|Fountains of Wayne|
|Origin||New York, New York|
Fountains of Wayne is an American power pop/alternative rock band based in Northampton, MA that formed in 1996. The group started as a duo between singer-songwriters Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood when they released their self-titled debut album. Although failing to achieve commercial success, they did popular tours alongside the Lemonheads and the Smashing Pumpkins, taking in guitarist Jody Porter and former Posies drummer Brian Young. Their 1999 sophomore album, Utopia Parkway, also did not meet expectations, although it resulted in the popular single "Denise", and Atlantic Records dropped the band.
Their partially self-financed follow-up, Welcome Interstate Managers, proved a large success, eventually going gold, due largely to their popular single 'Stacy's Mom' and its music video. Now breaking into the musical mainstream, the group followed with a double-disc compilation album, Out-of-State Plates, and then a full-fledged new album, Traffic and Weather, in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Schlesinger has been playing with the power pop supergroup Tinted Windows, but has still been working on a new album.
The band's music is known for having quirky, ironic, and witty lyrics that often focus on minute events in modern American suburban life. The Village Voice has stated that "the left-bent, middle-class everymen in these songs are consistently disarming", with lyrics "exacting in their detail". Rolling Stone has labeled them "the voice" of Generation X upon the collapse of Nirvana.
The band was formed by songwriters Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood. The two first met as freshmen at Williams College and began playing music together in various bands. They eventually went their separate ways, with Collingwood forming the Mercy Buckets in Boston and Schlesinger forming Ivy in New York City. The two met up once again during the mid-1990s and formed Fountains of Wayne.
The band name was taken from "Fountains of Wayne", a lawn ornament store in Wayne, New Jersey that closed in 2009. The store was located at the intersection of U.S. Route 46 and New Jersey Route 23, not far from Montclair, New Jersey, the hometown of the band's bassist and co-founder Adam Schlesinger. The store can be seen in The Sopranos episode "Another Toothpick". Initially the band went by other names, including Are You My Mother? and Woolly Mammoth.
A demo eventually landed the two a deal with Atlantic Records, and in 1996 the band released its self-titled debut. The album spawned the singles "Radiation Vibe" and "Sink to the Bottom", which both received airplay. Coincidentally, at around the same time the title song for the film That Thing You Do!, which Schlesinger wrote, became a hit. That Thing You Do! also brought Schlesinger an Oscar nomination and an RIAA gold certification for the hit soundtrack.
In 1999 the band released its second album, Utopia Parkway, named after a road in Queens, New York. The album was something of a concept record that dealt with life in modern suburbia. Utopia Parkway was received well by critics, garnering many favorable reviews, and was album of the week in People magazine. The group once again toured extensively behind the album, but frustrations grew between the band and the label. The band was later dropped by Atlantic in late 1999.
The band was inactive for a period of time. Schlesinger found work as a writer and producer and co-wrote many of the songs for the Josie and the Pussycats film and soundtrack. He also produced albums for the Verve Pipe and David Mead, as well as several tracks by They Might Be Giants. He released a third record with his other band Ivy on Nettwerk records.
During the group's hiatus, Collingwood formed and fronted a pop-country band entitled the Gay Potatoes based in the Northampton, Massachusetts area. He also played a string of solo shows in the Boston and Los Angeles areas. Guitarist Jody Porter worked with his band The Astrojet alongside famed producer Gordon Raphael and keyboardist David Zhang in the New York City area. Drummer Brian Young played with Ivy and found session work for various artists.
Sometime in 2001 the band slowly came back together, recording a cover of The Kinks' "Better Things" for the tribute album This Is Where I Belong: Songs of Ray Davies and the Kinks. The group also recorded the theme song for the Comedy Central show Crank Yankers, and wrote songs for, and appeared as animated characters in, the VH1 cartoon series Hey Joel with columnist Joel Stein. The show aired briefly on VH1 in 2003, but was later picked up by Teletoon in Canada. The band members appeared performing original songs that typically reviewed the plot developments immediately preceding their performance, in addition to the show's theme song.
The band used the money made from these projects to fund the recording of a new album, working in upstate New York, New York City, and Boston.
In 2003, former Atlantic A&R man Steve Yegewel signed the band as new A&R man at S-Curve Records, and the band released Welcome Interstate Managers. It spawned the hit single "Stacy's Mom" (which Adam Schlesinger says was a tribute to The Cars), which was certified gold by the RIAA.
Initially, "Stacy's Mom" stalled at commercial alternative radio in the US; the single, LP, and band seemed doomed to obscurity. However, MTV rescued the band from likely failure as MTV President Judy McGrath championed the music video for "Stacy's Mom", rapidly increasing the song's exposure and success. The video features Rachel Hunter as the object of the fantasies of the song's narrator. The follow-up single, "Mexican Wine", fared less well, with a controversial video that showed young children singing the lyrics "think I'll have another glass of Mexican wine" and guitarist Jody Porter catching a drink on the bare stomach of a woman lying on a beach. The single was ultimately pulled by the record label. The third single, "Hey Julie", an acoustic song, received some airplay. "All Kinds of Time", depicting a young football player in a Zen-like state of mind during a crucial potentially game-winning pass, was used for NFL commercial promotions during the 2005 season. The band also recorded a performance on Austin City Limits, which aired in December 2003.
In June 2005, Fountains of Wayne released Out-of-State Plates, a collection of B-sides which included two new songs. The album was supported by the single "Maureen" and a limited US tour that included some acoustic-only sets, a set on PBS Soundstage, and American Songbook. Also included on the album is a cover of the Britney Spears hit "...Baby One More Time", recorded as a b-side in 1999.
Traffic and Weather was released on April 3, 2007. Blender magazine named the band one of the reasons to love 2007 because of the release of its latest album. The song "I-95" from this album was named one of the year's Top 50 Songs by Rolling Stone.
In October 2008, the band announced a short run of full-band acoustic shows planned for early 2009. They plan to showcase songs from their new album, which is currently "in progress".
Fountains of Wayne released their first live DVD, No Better Place: Live In Chicago, on March 3, 2009 via Shout! Factory. The concert was filmed in 2005. The DVD also includes newly recorded footage of the band playing five songs acoustically.
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US||US Alt||US Pop||AUS||NZ||UK|
|1996||"Radiation Vibe"||—||14||—||—||—||32||Fountains of Wayne|
|1997||"Sink to the Bottom"||—||—||—||—||—||42|
|1998||"Leave the Biker"||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"Red Dragon Tattoo"||—||—||—||—||—||79|
|2003||"Stacy's Mom"||21||31||3||14||35||11||Welcome Interstate Managers|
|2007||"Someone to Love"||—||—||—||—||—||—||Traffic and Weather|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|1997||"I Want an Alien for Christmas"||36||Non-album song|
Fountains of Wayne songs have been featured in many films and TV shows:
Stephen King featured the song "Red Dragon Tattoo" (off Utopia Parkway) in his 2004 ABC miniseries Kingdom Hospital. King is a big fan of the group, and often makes references to Fountains of Wayne in his periodic pop-culture related articles in Entertainment Weekly. In December 2005, he started a list of his favorite Christmas songs with Fountains of Wayne's "I Want an Alien for Christmas".
Zach Braff is also noted as a fan of the band, with many of their songs appearing on ABC sitcom (formerly NBC) Scrubs, in which Braff stars.