to buy it at VV…nope, gone…then when I went to order it online…prices jumped up to $170 and up…I almost lost my lunch…that’s why… looking for better prices, first through friends, it sold out on me…now, I got the preorder in for $44 US…so it worked out, and I had “The Hurting” box already…I think I paid $35 for that one…still bummed the 3 vidclips from that album are not included on the DVD though…

    • Chris Squires says:

      “Not to be rude” – Classic.

      Life gets in the way. I was too busy working and bringing up kids and didn’t get back into general collecting until 2014 and by the time I had worked out my arse from my elbow the time had passed. For a lot of these things you have to be right there at the right time. Live in the country, don’t know about SDE… got a demanding job, got children, like your family?
      That’s how things get missed.
      I picked up 9 original copies of Aerial on Vinyl by Kate Bush in shops at retail price over a 5 year period from 2005 to 2010 just because I was passing. That just wouldn’t happen now. A release of 1,000 vinyl copies disappears in hours on pre-release. People who buy are far more organized, they have to be. Very few people were casually buying box sets or vinyl as little as 6 years ago, which is when these were released. So a worldwide release of 1,000 or 2,000 would be very easily missed by anybody outside London or major cities in other countries. Anybody who was the right age to be a TFF fan would be right in the middle of careers and family back in 2013. I was anyway. It’s only since the kids have left home that this all now makes some kind of sense, along with being more informed by the likes of Mr. Sinclair.
      The main reason so many here missed it, ultimately, is not enough were made and life is complicated.

      • Jules(Rules) says:

        It’s still surprising how high the demand now is now – because it certainly wasn’t back in 2013/2014. They sold out, yes, but they were available for months. If they hadn’t been, I would’ve missed out on “The Hurting” because I tried (to no avail) to order through several CD retailers before eventually placing my first Amazon order ever!

  9. Alan B says:

    Songs From The Big Chair still available to pre order from HMV Online

    • Kevin from Edinburgh says:

      On the BBC material, do we get to hear the voices of Skinner, Jensen, and JP? I find that such things really add to the experience. In other words, for a brief moment I can pretend it’s 1985 again……when life was so much simpler.

  10. Bill Hammell says:

    That was a nice interview Paul. I quite enjoyed that. Thanks.

  11. Jan says:

    Great interview with one of my musical hero’s

  12. timhaydu says:

    greetings paul,
    so great to read, “SDE: What about The Seeds of Love box set?
    RO: Yeah, that’s coming, that’s coming this year.”!!!
    thanks,
    tim

  13. Shawn C. says:

    Paul, excellent interview! I really enjoyed it and am thrilled to have some clear confirmation of new TFF and the long awaited Seeds of Love deluxe edition!

  14. Chris says:

    Is this the Steven Wilson 5.1 mix? I have that and it’s awesome and due for another spin. Also when can we watch the Classic Albums here in the US? I mean come on already. I know we have a crappy president, but please don’t hold that against us.

  15. Gary Hunter says:

    Another enjoyable read Paul, with some interesting questions put to Roland.

  16. Darren says:

    I truly hope they consider touring Australia when they decide to tour again.

  17. -SG- says:

    That was an entertaining read. Though he is older, he still sounds like the same guy from those years ago. It is impressive that their boxed sets have already sold out before coming back into print. Amazing really, it just goes to show the the enthusiasm people will have when the music is good. SFTBC is one of my favorite albums and it is an interesting set of songs, such a non-conventional album in it’s delivery. Besides what has already been released it would be great if they dug into the vaults and released a full concert from both respective albums. It is also interesting to read about Mothers Talk. I really never heard the David Byrne angle of the song, I had heard him say they influenced Shout, but I really do see the Talking Heads influence now listening to Mothers Talk, even the latin tinged rhythm of the marimbas on the original….. the “James Brown” thing they had going on the Beat of The Drum Mix, even the not so subtle reference “You were paid not to listen now your house is on fire”
    Thanks for another good read… I think I may need to get that booklet.

  18. Jose says:

    Congratulations Paul! Nice interview! Even better than the BBC

  19. Kauwgompie says:

    Woah, the Hurting SDE is already sold out and Songs…has doubled in price. I’m glad I ordered both for less than £30 incl shipping to the USA yesterday. Will they print more?

  20. Ryk says:

    What? No news about deluxe reissues of Elemental, RatKoS, or ELaHE? j/k. Well, half kidding – I’d love to see these reissued in deluxe formats also.

    Just my 2 cents about the new material – I also would rather see it in album form, assuming they have enough material for an album.

