More than ‘Stacy’s Mom’

As Fountains of Wayne breezed through a set of brilliant pop tunes for a sold-out crowd at the 9:30 Club Sunday night, a group of giggly high school girls stood near the stage, decked out in new FOW shirts. Before the show, they excitedly took pictures of each other, and once the band started playing, they intermittently let out Beatles-fangirl-circa-1964-type screams – especially for the hit “Stacy’s Mom.”

This whole scene was slightly odd because FOW is definitely not a pretty-boy band, or even a young band. The two songwriters, lead singer/guitarist Chris Collingwood and bassist Adam Schlesinger, are the epitome of average dudes, even when they are in “rock star” mode onstage. But for the first time in its nearly decade-long career, the band is seeing record sales, and its breakout mainstream hit song is a funny, insanely catchy tune that has been played incessantly on MTV and the radio.

So now the high school girls come, looking confused when the band plays songs that aren’t on the “Stacy’s Mom” album, Welcome Interstate Managers.

It is that sort of mentality that spurred FOW’s seemingly absurd nomination for a “Best New Artist” Grammy this year, but Schlesinger shrugged it off.

“It’s a little bizarre, to be sure, but it’s still nice to feel like you’re a part of what’s going on,” he said in a Hatchet interview last week. “And for most people, we are new artists, since they probably never heard of us before.”

Welcome Interstate Managers is actually FOW’s third full-length album since the band’s self-titled debut in 1996. Its lyrical themes seem to thread directly from the previous two albums, dealing with suburbia and the dull plight of the middle class living there.

Schlesinger and Collingwood have written a fair number of songs with cheeky lyrics, and “Stacy’s Mom” certainly ranks among them. But Schlesinger dismisses the idea that this means they can all be described as “novelty” songs:

“As long as that’s not all you’re about, I think it’s valid, and actually kind of difficult to do properly,” said Schlesinger. “It’s not the same as Weird Al doing parodies of Michael Jackson songs or something.

“Chris was sensitive about ‘Stacy’s Mom’ being a bit of a novelty, but I happen to think it’s a good, well-written song that happens to be kind of funny as well,” he continued.

Back at the 9:30 Club, FOW certainly did not transform the performance into an all-encompassing promotional tool for its single or the new album.

Collingwood and Schlesinger carried on with casual, often hilarious banter throughout the set. Toward the end of the show they briefly discussed an interview Schlesinger had done with Joan Rivers. He paused for a few moments, then said, “Joan Rivers looks like someone who has a Joan Rivers mask on.”

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