Popular Sounds interview with Karl Koch - February 11, 2009

From Weezerpedia

2008 has been one of the most active and exciting years for Weezer fans in recent memory. Starting with the release of Alone I (Dec 2007), Weezer fan's have seen more new material, both from Weezer and Rivers Cuomo, than they have seen in any other year. Along with the huge amount of new material, a distinct change has been noted in Rivers Cuomo's relationship with both the media and his fan base. Never before has Rivers been so open in both interviews and during concerts. While, some Weezer fans would agree that some of this "openness" has led to great embarrassment: (Note: The "Undone" duets with the embarrassingly bad Tom Delonge), most would agree that this newfound openness has been a good thing for everyone involved. While, it is difficult to pinpoint where this new found openness has come from, some would point to his stable relationship and family, some would point directly to Vipasanna, I would generally think it's a combination of all these things.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to, yet again, sit down and interview Karl Koch. While I haven't read every interview with Karl, this may be the most extensive interview Karl has ever done. Instead of the normal boring interview, where he gets asked the same, lame questions every time, Karl and I, just talked and shot the shit for an hour about Weezer and Rivers, basically through the years, right up until present day.

Before you read the interview, I just wanted to make quick note of Karlophone - I Must Find This... It is truly an outstanding record. While some of you are probably thinking I'm just saying this to plug Karlophone, I'm not. It is truly a unique piece of pop music, compared to the mind-numbing musical garbage we have to put up with on a daily basis. I Must Find This... sounds pretty cool in any format, but if you have the oppurtunity to buy it on vinyl, please do. It sounds absolutely wonderful.

Note: For all of you wondering about any new Karlophone activity and don't want to read the interview: Karl is just now "getting things together," and hoping to release his new album around the 2009 holiday season.

Note II: Before reading the interview, please get yourself a beverage and light snack, it is very, very long and quite extensive!


Mathew: In that most recent interview, Rivers said "Weezer is touring again." Are they going to tour again to promote "the Red album."?

Karl: Uh, well, were going to tour again, but what exactly we are going to be promoting remains to be seen.

Mathew: Have you heard of Rivers' most recent demos? Like the last few months?

Karl: Um, no, all I've heard is that which was being worked on in the studio.

Mathew: Like we all heard he hasn't even picked up his guitar in three months or whatever...

Karl: Well, that doesn't preclude him from working on his Piano or A Cappella. But, um, you know, new material was introduced in the fall, and worked on. So, there was some writing going on. I don't know if currently there is, and I believe very shortly there is a "winter break" where there won't be any writing at all, because I think Rivers will be sitting in a room somewhere meditating. But, um, its possible he may not have picked up a guitar in the last 3 months, but new material was introduced in the last 3 months.

Mathew: So, all the guys, are pretty much all bringing demos to the studio now for the band?

Karl: I think it's more like, uh, people aren't just bringing whatever, you know. There is a high standard to meet. So, people are being very cautious about what they are bringing in, and as far as I know, uh, I haven't yet heard any full songs from Scott. But, Pat and Brian have brought in a couple songs a piece. Also, there is the idea of, we need a bridge for this song, does anyone have a bridge, there is some real collaboration going on, it's pretty cool.

Mathew: Do you prefer all of this collaboration, compared to the "old days?"

Karl: Um, it's more interesting, and in a sense, it's risky; because you have more egos to be bruised, if it's not going well, and if the song's a stinker, what are you going to do, all that kind of shit. But, um, as far as the way the process is going, from what I saw, it's been a really positive experience. I mean, it's a little disjointed because people come and go, because sometimes it's like "Oh, I'm not needed today....OK, Bye."

Mathew: So, it's more of a disjointed recording session, where not everyone is needed everyday?

Karl: It depends, every combination you could think of happened, and probably will happen. But, you know, it's generally like, "OK, We got this song, and it's part way done" and again remember, Jacknife is a big part of it, he's got ideas and theories, he'll work all night on something and present it the next day, and see what people think. He'll be like 'I rearranged this, and put this here, what do you guys think about it' So, everybody's coming in, and everybody is playing just about everything you could think. Obviously, Pat is usually the guy that they put on drums, because he is the most capable. Pretty much everyone has come in with guitar ideas and keyboard ideas and stuff. So, it's interesting.

