Alternative Press interview with Matt Sharp - April 2007

From Weezerpedia

Idol Worship

There are many times at the AP Skyscraper where we agonize for hours over which of today's up-and-comers should be paired with one of their influential rock heroes. Hooking up Motion City Soundtrack guitarist Josh Cain with former Weezer bassist/current Rentals CEO Matt Sharp was a complete no-brainer. Sharp, a fellow bespectacled Moog synthesizer enthusiast, gladly entertained Cain's questions about his past with the Weez and his decision to revive his cultishly adored electro-pop group.

Josh Cain: This is so dumb, but do you say "mouge" or "Moog"?

Matt: I say both.

JC: Some people get caught up on this. They really get obsessed over it.

Matt: You do run into some problems because one of the keyboards that we have is the Rouge. It's supposed to be the Moog Rouge [and] it's supposed to rhyme. So, you have some pronunciation things going on there if you want to get into the semantics of the situation.

JC: When Return of the Rentals came out, I had never heard of a Moog. I actually hated keyboards in bands.

Matt: Were you a heavy-metal kid?

JC: Not at all. The first record I ever purchased was Pixies' Surfer Rosa.

Matt: Because there was a whole time period where bands would put in the credits, "Absolutely no synthesizers." There were lots of groups that did that. That was going on for a long time. Ever since synthesizers started coming out, there was a reaction against [them].

JC: When we did I Am the Movie, [producer Ed Rose] just hated the idea. The next time, we had Mark Hoppus produce our record, and he was really worried about that voice being there too much. I find that people are really scared of it.

Matt: People feel like they can get tagged by it. Once you've embraced it, it becomes something that is just a part [of you]. For instance, I went and did a concert for this [self-titled] solo acoustic record. We did it in London in this artist's loft. It was a beautiful place. We made the room have a certain atmosphere that was sort of more somber. Then we got there, and it was all these pub-driven guys that were just screaming for the Moog. They were like [adopts European accent], "Plaaay the Moooooog." It was just so weird.

JC: We have that problem. With [our latest] record when the Moog has its place, it has its place - it's known and it's there. Then on some songs, it takes a backseat to some verses. I think we got a slight backlash from some of our super-Moog fans that are like, "It's not as loud as it was." We're like, "It's's just different."

Matt: Yeah, the second Rentals record [[[Seven More Minutes]]] - which is really synth-heavy, but not as synth-heavy [as Return of the Rentals] - got some similar criticism. There is a strange and intangible bond between that particular synthesizer and a certain group of people. Lord knows why! I don't think I really want to figure out why.

JC: This is going to be a Weezer-based question. I don't know if you're okay with that...

Matt: Yeah, I'm fine with whatever you'd like to talk about.

JC: Cool. Pinkerton comes up in so many conversations with the members of our band. For us, it's a timeless record. How did you feel after you made that record?

Matt: It's hard to say. My memories from that record are not crystal clear. I had gotten an iPod for Christmas from one of the Rentals, and that was one of the few records that they put on the thing for me. I listened to it on the way home to see my parents, and it just seemed really liberated to me. I hadn't heard it in so long, and it kind of came across like a prog-rock album. I think pretty much every song has a bass solo! [Laughs.] In the face of all the success we had with the first album, someone behind a desk was like, "Sure, bass solo every song..."

JC: I think you accidentally made one of the best records of the '90s. You took the sense of humor your band had and made it so raw.

Matt: For me, I think that record is part of a whole series of records that bands were making at that time. Maybe it was from Nirvana making In Utero? It wasn't only us. Every band in that era that had a successful record followed it up with [their version of In Utero]. Green Day followed up their big successful record with a dirtier record. The Flaming Lips' record Clouds Taste Metallic [was] just as trashy as it could be after "She Don't Use Jelly" was their big thing. I just think that was a pattern that so many groups followed.

JC: I hadn't thought of that, but it's right on.

Matt: I think [that pattern] was impossible to escape. You can't help but derive a really righteous feeling from In Utero, and that sense of somebody just going against all they've achieved and putting that all at risk - how can you aspire not to do that? It's the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest thing. We were watching that on the bus the other day. How could you not look up to Jack Nicholson and be like, "God, I want to be just like that." I think collectively, as a band, we were all like that. That was the thing to strive for.

JC: Justin [Pierre, MCS frontman] and I have a real give-and-take relationship with songwriting. We keep each other in check. I feel like with Pinkerton and the Blue Album, you had that. I don't know how involved you were [in Weezer]: Did you feel like you had that kind of involvement?

Matt: No. To me, a group is the sum of the people that are in the group. That's what a group is - those four or five people, their personal histories and the baggage they carry with them into the room. I think that's something that the Rentals are aspiring to achieve. On the first two Rentals albums, we had no choice but to embrace that revolving door. Everyone in the Rentals really had their livelihood invested somewhere else - like the girls in that dog. [sisters Rachel and Petra Haden's band], or Pat [Wilson] and me in Weezer - and, as the group went on, we were like, 'Let's kick the door wide open and let as many collaborative people in as possible." But now I really cherish that idea of it being this certain group of people.

JC: So is this the band? Are you going to make a new record as this group?

Matt: Yeah. In many ways, I feel like we're working toward making our first record. We've been taking the time that probably you guys were afforded going toward your first record - or Weezer when we did ours. We tried to take this whole last year [to] take our time and really get an understanding of who we are.

JC: Well, we can't wait to hear the record. [Laughs.] No pressure or anything.

Matt: That's the one thing I enjoyed about those first two Rentals records - that anybody could be involved. But at this point in my life, that challenge doesn't seem like a challenge anymore. Keeping a certain group of people together - especially as a group that is half female and half male - now there's a challenge.

JC: Why did the Rentals go away?

Matt: Between juggling Weezer and The Rentals full time, I just hit a wall. I came out of it seeing double. The day that I finished my parts on Pinkerton, I got into a cab; went to the airport; got out of the airport; got into a cab; and went into the studio in London. I was in the studio the same day [with The Rentals]. I used to have that kind of stamina, and I don't have that anymore. Some of us can go out all night and show up at the gym at 7 a.m. I'm not one of those people.

JC: We're on the burn-yourself-out career path right now, so I feel your pain.

Matt: I'm not in pain anymore. But man, I just ran out of gas!