CMJ article - May 1999

From Weezerpedia
Print interview with Matt Sharp
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Publication CMJ
Interviewee Matt Sharp
Interviewer David Daley
Date May 1999
Title Bonus Time
Sub-title Don't tell ex-Weezer Matt Sharp that fame's clock is ticking on his Rentals
Format Print
External link Archive via Google Books
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Bonus Time
Author: David Daley (CMJ)
Published: May 1999

Don't tell ex-Weezer Matt Sharp that fame's clock is ticking on his Rentals

Late night, Barcelona. Sometime in 1995. Again in 1996. And also throughout '97 and '98. The stringy-haired, tousled American wandering between parties with a glass of wine in one hand and a tape recorder in the other is the Rentals' Matt Sharp, carousing the countryside, capturing the celebratory Spanish spirit.

And why not? Sharp struck gold with the Rentals '95 debut, Return Of The Rentals, and suddenly the Weezer sideman lost the geeky tag and started hanging with new pals like Blur's Damon Albarn and Elastica's Justine Frischmann. Sharp left Weezer with some bitterness after '96's Pinkerton. It's not easy to go back to being the bassist when you have a hit single about being friends with Paulina Porizkova.

Now the sounds of Barcelona have inspired the Rentals' long-awaited sophomore effort, Seven More Minutes (Maverick), an album more cohesive and daring than their debut, but with just as much kitschy new wave fun. "I had a bunch of friends there, and it got to the point where if I had a week off, why not go to Barcelona as opposed to being in California," said Sharp, sipping tea in his LA apartment. "If the choice is LA or Spain, why not Spain? It didn't seem to be that crazy a thought to me." His life there does sound a little crazy. Sharp so took to the Spanish schedule dinner at midnight, cocktails at 3 a.m., full party-speed by five or six in the morning that his American lifestyle seemed foreign to him whenever he returned home.

Indeed, Seven More Minutes sounds like a party. There are joyous contributions from friends such as Albarn ("Big Daddy C"), and brilliant guest harmonics with Miki Berenyi (Lush) and Petra Haden (that dog.). "Getting By" opens the album with chants and cheers, the swirling synths of "Keep Sleeping" sound like a giddy Tubeway Army, and "Hello Hello" should replace "1999" as an end-of-the-millennium-psychosis-blues anthem.

Sharp's return to the Rentals covers similar ground as Return Of The Rentals, but the new record sounds more confident and uses the synths and organs in a smarter, more subtle fashion. "There's probably more synths on this album. We used them in such an unashamedly new wave way on the first record, which is fine, but I didn't want to do anything that obvious on this record. I wanted to find some different ways to use them."

And while the production is vastly improved, a lo-fi instrument played an important role to the overall vibe. Sharp brought his tape recorder out with him every night, and would sometimes take his drink to a comparatively quiet corner to capture lyrics and hum melodies. That made him feel a little like Michael Keaton talking to himself in Night Shift. But no matter how strange he may have looked, it makes Seven More Minutes feel as if it were recorded in the moment, that the songs came in spontaneous, joyous bursts of life.

DWI - dictating while intoxicated - sometimes seems foolish and muddled the next day. But Sharp says that the themes on this album - the itinerant lifestyle, the simple happiness of being around friends, love on a rock star's wages - still hold true. When he tours this summer, he says it will be the first time he's playing songs that really still mean something central to his life.

That, of course, leads to the subject of his old band. Sharp is pals once again with Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, and they even co-wrote "My Head Is In The Sun," one of Minutes' central songs. It's an ironic turn, as Cuomo's lack of interest in sharing Weezer's songwriting duties with his bandmates led to considerable dissension during the Pinkerton days.

"It was good just to sit down and work with him. I think we'll continue to do stuff," says Sharp, who lived in Cuomo's Boston apartment while mixing Seven More Minutes. "He's a really great guy, and it was really easy to write with him - maybe because we're not bandmates anymore." No dissension here. On Seven More Minutes, everybody drinks together.