Des Moines Register interview with Matt Sharp - October 3, 2002
Former Weezer guitarist slogs it out on the club circuit
By Kyle Munson
You're the former bassist for a band that blanketed MTV with its debut album, dropped out of sight for a sophomore slump and, without you, has gone on to enjoy a popular rebirth with two more albums in the last two years.
After your acrimonious split from said band several years back, you finally have regrouped to try to launch a fresh solo career.
But you haven't released an album since 1999 or toured since 1997. Can you still command a fan base?
What's more, your name is batted around in the national media not for your new songs—you're also still trying to secure a new record deal—but because you're suing your former bandmates over disputed songwriting royalties.
Meanwhile, your old band is playing to arenas while you're slogging it out on the club circuit.
And at 8 a.m. this past Monday you found yourself stranded and yawning on a street corner in New York City, in front of the club where you played into the wee hours the previous night.
"I'm sitting on 24th Street and Sixth Avenue and trying to get my guitars out of a liquor cabinet that they're locked up in," said Matt Sharp, the ex-bassist of Weezer, who on Monday brings his new solo sound to the Maintenance Shop in Ames.
In Weezer, Smith helped cast the mold for catchy guitar rock with brains and the myriad such "geek rock" bands to follow. He even formed his own side project, the Rentals, that added more keyboard into the mix and enjoyed a minor alternative rock hit in 1995 with the song "Friends of P."
But today Sharp has stripped down, abandoning bright, electric guitar-driven melodies in favor of low-fi folk.
"There's no electric instruments, no drums on it, there's no bass," he said of his new 12-song album, yet to be released. "It stays at a certain level, has a certain calmness to it throughout. It's not a record that's really meant for pop radio or any of that stuff."
Sharp retreated to Leipers Fork, Tenn., about an hour outside of Nashville, to live a hermit lifestyle (no radio or TV) and write and record this album. (Go to www.mattsharp.net to see a picture of the idyllic cottage where he holed up and strummed away.)
"There's only one restaurant and one gas station in the whole town, you know?" he said of Leipers Fork.
Sharp said that many of his musician acquaintances "got very angered by the fact that I wasn't making rock records" as he carved out his post-Weezer incarnation. "They would really come out and say it and get red-faced."
But Sharp stood firm, resolute that he must follow his heart and play "the stuff that moves me now."
"A lot of my favorite records were made in Nashville," he explained.
Meanwhile, Sharp still looks back with fondness on his days in Weezer, despite the lawsuit.
"They were my family and all that thing, and it was a very important time for me and it was a very pure experience for me, playing all those shows," he said. "I don't want anything to take away from that. It's completely unfortunate and (the lawsuit) was an absolute last resort that I was forced into."
A reconciliation and certainly a reunion seems remote.
"Honest to God, I have lost touch with them, and I can't say that I really know them very well at all," Sharp said of his former bandmates. "I don't really have much of an opinion on them because I don't know them anymore."