Christmas EP

Mathew: Why did they release the music without backing vocals in the game, then with the backing vocals in iTunes? Was it just because they wanted to get the game out quicker?

Karl: It was possibly to differentiate the two, so that if people pirated them from the game.

Mathew: So people would have a reason to buy them from iTunes?

Karl: That’s my first guess, but I wasn’t in on the meeting where that was decided, but it’s possible that they weren’t quite finished yet and they needed them desperately for the game. So, they just went ahead and gave them the mixes without the backing vocals, and then they went ahead and finished them, but I don’t know if the thought of releasing them on iTunes came at first or not. I think it was just do it for the game, then the next thing I heard is they were like “Oh yeah, we’re going to put them on iTunes.”

Mathew: Who's idea was it to put them on the game, was it Geffen’s Idea?

Karl: I don’t know if it was Geffen’s idea, the whole thing came through the band’s manager, I think someone contacted him. But, I’m sure (Geffen) was happy to do it, and they were enthusiastic about it, but I don’t know if it came from one of their people or not. The band’s manager is pretty connected and knows a lot of cool people.


Mathew: What were your favorite songs left of off the Red Album?

Karl: Well, my favorite was actually “King” at the time, but I never expected that somebody else to be singing it at the time. So, that was kind of a tough adjustment to make because I was so in love with the original. There were just a couple of those demos I was kind of sad about. I really liked "Piece of the Pie." There were only like two or three, it wasn’t like a tragedy, it was just like oh, oh well.

Mathew: Is there a band version of "King" with Rivers singing on it, or did you just like his demo?

Karl: If there is a band version, with Rivers singing on it, it never got mixed. It never got mixed to the point where you can say ‘I have it on a CD’.

Mathew: Is Rivers' “King” demo just acoustic guitar, with piano and drums?

Karl: Um, yes, yes, and I think it may get more electric later in the song as it builds up in intensity as you expect it too.

Mathew: So do you like prefer the version with Rivers singing on it compared to Scotts’?

Karl: Well, now, I like Scott’s a lot, and it worked so well on tour that way, but in my mind, it’s just a shame that we can’t have both.

Mathew: Did “I Don’t Want to Let You Go” get close to making it on to Red?

Karl: I don’t ever remember hearing a version that the band worked on. So, it may never have made the votes to get worked on. Like, you know, Rivers was presenting demos to everybody for a while, and Rivers would change his mind everyday, and everybody in the band would change their minds everyday, and finally they started working on songs and by the time you’re half-way into a record and you've got 6 or 7 songs kind of done, well by then, old lists you kind of don’t refer back to them anymore, because everybody’s excited about “such and such” a song, and lets work on it now. I just think they never got back to (“I Don’t Want To Let You Go”)

Mathew: Is there a different version of “Dreamin” out there? Because the way Rivers described it in the Alone I liner notes, a lot of people were confused when they heard it.

Karl: I don’t remember the description you were talking about, but there were a lot of fairly radical changes as they went through the recording process, but I don’t know why (Rivers) would refer to an unreleased version and think that people knew what he was talking about. But, he knows it from the viewpoint of the creator, but I don’t ever remember hearing an earlier version of it.

Mathew: Because in the Alone I liner notes, “Dreamin” was described as a “symphonic-type art song,” so people were slightly confused when they heard it.

Karl: I guess compared to “This is the Way,” it’s pretty symphonic; but comparatively speaking, it’s more like that I guess. I think it’s just because it has the “center breakdown,” and you know, that’s not a standard pop formula. It’s not like a symphony, but it’s not a 3 minute pop song, in that sense.

Mathew: Was Brian Bell the one that really pushed for "Miss Sweeney" to on the album?

Karl: He was a fan, as was I, and I think as I recall, it was him saying “Why aren’t we working on this?” He was the catalyst to get them working on it again. Because, I wasn’t there, but, I remember him talking about it. ("Miss Sweeney") and "King" were my two favorite from the get-go.

