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Mikey Welsh, 2001
|Birth name||Mikey Welsh|
|Born||April 20, 1971|
|Origin||Syracuse, New York|
|Instrument(s)||Bass guitar, guitar, vocals|
Mikey Welsh (born April 20, 1971 in Syracuse, New York, died October 8, 2011) was an American musician, best known as the former bassist of Weezer. He played with Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo during Cuomo's time in Boston during the hiatus in the band Homie. Following original bassist Matt Sharp's decision to leave Weezer to focus on his group, The Rentals. Welsh was chosen to take over for him. Welsh played with Weezer from the time that they regrouped in 2000 until August 2001, until he suffered a mental breakdown. Shortly afterwards, he retired from music to focus on his art career.
Early musical career
Welsh was born April 20, 1971 in Syracuse, New York. He started off as a Boston-area musician, playing in bands such as Heretix, Chevy Heston, Jocobono, Left Nut, and Slower. He also was Juliana Hatfield's touring bassist. In 1997 he joined the first incarnation of The Rivers Cuomo Band, Homie, the side-project of Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo.
He joined Weezer following the departure of Matt Sharp in 1998. During Weezer's hiatus he played with Verbena and the first incarnation of Patrick Wilson's band The Special Goodness. He wrote a large number of bass lines in this period, recorded them and sent them to Rivers Cuomo for writing inspiration, although Cuomo never used any of them. Instead, he contributed four of these to Juliana Hatfield's 2000 album Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure. Welsh was given a co-writing credit for four songs.
the first time i met rivers cuomo, was in a bar in the south end of boston called "the deluxe".. it was after a jon spencer blues explosion show.. i was sitting at a table with several friends just hanging out when rivers walked in with a couple of guys from the band. we were all star struck about seeing r.c., and we started talking about how much we all loved his band.. i was trying not to look a...t him when he suddenly turned and started walking directly towards where i was sitting.. r. came up to me and asked me if i was mikey, the bass player.. i stammered out that i was. he told me that one of the guys in the mighty mighty bosstones had recommended to him that we try playing together, that we would probably hit it off.. we did. this was probably around the spring of 1997.. rivers went off that summer to tour on "pinkerton".. it was late august when he finally called me.. we ended up doing a lot of hanging and jamming together, ultimately playing two shows in boston as the rivers cuomo band..in jan. of 1998, i flew to los angeles to officially audition for weezer...after 3 or 4 days of playing together, rivers took me out to dinner at a california pizza kitchen on pico blvd. in hollywood... he was about to ask me a question, and my life would forever change.... [end of pt. 1]
so there i was... at a california pizza kitchen with rivers. "so...would you like to be in weezer?" or something along those lines. that was the question that was presented to me by r.c. the one i had been waiting to hear since i arrived in los angeles several days earlier.. "yes. i would", i think i stammered out.. i had been playing with the three members of weezer for a few days or so. but we d...idn’t play any weezer songs.. at least all the songs i knew so well. i had flown out expecting to shred away on "getchoo", or maybe "say it ain't so", or any of the tunes off of blue and pinkerton... but that wasn’t what rivers had in mind.. instead, we ended up jamming out on songs i had been playing with rivers for almost a year... "rosemary", "prettiest girl in the whole wide world"... these were songs i loved dearly... but man, i wanted to play the old stuff.. anyways, I accepted the offer to join the band. I flew back to boston and packed my few belongings, turned around and flew back to l.a. where I moved in to a townhouse with rivers and pat.. it was on 3rd. st. in Hollywood..the usual routine every morning was for the three of us to walk across the street to the farmers market, where we would hit up starbucks and sit around drinking our coffee and talking about music.. then we would head off to rehearsal… my initial impressions of brian were that he was a little aloof, but a very snappy dresser.. actually, I don’t really remember brian and myself talking very much at first, although we became very close later on.. another memory I have of that rather dingy rehearsal space was walking down the hall to the bathroom, where I would always hear this band trying hard to rip off rage against the machine.. you also must know that I grew up playing in the boston rock scene, where you would constantly here bands ripping off the big guys.. of course, one day I walked back in to our rehearsal room, saying that I was sick of hearing that fucking band down by the bathroom ripping off rage.. I was then informed that that actually was rage against the machine.. I was in a whole new world… [end of pt. 2]
