Rolling Stone interview with Rivers Cuomo - May 30, 2001
Q&A: Not So Serious Rivers Cuomo
Weezer frontman talks drugs, sumo wrestlers and Dungeons and Dragons
By HARRY THOMAS
Posted May 30, 2001 12:00 AM
Is Rivers Cuomo actually a geek, or does he just play one on record? Consider this: At age thirty, he still indulges with his band mates in the occasional game of Dungeons and Dragons on tour. Their Web master, Karl Koch, is also their Dungeon Master. After their 1994 debut sold more than 2 million copies and their 1996 followup, Pinkerton, tanked ("I think Rolling Stone voted it the second-worst record of the year," deadpans Cuomo), a long period of artistic hibernation set in. Side projects and breakup rumors proliferated. But following a rejuvenating stint on last year's Vans Warped Tour, Weezer are back with a release they refer to as the Green Album, ten Ric Ocasek-produced tracks clocking in at just under thirty minutes and jampacked with hooks, high harmonies and hand claps. The first single is called "Hashpipe" - as you will see, Rivers Cuomo is a man who takes his drugs seriously.
RS: You guys just got back from a tour of Japan. How'd that go?
Rivers: It was a complete and total disaster. I'm no longer on speaking terms with the Japanese record company. I fell in love with a woman who works there, and because of their feudal policies, they wouldn't let us see each other or talk to each other, and I totally lost my mind, spazzed out and said a lot of things I probably shouldn't have. Now it's like World War III between Weezer and Japan.
RS: Shit. And you guys had to come off that and head straight to the Coachella Festival, right?
Rivers: Yeah. Honestly, I'm so happy to be back in the USA. . . . and Coachella was beautiful. Very few drugs there, though.
RS: Is that a good or a bad thing?
Rivers: It's a terrible thing! I was so disappointed. I mean, I fully expected that to be the totally decadent event, and it was really lame, older Dave Matthews Band-style fans. And no drugs at all! It's insane.
RS: In the audience or backstage or both?
Rivers: Anywhere! I mean, it's a Jane's Addiction show! You'd expect somebody to be smoking some pot or something, but everyone was drinking bottled water.
RS: Given that your best songs are about the classic-rock song subject matter "Boy wants girl," I was wondering who your celebrity crushes were.
Rivers: What the hell is that woman's name? Maria Bartolomo, something like that? She's one of those people who talks from the New York Stock Exchange on CNBC. She's hot. Connie Chung . . .
RS: Connie Chung?
Rivers: I like newscasters. They're just so composed and graceful and articulate and classy.
RS: Once you become a rock star, is it suddenly easier to meet girls?
Rivers: No, you're basically in the same exact position you always were. If you couldn't talk to girls before, you're not gonna be able to talk to them after you become a rock star, either. It's just more painful, 'cause you think, "Man, if I can't get chicks now, I'm a totally lost cause."
RS: What's the video for "Hashpipe" like?
Rivers: We're in a sumo ring, and there's a troupe of sumo wrestlers. Eventually they take our instruments and start playing the song. They look especially large standing next to me, because I'm very small. They have huge tits. We heard T&A videos were big, so this is our version of a T&A video. There's some serious ass shots that you won't believe.
RS: Here's the "How important is it to you that this record do well?" question.
Rivers: We're doing really well now, without having put out an album in years, so I think if we just cruise along at this level, we'll all be happy. The one thing I'm afraid of is that the album comes out and everyone hates it and abandons us. That would suck.
RS: Was the quote-unquote failure of Pinkerton made all the more painful because you'd put so much of yourself into the lyrics?
Rivers: Yeah, I felt really burned. After we put out the first record, it seemed like a lot of the fans were really interested in me and were encouraging me to expose myself more, so that's what I did on the second record, and everybody hated it. I was really embarrassed.
RS: Do you get tired of the geek-rock tag? Is it like, "Christ, I wrote one lyric about the X-Men, and now I have to answer to this for the rest of my life?"
Rivers: No, actually. It used to really piss me off, but that was 'cause when we first came out, I had the wrong impression of what we actually were. I mean, I thought of us as this dreadfully serious, important rock band, and I thought that for once in my life I had finally overcome my geeky self. And as soon as the spotlight hit us, everyone said, "Hey, they're a bunch of geeks," and it felt really disappointing: "Wow, I'm finally a star, but I'm just a bigger geek than ever. More people are aware of how geeky I am." I don't know, it doesn't bother me anymore.
RS: Oh, good. 'Cause as a Weezer fan who's done his share of time with twenty-sided dice, I wanted to ask you what kind of characters you played in Dungeons and Dragons.
Rivers: I gravitated toward the, uh . . . elven, or half-elven, something with high dexterity . . . a fighter-thief, maybe?
RS: You went split class?
RS: Bold move.
Rivers: Hey, it's tough to commit.
[From Issue 870 — June 7, 2001]