WASHINGTON – Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood, the songwriting duo behind pop band Fountains of Wayne, are always on the verge of never working together again.
So naturally, they’re about to play a few acoustic shows together.
“That’s how we started out playing together when we were kids,” Schlesinger tells WTOP.
The duo have three acoustic shows planned for April in Chicago, Minneapolis, Minn. and Milwaukee, Wis.
Schlesinger and Collingwood met as freshmen at Williams College in Massachusetts and formed Fountains of Wayne — named after a lawn ornament store in northern New Jersey — in 1996.
After years of success in indie pop circles, Fountains of Wayne’s 2003 album “Welcome Interstate Managers” contained the Grammy-nominated hit single “Stacy’s Mom.”
Still, Schlesinger says he never looks too far into the future.
“With our band, there’s always this tension of whether it’s going to continue or not,” Schlesinger says.
Schlesinger, on bass and vocals, and Collingwood, on guitar and vocals, are the two most visible members of the band, which includes guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young. The lineup has remained unchanged since 1996.
While many bands play acoustic shows to work out kinks of new songs before a recording session, Schlesinger says that’s not the case with their upcoming shows.
“There aren’t really any new Fountains of Wayne songs at the moment,” Schlesinger says. “I think both of us have been writing for other things recently.”
With the first acoustic show just three weeks away, Schlesinger isn’t sure what to expect.
“To be honest, I don’t know what we’re going to do yet — we haven’t really figured that out,” he says. “We’re gonna get together and rehearse, and put a show together and then we’ll see.”
Also on the bill will be Mike Viola, former frontman for The Candy Butchers, who sang lead vocals on Schlesinger’s “That Thing You Do!,” the title track for Tom Hanks’ 1996 movie.
Despite accolades from critics — including Robert Christgau, often acknowledged as the Dean of American Rock Critics, who called Schlesinger and Collingwood “lyric poets” and “true art heroes” — the pair has always been involved in other artistic projects.
“Chris has been talking about wanting to do a solo record, and I think he’s working on that. Between every Fountains of Wayne record he’s always deciding whether he wants to do this anymore,” Schlesinger says.
“He usually comes back around,” Schlesinger adds with a laugh, “but you never know.”
Schlesinger says part of the reason the band has lasted “a long time” is because members don’t work together 24/7.
“We kind of work in spurts, and then get away from each other,” Schlesinger says.
Contrary to earlier decades when musicians concentrated on a single band, Schlesinger says changes in the music industry allow for more experimentation.
“It’s a lot easier to make records these days,” Schlesinger says. “The technology is more available and cheaper, so it’s not as big a deal to make a record — financially, at least.”
“Even if it’s not some big, huge record deal you can always just put it online,” he adds. “I don’t see any reason why people shouldn’t make as much music as they want to.”