there was always an enormous pile of peanut m&m wrappers scattered around patrick wilson's drum kit.. pat and i very quickly became brothers to each other. as rivers started to kind of go off on his own, pat and i started spending more and more time together... doing whatever.. but always laughing a lot and always talking about music. there was a time, i think it was july or august, where pat and ...myself had decided that we were going to smoke pot everyday for that month.. sometimes, usually late at night, rivers would join us.. but for the most part it was just the two of us.. this behavior included the "wake and bake"... right out of bed, hit the pipe, go get coffee, and off to rehearsal. we never told rivers and brian that we were stoned to the tits when we arrived at practice, but i think they may have figured it out at some point.. it could have been the fact that pat and i would warm up with rush's "yyz", or "tom sawyer"... the other give away in to our new hobby could have been my personal appearance.. after a couple of weeks of getting stoned several times a day, i had decided it would be a good idea to grow out a fu-manchu moustache for a while.. you know, to impress the ladies.. i had also taken to wearing nothing but hawaiian shirts.. in fact, my closet at home was full of them.. it was sometime around the end of this madness that rivers decided to throw me a bone, so to speak.. after having been playing the rivers boston songs, one day he allowed us to play "getchoo"... i was incredibly stoked to be in the rehearsal room, playing one of my favorite weezer songs at top volume, in my new home.. sunny hollywood, california... but soon, the sun would fade away.. and the dark times would be upon us... [end of pt.3]
"if you’re going to put a little line through the 7's, make sure you put a little line through all of them"... that's rivers telling me that the way i'm writing down address numbers is irritating him..we were in his old toyota suv, driving around the west side of l.a., looking at apartments we might want to move in to..we were fairly close to the amherst house, the place of legend where the "say ...it ain't so" video was filmed. things were starting to take longer with getting songs together than we had previously thought. we were wondering what kind of direction we were going to take. so, to start saving a little money, we had decided to move out of our cush townhouse on 3rd. st. in hollywood. pat would move into his old apartment in santa monica, and rivers and i would share a place nearby... we decided on the west side..”maybe we should take a break and have some lunch” rivers said to me.. we ended up at a pizza place on Sepulveda, the street we ended up moving on.. without saying too much, we sat there eating our slices… when rivers said “you always snicker at me because I like to drink milk”. “no, I don’t. that’s not true, man”.. we laughed… laughter was really the only thing that would keep us together and sane for the next year or so…I really loved rivers like a brother [and still do]. I looked up to him in many ways..but these days were about to grow darker and more confusing by the minute.. rivers started isolating himself from me more, and I in turn started hanging around more and more Hollywood vampires..going to a party somewhere up in the hills, and not leaving for 2 or 3 days.. doing suicidal amounts of drugs… mostly cocaine..it was after one of these binges that I came home to our 2 floor flat to discover that rivers had been up all night as well… painting his entire bedroom black.. he was just finishing up when I walked in.. “what do you think?” he asked me, a weird little smile on his face…I replied something to the effect of “ummm… “.. rivers then told me that he thought we should go buy a pet… sure, why not? We ended up driving over to venice beach and picking out a little chameleon we named “budro”… budro fit right in to our little family scene.. he was a freak. But this was only the beginning of the dark times.. little did I know that our lives were to become much more twisted…[end of pt. 4]
He toured with the band from their resurgence in the summer of 2000 and most of the way through tours supporting The Green Album, the only Weezer album he'd ever appear on. He would also appear on their limited edition Christmas EP (re-released in 2005 as Winter Weezerland) and on a number of b-sides and unreleased songs. He also played on the road and in the studio with Patrick Wilson's band The Special Goodness.
