Interview with Curt Smith from Psych

Yesterday I got the chance to interview Curt Smith from Tears for Fears, about his guest appearance on tonight’s episode of Psych. He’ll be singing the theme song and doing a cameo.
Check out the interview and hear about how James Roday is a “school girl” fan of Curt’s and other interesting facts. 😀

I want to know what can you tell us about the Tears for Fears version or the Curt Smith version of the Psych 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 humour. 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 humour to that as well which, it was actually a really enjoyable experience I have to say.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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

Curt Smith: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

I wanted to hear a little bit more about how this came to be – 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 woollen hat trying to look all cool in the baking sunlight. It was quite amusing. But we got on well was the main thing.

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.

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.

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.

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 not a stretch. Acting acting is a different (unintelligible). I’m not sure that I’d be able to do that but who knows.

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.

I was curious if there was 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 version?

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.

That’s all for the interview, he was a joy to speak with and it was fun to hear about his experience on the Psych. Be sure to tune in to Psych tonight at 10 pm on the USA network.

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