    Still great to have new stuff being released though!

  21. Pascal says:

    It seems the super deluxe edition box is available again on Amazon UK. Just pre ordered two copies.

  22. Matt says:

    WELL DONE PAUL! great insights – can’t wait for the book to arrive. and i’ll start saving fo rhte new album and the TSOL box. I Believe you really have made all TFF fans happy. ;)

  23. John says:

    Amazon.co.uk adjusted the price from 35 pounds to 49.99 pounds just minutes ago! Hurting is sold out while SFBC still available

    • Mic Smith says:

      Yes I ordered it around 9pm last night at the lower price and this morning it’s just under £50. The Hurting was already unavailable again.

    • Pascal says:

      In my orderlist the price of this pre-order has already dropped to £38.

  24. Janice Pugh says:

    Great interview Paul and really looking forward to reading the SDE Booklet when published. New album, new singles, tour to look forward to as well. Oh happy days!

  25. Tom Walsh says:

    Class interview. I’m looking forward to the new single.

  26. Kauwgompie says:

    Nice Paul, thanks. We finally know SSOL will be released this year although I believe it when I see it. As far as just releasing singles, I like all the singles they have released these past years. It is def worth it to put them together on an album IMHO.

    It’s interesting because on one hand you would think that TFF doesn’t really need the money so no need to release a new album and subsequent tour. On the flip side, they do tour even though they don’t seem to like each other so may be they do need the money. Or perhaps it’s just a matter of keeping busy. They have come to accept that they are only successful as a band and not individually so they accept their relationship is strained but work around it, like an old marriage. Anyway, I’m glad the Hurting box is available as I missed that the first time around. Their music remains incredible. I ordered the booklet a while back. Looking forward to it! Thanks again for the amazing site!

  27. Mark says:

    Hooray re TSOl and new album!!
    Cool interview with an interesting artist!

  28. Richard Lockley says:

    So So Happy that these two fantastic Deluxe Box Sets are being reissued mainly because of the ridiculous prices of £400+ are being sold on eBay by greedy individuals who are just opportunist’s trying to make a over inflated fast buck, Personally myself I purchased the super deluxe Songs from the Big Chair box set when it was originally released 5 years ago and every single track is fantastic.

  29. Robert van Dam says:

    Great interview !!! Finally we are getting the “The Seeds Of Love” boxset. I can’t wait …

    • chris says:

      No date/month specified? Sounds like it might be “on their radar”, at best. Lets hope we are SOL with SSOL, yet again..

      Anyway. Geat interview Paul, as always. You should start to record your interviews and post them to youtube!

  30. Schu says:

    Great in-depth interview as always Paul. Good to hear from Roland that things are moving along nicely with regards to the TSOL deluxe (not the T.S.O.L.) and the new album. All of the TFF albums are of such high quality that it will be interesting to see how the new one plays after a 15-16 year gap. I remember listening to Everybody Loves a Happy Ending wondering how they came up with this after an eleven year layoff. Just amazing.

  31. Toast says:

    The Classic Albums documentary popped up on YouTube pretty much right after it was screened which meant that I could watch it here in the USA. Some crossover with Scenes from the Big Chair of course, and Dave Bascombe should have been involved, but overall really enjoyed it.
    However it’s since been blocked on YouTube with a message saying Eagle Rock Entertainment had it removed, which could mean its going to get a physical release as Eagle Rock release loads of music documentaries. And hopefully with some extras / expanded sections, most of original Classic Album series that got released on DVD had a good amount of extras.

  32. Michael says:

    I can see why there has been conflict between this guy & Curt Smith. He does not seem to give him proper credit. And Curt Smith has a great commercial singing voice plus he co wrote Head Over Heels. There is a sweetness about his voice that Roland just does not have. Nice dig at Wham’s Last Christmas as well. George Michael made disparaging comments in 1985 about Tears For Fears after meeting them. Something which implied they weren’t terribly nice.

  33. James from Canada says:

    Another excellent interview. Thanks Paul.
    Roland has long been one of my favourite songwriters. New music and the Seeds of Love box are both very, very welcome.

  34. Jose says:

    Congratulations Paul!! Fantastic interview! Better than the BBC. It’s good to hear the good news at last! By the way, did he mentioned something about that “blind period” between “Songs” and “Seeds” when he recorded “Fish For Life” with Ian Stanley and when they were in the studio working on songs for an album that was never released?

  35. Caroline says:

    great interview paul but did roland actually mention a new album in april ?

  36. Rob says:

    This has made my day! Thanks Paul.

