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Psych Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Curt Snth

This is a transcript of an Interview with Curt Smith on August 31, 2010 about guest starring on the show Psych.

Question:
What can you tell me about the Curt Smith version of the Psych theme song? Obviously it's become a very popular theme song. It's a very fun theme song. How did you sort of want to reinterpret it?

Curt Smith:
Well taking cues from James primarily I made it as retro as I possibly could with some humor. So basically what we get is the visuals of the, you know, the closing credits and everything which the theme song goes over and then we play with that.

So rhythmically you've got to match that so that it all kind of fits in and there's an explosion and different things. So basically it was a mixture of going back to very old synthesizers and adding some humor to that as well which, it was actually a really enjoyable experience I have to say.

Question:
Now that you've done a little bit of acting I mean do you think that this is something you want to do again? Do you think you'd maybe want to make a cameo in another series or two?

Curt Smith:
It depends if I ever get asked. I mean the joy of doing the Psych thing I have to say, is that, you know, I'd met them beforehand, James and Tim specifically. I met Dule when I got up there. But they're just, you know, a nice bunch of people.

So it actually makes the whole experience easy and enjoyable. And in that sense I didn't find it particularly hard especially as you say, playing myself. But playing other people, who can tell? But, you know, I'm kind of game for things.

Question:
Can you talk about how the guest spot came about for you and what it was like to work on set?

Curt Smith:
It initially came about that James and Tim from the show came to a Tears for Fears show at the Wiltern theatre in Los Angeles and then somehow managed to wangle their way backstage. I have no idea but security was very lax that night.

And I was introduced to James in - backstage. And then he said, you know, would you come and do a guest spot on the show? And I thought well why not? The show is amusing. The kind of humor is kind of right up my alley because it's pretty much chock full of sarcasm.

So it seemed like a good thing to do. And shooting it was really - I actually was tweeting while I was up there and I think I summed it up in one sort of sentence when I said it was like being at a two day frat party which it pretty much was.

Question:
Now, so many years removed from the '80s, in what ways can you hear the impact of Tears for Fears in today's music?

Curt Smith:
Well I mean you hear it from newer bands. You obviously - I mean I can hear our influences of - over certain newer music. But, you know, it's not something I'm sort of conscious of all the time. When you're continuing to make music you don't really think of, you know, the mark you've left.

You're really looking for the next thing. So I'm not really one for looking back that much and seeing if we've left an indelible mark on the music industry. I'd rather move on and keep doing what I do.

Question:
For you and Roland today, what types of compromises do you have to strike in order to make it work?

Curt Smith:
Well we don't go on tour for long periods of time which is always a good thing. You know, we've been together for rather a long time now. So, you know, the idea of - at our age, doing very long tours is definitely not something that we're into.

And I mean I think, you know, trying to make it enjoyable. I mean that - doing shorter tours makes it enjoyable for us. And, you know, changing some of the older songs so that they relate to us more now emotionally than they would have done when we were in our 20s.

You know, songs like Shout really don't resonate with us the same way as it did back then when we were angry young men. So, you know, we change a few things and make it - we basically update things.

Question:
Psych is really a show that puts so much of their writing talent into trying to create this sort of homage to the 1980s and the music, the films. How comfortable was it for you going into this kind of setting where you already knew I mean your music was loved, it was respected and I mean you were basically surrounded by people who looked up to you?

Curt Smith:
Yeah, I mean I think that made it enjoyable. Yes. I mean, you know, I don't like - I don't mind my ego being rubbed now and again. You know, I mean they - and, you know, they were a nice bunch of people as well. So filming it was really easy.

You know, I think also what sort of helps is with all of the people on the show, you know, maybe apart from Tim to a certain degree because he does play a character that's not exactly like him but, you know, what you see on the show is pretty much the way these people are off the show. So that made the whole experience a lot easier for me. I wasn't dealing with, you know, seeing a bunch of actors act and then discovering they're completely different people off the set. They're really not. They're pretty much the way you think they are.

Question:
If Psych asked you back in the future to do another cameo would you do it?

Curt Smith:
Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Question:
I wanted to thank you for making the Psych panel at Comic Con one of the most memorable panels.

Curt Smith:
It was - it was amusing I have to say. That was - I actually got there and thought that the Psych panel consisted of talking in front of a few hundred people. Obviously I was a little shocked to see how many people were there. But I thought it was funny the way that the, you know, because we did that trailer video - the way it came out of that into it. It was quite amusing.

Question:
I wanted to hear a little bit more because actually I saw an interview where you said that James was a big, fluttery fan girl when he went up to you after the concert.

