Weezer (The Blue Album) Deluxe Edition liner notes

From Weezerpedia

Weezer (The Blue Album) Deluxe Edition liner notes
Author: Todd Sullivan
Date: January 2004

A friend once told me about the luck involved in Artist & Repertoire. "It's amazing that any band ever gets signed," he said. "Usually after an A&R person signs their first band, they immediately start to develop a check list of what will and will not succeed." It the band plays sloppy, or they look like normal schleps, don't have that rock star presence, wear glasses, sing in normal unaffected voices, wear their pants a little too high, etc... they will not succeed.

The first time I saw Weezer was at a place called The Central (Club Dump). I had been to The Central numerous times, but had never enjoyed any of the bands I had seen there. The only reason I agreed to go to the club this particular night was because I had heard a tape of a band called Weezer. Although miserably recorded, the songs were immediately striking. I walked down thr street from the Geffen offices to The Central to see Weezer. When the band came on, I think I must've been blinded by the great songs they were playing. They played sloppy, looked like normal schleps, didn't have that rock star presence, wore glasses... I just didn't care. I was seeing this great band, who were standing on their toes putting all of their focus on these songs about trains and surfboards and breaking up with a blabbermouth. At the time, it didn't hit me that they were actually singing about being losers. It was more like they had a job to do and they blinders on. While they were onstage, they didn't care about the girlfriends they wanted, the record deal they didn't have or the money they weren't making. Weezer was a band on a mission.

I found out later that almost every label in town had seen the band and decided not to pursue them (see above checklist). But for me, Weezer was a band possessed. And once I met Matt and Rivers, this was very apparent. I took both of them out to dinner near their house in West Los Angeles. When I picked them up, I was surprised to see they lived in a two bedroom guest house with four other roommates. Once we were at the restaurant, Matt did all the talking. He talked about what they wanted as a band: the opportunity to record an album and to be able to go out and tour behind it. It was at least an hour before I could get Rivers to say anything. They were convinced they'd never sell any substantial number of albums. I could tell it was this attitude that was shaping the spirit of the band, so of course, I wanted to sign them.

The first time I brought Rivers and Matt to the label to meet with all the of the different department heads, it was pretty awkward. Matt did the talking, while Rivers sat stone faced. Maybe I should add "ice-cold" to stone faced. As a result, the reaction from the company was bi-polar. Some felt they had had a very special meeting, while others were saying "these guys are going to be a big problem." In many ways, the combined assessments were correct. However anyone interpreted the meeting, it was agreed that these guys had a very strong presence.

Though most other labels in town had passed on the band, signing them wasn't easy. They weren't going to sign a record deal just because it was right in front of them. It was a courtship that lasted several months (including a requisite viewing of the Star Wars trilogy in one sitting). I think this is why "Jamie," the band's attorney at the time, is immortalized in song.

Eventually the band signed to Geffen with the statement that they would make the best record they could with their ten best songs, and the tour for as long as possible. While recording the album, Rivers asked what would be the minimum number of albums they could see. When I told him Geffen never ships less than 15,000 copies he felt pretty convinced that's all they would ever sell. Of course when the album was released, the label only shipped 13,000 copies. Gulp! The reason why so few copies were shipped was due to the fact that there was no commercial radio airplay on the band. I wanted people to have a chance to discover the band through word of mouth. However, this plan only lasted a few weeks. Susie Tenant, who was the Seattle promotion rep for Geffen, could not contain her enthusiasm for the band. Her excitement sparked KNDD music director Marco Collins to test spin "Undone." The song went on the air and the request lines immediately lit up. Within weeks, "Undone" was getting major airplay all over the country and some serious rotation at MTV with the video directed by Spike Jonze. Two more singles followed, and the album, which sold only 90 copies in its first week of release, went on to sell more than three million.

Eleven years after first hearing Weezer, I still get chills when I hear the finger-picking intro of "My Name is Jonas." And the orchestral crescendo of "Only in Dreams" is probably the closest I'll ever get to the exhilaration of skydiving.

