The Bakersfield Californian article - June 15, 2000

From Weezerpedia
Web interview with Rivers Cuomo
Publication O. Flageul
Interviewee Rivers Cuomo
Interviewer Chris Page
Date June 15, 2000[1]
Title Not some ol' Weezer
Format Web
External link Archived via Weezer Media Archive on
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Not some ol' Weezer
Author: (Chris Page)
Published: June 15, 2000

The four guys of Weezer have broken up. They've been killed in car accidents and plane wrecks. And they've supplanted their old bass player for ex-Smashing Pumpkins geisha D'arcy Wretzky. But, of course, that's all just rumor, scattered throughout chat rooms and bulletin boards on the Internet.

Who could blame the fans? The last couple of years have passed with little to nothing new for the band's loyal following. And when there's no news to report, sometimes a little fiction can go a long way.

Truth is, Weezer — the band that made a smash in the mid-'90s with several hit songs, "Undone (The Sweater Song)" and "Buddy Holly," turning millions onto the band's unique brand of so-called "geek rock" — has been in a sort of on again/off again hiatus.

But that's about to change. The Los Angeles practice studio that has been ground zero for intense, daily practice for the last month is about to burst open and unleash a new, excited, vibrant Weezer. And although the band hasn't released an album in four years, the road is calling.

"It doesn't make much sense business-wise, I know," said the soft-spoken lead singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo in a recent interview. "But we just want to get out there and play. We have tons of pent-up energy from not playing in a long time."

An offer to tour with this summer's Vans Warped Tour was something the foursome couldn't refuse. Therein lies the Bakersfield connection: Weezer will be playing a sold-out Saturday night show at downtown's Jerry's Pizza in order to warm up for the big tour.

Opening for Weezer is alterna-punk band Nerf Herder.

"It should be pretty interesting," said Cuomo, who has driven up from his L.A. home to check out the all-ages club in recent weeks. "We'll be doing a lot of new songs. We've mainly been practicing these new songs, and we're still frantically trying to get the old songs to sound good again."

In Bakersfield as well as out on the Warped Tour, it'll be those old songs that most of the audience will be listening for. Songs like "Buddy Holly" — whose Spike Jonze-directed video became an MTV staple in 1995 — established a super-strong fan base for Weezer's super-poppy alterna-rock.

Of course, the more die-hard Weezer fans will perk up their ears for the new, as-yet-unrecorded tunes that Cuomo and crew have been working on for a while now. Which brings up a bit of an issue for Cuomo.

"It's going to be weird," he said, "because people are going to tape our shows, so they (the songs) are going to be out on the Internet before the new album comes out."

"But we're going to mess with them a bit," Cuomo added, laughing quietly. "We're going to sing different lyrics or sing some in French or something. Or we won't tell them what the titles are."

The story of Weezer is one of a twisty-turny 6-year adventure starting back in 1992.

The four band members, coming from four different points in the midwestern and eastern United States, converged upon L.A. to play alterna-pop tunes for small audiences in dirty clubs.

But someone from major label DGC records offered a recording contract the following year, and soon the band released its debut, self-titled album (which they now affectionately refer to as, simply, the "blue album" for its simple cover band photo on a blue background).

That album spawned the unlikely hit single "Undone (The Sweater Song)," with its quirky lyrics ("If you want to destroy my sweater/pull this thread as I walk away").

Shortly after, the group struck gold with the infectious track "Buddy Holly" and the syncopated semi-ska tune "Say It Ain't So."

At the heart of the music was some slick melodies, wall-of-crunch guitars and insecure, introspective lyrics courtesy of Cuomo. Despite being dubbed "geek rock," it caught on with lots of young listeners.

Soon, the band was touring around the world for thousands of fans a night. But something wasn't right.

"After a show, I'd head straight for the tour bus and read a book," Cuomo said. "It was the opposite of what being in a rock ‘n' roll band should be like."

The release of Weezer's sophomore album, "Pinkerton," was met with less enthusiasm. By and large, the pop accessibility of the first album was obscured by quirkier, louder guitars and more dissonance. The only album single, "El Scorcho," was a flop.

"The tour for ‘Pinkerton' was the total opposite," Cuomo said. "I partied way too much."

Somewhere in the middle of Weezer's success, Cuomo made time for a couple of personal things. He went back to college, taking classes in English and music at Harvard. He also underwent surgery to lengthen one of his legs, which was shorter than the other. He went around in a leg brace for the better part of a year.

Cuomo's still hindered by metal these days, but it's moved from his leg to his mouth. A set of braces may set his teeth straighter later, but for now, it's creating some troubles when it comes time to sing.

"Some words sound kinda strange (especially ones ending in an "e" sound), but I just have to get past it," Cuomo said.

The past two years may have seen Weezer dormant in the public eye, but a lot was happening behind-the-scenes. Longtime bassist Matt Sharp officially quit the group to focus on his Moog-heavy band, The Rentals. He was replaced by Juliana Hatfield bassist Mikey Welsh.

Welsh and Weezer drummer Pat Wilson also spent time on their own side band, Special Goodness, while guitarist Brian Bell worked on his group, the Space Twins. Cuomo did a lot of writing as well as some work on his newly-purchased home.

Weezer's only real effort was lending a cover of "Velouria" to a Pixies tribute album on independent Glue Factory Records last year.

Which brings us to now. The band left DGC Records and was picked up by Interscope Records. After the Warped Tour dates in early summer, the band will enter the studio to record those new songs for an album scheduled to be released early 2001.

But a lot has changed in the music world since Weezer laid low. The band will be competing with the Britney Spears and the Limp Bizkits of the Top 20 charts. Will there be an audience for Weezer's melodic geek rock?

Cuomo isn't sure. But it doesn't really matter to him. "I've never wanted us to be anything but a pop band," he said. "I still like melodies and heavy guitars and weird lyrics. I don't think that's ever going to change."

See also

  1. Weezer Media Archive archive. Archived by Wayback Machine (captured 26 February 2004):