Hartford Courant article - December 4, 1996

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Print interview with Kevin Ridel, Kenneth Holton
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Scan by Luke Annati
Publication The Hartford Courant (Link)
Interviewee Kevin Ridel, Kenneth Holton
Interviewer David Daley
Date December 4, 1996
Title Cuomo's band one of three to evolve from Avant Garde
Format Print
External link Link (Via Newspapers.com)
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Cuomo's band one of three to evolve from Avant Garde
Author: David Daley (The Hartford Courant)
Published: December 4, 1996


They were five young metal fans who called themselves Avant Garde, although, as Rivers Cuomo quips now, "It was anything but."

Nevertheless, soon after Cuomo graduated from Mansfield's E.O. Smith High School in 1988, the five band members packed their guitars and hair mousse and moved to Los Angeles, chasing their rock fantasies under the lights and into the metal clubs of the Sunset Strip.

Of course, nothing happened as planned. The quintet, which used to play Bridges Cafe in East Windsor and free concerts in Vernon's Henry Park, soon broke up. And out of that breakup came three new bands, all making it in Los Angeles.

Besides Cuomo (known then as Peter Kitz) and Weezer, there is Kevin Ridel's band Ridel High.

It's a pop trio as catch and anthemic as Weezer, with a debut album, "Recent High Scores," out next month on the hip independent label My Records. And Justin Fisher, formerly of Storrs, plays in Shufflepuck, a pop act signed by Interscope, also known as the home of Nine Inch Nails.

"[Avant Garde] just kind of sucked," admitted Ridel, who grew up in Vernon and now lives in Santa Monica. "We were trying to be kings of our instruments and just disregarded the idea of writing good songs. We were striving for technical prowess, but we still couldn't really play."

As Ridel, 27, grew older, he lost his appetite for metal's flash, fashion and attitude. "I've given that up for songwriting," he said.

So who does he like these days?

"Tom Waits. Richard Butler. And, of course, Rivers Cuomo," Ridel said. "I think I've ripped off a lot of his melodies."

Ridel is not surprised that Cuomo has achieved such success with Weezer. But one person is: Kenneth Holton, Cuomo's high school music teacher, a classical theorist (and decided not a metal fan) who listened to Avant Garde just to encourage a favorite student.

"He was fascinated by heavy metal... He had very long, teased hair all around his head. My chorus got a reputation for having the kid with the long hair," remembered Holton, now retired.

"It's been really interesting for me. [With Weezer] I hear a lot of harmonies and the chord changes of pop songs. I was really surprised to hear all that coming through. [Cuomo] rejected all that entirely in high school."

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