Mental breakdown and exit from Weezer
Mikey Welsh left Weezer in 2001 for reasons that were left unclear to the public for several years after it happened. It was eventually revealed that he did in fact have a nervous breakdown due to drug use, undiagnosed mental conditions, and the constant wear of touring. The combination of these factors ultimately led Welsh to attempt suicide via drug overdose. He was checked in to a psychiatric hospital sometime during August 2001. He later spoke about the ordeal in an interview with the website Rock Salt Plum:
"Basically, a lifetime of doing drugs and being undiagnosed as having Bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder finally caught up with me when I was 30 years old. At the beginning of a 3-month European tour with Weezer, I started slowly falling apart. Without getting too graphic, by the time the tour was winding up, my weight had gone down to about 140lbs (I'm 6'2") and mentally completely wiped out. When I returned to the states, my family had made plans for me to see a psychiatrist in Boston. First though, we had to play a few dates around the U.S., and perform on The Tonite (sic) Show (which ended up being my last performance with Weezer). By the time I got to Boston, I was having a complete nervous breakdown. It ended with a severe suicide attempt (an overdose). I was found and rushed to the hospital where I had come to within minutes of my heart completely stopping. I was in a coma for a few days, and woke up in a lockdown psychiatric ward."
Weezer shot a new version of their (at the time) most-current single's video, "Island in the Sun" to disinclude Welsh. In the fall of 2001, the band hired Scott Shriner to fill Welsh's place in the band.
Retirement from music
In 2001/2002, Welsh returned to the Boston music scene by temporarily joining Nate Albert's (guitarist for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) band, The Kickovers. In an interview, he expressed his distaste for the corporate music process, stating that, "It’s actually fun to just be playing in the studio without some major-label idiot standing over your shoulder."
Soon after, he retired from music to become a full-time artist. He, his wife and their two sons lived in Vermont.
Welsh attended a Weezer show on July 12, 2005 in Lewiston, Maine. Cuomo dedicated "Hash Pipe" to him, the very mention of his name drawing forth cheers from the crowd. Welsh also got to meet current Weezer bassist Scott Shriner.
On September 2nd, 2010, Welsh played Hash Pipe with Weezer in Essex Junction, Vermont.
On July 29th, 2011, Welsh played Undone with Weezer and Flaming Lips at a show in New York.
Outside of Weezer
Welsh turned to art, and as of August 2008, had 13 exhibitions of his artwork. He was a member of Outsider Art.
A quote from Welsh's official website explains his methods of creating his art:
"Welsh attacks his canvases with pure spontaneity and aggression, almost never using a brush and preferring to work only with his hands and fingers. This technique gives him the opportunity to get as close and "inside" to his paintings as he needs to be. For him, this is a necessity. Welsh also works in sculpture, working with found objects. Constructing creatures out of broken and dismantled chairs and furniture, to vacuum hoses, tupperware [sic], wire, and rope. All painted with his usual explosion of color.”
His artwork is featured on a Burton snowboard, in a line of snowboards entitled "The Farm."
He recently designed and painted the album cover for Twin Berlin's debut album and The Concussion's album.
On October 8, 2011, Welsh's Facebook fan page announced that he has tragically passed away that day. This information was confirmed further when it was posted on the official Weezer Twitter stream, and the other Weezer members commented on the event soon after on their personal Twitter pages.
- 1995 -- Jocobono
With Juliana Hatfield
- 1998 — Bed
- 2000 — Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure
- 2002 — Gold Stars 1992-2002: The Juliana Hatfield Collection
With The Kickovers
- 2002 — Osaka
- 1993 — The Adventures of Superdevil
With Left Nut
- 1990 - Bad Attitude No Apologies
- Main article: Mikey Welsh interviews