Mathew: Were “Pig” and “Miss Sweeney” on the original Red tracklisting that was presented to Geffen, before the Geffen told them there wasn’t enough “commercial” material?

Karl: Oh, good question, another way of wording that question is what got bumped into the “Bonus Track” material by including (Troublemaker) and (Pork and Beans), and I don’t know if it’s two, all four, or none of them. I don’t know exactly what got bumped in favor of what or if anything got bumped. You’d think that two songs would have to be bumped to do that. The only clue I can offer is that there was a concern over the album being too slow. Probably two of them were in (Red) somewhere, was one of them “Pig”? I’m not sure, I’m going to guess “Pig” and “King” were the two, but I don’t really know.

Mathew: Why was the tracklisting ordered in the way it was, it seemed like it was here’s Rivers’ songs, now here is the other songs. Who's idea was it to finalize the tracklisting like that?

Karl: Yeah, I don’t know. I think the original intention was not to do that. Like, it wasn't intended to feel like that, but clearly somehow they ended up clustering those together and it created that effect. I don’t think that’s how they wanted it to be how it felt. I heard a run through of the album at the photoshoot where Brian had the super long legs and stuff, and that was October, and they were pretty much done. Except, obviously, that was before the Jacknife sessions, like nobody had even thought of that yet.

Mathew: So Red was done, before they even got those two songs, or they thought it was…

Karl: Right, well they thought it was, and then the meetings came where (Geffen) said we don’t think you have an album here. So Rivers went back and wrote some more. But, what I heard didn't feel like out of sequence or strangely jammed together or whatever. Now, I don’t remember exactly what order I heard or if it was the exact number of finished songs you guys know or not, but somehow between that and inserting ("Pork and Beans") and ("Troublemaker") something got scrambled up a bit, and somehow those other guys songs ended up getting lumped. You know, personally, I would agree that it doesn’t feel right, it’s just like there is an ordering problem.

Mathew: It just seems that if they would have just ordered it different it would have just had a lot better flow…

Karl: Again, I’m sure they went through a lot of mutations, and, in the end I don’t know why things ended up the way they did. I don’t have a definite answer for that. But, I would agree, it feels a little awkward in some of the ordering, and that’s not how it felt in October.

Mathew: Yeah, I’m not saying they are bad songs, it just ended up being a really weird mix…

Karl: Yeah, I know what you’re saying, and when you combine that with the Deluxe version with the Bonus Songs, it’s like, you know, there really shouldn’t be a non-deluxe version because all those songs on (Deluxe Version) or at least most of them I would include, and I sort of wouldn’t necessarily include a couple of ones that did make it. So, you know, in the end I think the whole Jacknife thing, while it was a boon, because it added two great songs, it also kind of got things flustered in the end.

Mathew: What was the deal with Rick Rubin’s exit?

Karl: I don’t think there were ever any funny or bad feelings or anything. I know they worked with him at the first of the three sessions, and I think at the conclusion of that, it wasn’t so much like, we have a problem with Rick, it was more like “now let’s do it a different way.” So they booked the theater, that was also in Malibu, so that was accessible to Rick, because he lives out there too.

Karl: But, I think there was this thought of, I think we’d rather woodshed and work in this space and feed off each other and we don’t really need an in-house producer right now, and you know, Ricks a man who has no shortage of work, like he has 900 bands asking to work with him at any given moment. So I think they parted on comfortable terms and said “OK ; you’re going to be producing some of this record, but perhaps not all,” and I guess, the third part would be the part with Jacknife, because obviously those two songs he definitely produced, and it was a totally different session later on.

Mathew: It seemed like Rivers really took to Jacknife in comparison to Rick Rubin…

Karl: I think, you could call Rick Rubin, like Rivers’ spiritual kind of guide in a sense, like he really helped out Rivers personally. But by the time they worked with him as a band for a record and a half, I think they just said, that was nice and we all liked that, but we kind of need to move to a new thing And everybody understood that and there was a mutual parting. I don’t think there was ever any funny feeling.

