"I don't write like it's a diary entry," he explained. "I don't write directly from my emotions that day."
Still, Schlesinger acknowledged, real life has a funny way of turning up in songs, but he writes so many songs it probably would be weird if that didn't happen eventually.
Outside of his work with Fountains of Wayne, Schlesinger writes songs for other artists and frequently works in television. He's written music and theme songs for shows like "The Howard Stern Show," "Sesame Street" and Nickelodeon's "T.U.F.F. Puppy."
The primary difference between writing for Fountains of Wayne and a cartoon like "T.U.F.F. Puppy," he said, is where the initial idea for the song originates.
"Usually when somebody hires me, they have an idea of what they're looking for," he said.
In Fountains of Wayne, the choices naturally begin with Schlesinger, although he acknowledged that he and Collingwood, the band's singer and guitarist, sometimes will talk about album strategy and things they'd like to write about.
"But we don't want to hone into it too much," he said.
Afterward, they go off separately to write before coming back to "discuss."
"We argue about them a lot." Schlesinger laughed, then added, "Actually, we tend to agree on things about 90 percent, but that extra 10 percent of the time we can have some pretty vicious disagreements."
It's collaborative, but not always equal. Schlesinger said Collingwood's creative output had slowed over the past few years.
"I don't think he was in the greatest mental state for a while," Schlesinger said.
Now things are better. With Fountains of Wayne's latest album, "Sky Full of Holes," released last fall, Collingwood had more he wanted to do.
"Chris had a lot of ideas for what he wanted to do with this record, and what he didn't want to repeat from earlier records," Schlesinger said. He laughed. "There were a lot of intense discussions, shall we say.
"But I think we both have songs on this record we're really proud of and that really fit well."
There might be no escaping "Stacy's Mom," but Schlesinger said the band wasn't really trying to. Some people were going to stop listening with just the one song, but that didn't mean Fountains of Wayne had to stop playing.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.