Karl's Corner - 11/09/2000
RIC OCASEK TO PRODUCE NEW ALBUM
Sessions to begin December 1 In L.A.
Relief after weeks of uncertainty, some questions still unanswered
After a long period of doubt and confusion, it has finally been confirmed that Weezer has found a producer for their new album. They will be working with Ric Ocasek, former lead songwriter and singer of the 80's supergroup the Cars, solo artist, and producer of weezer's 1994 self titled debut album, along with numerous other albums and projects. Also now confirmed is the band's plan to record the album with Ric in weezer's adoptive homeland, Los Angeles.
Almost every possible factor in the making of this new album had been called into doubt for one reason or another in the recent period since getting off the road in mid-September, from the inaccessibility of several possible producers, to the inaccessibility of certain key preferred studios, to the caliber of the songs being rehearsed by the band.
While still on their summer tour, the band was planning the 3rd album sessions to begin in the fall, making a leap of faith that by the time the touring was completed, everything unknown at the time would have been worked out. As the summer turned to fall and a new string of tour dates was added, it became apparent that they were cutting it pretty close. During the course of the summer, when the band had short periods off between tours, several possible producers were met with, including Jerry Harrison (formerly of the Talking Heads) , Jerry Finn of Blink-182's "Enema of the State" fame, and Dave Sardie of the sonically groundbreaking band Barkmarket. Additionally, numerous producers that the band were at least interested in meeting, either expressed interest in doing the album but had scheduling conflicts, or simply failed to get back to the band with any response whatsoever. In the end, it seemed everyone who the band ended up preferring most, including Ric, was either not available, possibly unavailable, or uninterested in the project. With deadlines looming, things were looking pretty grim.
Ric himself had indicated his interest in working with weezer again, as early as the bands August show at Irving Plaza in New York, when he met the band backstage. Weezer was also excited about this idea, but later, upon serious consideration, it was learned that this plan was hampered by (amongst various other concerns) Ric's complex personal and professional schedule.
While everyone expressed warm feelings towards working with Ric again, no one knew if he would be available, particularly in L.A., where after some debate they had determined they would feel most comfortable and productive recording. As it turns out, until quite recently Ric wasn't sure he could leave his numerous commitments in New York City, where he had originally proposed the band return to for recording, as they did for the late 1993 sessions that produced the band's debut album. When the news came in that he could indeed come out to L.A., the band redoubled their efforts to get their newest crop of songs put on tape "the right way". After a period of intensive work (which actually continues to this day; more demos are scheduled to be cut over the next 2 weeks), they polished up 5 new tracks to a really refined level that they were pleased with.
Ric has been getting copies of all the demos that the band has been doing over the past 6 weeks, and has been making constructive criticism all along. Recently he got the newest 5 song demo of all new material, that the band finished up last week. His response to this new stuff was overwhelmingly positive. Rivers, after a lengthy phone conversation with Ric, reports Ric saying that "(weezer) really rose to the occasion over the past month, and came up with some great songs", adding that "we really have a great connection and work well together", and that "this is going to be an amazing record."
Almost finalized as well is the choice of recording studio. Several studios that the band had hoped to work in have recently become suddenly available, after last minute cancellations by other bands. The previous inaccessibility of these studio choices had even led to a period when returning to New York was seriously considered, despite the band's LA preference.
Still a question is Interscope/Geffen Records' level of interest. Interscope has already prevented the band from starting the project once, when the frustrated band decided that they would start the recording on October 23 "with or without" a producer, and had this plan quietly blocked by the label. With Geffen's final approval needed for the project to move forward on December 1st, and no significant comment or response to the band so far from anyone at the label, it remains a questioning cloud in an otherwise sunny sky of confirmation. The band expects to hear the Interscope "verdict" within a day or two....