Roland Orzabal: Tears for Fears

Why You Should Know Him

Roland Orzabar is a British songwriter, musician, and record producer who co-founded the band, Tears for Fears. He primarily contributed as the main songwriter and joint vocalist for the band, tasting success for the first time in 1982 when their third single “Mad World” reached number three in the UK. The band’s album, The Hurting, became a huge success as well, going on to be number one on the charts in the UK and achieving platinum status.

In 1984, the band released a single that would launch them to international fame. “Shout” was the breakout single from the album, Songs from a Big Chair, downplaying the synthpop feel of the first album and ushering in a more sophisticated sound.

Orzabal was a major factor in the success of the new album, centering as the main creative mind surrounding the album. As if “Shout” wasn’t enough of a hit, the album yielded other major hits including “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Head Over Heels.” Following this huge success, the band went on tour in 1985 for most of the year and eventually was honored in 1986 at the Brit Awards in London where they won the Best British Single Award for “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

In the same year, Orzabal and Ian Stanley worked on a side project entitled Mancrab that yielded the single “Fish for Life,” which was featured in the soundtrack for The Karate Kid, Part II. In 1989, Tears for Fears released their third album, The Seeds of Love, written largely by Orzabal and spawning hits like the Beatles-inspired “Sowing the Seeds of Love” and the timeless ballad, “Woman in Chains.”

The Gear

Orzabal is known for his creative mind and pop/rock sound for the band Tears for Fears, but his collection of gear is relatively simple and not as large as one would think. For guitars, Orzabal sticks to three main models including a Fender Walnut Super Strat, a Gibson ES-330 Electric Guitar, and a Gibson ES-137, which he uses as a main live guitar. The Fender can be traced back to its use on “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

In terms of amps and effects, Orzabal is another player who popularized the use of the Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus amp. Looking at his effects, Orzabal uses a few varied choices including a Boss CS-2 Compressor, Boss SD-1 Super OverDrive, Boss CE-2 Chorus, and a Boss VB-2 Vibrato; all featuring Pete Cornish modifications.

Where Is He Now?

Orzabal continued to release music under the Tears of Fears moniker after the band parted ways with co-founder Curt Smith, including albums like Elemental and Raoul and the Kings of Spain. In 2000, the band reunited and released the breathtaking album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending. If you’ve ever been a Beatles fan, this is easily the album they might have written if they were all still alive and writing today, so check it out. It’s that good.

In 2013, Orzabal began writing new material with Smith and Charlton Pettus for Tears of Fears that would be their first newly recorded material in a decade, but a busy touring schedule and record label changes have contributed to a delay in its release.

In 2014, Orzabal and the rest of Tears for Fears played “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” on Jimmy Kimmel! Live!, then began a major tour across the US and Canada in 2015, followed by a return to the UK and Europe in 2016. Orzabal also released a biography in 2014 entitled Sex, Drugs, and Opera: There’s a Life After Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Tears for Fears has been touring the USA this summer (2017) with co-headliner, Hall and Oates.

Bonus Video! Tears for Fears performing "Secret World" from their fantastic 2004 release, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending:

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