Toronto Sun interview with Matt Sharp - November 25, 1995

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Rentals Look for Hire Ground

By Kieran Grant


Weezer bassist Matt Sharp wants to make this clear. His band, The Rentals, is not a side-project.

"Yeah, our bio comes off really defensive," Sharp says of The Rentals press material.

The group opens for Alanis Morissette at the Warehouse Tuesday - with no apologies.

"It's just that interviewers were referring to The Rentals as a teeny, minuscule, little side thing. In the long run, it won't be difficult to get by that. I want to write, record and release music, and that's as important to me as anything."

And that includes the hit-making Weezer, that band currently off the road while singer-guitarist Rivers Cuomo attends university.

Meanwhile, Sharp has his hands full with The Rentals' multi-record deal with Madonna's Maverick label.

Still, some wonder about The Rentals life span. "But I'm not shocked by the skepticism," admits Sharp. "I mean, a bass player in a popular band who wants to put out his own records? I'm sure people are like, 'Great, whatever.'"

In the beginning, Sharp had fun with The Rentals, distributing a trumped-up history - had them hailing from Prague, where they'd listened to nothing but old Gary Numan albums until Madonna discovered them and brought them to America.

"Initially, we tried that," Sharp explains. "But then I just didn't have the energy for it.

"I think people get really offended when they don't understand your humor, and then you have to do interview after interview with all these people that are really put off by you because you're being sarcastic."

The Rentals do use retro European pop references, especially in light of Sharp's fascination with vintage Moog synthesizers on the disc.

"A lot of people have said that to me, but I really think it's just coincidental," he says. "I don't think the record sounds like an '80s record at all. Nobody would have played it in 1980. People have been talking about how that stuff's coming back, or whatever, and I love a lot of music from that time, but it wasn't premeditated on this record."

As for the Alanis Morissette tour, which lasts two weeks, Sharp says he's looking forward to playing to a different crowd.

"I've never met her, but apparently she likes the record," he says with some surprise. "We were assured that she personally requested us for this tour. A lot of people seem to want to pit me against her, which is really weird. I've only heard a couple of her songs on the radio. I figure you write songs, and if people like them, good."

"I guess it's that whole thing about her video past, and the records she made in Canada."

Sharp is referring to the fact that Maverick bought the rights to Morissette's silly, pre-alt-rock catalogue and buried it to protect the singer's rep in the U.S.

"The only thing they didn't do was buy the rights to the videos," Sharp laughs. "Now MTV's got ahold of them and they're going off on it. MTV made her, then they try to knock her down. What are they gonna say, 'Well, Alanis used to be like Debbie Gibson'? Well, so what? MTV used to play Debbie Gibson."

"And I like Debbie Gibson."