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Frank Ockenfels/Submitted

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | May 16, 2022

Tears for Fears felt the need to refresh its live show when it planned its first tour since 2017. A single here, a single there, would have sufficed.

But when Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith started writing, it snowballed — but only on their terms. The result was Tears for Fears’ first album since 2007, “The Tipping Point.”

“It was a little tedious playing the same material,” Smith says.

“At the behest of the industry, record company and management, we went on this speed dating course of writing with modern hit songwriters. While it was an interesting experiment, it failed abysmally.”

During the songwriting process, Orzabal’s first wife, Caroline, died, which Smith calls, “a major upheaval.” Smith and Caroline were friends since they were 13. He’s hoping the album helps others who are grieving. Her death impacted the songwriting, as did the COVID-19 pandemic and world conflicts.

“There was a lot more upheaval in the world with the rise of the right wing, politically, worldwide; the climate crisis and the pandemic” he adds.

“There was so much turmoil, it seemed, two, two-and-a-half years ago. The songwriting was getting more intense because of all these things.”

“The Tipping Point” is a highly personal album that was cathartic for the duo.

“Once the songs got into their final form, they had meaning and feeling behind them,” he says. “Coincidentally, we had bought ourselves off the record company. It was just myself and Roland to forge a path forward. We went back to writing like we did when we were 18.”

The two sat down at Smith’s home in Los Angeles with two acoustic guitars. That was the catalyst that brought the duo closer. They communicated—just the two of them, without record companies or management. Smith calls the process “very freeing.”

Input from outside sources can make musicians/songwriters uncertain about their feelings.

“I think we were getting into moments of self-doubt,” Smith adds about the collaborations.

“We were encouraged to work with these people. We’re songwriters at heart. It was literally four months we were done.”

In October, the duo released the first single and title Track “The Tipping Point,” which captures the grief of watching a loved one lose their long-standing battle with disease.

Their second single “No Small Thing” was a meeting of the minds as the pair went back to the drawing board and found the heart and soul that would complete the album. The accompanying video was made using solely found footage showing the conflict between individual freedoms and collective responsibility.

Tears for Fears’ latest single “Break the Man” is an empowering-yet-groovy track that calls for a better balance between men and women. Inspired by the song’s lyrics, the music video encompasses a world that illustrates the constructed reality of the patriarchy. From the inside, the world appears infinite, but from the outside it’s a mere plaything in the hand of Mother Universe.

Smith says the songs they write must have meaning or they go into the proverbial trash.

“I find it far harder to write about superficial things,” he says.

“Our music tends to be very personal, sometimes political. We don’t have any intention of preaching to anyone. It’s a personal preference. If it has deep meaning to us, it seems to have deep meaning to our audience.

“That’s why our audience relates to us. People are going through the same thing. The most gratifying times are when we meet people who come to our shows. We get a lot of young people now. Anyway, people who are our age say ‘The Hurting’ helped them through their college years. They had the same teenage angst at the time. If you can have that affect and help other people, it’s worth it.”

Now Tears for Fears will head out on tour with Garbage. The jaunt kicks off in Cincinnati on Friday, May 20, and visits Ak-Chin Pavilion on Friday, May 27. As of the end of April, Tears for Fears hadn’t started rehearsals, but Smith was looking forward to it and the tour.

“We’ve done three of the new songs when we played on TV shows,” he recalls. “The band sounds fantastic. The new songs fit in beautifully with the old material. It’s as strong and as good. I hope people will like the new material.”

Tears for Fears w/Garbage

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27

WHERE: Ak-Chin Pavilion, 2121 N. 83rd Avenue, Phoenix

COST: Tickets start at $29.50

INFO: livenation.com