Weezer (The Blue Album) Deluxe Edition disc 2 liner notes
Author: Karl Koch
Date: 2004

01. Mykel and Carli (b-side to the "Undone" import single)

Recorded by Paul DuGre at Ocean Way Studios, 07/9/94

This song started as a Rivers demo called "Please Pick up the Phone" back in '92. Like many early demos, the song sat on tape, unpracticed by the band. Several months later, having made the acquaintance and earning the early support of the wonder Mykel and Carli Allan, Rivers re-worked the song in their honor, and the band started rehearsing it and playing it live. Rivers' lyrics spoke of Mykel and Carli as if they had been Rivers' friends back in high school. Rivers had quizzed the girls on details of their upbringing ("Eagle Court," "Wilson High") to create as accurate a picture as possible. The song later appeared on US benefit compilation album Hear You Me!.

02. Susanne (b-side to the "Undone" import single)

Recorded by Paul DuGre at Ocean Way Studios, 7/9/94. Mixed by Chris Shaw

Susanne was a talented A&R assistant at Geffen. In the long months of limbo between completing the Blue album in October '93 and its eventual release in May '94, she became a big Weezer supporter, doing her best to keep the guys optimistic about their future with Geffen. As the lyrics imply, Susanne did in fact help Rivers out with her spare winter coat when he needed on, and made plates of brownies to cheer him up. Her devotion and aid were perfectly summed up in this song. Before she knew of the song's existence, the guys performed it a cappella for her in her Geffen office. Needless to say, it surprised the hell out of her!

Originally the line "Even Izzy, Slash, and Axl Rose, when I call you put 'em all on hold" read "Even Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose..." In April '94, the shocking news came of Kurt's untimely death. Though the two had never met, Rivers had found great inspiration in Kurt's songwriting on Nirvana's Bleach. So when it came time to record "Susanne," Rivers decided to change the lyric, not wanting to disrespect the memory of one who had been such an inspiration.

This version of Susanne is a remix done by Chris Shaw in August '95 at Electric Lady in NYC, just as the band was beginning sessions for their second album. The band had agreed to let "Susanne" be used in the upcoming Kevin Smith film, Mallrats. A consensus was reached that the track could stand a fresh try at a mix if it was to be used in a film. The remix has come to be considered the definitive version.

03. My Evaline (b-side to the "Undone" import single)

Recorded by Paul DuGre at Ocean Way Studios, 7/9/94

In 1993, the guys started going to a vocal coach. Rivers had experience from high school with singing in barbershop quartets, and soon the band was doing barbership "homework"; vocally, the band needed work to pull off the kind of harmonies that Rivers was writing. "My Evaline" was one of many old timey songs practiced at the time. Later, when the band was recording "Mykel & Carli" and "Susanne," they had some extra time and decided to take a shot at some barbershop. Pat supplies the fourth voice, as he would frequently join the barbershop workouts. It came out rather well, and all agreed it would be cool to put it out. Mysteriously, it only appeared on the Australian edition of "Undone" single, which erroneously (and oddly) listed the title as "Sweet Adeline."

04. Jamie (originally appeared on DGC Rarities)

Recorded by Dale Johnson

"Jamie" was written by Rivers in March 1993 as a sincere reaction to the help the band was getting from their first attorney. Although band lawyers are indeed paid very well, Rivers was experiencing a real feeling of gratitude and safety, which came out in this track. It wasn't so much a "thank you" as it was an expression of feelings of confidence and security produced by having a high powered attorney (after long months of worry). The band subsequently had a fortunate run in one Dale Johnson, then a student at Loyola Marymount who was taking a class in music recording and sound engineering. Dale had a class recording project coming up, so a plan was hatched to get the band to record with Dale for his project. The song was recorded live on 4/15/1993 with no overdubs. The track was later delegated to the DGC Rarities Vol. 1 album, a move which took convincing for the band from A&R man Todd Sullivan; they were concerned that their "rarity" might not be up to snuff sonically. Todd reminded them that the feel was amazing, and the world had to hear this recording! Dale Johnson recalls: "I guess the guys were happy with tyhe LMY version of 'Jaime,' but I never entirely was completely satisfied. I mean, there's only so much you can do with a live take and only a few hours! Rivers seemed to be really completely amazed when I told him I only got a B+ on the project. 'But it's gonna be on a CD, man...!' I Remember Matt being really adamant that they would do the recording project with me, but they had to own the master. Smart boys they were, and I agreed to it. I just really wanted to be credited with the recording."