Curt Smith:
Yeah, that pretty much is - sums it up I'm guessing. Yeah. But that's, you know, that's kind of the way James is. And then he - the next thing he did was he came to my house to sort of talk seriously about it, this was after the concert. And I think it was about 90 degrees and he came up in his big, you know, skiing jacket and a woolen hat trying to look all cool in the baking sunlight. It was quite amusing. But we got on well was the main thing.

Question:
I hear that you tested also for American Idol. Any developments?

Curt Smith:
No. I mean it wasn't a test as such. They asked me to go in and they wanted to talk to me about it. I honestly don't see that I am the kind of person they're looking for to be honest if you look at the names mentioned. I don't think I would put myself in that kind of bracket of individuals. So I, you know, I don't think the kind of thing I would offer would be the direction they're going in.

Question:
It sounds like you had a pretty good time filming on the show. Were there any surprises or things that you didn't expect to experience while you were there?

Curt Smith:
I think the main one was having to film the little trailer thing for the Comic Con I'm guessing. The Comic Con trailer when I'm supposed to be acting all cool and I didn't quite know what James and Dule were going to get up to and at the end of it Dule is humming the back of my chair and I'm supposed to be keeping a straight face, was probably the hardest - one of the hardest things I've done.

Question:
You really embraced social media and as we all are starting to do even more. You know, how do you see it affecting the culture I guess even for something you're doing in music? Is it just an easier way to bring people together or what do you think the impact is then?

Curt Smith:
Well it's a far more direct way of bringing people together. It's no longer having to go through, you know, seven layers of hell to get to an individual.

I mean, you know, it used to be in my case if we talk purely music, that you would have to go through, you know, you'd have to go through a record company which means the publicist. And then they'd have to talk to someone else and then they'd have to talk to the manager. And then they'd work out exactly, you know, they'd spend time working out what your circulation was and everything else. And nowadays someone just tweets me a question and I answer it. It seems a lot simpler.

Question:
So obviously you're no stranger to being in front of the camera doing music in the video age. How different was this from just making a music video for you?

Curt Smith:
Well you have to talk. That's the biggest difference. You know, you don't realize - and the thing is I think that, you know, obviously not being an actor. What's hard is that you're talking someone else's lines, you know, someone else has written them for you. I mean luckily in my case I could - because that bit's so small that I can say well do you mind if I say it the way I would actually say it because it will be easier for me? But I can, you know, to try and put yourself in - and I was playing myself so that's, you know that's not a stretch. Acting acting is a different (unintelligible). I'm not sure that I'd be able to do that but who knows.

Question:
And also were you aware of Psych, like in the second season when they used Shout and everything before you did this?

Curt Smith:
Yes. Yes, I thought that was hilarious. I actually got that - sent that by someone which I think it was my manager I believe, who, you know, it was, you know, James doing Roland and Dule doing Michael Jackson and it was pretty hilarious.

Question:
I was just hoping you could talk a little bit about just the overall experience and of doing Psych and just kind of what it means to you overall.

Curt Smith:
I mean like I mentioned, the experience was great. You know, we - I mean I just flew up to Vancouver for two days because the shock/horror is it's actually not really filmed in Santa Barbara. And, you know, it was just a couple of nights in Vancouver.

The filming side of it - I mean, you know, when you're actually filming I've got to say it was a boiling hot day so that was - that was not that pleasurable that bit of it when you're sitting in the sun trying not to sweat. But it was - it was kind of easy. I mean I suppose I'm - I was already used to it with videos before. Although, you know, in a short video you're normally called upon a lot more often than you are doing one part in a show. So it was an awful lot of sitting around in a trailer waiting to get called.

But I guess that's the nature and people are used to that. It was - that was a little sort of strange that you spent most of the time doing nothing. But, you know, the filming was great. And as I mentioned earlier, you know, the guys on the show are pretty much that way anyway. So they're very easy to deal with. And, you know, the whole thing was pretty pleasurable I have to say. Plus, you know, we all went to dinner afterwards which was nice.

Question:
Mad World has been a great song for years and in the last few years it seems like it's made kind of a comeback being in Donnie Darko and a couple of years ago on American Idol. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the resurgence of that song.

Curt Smith:
Well it's going to get even bigger after tomorrow night when it's in Psych also. But it will be the acoustic version of it, not to give the plot away or anything. But I mean it - it's gratifying I guess. I mean it's a testament to the strength of the song that it can be done in various different ways and it still has the same, you know, emotional draw.

You know, I like to hear other people's versions of it providing they're good. And I think that, you know, Gary Jules' version was great, Gary and Michael Andrews. And I think that Adam Lambert kind of did their version of it more than they - he did our version of it which I thought was, you know, pretty cool also. So, you know, I'm good with it.

Question:
Was there a memorable moment or a favorite moment that you had during your time on the set of Psych?

