Sunday Star Times interview with Patrick Wilson - October 6, 1996
Power Popsters Make Short Work of New Album
By Gary Steel
This time last week it looked like Weezer was in big trouble. An injunction had been slapped on its new record by a US security company, and it looked like the album would have to be taken off the shelves.
"It sucks!" says drummer Pat Wilson. The security company, and the record, share the name of Pinkerton—a title Wilson thinks "is a character in a play...but that's Rivers' territory". (Pinkerton is actually the name of a character in Puccini's opera Madam Butterfly).
"Rivers" is Rivers Cuomo, vocalist, guitarist, songwriter and leader of the popular Los Angeles quartet, and the phrase "that's Rivers' territory" becomes a kind of mantra for Wilson during our brief phone encounter.
Wilson doesn't have much to say for himself; about to set out on tour, he's battling a badly-timed virus and freaks when he hears me snuffling with spring hayfever: "Oh no! I thought I was going to be able to avoid all that! I get hayfever really bad."
It's typical of Weezer's post-slacker profile that Wilson shows more interest in "the hole above the ozone layer down there" than in discussing the new album or the band's music.
But somehow it's reassuring that a group like Weezer—which treats all the rock star hype with the contempt it deserves—could exist in the burnout zone of '90s rock. This group from nowhere got double platinum sales for its debut album of brash, humorous goofball pop, without taking it at all seriously.
When asked why Pinkerton is a hasty-sounding, self-produced album recorded in a variety of studios, Wilson mutters, "Rivers goes to college and he didn't have any songs, so whenever he'd get a batch, like in his breaks, we would do it then. There wasn't anything left for us to do after the last record. We toured so much, and there wasn't anything left to record, so we just took a break. Pinkerton was very spontaneous...a little more organic sounding, more natural sounding than the first one. It was recorded at real short notice, so we had to take whatever we got, instead of setting it up ahead of time."
Wilson is disarmingly honest about the reasons for the album's 34-minutes playing time. "It's pretty much all we had!"
Although Weezer's distinctive hybrid of grunge energy and catchy, anthemic pop could be linked to the current "power pop" revival, Wilson is dismissive. "We don't fit in. Right now ska is the big thing in America. We're an anomaly."
Wilson is unforthcoming about the music. "I can't really comment...Rivers has these songs and we just play 'em. We get to play what we want as long as Rivers likes it. If he doesn't like something it won't be that way."
Pinkerton has several references to Japanese girls and sex obsessions; does Rivers talks about his lyrics to the rest of the band?
"They're all pretty self-explanatory. I mean, people say that we're the world's only un-ironic band," Wilson says.
Postscript: The restraining order against Pinkerton has been dissolved by a Los Angeles Federal District Court judge, allowing distribution of the album; Pinkerton's Inc security and investigation services still has a suit for $2 million USD in damages and a name change for the album is pending.
See Weezer, with Garageland, at the Logan Campbell Centre, Auckland, October 14.