Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith Talks About Guest Starring on PSYCH

Curt Smith on Psych

PSYCH is well-known for its love affair with the 1980s, so having Tears for Fears co-founder Curt Smith make a cameo appearance and record a version of the show’s theme song makes perfect sense. Smith will appear in the “Shawn 2.0” episode airing September 1 and I was lucky enough to take part in a conference call with Curt where he talked about his Psych experience. Here are some of the most interesting bits.

On how the Psych appearance came about

James and Tim Omundson went to a Tears for Fears show in Los Angeles and “managed to wangle their way backstage. The security must have been poor,” Curt joked. James then asked him to appear on Psych.

Curt was already aware of Psych and thought it was a funny show. He said someone–he thinks his mother-had sent him the “American Duos” episode where James and Dule perform “Shout,” and he really enjoyed it. He loved Dule Hill as Michael Jackson and thought James’ take on Roland was funny.

On recording a cover version of the theme song

Curt said he took cues from James on how to approach tweaking the “I Know You Know” theme song. He made it as retro as possible, using old synthesizers. He injected as much humor as he could and said that it was a challenge getting the music to line up with the images shown during the credits.

Curt said he had a lot of fun doing it and would love to do scoring for television or movies in the future. He explained that is something that has been in the back of his mind for a while. He likes the extra element provided by having the visuals to work with.

On shooting “Shawn 2.0”

Curt said he had a great time shooting his cameo. He spent two days in Vancouver and when reminded he had tweeted that it was essentially a two day frat party, Smith laughed and agreed that about summed it up. He called the cast a “great group of people” who made it easy and fun and he said that they were all–except Tim–very much like the characters they play. He admitted James is “a little cooler” than Shawn, and that he enjoyed being around people who were fans of his. “It’s nice to have my ego rubbed,” he joked. He said he would absolutely do another episode if asked.

Curt claimed the weather was a challenge during shooting. It was “boiling hot,” he said, which made it hard to sit and pretend not to sweat. He also said it was strange to say lines that had been written for him and that he was surprised by how much downtime there was, remarking it was strange to spend most of his time sitting in a trailer waiting around.

When asked how shooting the episode was different than making a music video, Curt quipped, “I had to talk.” It turns out that means Curt might not even watch the episode because while he can watch himself sing, he has a hard time seeing or hearing himself speak.

On what to expect in “Shawn 2.0”

Nestor Carbonell (Lost) guest stars as a criminal profiler who invades Shawn’s turf in order to crack the murders of potential liver donors. Curt plays himself, or as he joked, “a shrunken, smaller than life version” of himself.” He then said he kept is fairly natural and low-key. He didn’t want to exaggerate himself because that usually comes across oddly on screen.

Curt told us that an acoustic version of “Mad World” will appear in the episode, so we should be ready for it to become even more popular.

Curt said that James, who is a “slobbering fan girl” in “Shawn 2.0,” ad libs a lot and would often say after a take, “I don’t know if this will make it in or not.” The line “It’s you, the fleshy you,” may or may not appear in the episode. Also watch Curt as he tries not to laugh–he said that really was the biggest challenge he faced.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Shawn will be wearing the Roland Orzbal costume he sported in “American Duos.”

On Comic-Con

Along with “Shawn 2.0,” Curt also made a cameo in the trailer shown during the Psych panel at Comic-Con. He said keeping a straight face while Dule Hill humped the back of his chair was one of the hardest things he has had to do. He also appeared onstage at the Psych panel and sang “Shout” with Shawn and Dule. He had been expecting a couple hundred people at the panel and could not believe how many people were actually there. He said he had a great time there.

On future acting plans

Curt was asked several times whether or not he wanted to do more acting and at first he was hesitant, saying he did this for fun and because he thinks it’s good to try something new and out of his comfort zone. He also said that this was playing himself which is one thing. Playing another character altogether would be entirely different, but if the right opportunity came along, he would be open to it because he did have a great time at Psych, though it would depend on what the response to “Shawn 2.0” was. By the end of the call, though, he had obviously warmed to the idea of an acting career, joking he was going after the Oscar.

On future music plans

Curt is just finishing up a Tears for Fears tour (there will be another one next year) and he will be continuing his weekly web series, Stripped Down Live with Curt Smith. Look for it on Wednesdays. He also plans to continue collaborating with artists he meets through Facebook or Twitter and if there is a cohesive collection, he’ll release a CD.

While there isn’t a Tears for Fears CD currently in the pipeline, Curt said that he and Roland do write ore when they’re on tour, so if they end up with enough material, it’s a possibility. Geography is an issue since Roland lives in London, and neither of them plan more than six to nine months in advance anyway.

One thing Curt won’t be doing is joining a packaged 80s tour. He said that Tears for Fears has received many offers, and they have always said no because while the money isn’t bad, he doesn’t want to be “stuck in an era.” He finds the idea of that depressing and thinks it would be “soul-destroying.”

Be sure to watch Curt in the Psych “Shawn 2.0” episode Wednesday, September 1 at 10pm/ 9 central on USA.

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