Fountains of Wayne were founded by Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood, who met as freshmen at Williams College in Massachusetts. The pair were later joined by guitarist, Jody Porter and drummer, Brian Young. The band were initially called Are You My Mother? and Woolly Mammoth, before finally settling on Fountains of Wayne - a name they obtained from a garden store in Wayne, New Jersey. The group was signed to Atlantic Records in 1996 and released their self-titled debut album that same year.
In 1999, Fountains of Wayne released their second album, Utopia Parkway - a concept record which dealt with life in modern suburbia. Poor sales lead to Atlantic Records dropping the group from their label. This resulted in the band going on hiatus for two years.
In 2003, the band were signed to S-Curve Records and thus began work on Welcome Interstate Managers
, which was officially released in June 2003. The album included the hit single, "Stacy's Mom
," which bassist, Adam Schlesinger, told us is an "update of the 'Mrs. Robinson' idea," set to musical backdrop akin to late '70s new wave band, The Cars. The infamous music video, directed by Chris Applebaum, stars the model Rachel Hunter, who plays Stacy's hot mom and the fantasy love-interest of her daughter's young boyfriend.
In 2005, they covered Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time
." Adam Schlesinger revealed to Junkmedia that, much to the band's dismay, their record company decided to release the cover as a single, but singer, Chris Collingwood, managed to stop them.
"We needed a B-side for the UK, and Britney Spears had just released that song," he said. "We heard it on UK radio and thought, 'God this is a really good song.' So we did a quick version of it in like an hour. We handed it into the record company, and of course they announce that it's going to be the first single from our record. Chris threw a total tantrum, and it turned into this big mess. It was never officially released in any form, but somebody leaked it out of the building and it ended up being played on the Howard Stern show. Later, other people covered that song. Travis, that band Bowling for Soup. But we were the first."
Novelist Stephen King is a fan of the group. In 2005, King told Entertainment Weekly the band had penned one of his favorite holiday tracks: "As the year winds down, I plan to cue up my Santa Mix, the one that starts with 'I Want an Alien for Christmas,' by Fountains of Wayne."
Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger share songwriting credit on most of their tracks, in a similar manner to the Lennon/McCartney song writing credit of The Beatles. Despite this sharing of song writing credits, Schlesinger
revealed in our interview that he and Collingwood do not write together at all: "We share the credit, but we haven't written together in a long time. We agreed when we were starting out that we would share the credits. At the beginning we used to occasionally write songs together; we'd sit down with two guitars and try to write something. But we really don't do that anymore. So every song that's a Fountains of Wayne song is pretty much either my song or Chris's song entirely."
Alongside his work in Fountains of Wayne, bassist, Adam Schlesinger is an established songwriter in his own right. Schlesinger wrote "That Thing You Do," which features in 1996 film, That Thing You Do! - written and directed by Tom Hanks. The song - which was nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe - is performed by fictional band, The Wonders, who are the focus of the film.
Schlesinger has also wrote tracks for other artists including Jonas Brothers, Bowling for Soup and Katy Perry. He also composed the music for Broadway musical, Cry-Baby.
Despite modest sales, the band has enjoyed lots of critical praise and is often cited as an influence. They are now recognized as covert pioneers of the power-pop movement. Adam Schlesinger told The Guardian he is comfortable with Fountains of Wayne not being an overwhelming commercial success: "We've always been off in our own little corner. That one moment when we were on top 40 radio was a fluke, and we knew it was... It's hit music in some alternate reality."
Schlesinger often writes music for TV, and in 2008, composed the soundtrack for comedy special, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All!. He has also penned numbers for several award ceremonies, including "It's Not Just For Gays Anymore," which Neil Patrick Harris performed at the opening of the 2011 Tony Awards, and "TV Is A Vast Wonderland," as performed by Jane Lynch at the 2011 Emmy Awards.
Another Schlesinger side project is the New York rock trio, Ivy. Adam explained to us why he partakes in so many musical activities outside of Fountains of Wayne: "If you want to make a living as a musician, you try to be involved in as many things as you can. And part of it is just creatively for me, that's what I enjoy. I like switching gears and I like working with people, and that's what keeps it all popping."