Mathew: Yeah, because I read a lot of different things, but there was never any clarification…

Karl: Yeah, it was not like a “Yeah, I’m just going to stop showing up” type thing. They are all on good terms and friends and no problems. But, again, I wasn’t at the meeting or whatever it was where it went down, but there was a decision that we should work as a band and see what happens and Rick said “Fine, call me if you want to change that,” and they ended up just going all the way to the end and finishing it. Then at the very end, cause, you know, the label was getting weird, they said "OK, we’ll have a new session," and it went really well with (Jacknife,) so that’s why he’s working on the new one with them.

Mathew: Final "Red" question, What would be your "Red Album" tracklisting?

Karl: I would remove "Cold Dark World" and "Thought I Knew," add, or rather retain, so the deluxe is the only version "Miss Sweeney," "Pig," "King," no "Spider" either, too out there. I'd still end with "The Angel and The One" and start with "Troublemaker." Then, have them record "Piece of the Pie" and "Run Over by a Truck" and see if they were good enough to add or replace anything. Maybe "King" would be second to last before "The Angel and The One." I wouldn't drastically re-order anything.

Deliverance at Hand!

Mathew: Is Deliverance at Hand! mostly acoustic?

Karl: It’s basically acoustic guitar, and/or, piano. I seem to recall that there is not much in the way of distorted guitars, on most of them. It’s a pretty organic recording. I think they were all done at Rivers’ “little shack” at his house in Los Angeles. He has the capacity to record electrically, but I think he just preferred to work on the piano and that’s how most of them started. So, they didn't get too rocking.

Mathew: So did Rivers leak his demo of “Pig” himself? Was that ever confirmed?

Karl: I never figured that out, I have no clue. I mean, it could be argued that he might have I guess.

Mathew: I just think because if someone got (Deliverance at Hand!), they would just leak the entire thing “online.”

Karl: It stands to reason. And I don’t see what the point would have been (if it was Rivers). Enough people had Deliverance at Hand! that it’s possible that somebody had left it on a desk and an assistant did that somewhere, like enough people that weren’t necessarily friends of the band had (Deliverance at Hand!) because Rivers was soliciting opinions as too what the best songs were from all kinds of people, so it’s possible he did that. The motive (with the Rivers theory) is the confusing part, like what’s the point, it’s not like Rivers needs to push a certain song or another, he’ll just keep working on it until people say let’s put it on, you know.

Mathew: Can you give a description of "Here Comes the Girl"?

Karl: I love this song, it’s a slow builder. In a weird way it reminds me of a Kevin Ridel song, but a great Kevin Ridel song. Its soft, heartbroken, but exciting.

Mathew: Do you remember what "The Odd Couple" sounded like?

Karl: I liked this song a good deal. It was a clever, apparently autobiographical song,which I assumed was about him and his wife. It was funny. Again, piano based, not “rock”.

Mathew: Is "My Little Girl" an original or is it a cover of the Garth Brooks' song?

Karl: I believe that’s a cover of Garth. But I haven’t heard it, I've just heard reference to it at some point.

Mathew: Can you give the actual Deliverance at Hand! tracklisting?

Karl: I cant, sorry.

Jacknife Lee

Mathew: It seems like things are working out pretty well with Jacknife Lee so far…

Karl: Yeah, I hadn’t met him or watched him work before the current sessions, but, having watched him recently, ill say he is a fast working, no non-sense dude, that knows how to play everything. He’s a kind of guy where he gets a vision in his head when he hears a demo and starts tweaking things immediately like he’ll go into the room and start working on a keyboard sound. He knows how to do it, if you look up his history on Wikipedia, you’ll realize he did a bunch of dance and techno stuff he knows his way around synthesizers and computers and all that kind of stuff, but he’s not a dance dude. He’s like an English-Countryside gentleman guy that can work with U2 and has no problem with rock music. Pretty much whatever it is, he’s kind of like an artist in his own right.

Mathew: Did Geffen suggest choosing Jacknife Lee, or was it a band decision?

Karl: (Geffen) didn’t suggest him as far as I know, because it was the label that was worried that they needed more hit singles and fast songs. I think it was a connection via the band's manager, like he dug him up and said I know somebody who knows this Jacknife guy, he works fast and people like him and stuff, and they tried him and it really worked out.

