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'Smart, cool people like it'

Adam Schlesinger knows all about the downfalls of being a one-hit wonder--he wrote songs for the flash-in-the-pan movie bands in "That Thing You Do!," "Josie and the Pussycats" and "Music and Lyrics." But the bassist, co-songwriter and co-founder of Fountains of Wayne isn't irked by the fame gained from his band's one mega-hit, "Stacy's Mom."

"I still like the song," he says. "If our worst problem is that some people only know us--if at all--as the 'Stacy's Mom' band, that's an OK problem to have."

Schlesinger and company also didn't mind the 2004 Best New Artist Grammy nomination that came from Fountains of Wayne's third album, "Welcome Interstate Managers," thanks to the success of "Stacy's Mom." As Schlesinger says, "Suddenly we weren't thought of as a '90s band anymore."

Now that Fountains of Wayne has released its first studio album in four years, "Traffic and Weather," to rave reviews from Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone, they're definitely not a '90s band anymore.

While hanging at home in New York before going on tour, Schlesinger told us about the new album, his best pickup line and how much it costs to get name-checked in a Fountains of Wayne song.

Former Smashing Pumpkins James Iha and Melissa Auf Der Maur appear on your new album. Did you contact Billy Corgan for a cameo?

No, he was busy putting that other Smashing Pumpkins reunion together while we were working on this Smashing Pumpkins reunion on our record.

Despite some great reviews for "Traffic and Weather," others say the band is just treading water. Your response?

Well, you know, I think obviously all the really smart, cool people like it, and all the dumb people don't like it. [Laughs]

It's nice when audiences can define themselves based on how they feel about you.

Right. [Laughs] No, I mean, seriously … writing pop songs in sort of a traditional way with verses and choruses and telling little stories or whatever … you're not trying to reinvent the wheel every time. You're trying to work within these parameters that have existed for a long time. And it's through the little variations that you hopefully get something that has some little spark of interest to it.

Did you call the album "Traffic and Weather" so radio won't forget about you?

I don't know. If that's why we did it then I'm not sure it's working.

How do you choose cultural references to things like Costco, Coldplay and Subaru that pop up in your songs?

Well, those are all product endorsements. I mean that's actually how we finance these records. We sell space in the songs. It depends. If you want a song title, like Subaru, that's a six-figure deal right there. But if you just want to be thrown in like the second verse or something we might be able to do something for a couple grand.

In the tune "Yolanda Hayes" a guy works to use his best pickup line. What's yours?

Oh, I would not be able to reveal that in a prominent [publication] such as yours. It's a trade secret … To be honest, I don't have any pickup lines, having been a married man for nine years now. My pickup lines would probably sound very mid-'90s if I had any. Like, "Hey, have you heard the new Bush record?" That just doesn't work anymore.

Matt Pais is the metromix music and movies producer.

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