If you were around in the middle 80s, you’ll know what a monster this record was. Red Bull Music Academy takes a serious look at how this record came to be.
By the mid-’80s, Tears for Fears had established themselves as breakthrough artists with a promising future. After meeting as teenagers in Bath, Somerset, in South-West England, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith formed Tears for Fears, and eventually signed a record deal with Phonogram Records in 1981. Two years later, they released their platinum-selling debut album, The Hurting. During the making of that record, they forged a musical kinship with upstart producer Chris Hughes. Their relationship would continue on to the next record, a follow up called Songs from the Big Chair. It spawned five singles, including two number one smash singles “Shout” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” For the album’s 30th anniversary, we spoke with Hughes about his role in the record.
You played a pivotal role in the making of Tears for Fears first album, The Hurting. How did you start working with the group?
This story goes back quite a long time. There is a guy that is important to the whole story who was the A&R guy back then. His name was David Bates. He was working with Tears for Fears. They had done some recordings before their first album. There had been an issue with some recordings they had done, and they weren’t happy with them and the label thought one thing and the band thought something else. I just happened to be in the offices when there was a phone call between David Bates and Roland from the band. David said, “Listen. Why don’t you speak to him? See what concerns him and what his issues are.” I had a conversation with him having never met him. We chatted for a while about the nature of recording and what an artist wants to achieve and who they want to work with and all those kinds of things.
Fast forward some time later, when they were trying to put together who might produce the album, Roland allegedly said, “I’d like to work with that guy I spoke to on the phone.” I was living in London, and they were living in the West Country in England. I caught a train down there, and I met them. We chatted and we got on OK. Fairly soon after that, we came to London and recorded a track called “Mad World.” So, this was the start of our working relationship. This was either in late 1981 or early 1982.