Mathew: It just seem Jacknifes' mixes are just a lot different than Rick Rubin’s, like less compressed and "Hi-Fi…"

Karl: The word I’d use for Jacknife's sound, and it’s funny because he often uses very “artificial” means, but the word I’d use is organic. He’ll come in with the craziest computer shit, but yet, he really has a great ear, so he knows what sounds natural and inviting to the ear.

Mathew: Yeah, because it seemed like in Rivers’ YouTube video, Jacknife already had an idea in his head of what he thought of “Turnin.”

Karl: Yeah, yeah, like I said, he’s an artist in his own right, and it’s collaborative, if a band goes to him with no ideas, he’s not interested. I think he needs something to feed off of. But, once he has that, and Weezer has tons of ideas, it’s just like which one to pick and focus on, and I think the deal with Jacknife is, you say OK, I’m going to trust this guy and what it’s going to be is good, and in a sense, you saw in the interviews, Rivers said “I’m contributing less, I’m sharing more,” and that’s kind of essential with how it works with Jacknife, because you have to have some trust that this guy, you know, is going to fiddle around with shit for an afternoon and before you know it your song is going to sound really interesting in a way you never expected it to, and yet, it’s going to sound like something that could totally be on the -radio and not be lame, he’s just got that touch, you know.

Make Believe

Mathew: So, why didn’t “Last Chance” end up on the final version of Make Believe? Like, not to be critical about the other songs, but from what we’ve read about the song, it just sounds pretty unique from the rest of the songs on Make Believe?

Karl: You got me dude. I think (“Last Chance”) was really cool.

Mathew: Just from the descriptions we read, it definitely could have been the lead-off track on Make Believe...

Karl: That’s what I thought, but, I don’t know why it didn’t make it. I agree with you 100%, but, I don’t know why.

Mathew: Is it just because like you say they started working on new stuff, then end up forgetting about Last Chance?

Karl: Honestly, I don’t want to speak ill of anyone’s judgment, but I think maybe there were too many cooks and it spoiled the stew.

Mathew: Do you think Rivers going away to Harvard just kind of pushed things into a totally different direction?

Karl: Well, there was like an impatience and frustration, it really seemed to the other guys that like Rivers was taking his sweet time and had no problem delaying things indefinitely. The other guys we’re like we’ve been on hiatus for 2 years, we got to get this thing going.

Mathew: Because, by that point, didn’t Rivers record by himself all summer?

Karl: Spring actually, then the summer was the Grandmaster sessions. Yeah, and it was really frustrating for the other guys, and it wasn’t that they didn’t think the recordings were good, it was just like, it seems to be turning into this pet project , and again, I’m glad they did what they did, though it didn’t make for a perfect album because there are flaws. But, prior to the changes, there was a strange feeling that every song was strongly influenced by an established style song.

It was like here’s a song that’s kind of like The Beatles – Revolver, and here’s a song that sounds like this. It really felt like that after you listened to half the album, they were like, we can’t release this, this is weird, you know. So the guys were like, what about this song, what about that song. They just said, lets just work on them, and we’ll see what Rivers says later, we’ll just try to get them finished up for him. Then, they had a big set of meetings with Rick Rubin and they went in and found some other old recordings, and that’s where “Perfect Situation” came into the situation.

Mathew: Yeah, because by then “Perfect Situation” was three years old by that point, wasn’t it?

Karl: Yeah, like there was good older stuff, and Brian was questioning various things; they all were. It was like why aren’t we doing this, it was like why did we spend two months working on this that none of us are really happy with, when this other song is already cool. So it all got re-scrambled, and like I said, some pluses, some minus’s in the end, because maybe not every decision was great, but , you know, in the heat of the moment it’s hard to tell. Honestly, at the time “We Are All on Drugs” sounded like it rocked. You know, it was like this, damn, this is a rocking tune. Later some were like, well maybe its not right, but it was too late.

Mathew: So, are the demos of “We Are All on Drugs,” “Pardon Me,” and “My Best Friend” a lot different than the final product?

Karl: Well, the acoustic “We Are All on Drugs” was really cool. Early on, it felt like, it just felt neat. It just felt as it got more built up and more electric, something changed, and it didn’t work that way as much, to me. The early “My Best Friend” had totally different lyrics that felt more heartfelt and were about a real person and it was really cool.