    Another less interesting interview with Roland here that mentions The Tipping Point and that he has a new relationship
    https://www.pressreader.com/uk/daily-express/20200229/282187948058526

  37. Sda says:

    Both deluxes currently showing as available for pre-order again at Amazon UK.

  38. Howard says:

    Enjoyed the interview very much. If you love the music it’s great to get deeper into it a little bit. Funny even 35 years later Roland still comes across as a pricklish guy. We’re supposed to mellow over the years.
    I always think of Everybody Wants to Rule ( along with Talk Talks Its My Life) as just perfect songs. Absolutely perfectly sung and played with terrific productions. I’m sure it has made them pots of money over the years.
    AXS TV over here in the states plays the Classic Album shows so hope it will appear eventually.
    Thanks again Paul, really interesting interview

  39. Nuno Bento says:

    Fantastic. Thanks for the interview, Paul.
    Can’t wait for everything that (supposedly) is coming out this year.

  40. Andrew M says:

    Typical – just as I make the difficult (nay gutting) decision to sell my entire collection and not buy any more due to travelling around the world for the next twenty years with my family they confirm the SoL set.

    Ain’t that just typical lol

  41. Jason says:

    Excellent interview Paul. Agreed the idea of releasing one song at a time is terrible. People will lose interest after 3 or 4 of these and may never care to hear what comes next. Release one, then another 3 months down the road, then an album 3-6 months later. That seems to be the best model these days and will keep their work of higher importance than a meaningless handful of random tracks. People DO still like albums, and especially people in the TFF demographics.

  42. Songs from the Big Nige says:

    I have the 30th anniversary box …. looks exactly the same? Is it spivved up a bit?

  43. Sirrollie says:

    Excellent interview! Agree that Paul’s in-depth knowledge of his subject and subject’s music makes for a better read then the typical muscian’s interview these days. Thilled to hear about the new album and SOL box set, but even more interested in when the SFTBC
    Classic Albums segement will be available in physical copy?

  44. Mark says:

    Terrific interview, Paul – great work as always! Thanks for sharing it.

  45. Jez says:

    I thought he was a bit cagey, especially about making the documentary and releasing new stuff. I’d have pushed him a bit more. I mean – why be so evasive!? No doubt he will want us all to rush out and buy the new album, but he can never be bothered to update us – his bloody FANS – as to what on earth has been happening for the last 10 years! Sorry for ranting.
    But yes, I know it’s hard to push these artists. It is a great interview Paul. Nice one.

  46. Michael says:

    If they want to release a lead single for the new album, that makes sense of course…. but please do jot do this thing of just releasing streaming online tracks one at a time. I have no interest in that.

  47. Larry Davis says:

    Great interview…seems you & Roland have a great rapport going…perhaps you are more like actual friends than co-workers, eh Paul?? Interesting detail of what happened/is happening in the TFF camp…great news regarding the SOL box, and so be it in releasing new material 1 track at a time…less pressure perhaps?? Next week, will order the booklet, now have to have the funds available for that bloody M People box…guessing the collecting will happen tonight…next week is TFF collecting of funds, and jeez, the prices on the boxes are now ridiculous for those who want em & sold out on again…maybe cuz they won’t get repressed again…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks Larry. Haha! I certainly wouldn’t flatter myself that I am Roland’s “friend” but I have spoken to him a few times over the years, which probably makes him reasonably comfortable/relaxed when talking to me. All the interviews have been over the phone, so it can be tricky because you can’t spot if there’s a glint in his eye… :)

  48. V says:

    Absolutely fascinating interview Paul! Thanks to you and Roland for the great insight. Always amazing to read about the ups and downs of production. Really looking forward to new material as the gap in time is far too long for a band of such quality.

    I happen to be in the midst of listening to SM&L in the car, so reading this before my morning commute is going to make the second half of the album even more fun. I don’t care what Roland and Curt think, “The Way You Are” is one of my favorites!

  49. Stephen K says:

    With the rerelease of The Hurting boxset this year, it would be a great time to rerelease the 12″ of Mad World for Record Store Day, though if that wasn’t in the cards, it’s too late now (but how about a digital release?) – I think all three tracks weren’t on the boxset. “Mad World” on the album segues. “Saxophones as Opiates” they appear to greatly dislike (well I would fight them on that!) “Ideas as Opiates” appears as a longer album version I think, but not the different recording for the single. Glad to hear more about Songs From the Big Chair, my favorite album (with Music for the Masses – ol’ lucky Dave Bascombe!). No mention of Will Gregory? BBC was happy to have this American register for the iPlayer, only to then say that my region prevents me from watching the content!

