Sunday News interview with Patrick Wilson - October 6, 1996

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Obsession Drives Troubled Musician's Soul

By: Anne Hogan


Rivers Cuomo, lead singer and songwriter for LA band Weezer, is a troubled soul.

Take the band's new album Pinkerton. Its 10 songs detail Cuomo's obsession with Japanese women - his anguish, his heartbreak, his lust for a lesbian. It is full of references to the opera Madame Butterfly, including the title (Pinkerton was Butterfly's American lover), and the cover features a famous Japanese painting (chosen by Cuomo).

What's with this guy who sings on single "El Scorcho": "Goddamn you half-Japanese girls, do it to me every time."

It appears the rest of the band aren't too sure what's going on in Rivers' head either.

Less-than-talkative drummer Pat Wilson (27) told Sunday News: "All I can say is if you're inferring Rivers has an obsession with Japanese women, well, I won't deny it. That is a possibility but I can neither confirm nor deny."

Attempts to get Wilson to spill more of the beans on Cuomo's love life are unsuccessful.

Who's the girl he writes about? "I don't know exactly. All the songs are written from Rivers' perception...Evidently he had connections with these Asian women."

Was it one in particular or several? "I honestly don't know but there's something funny going on."

Did she turn out to be a lesbian? "Evidently he's had experiences with a lesbian."

Surely you must have asked? "We let him write the songs - we don't talk to him too much about it," says Wilson.

It must be fun being on the road with these guys.

"We get along pretty good but we see each other so much on the road we just go and do our own thing when we're not touring."

At opposite ends of the country, as it turns out. Wilson is from Buffalo, New York, but now lives in Portland, Oregon.

He says: "LA is terrible for me, nasty. It's a great place to go if you have something to do but I had ceased doing things and wanted to live somewhere pretty."

Cuomo lives in Boston, guitarist Brian Bell in Los Angeles, and bass player Matt Sharp "doesn't live anywhere - he's been kind of roving around for a while now".

None of them is from LA but they all "ended up there because where we were living was not conducive to being successful in the music business".

They met up four years ago, "fell together" and released their self-titled debut album two years later. It was a noisy, catchy sleeper smash which stayed on the American charts for 76 weeks and went platinum here, selling almost 24,000 copies.

Cuomo, who writes songs at the rate of one every two months, then put together Pinkerton. Wilson says few Weezer fans have picked up the Madame Butterfly connection. He confesses he's never heard the opera and doesn't think he'll bother. "I'm not a fan of the form."

And unlike his band leader, Wilson is not lovelorn. He's the only one in Weezer who's married.

He's not sure what to expect when they get to Japan. "Hopefully they'll be completely into it...it will be a cultural bridge we're building."

Weezer play Auckland's Logan Campbell Centre on October 14.