Mathew: Did Rivers change the lyrics to “My Best Friend” because he thought they were too personal?

Karl: Well, I’ll say this, originally he changed them because it was going to be in Shrek 2. So he said I’ll make them less specific so anyone can relate to them, but in my opinion it made them less personal and less cool, but it never got changed back when the whole thing fell apart with Shrek 2. Well, because it never changed back to the lyrics that I thought were cooler, so it kind of spoiled the song for me. But, you know, you don’t want to give up on something or tell somebody it’s no good, you just hope it turns out.

Mathew: It seems like “My Best Friend” just came out wrong, like something just didn’t turn out right…

Karl: Yeah, I don’t know what happened. When they were rehearsing (“My Best Friend”) it sounded rad. I mean, it was rockin, and it was tight. Again, lyrics hurt it, and something, something just didn’t flow the way I expected to in the end. “Pardon Me” had the same thing happen, the lyrics didn’t change, but the feel of it, from the demo to the early recordings and what finally ended up on Make Believe. I mean, maybe I was just romanticizing it, but it originally seemed to have a very slow, gradual build up and it really felt real.

Mathew: Do you think that’s because of the way Rick Rubin wanted to produce the album?

Karl: I don’t know if I could really pinpoint it or not. I mean, I’m sure he contributed to it, but it wasn’t him saying change it like this or change it like that. Usually, what he would do was simply reject a song if it didn’t quite meet up to whatever Rick standard. So, usually, if someone wanted a song on the record, they would re-work the song and give it another shot. It wasn’t like Rick would say change this, he would just say that one isn’t working for me. So it would kind of go on the backburner until somebody brought it back up. So whatever he heard, or whatever he thought he was going to hear was just different than what I heard originally, and then it never got back to whatever that was.

Mathew: Was the album actually ever being officially titled Either Way, I’m Fine? Or was that just a working title?

Karl: I don’t think so, I think that was just a joke working title.

Rivers' and Matt's Abandoned Album

Mathew: How close did the album ever come to being finished, or was it just a bunch of demos?

Karl: Ohh, it was just demos…

Mathew: In comparison to that YouTube cover of “Time Song” by Jack Mergist, how close is Rivers and Matt’s demo?

Karl: The demo version is actually closer to what they did in their show, like it’s mostly acoustic. (Jacks) cover is much more interesting and developed in almost every way.

Mathew: So, why wasn’t the album ever released? Did they just lose interest in it?

Karl: I think, I don’t know how to psychoanalyze it. Maybe a short way of putting it is Rivers got distracted or lost interest or something like that, because I think Matt definitely would have wanted to go ahead with it, had Rivers stayed interested. They didn’t have a falling out, there wasn’t anything weird. It was just like, time marched on.

Karl: It was almost like Rivers was experimenting and wanting to mend fences and, you know, they talked about doing stuff, and Rivers was excited, but at the same time, Rivers gets excited about a lot of things, and they don’t all happen. Matt was initially disappointed, but he has known Rivers for a long time, and he knows not to take stuff like that too personally. But I might be mis-interpreting the story, so please don’t take this as the gospel.


Mathew: Do you remember what "French Pop" sounds like?

Karl: "French Pop" sounds a lot like French pop. It’s a swaying waltzy piano based song with a Euro sensibility. Slow tempo, but jaunty, it chugs along. You can imagine a girl dancing to it, then speeding away on a Vespa.


Mathew: So, Rivers says it’s just “drum tracks” laid down, you said in the past that it’s a full album, it just needs to be mixed down...