Curt Smith:
I mean, you know, I mentioned one earlier, the Dule humping my chair. I guess that, you know, James - Mr. Roday who tends to adlib a lot had a few funny moments. You know, when he's looking at me and saying - I don't know if this one made the cut by the way so, you know, I - whether it's in the show or not but he's supposed to be, you know, being the slobbery fan girl when he meets me. And he said - I think he says it's you, the fleshy you, which, you know, it's very hard to keep a straight face when someone says that to you which, you know, was my job at that point in time. But yeah, I mean just it being amusing was the most memorable part of it.

Question:
I'm sure that wasn't too far off from what the experience was like when he met you after the concert in LA too, right?

Curt Smith:
Yeah, a little bit. Although, you know, in reality he's a little cooler than the character he plays.

Question:
What does the rest of the year hold for you and Tears for Fears?

Curt Smith:
Well we're just finishing up this tour which ends next Sunday. And then I'm back to LA. I actually have a Web show that's on every Wednesday night starting again next Wednesday called Stripped Down Live. It's a music show that I host. So I'll be doing that every week. And I've got some solo things in LA. But that's, you know, I'm probably going to be pretty much based back in Los Angeles for the rest of the year, until we probably go out on tour again next year.

Question:
Why isn't Roland participating on the show?

Curt Smith:
Roland's in England. He lives in England. So basically it's the timing and everything else kind of didn't work. I mean it would have involved him having to come to us basically doing the recording trans-Atlantically which is not ever a good thing. Plus they were kind of - Psych were - had a very tight time schedule to deliver the song.

And him - he hates flying with a passion, my partner. So the idea of him flying just all the way from London to Vancouver for a day and a half probably wasn't at the top of his list of things I need to do because he's the world's worst flier.

Question:
So is he jealous of you representing?

Curt Smith:
No, I don't think so. Normally these kinds of things are - I tend to enjoy more than he does. So, you know, that would be normal.

Question:
Was this something you did just for fun or will you be pursuing acting?

Curt Smith:
Who can tell? I mean I did it for fun. We'll see what people think tomorrow. I won't be watching but - I might but I don't normally like to see myself talking because I'm used to seeing myself sing. I think I do that okay. The talking side I'm not - I guess it's the same for anyone.

You know, if you ever listen to your voice on an answering machine everyone thinks we sound dreadful. That's sort of the way I think when I hear myself speak. But - so and then - and in that sense I don't know. But, you know, we'll see. We'll see how it goes and what the response is. And I mean I did enjoy the experience I have to say. So if it means doing other things and never watching them then maybe that's a route to go.

Question:
What does acting do for you that music doesn't?

Curt Smith:
Well it's just a chance to do something different. I mean I think the, you know, one of the other joys of social media is that a lot of these things come up. People, you know, get to you because they have direct contact with you and ask you to do things that are pretty much outside of your comfort zone.

And I think that for me I sit there and look and go well why not? Why not try it? You know, I mean I did - in LA a (Tedex) Hollywood Talk and, you know, me actually giving a talk with, you know, in front of a whole bunch of people as opposed to playing music, it was very alien to me. But it was enjoyable because it's something different. So I look at the sort of appearance on Psych tomorrow as the same kind of thing where it's outside of my comfort zone but, you know, why not try it.

Question:
I was wondering if rescoring the Psych theme - has that at all sparked any interest in you possibly doing any other scoring for shows or movies.

Curt Smith:
No. I would love to I have to say. Yeah. I mean I - I've definitely had in the back of my mind that I would love to do that at some point. It's a question of, you know, sort of finding the right avenues to do it. You know, we did thoroughly enjoy redoing this song and having the visuals there to work with. It just adds that extra element to the music that you have to incorporate which made - again makes it something a bit different which is fun. So yeah, I would love to do that.

Question:
And I have to say the first two Twitter collaboration singles that you've released so far have been wonderful. And I'm just wondering what kind of timeline you're working towards actually doing a complete album or even the next single on that.

Curt Smith:
Yeah. I'm definitely going to continue in the same vain. You know, obviously I'm going to readdress it once I get back from touring. I had to take a break because of the tour.

But yeah, I definitely want to keep doing some collaborations and probably make an album where they're a bit to release some kind of special edition of it at the end. But as I'm doing it which is, you know, another new thing for me, I'm just going to release it as, you know, as I finish a track I'll release it. And I'm going to do that for every song. And then if it seems like a wonderful cogent piece of work at the end then I'll release it as some form of CD package.

Question:
What did you think about James' and Dule's performance of Shout, an American Duo?

