The Plain Dealer interview with Rivers Cuomo and Patrick Wilson - December 7, 2001
Revitalized Weezer Celebrates Its 'Green' Thumb
By Gary Graff, SPECIAL TO THE PLAIN DEALER
Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? Definitely, if it's Weezer fans you're asking.
The Southern California pop band's self-titled third album∏—nicknamed The Green Album for the hue of its cover—debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts when it was released during the spring and has gone on to sell more than a million copies. The first single, "Hash Pipe," was a certified smash.
That wouldn't be unusual except that it's been six years since Weezer's last album, the highly regarded Pinkerton, and seven since it greeted the rock world with the twin hits "Undone (The Sweater Song)" and "Buddy Holly."
"We were totally astonished," says Rivers Cuomo, Weezer's singer, guitarist and chief songwriter. "We keep getting surprised."
Adds drummer Patrick Wilson, "Obviously we're surprised people are still so interested in what we're doing. It's really weird; we did one signing, and this little girl came up to me, she was in 10th grade, and said 'I've been a fan for six years.' And I was like, 'Oh my God, you were, like, in fourth grade. It's amazing."
After forming during the early '90s in Los Angeles, Weezer's hiatus was brought on by some inner-band conflict—which led to original bassist Matt Sharp leaving—and by Cuomo's own creative burn-out, which led to writer's block that he overcame during a tenure at Harvard University.
"He kept pretty much to himself," Wilson, 28, says of Cuomo's time matriculating. "I would call him now and again, just to say 'Hey.' But we were all busy doing stuff we were excited about."
Cuomo, 31, acknowledges that "There were some times when it looked pretty bleak as far as our future prospects went. There were a million antagonistic factors. But I still got up every day and kept trying; I didn't let it get me down."
"The songs started to get a little better, which allowed us to start playing together - and then that made the songs get even better as we got more energy and confidence to the point where we could actually go out and start playing shows. Then it really took off, and we heard all the people cheering for us and that was something we hadn't heard for awhile; nothing boosts my confidence like hearing people singing our songs."
Weezer has been hearing that a lot lately - during the 2000 Warped Tour, for instance, and on its own dates since Weezer, which was produced by former Cars leader Ric Ocasek, came out. It hasn't been all smooth sailing; bassist Mikey Welsh checked into a Boston area psychiatric hospital last month for unspecified treatments, while Cuomo, Wilson and guitarist Brian Bell chose to soldier on with Scott Shiner from the band Broken as a temporary replacement. But Wilson says that hasn't dampened Weezer's enthusiasm for the future, which should mean no more six-year breaks between albums.
"Currently we have another batch of songs that we're even more excited about than 'The Green Record,'" he says. "We had a song drought for the longest time; now we have, like, a song glut. There's lots of songs we recorded for ('Weezer') that we want to put out, but we're not sure the best way to do it.
"It's kind of a good problem to have, but we don't really know what to do. I do think we're really conscious that we don't want to over-exposure ourselves here, even at the risk of some under-exposure. We'd rather err on the side of caution."
When: 7:30 tomorrow
Where: Cleveland State University Convocation Center, 2000 Prospect Ave.
Openers: Tenacious D, Jimmy Eat World
Tickets: $27.50, available at the box office and Ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone, 216-241-5555 (Cleveland) or 330-945-9400 (Akron)
Graff is a free-lance writer in Beverly Hills, Mich.