Karl: I guess I could clarify by saying that I saw tracksheets. At a studio, there's like this, it almost looks like the page of a calender, except every box equals a track. Like, track 1, track 2, track 3, ect, and in there, people write down what's on that track, like bass, drums, rhythm guitar, lead guitar. I saw tracksheets for a number of songs, as I recall it was like Homie - Ft. Apache Boston, and I was like, "wow, this is cool." It was like, obviously, someone laid something down because you wouldn't have written this stuff down if it didn't exist, right? And then later, there were only two songs that I ever saw on CD, that were like Homie, full band recordings. I mean, there were rehearsals, demos, this and that, but as far as full-band recordings; there were two that I saw. I don't know if those two songs corresponded to those track sheets or not. I may never know that. It may have been something Rivers did in his basement with his friends. But, um, there is a number of recordings, but as far as whatever corresponded with those tracksheets, I don't know what the hell happened to it, and maybe there only were drums, because maybe everything else Rivers was scrapping, and the drums were the only part that were good.

Mathew: Do you think "Homie" will ever be mixed down and released?

Karl: The question is, A.) Do they exist, B.) If they exist what's on the tapes, like I said, if it's just drums that are any good, then you can't mix that down without recording the rest of it. Um, if their actually is a 2" reel somewhere that Rivers has forgotten about, and they actually have full-band recordings on them, except for maybe they don't have the vocals, it would seem like quite a project to resurrect and I think Rivers has moved ahead to new things, you know what I mean. But, I mean, there is no hard and fast rule that Rivers can't release stuff with other players on it.

Mathew: It just seems from interviews and Rivers talking about it, that he's just kind of uncomfortable with that whole era or he just really doesn't remember what he did...

Karl: I don't know, Well, I'll put it this way, he has a great memory, but he likes to do research and he likes to know things really well before he speaks of it. If he put time and effort into it, to sort it all out, like he's doing with his old material that's leading to this Alone-stuff, then yeah, I'm sure you'd get a complete account of everything, and he'd know what was cool, and he'd want to release this and that. But that's 1998, I mean he's just getting thru 1992, 1993 in his head, you know what I mean. So, I'm not saying it's not going to happen, but it could take a while to get there. Or he’s just not interested for whatever reason. I don’t know.

Mathew: What are your favorite Homie songs?

Karl: I like the “rocking version” of "American Girls," "I'll Think About You," "Autumn in Jane,".. or "The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World," if that counts. I don’t think it does. Just about all the Homie songs are pretty great. I could expand on that by saying, I'm not even sure which songs count as Homie or not. You know what I mean, it's kind of a hard thing to figure out.

Mathew: So the version of "I'll Think About You" we got on Alone II isn't the finished studio version, right?

Karl: No, what you're getting is Rivers' demo, and I believe there is two different versions of the home demo. The version you got on Alone II was actually different than the version I thought Rivers was going to be putting on.

Mathew: What's the difference between the two "home" demos?

Karl: Well, the one you haven’t heard is rougher, I think it was done in the garage in LA. So it kind of has that, you know, beaten up drum-kick kind of sound, it's fun.

Mathew: I found it a little funny that he would bring the song back six years later to work on with Homie.

Karl: I know, and it also partially borrowed from it for "Keep Fishin" too. It’s pretty cool, so I can see the attraction to it.

Mathew: Which version of "Hot Tub" do you prefer, the Homie-Version or the Rivers Cuomo-demo version?

Karl: Oh, I think I'd prefer the original (demo), just because that's the one I heard for a couple years, and got used to it. The one where the bridge is like a chorus and he's like "sometimes I'm so disappointed," and all that, that's the one I prefer. If that means anything, it's just my preference.


Mathew: Did "Longtime Sunshine" ever get close to making Pinkerton, or did he already have in his head of what exactly he wanted on Pinkerton?

Karl: "Butterfly" was written really late in the game, and originally, "Longtime Sunshine" was going to be the closer, as far as I know.

Mathew: It obviously would have been a "full-band" version, right?

Karl: Well, it was pretty light. I mean, it was a full-band version, because it had Pat's drumming. It's mostly Piano and singing. I mean, the other guys are in it, partially. There is bass and guitar in the second half or so, when the drums come in.

Mathew: So, if "Longtime Sunshine" would have closed Pinkerton it wouldn't have been much different than Rivers' demo that's already released?

Karl: It wouldn't have been much different. No.

Mathew: You know, I was reading the recording history, and the "four and five star demo" sheet and there is really only 1 song in there, besides the Pinkerton songs, from his entire time at Harvard. Are there more songs from his time at Harvard, or is it really just those songs?

