Commercial success be damned, Fountains of Wayne might be the best pop band in the world. From the group's humble East Coast beginnings in the early '90s, to the recent mainstream success of their crossover radio hit "Stacy's Mom," FOW has carved itself a distinctive niche in the world of witty, tuneful songwriting. With the release of their third album, Welcome Interstate Managers, earlier this year, the band -- songwriters Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood, along with guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young -- has suddenly found itself vaulted from indie-pop obscurity into full-fledged stardom.
In feverish anticipation of the group's Nov. 14 performance at the World Arena, in support of Matchbox Twenty, the Independent spoke with FOW's songwriter Adam Schlesinger as he prepared for a performance in Phoenix.
Indy: Back in the late '90s, your album Utopia Parkway was practically required listening for high school brainiacs and music dorks. What were you rocking out to as a senior in high school?
Adam Schlesinger: Police, R.E.M., the Pretenders, and Rush were a requisite -- because I'm from New Jersey.
Indy: You wrote the song for the fictitious band The Wonders in the movie That Thing You Do [with Tom Hanks]. When you guys heard "Stacy's Mom" on the radio for the first time, did you feel like life was imitating art?
AS: [Laughs] It really wasn't that dramatic. I think we had just finished an interview at a radio station so we knew they were going to play it. But it never gets old hearing your songs on the radio.
Indy: What has touring with Matchbox Twenty been like?
AS: Actually, they're the sweetest guys ever. It's been great touring with them.
Indy: Which Matchbox Twenty song have you been humming along to backstage?
AS: I like the one ... (singing) I'm not crazy I'm just a little ... crazy...
Indy: Are you guys still touring in the custom van?
AS: Nope, we've got a big 45-foot bus now.
Indy: All three of your band's albums are full of great pop songs that sound like they should have been hit singles -- so what is it about "Stacy's Mom" that clicked?
AS: I don't think "Stacy's Mom" is necessarily one of the absolute best songs we've written ... a lot of it comes down to great support from our record label, and we got it this time around.
Indy: "Denise," for instance, sounded like a surefire hit. When you play that song live, do you change the line to "... she listens to P. Diddy"?
AS: [laughing] No, but actually I've been thinking about that. I need a new rhyme... [sings] She used to live in the ... city / She listens to P. Diddy?
Indy: On the tour bus, which of the following things does your band go through the quickest: a) bottles of Mexican wine; b) groupies posing as hot moms; c) clean tube socks.
AS: (pausing for several seconds) I would say, honestly, peyote.
Indy: Only when you're in the Southwest?
AS: Actually, we just found out about peyote today. We haven't been down in this part of the country enough.
-- Joe Kuzma
Matchbox Twenty with special guest Fountains of Wayne
Colorado Springs World Arena 3185 Venetucci Blvd.
Fri., Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.