The Buffalo News interview with Patrick Wilson - July 23, 1995
Patrick Wilson and the Weezer Way of Life
By Pat Riley, News Staff Reporter
Many members of the Clarence Senior High School Class of 1987 can boast some measure of success in life. Some are doctors, others are lawyers.
But only Patrick Wilson is a member of Weezer.
"I'm sure they're not going to put my picture up in the trophy case," jokes Wilson, 26, on the phone from L.A.
He's the drummer for a band that leapt to pop culture consciousness late last year with the Happy Days-infused video of its song "Buddy Holly." Weezer's self-titled album has gone platinum (1 million copies sold).
The band has just set off on a summer tour, which will include a stop at Blind Mellons' Air Strip on Friday.
Wilson is looking forward to returning to the club, where Weezer played in November to an audience that included many family members and friends.
He was surprised to hear that the popular band Offspring had recently played the 2,500-capacity outdoor venue as well.
Wilson is perhaps a bit too modest in thinking that Weezer is not up to Offspring's level. While that may be true in terms of sales (Offspring's album has sold 4 million), Weezer has definitely made a distinct musical mark. It didn't succeed on the strength of one inventive video alone.
Weezer's original sound was turning heads long before MTV caught wind of it.
"They were the sign of the times last year," says WKSE-FM (Kiss 98.5) disc jockey Nicholas Picholas.
"They're the ultimate slacker band," he says, discounting the underachieving efforts of other young bands such as Green Day. He says their songs display a sense of humor that "tries to keep (the listener) on the inside." He calls Weezer's sound "a full wall-of-sound pop thing."
That is, Weezer's album is full of well-crafted tunes and a sound that's layered but not overly heavy.
This has been largely attributed to the work of producer Ric Ocasek, a fact Patrick Wilson disputes.
"I think we (the band) produced it." He agrees that former Cars member Ocasek played an integral role, but says Ocasek was involved "not as much in a hands-on way, but in more of a macro kind of way." Ocasek, for instance, chose the recording engineer for the album.
The road to rock fame began for Wilson back in eighth grade when he and his friend Greg Czarnecki began taking drum lessons.
With natural ability and some fast talking, he says, they were soon teaching drums to about 30 students at a now-defunct music shop. (To Buffalo's basement drummers he has the following advice: "You need to tune your drums, because they probably sound terrible.")
He explains that he quickly tired of watching "the selling of (cheap) guitar amps to unsuspecting kids."
In the years after his graduation, he grew frustrated with the Buffalo music scene, then dominated by heavy metal and cover bands, of which he says, "I couldn't understand anything." So he and another friend left Western New York for L.A.
There, Weezer was formed. And gradually, it grew. And grew.
"I think it's amazing," Wilson says of his band's status. By last fall its catchy "Undone - The Sweater Song" had already taken it to a level of popularity high enough for its credibility to be called into question by crusty rock purists who see tremendous success as a sign of "selling out."
But, as DJ Picholas explains, "As popular as they've gotten, it's not their fault. All they did was release an album...They're a big-reaction band."
And Wilson asserts that Weezer does not plan on becoming a one-release wonder.
The band will begin recording a second album toward the end of the summer, finishing it up around Christmas with a mid-to-late spring '96 release in mind.
Lead singer River Cuomo previously had said he wanted to end the band and use his earnings to pursue an undergraduate degree. Those plans have changed, though the interview-shy Cuomo will attend school in the fall (Wilson won't say where).
Wilson also has a solo project in the works. For now he's recording on an eight-track, but, he says, "I plan on getting a record deal of my own." Until then, he is content to tour the world. Weezer recently finished up concert dates in Europe, ending in Paris, where it played a show with Offspring and Ice T's Body Count (whose members, Wilson says, take turns pumping up on a bench press before going on stage).
Like a culture-shocked college student, Wilson loves to discuss the goings-on in Western New York. He was especially glad to hear that three local radio stations now play his band's music and he hopes that Weezer someday will play Shea's or Kleinhans. He recently visited his parents in Clarence Center, where he walks the streets largely unrecognized. But to ensure his anonymity, he says, "Sometimes I wear a hat."
In another sign that the Buffalo area will always be close to his heart, Wilson is a Bills fan.
"God bless the Buffalo Bills," he says with a laugh. While he claims to have "backed down from the emotional investment," he is quick to add, "I hate the Cowboys."
"He misses Buffalo," agrees Picholas, who says Wilson questioned him about local housing prices during an interview.
Whether or not he returns to the area to live, chances are that Patrick Wilson will show up for his 10-year high school reunion. And doubtless he'll have some unique stories to tell.