Iowa State Daily interview with Matt Sharp - October 7, 2002

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Ex-'Weezer' comes to Ames as solo artist

By Erin Randolph

Absent from the music scene for nearly three years, Matt Sharp, original bassist for Weezer and founder of The Rentals, is finally ready to re-emerge into the spotlight as a solo artist. With his debut album in the works, Sharp hopes his new music won't be overshadowed by his past associations.

Sharp and his cohort Greg Brown, ex-guitarist for Cake, are touring the country in support of Sharp's solo effort, to be released sometime in early 2003. The two are making their only Iowa stop Monday at the Maintenance Shop, where they will play Rentals songs and Sharp's solo material.

Until recently, Sharp had been living in isolation since the brief tour supporting The Rentals' album, "Seven More Minutes." Sharp moved into the countryside to Leiper's Fork, Tenn., where he rented a house, set up a make-shift recording studio and wrote the album the ambience invoked.

"I lived out there for a while and thought, and walked and wrote," Sharp says. "It's such a spiritual place for me. I don't like people that usually throw that word around, but you go there, and it's such a beautiful part of the country."

Leiper's Fork stands almost exactly as it did a couple of hundred years ago. Refusing to allow construction, the town is very fixed on preserving its original environment.

"It's got such a strange feeling to it," Sharp says. "All the time I spent there was at a really interesting time in life. It gives me the chills going back there."

After a few years, Sharp moved back to Los Angeles and went through the recorded material to see what he could make of it. Sharp's time in the country inspired him to create a sparse, stripped-down acoustic album.

"We just try to keep it as close, and as genuine and as pure as possible," Sharp says.

"We're trying to knock down all the walls of b.s. that usually exist between the singer and the audience."

To help eliminate those barriers, Sharp and Brown get closer to their fans by either inviting them on stage or by sitting on the ground with the audience.

Despite rumors that The Rentals have broken up, and although Sharp cannot imagine writing another Rentals album, he maintains he will never altogether commit to the demise of the band.

"All in all, I'm not sure if I can completely give that up for forever and ever," Sharp says.

As for Weezer, Sharp says he hasn't heard anything off Weezer's last two releases.

"I don't really know them anymore, truth be told," Sharp says. "We had a great time together. When I was making that music, that's where my heart was and I was really into it. It's not the kind of music I want to make now."