05. My name is Jonas - live (b-side to the "Buddy Holly" import single)

06. Surf Wax America - live (b-side to the "Buddy Holly" import single)

Mixed by Rivers Cuomo

These were recorded in Rochester, NY at the Horizontal Boogie Bar, on 11/27/94, while an ice storm raged outside. Since the band had only recorded 4 studio b-sides, (including "Jamie" and the "My Evaline" experiment), this created a b-side shortage by the time of the band's second single, "Buddy Holly." Weezer was in the midst of an endless Blue Album tour, which necessitated b-sides having to be "flown in" from live and acoustic performances.

07. Jamie (acoustic) - (live b-side to the "Say It Ain't So" import single)

08. No One Else (acoustic) - (live b-side to the "Say It Ain't So" import single)

The B-side drought continued, so good acoustic performances were sought out for the third single. These were recorded during what was jokingly referred to as the "World Domination" tour, at Cat's Paw Studios in Atlanta, GA on 4/1/95. This session was set up by radio station 99X, and was originally broadcast live.

09. Undone - the Sweater song (previously unreleased 'Kitchen Tape' demo)

10. Paperface (previously unreleased 'Kitchen Tape' demo)

11. Only in dreams (previously unreleased 'Kitchen Tape' demo)

These tracks resulted from Weezer's first serious attempt at getting their songs down on tape as a band. While there was one earlier group effort in 5/92, this session (recorded the week of 8/1/92 was far more fruitful. The demo tape was originally conceived as an independently produced album, but with only 8 tracks successfully captured, it ended up being used to try and secure more shows for the slowly solidfying band. The tracks were recorded at the band's rented house which contained a rehearsal space in the form of a semi-soundproofed, carpet-covered, one-car garage. The tape ended up being dubbed "The Kitchen Tape" because the drums were recorded in the kitchen, which was adjacent to the garage, and a much better room to capture drum sounds. The neighbors weren't too thrilled, but the drum sound was sweet!

12. Lullaby for Wayne (previously unreleased pre-production recording - S.I.R., NYC)

13. I swear it's true (previously unreleased pre-production recording - S.I.R., NYC)

Right before starting work on the Blue Album in New York City, producer Ric Ocasek had the band rehearse at S.I.R. Studios, which culminated with the recording of a production demo on 8/1/93. These two tracks were among a handful of Blue Album candidates that didn't make the final cut, and were never actually released in any form until now. "Wayne" had been practiced as far back as early 1993 and had seen action at shows that spring and summer. "I Swear" was quite new at this point, and had never been played live. "Wayne was rejected as being too similar to "Surf Wax" (and harder to play properly) and "I Swear" was put on the back burner. The song later resurfaced as a possible (unsuccessful) candidate for 1996's Pinkerton.

14. Say it ain't so (original album mix)

Produced by Ric Ocasek

When "Say it ain't so" was announced as the third single, the band felt it was the perfect time to make adjustments to ta few elements in the original mix that they weren't happy with. The biggest adjustment was un-muting the guitars in the chorus. This new mix was an improvement over the version on the album, and they asked if on future pressings of the Blue Album the new mix could replace the original. By this time, of course, over 1.5 million Blue Albums had been printed, but eventually the new mix became the standard, and it is that mix that is featured on disc one of this set.


See also