This Is Why Tears For Fears Broke Up In The 90s

"It may well be our last album," Roland Orzabal mused in Tears For Fears — The Seeds of Love, Adrian Thrills's 1990 book that covered the story behind every song on the Tears For Fears album The Seeds of Love. Orzabal was considering calling it Famous Last Words, as it seemed likely the duo of Orzabal and Curt Smith would split. Recording had now gone on for almost three years. In the end, the album cost £1 million pounds to produce, in part because Curt Smith was going through a divorce from his first wife, and because Orzabal was becoming a perfectionist, according to a producer for Orzabal's first Smith-less album. That producer told uDiscover Music, "I think it's fair to say [Roland] has a very firm idea in his head about how he sees things. He's very critical of himself, which I tried to loosen up a little, because he likes to keep going 'til it's perfect."

During a charity gig at Knebworth the year after they finally released the album, Tears For Fears announced Curt Smith's decision to leave the band. Memories Fade, the official website of Tears for Fears, succinctly sums up the issue at the duo's core: " Basically, both men grew too far apart creatively and personally to continue working together in a sane manner." After a decade spent working and fighting with each other, the two teenage friends stopped speaking for nine years, opting to live separate lives instead.

A sidenote

A contributing factor to their separation was their attitude towards their manager, Paul King. According to Jamie Doward's report in The Guardian, Curt Smith held off from firing King despite Orzabal's concerns over the way King's company, Outlaw Agency, was hemorrhaging money.

Normally, this would be a side detail. Doward was not reporting on Tears for Fears, however, but on Paul King's scheme to defraud people who were investing in a hangover cure. King approached Thurloe Global, a London-based corporate finance outfit, with an offer to invest £600,000 in a new company called Soba for which Thurloe was raising money. In return, King wanted a stake in the business. In August 2000, two Soba Internationals came into being, one created by Thurloe and the other with a bank account in Sheffield with Paul King listed as its secretary. For all the share certificates created by the Thurloe Soba, King paid money into the account of the Sheffield Soba, raising "£460,000 between September 2000 and March 2001, including £183,000 from an elderly woman." It later transpired that Paul King had been the director and/or founder of more than 20 companies. 

The unsurprising news came from in 2002. Paul King, described as "Ex-Tears For Fears manager," received a sentence of three-and-a-half years for "defrauding investors in a purported cure for drunkenness made from volcanic rock." Moreover, he was banned from being a company director for the next decade. 

Everyone Loves A Happy Ending

Separate from all the tomfoolery involving their long-fired manager, Smith and Orzabal stayed definitively separate. As Smith recounted to The Express: "We literally hadn't spoken for nine years. We didn't talk to each other at all." Smith moved to New York and, disillusioned from his days of stardom, and refrained from playing music before gradually returning, lured back "for fun" by some fellow New York musicians. Roland Orzabal stayed close to Bath, England, pumping out more Tears For Fears records, but, as the BBC tersely puts it, "There was too much demand for the old stuff from fans, despite Orzabal's efforts to inject new life into 'Tears' and build an international profile."

Then, one day, they had some business to conduct with each other. They chatted over the phone. Since they hadn't heard from each other for nearly a decade, Orzabal was flummoxed by Smith's new accent: "[All] of a sudden there's this mid-Atlantic accent on the other end of the phone talking about (he puts on an American TV accent), motivation, direction and inspiration, and I was like 'what the hell?'" They realized that the other had long grown past being the person they despised in the early '90s. Orzabal moved his family within a mile of Smith and together they recorded Everyone Loves A Happy Ending, an album released in 2004. Though Tears For Fears haven't released a new album since, the duo still play together.