Curt Smith:
It was fantastic. You know, I mean especially Dule doing Michael Jackson and as I mentioned earlier, the whole, you know, Shout, Shout, let it all out and the (sham on) was just - I was in hysterics at that bit. But, you know, and then James' take on Roland was pretty amusing. You know, and the whole American Duos/American Idol thing was funny.

Question:
That was definitely my favorite episode. Any chance that James and Dule will join you on tour sometime?

Curt Smith:
Well we did our one performance at Comic Con but that's not to say it ends there but who knows, you know. Maybe if we ever get to play Vancouver they'll come on.

Question:
When you come back off the road are you going to take some time off? And will the two of you work on an album, do you think?

Curt Smith:
We'll see. I mean right now Roland's plan is to go back to England and then we have some more touring to do next year. But, you know, as we tour we tend to write more. So who knows? We've not got it sort of planned right now because we're both sort of busy.

Question:
Is that the best way to do it? I mean everything being so structured to kind of play it as it lays?

Curt Smith:
For us it's far better. Yeah. We can't really get into anything too structured purely because of geography. And the fact that I'm in Los Angeles and Roland's in England. So, you know, we tend to sort of play it by year. We know what we're doing for the rest of this year individually and together. And then next year we'll decide what we're doing next year. But, you know, we've spent too many years, you know, we're too experienced now to - not to think that making plans seems a little silly because you know, things happen all the time. You never know what's going to happen. So we tend to plan maybe six to nine months in advance at the most. Anything after that is - it's all up in the air.

Question:
My question is a lot of the time when celebrities play themselves they end up playing these sort of very exaggerated like larger than life kind of versions. So is that what you're going to do or is it more of a down key true to you?

Curt Smith:
I'm kind of playing more of a shrunken, smaller than life version of me. Because in real life I'm incredibly outgoing as you can tell. But in the show I'm kind of demure and quiet. No, I mean I think it's, you know, I think that it's a relatively fair representation of me I suppose. But no, I mean I - the exaggerating and the sort of overt acting I don't think I'd be so good at. I think the whole point of playing yourself is to try and be yourself, you know, otherwise it just kind of looks a bit strained. And hopefully I didn't do that. I guess we'll find out tomorrow night.

Question:
I know last year you and Roland toured the West Coast, this year you're doing the East Coast. Are you still going to kind of alternate each year or is there a possibility in getting you on both sides of the country in one year?

Curt Smith:
Well to be honest, I don't know off the top of my head. I don't know what our plans are next year. I mean we do like, you know, the West Coast like we did last year was really enjoyable and it's kind of easy to do and easy, you know, I mean it's very pleasant in the summertime on the West Coast.

And all of us are based in Los Angeles apart from Roland or the band. So that makes it kind of easy. But the talk right now next year is South America and European festivals. So I don't know. We'll see. We'll see if that doesn't come off maybe the West Coast. But yeah, it would be nice to do both in one but that's - unfortunately America is so big that that would take us over our allotted how long we can take it on the road time. Which, you know, normally four to six weeks is our limit of - at one time just - otherwise we start feeling like it's a bit of a job. And we're trying - we're trying to keep it enjoyable.

Question:
Does doing the shows with Tears for Fears sort of preclude you doing any sort of extensive solo tour or anything like that?

Curt Smith:
Oh, no. I don't necessarily - because that's different, you know. I mean I think that, you know, a lot of the sort of time you want to spend on the road also is the time you want to spend with all the people you're with on the road. You know, it just - it tends to get too routine and a little dull by the end of sort of six weeks. And I think that if you go off and do something else and it involves traveling and playing in different cities then - but it's different then, you know, I think that would be a different scenario because the dynamics are different.

Question:
There has been talk of a packaging tour from the '80s, with Human League, Flock of Seagulls, four or five bands put together and put on the road. Have you all been approached to do that? And would you be ever interested in doing that?

Curt Smith:
I'll answer the first one. Have we approached about doing it? Yes. On many, many occasions. Part two of the question is we haven't done it so I feel you can figure that one out. You know, no. Most of them just don't appeal to me at all. No.

Question:
Is it the money or kind of the cheese factor of it?

Curt Smith:
No, no. No, actually the money isn't bad. But it's just that whole kind of - I never want to feel like I'm sort of stuck in an era. And when someone does that and it's like this is the, you know, name the decade tour and I'm like excuse me, we've done valid things outside of that decade and are still continuing to make music and still continuing to record new music. So I just don't like it. I find it depressing. For me I think that would be a little soul destroying. And I have no interest. You know, and I - you know, because there's - life's too short. I'd rather be enjoying myself.

Question:
And of course you'd be making these gigantic movies from now on. So you never know.

Curt Smith:
Exactly. Yeah. You know, I'm now aiming for an Oscar.

Question:
An Oscar. There you go!

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