Q&A with Tears for Fears -- The '80s duo discuss the reason they reunited, the smash cover version of their song, ''Mad World,'' and their new album ''Happy Ending''

By Nancy Miller
October 22, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

After more than a decade apart, ’80s multiplatinum synth-pop duo Tears for Fears have reunited for a fourth album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending. Know what else everybody loves? Happy hour. After two drinks in a Beverly Hills bar, TFF’s Roland Orzabal (chardonnay) and Curt Smith (Diet Coke) don’t exactly shout — they’re Brits, after all — but they do get pleasantly animated.

You two broke up in 1990 and didn’t speak for years. How did you get back together?

Roland Orzabal Friendster.

Curt Smith I put up my picture with a post that said, ”Were you that other guy in Tears for Fears? If you were, e-mail me!”

Seriously, how did it happen?

RO Everyone always wanted us to [reunite]. Whenever I’d go see my label about a project, they’d always inquire about Curt….

CS They were about as subtle as a fart in a bath.

RO But we did it on our own. In 1999, we started talking and writing. Our demos were so elaborate that when we presented the first few to L.A. Reid [in 2002], he said, ”These aren’t [just] demos.”

The Gary Jules/Michael Andrews cover of ”Mad World” became a smash in England.

CS Thanks to them, our version now sounds like crap. It’s strange when you play a song you wrote and you feel like you’re playing a bad cover. Now we play it more like their version — a lot slower, more lean.

Why Everybody Loves a Happy Ending?

CS The joke is, if what happened to us happened in a movie, you’d reshoot it. Go out with a bang.

Are you saying Happy Ending is your reunion record and your farewell album?

RO Happy Ending has been our journey into middle age. Imagine starting another album at 44, which will be next year. It would come out when we’re 47…. There’s only so long I can go on stage and do silly dances.

So the title has nothing to do with a certain other kind of ”happy ending”?

RO I wasn’t even thinking about that! But now that you mention it, I did have a masseuse once who turned out to be a hooker, and she did offer me a happy ending. But she was ugly, so it wouldn’t have been that happy.

CS No, that would’ve been more like our first album, The Hurting.