Karl: It was a pretty dry period for Rivers. Once he went to Harvard, he didn't write anything for the entire first semester. He was really depressed, and that was coming off touring where he didn't have any time to record, or really think. And um, it was a pretty dry spell, like 94-95, was real dry. And, uh, he just started getting inspired by stuff at Harvard. Like, you know, the famous stories that led to Pink Triangle and stuff. So, all this stuff, you know, kind of resurrected his second album ambitions, but changed the whole focus of it, of course.

Mathew: Are there "Alone" style home demos of all those songs on Pinkerton?

Karl: Um, not some of them, no, not that I know of. Some of them were developed, like he brought them to the band and I don't believe there was a recording, he was just like this is how it goes. Because, he didn't really have time, when I think about it; summer 95', we were on tour. August 95, we went into Electric Lady, and then he went to school. So, it was like he cranked out what he could crank out before school started, and then you know, slowly after like 2 or 3 months of school, finally getting inspired to write again.

The Blue Album

Mathew: So, I heard a story that Ric Ocasek wrote the solo for "No One Else" could you kind of put truth to that story?

Karl: Thats kind of a mis-hearing of the story. When they were recording "The World has Turned and Left Me Here" Rivers was kind of stuck for a solo, and he was lying in between, like the double doors in the studio, like the six inches between them, he was lying in there upside-down. Like, killing himself trying to come up with the right solo, and like after an hour, over the talk back, Ric suggested like a little bit of a melody, and the light-bulb went off and Rivers nailed it.

Mathew: Basically, it was a minor suggestion by Ric?

Karl: He inspired it, and you know, it was the beginning melody of the solo. I can't remember, but he didn't sing the whole solo, but it was a melodic idea, and Rivers jumped on it, and within a few minutes he had it. So he did help him, no question about it. But he didn't write and he didn't show it to him on guitar, he basically just kind of sang it, a little bit, and it was really cool. It was really cool to see it happen.


Mathew: Did Rivers contribute at all to "I Must Find This..."?

Karl: I thanked him for years of exposure to his songwriting process (which I think has helped me write my own stuff on some level), and for a performance he contributed but probably didn’t know he contributed.

Mathew: Any progress on the new album?

Karl: I'm just getting things organized now. Ive got some neat stuff developing that I'm excited about. Some in the vein of I Must Find This..., and some in a more traditional songwriting sense.

Mathew: 2009 release?

Karl: I really hope so. Its my goal to have it created by fall, and definitely pressed before the holidays.


Mathew: Red Album deluxe or Alone II vinyl?

Karl: Red Deluxe is pressed up and ready to go. Some sort of delay involing the digital download insert part. I don’t know what the hold up has been. They are beautiful high quality records and jackets, vinyl freaks and audiophiles will love them. I have not heard anything about Alone 2 vinyl, I have a feeling its not happening at least not in the near future.

Mathew: Recording History Update?

Karl: It's terrible, it's like I have so much work. Every night I'm doing nine other things, and I'm like, 'OK, I gotta get back to that stuff.'

Mathew: It seems pretty tedious...

Karl: It's pretty tedious, plus there are a ton of things I don't exactly know, especially going into the current years. But, I'll do my best. I don't know, I'll get something up, at some point.

Mathew: Favorite Seinfeld Episode?

Karl: You know what, I've seen like less than 20 Seinfeld's my entire life. I've enjoyed everyone I've ever watched. Seinfeld came along at a time when I was in college, then I went out west and I never watched TV for like 10 years. So, I missed the whole boat, but I always appreciated it when I saw it, but I never got into it like I was addicted. Obviously, if I had to pick one, I'm well aware of the "Festivus" one and I always thought that was a classic.

I hope you enjoyed the interview! Thanks goes out to Karl Koch for agreeing to do this. I will say again, if you haven't done so yet, please go out and purchase/legally download I Must Find This... and support our friend Karl! If you are the vinyl-type, there still may be a few vinyls of I Must Find This... left, but you'd have to e-mail Karlophone to find out exactly what is left. Karl says: “theres a good supply of LPs left, our massive warehouse is waiting for your orders (heh)”