  50. Charles K says:

    The guitar solo in Shout still equals Comfortably Numb in my book as far as impact when I heard it, still gives me pause to this day. And it still feels like Ian should have been a permanent third member based on contributions, etc. Either way, quite the coup Paul, great interview.

  51. Eric says:

    Undoubtedly a fascinating character. I haven’t even heard the SOL album since the year it came out because I had it on cassette but I remember absolutely loving “Women in chains” so I’ll have to buy the boxset to complete my set & understand all this enthusiasm for it.

  52. Paul Fraser says:

    Even from the Smash Hits days, Roland has always hinted/joked/outwardly stated his relationship with Curt is frosty/argumentative/dysfunctional. But is it really that bad? Or is it just that Roland is super-honest and willing to shine a light on the usual workaday frictions anyone in a creative job goes through; describing what many band relationships are like. After all, he’s pretty into his Janov and being brutally honest about how people make one feel. I say this because on the BBC doc, he looked pretty relaxed and comfortable with Curt. If anything, it was Curt who looked on edge or with more of an idea of what the corporate line should be. Roland just came across as honest without worrying about the TFF legacy. You feel he gives you the real answer, and not the PR version. Looking forward to hearing the new tracks…

  53. Ralf says:

    Fantastic interview again Paul.

    Exciting news about the Seeds SDE
    I believe it when I hold it in my hands.

  54. Peter-Michael Sieker says:

    Great interview, quite a fascinating insight. Thanks, Paul!

    And my heart nearly stood still when I read:
    SDE: What about The Seeds of Love box set?
    RO: Yeah, that’s coming, that’s coming this year.

    Finally!

  55. Tracey S Spivey says:

    Thanks for another great interview Paul!

  56. RMJ says:

    I’m going outside and lighting off some fireworks….. the man said TSOL box set this year!!!!!

  57. Dave H says:

    Thanks for the interview, great to know ‘Seeds’ will be released this year. At least everyone on here should know not to wait to order it.

  58. Rob says:

    Fantastic interview Paul!

    Very excited for the new material and the long awaited Seeds Of Love box!

  59. It’s always nice to hear from the man himself. Not happy about the singles thing if they actually have an album in the can – TFF are an album band. But obviously great to hear things are moving, also on the Seeds front.

    • Alexandre says:

      According to Curt, the new album is only halfway done. Maybe that’s why they are doing the singles release approach.

  60. Ross Baker says:

    New material and Seeds of Love box this year? Superb! Cheers for this Paul!

  61. Erik says:

    I realized what it is I really enjoy about your interviews, Paul. You actually listen to the responses to your questions (not just tune out, waiting to ask your next one) and often follow-up on what they say or have their responses then inform your next question, or questions later on in the interview.

    Far too often nowadays it seems interviewers are so into themselves and what they are asking that they never bother to actually listen to who they’re talking with, so you are very refreshing.

    All to say, thanks for the great read. Already bought the set from ya and can’t wait to receive it.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Cheers Erik!

    • Kenny R says:

      Agreed Erik, in my opinion that is what makes the great interviewers. Michael Parkinson knew when to run with something that was good even if it meant not getting all his questions in, because he was interested in the person and what they had to say. Paul did a brilliant job, really enjoyed the interview, and look forward to the new track(s) and TSOL box set.
      Well done Paul.

  62. Dom says:

    Fantastic interview, thanks. Increasingly rare nowadays for the interviewer to have in depth knowledge of the subject and question accordingly.

  63. Stuart K says:

    Brilliant interview, thanks Paul. just for the news of the Seeds of Love Box Set!

  64. AndyB says:

    Straight from the horse’s mouth: “Seeds” in 2020! Yes!

  65. Paolo says:

    He talks about “diplomacy” on the relationship between him and Curt…. so I m not so optimistic they will carry on. But I hope so. Happy for the TSOL box coming, really pissed off about the “singles” mania… i hoped for the entire new album, it was about time..

  66. Lee Carson says:

    Another excellent interview Paul.

  67. mike says:

    Roland must be a fascinating person to interview, an underlying sub-text occasionally (or more often!) that must be hard to read, thanks Paul

  68. Ivo Peeters says:

    FYI: The Classic Albums documentary will be broadcasted tomorrow (Thursday 5/3) on Belgian television (Canvas) at 23:10.

    • Marcel Rijs says:

      Thanks Ivo! I’ll be watching… finally!

      Great to hear that new material might finally surface this year, too…

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