|Origin||Los Angeles, CA|
|Years active||1992 - present|
|Genre(s)||Power pop, Alternative rock, Pop/rock, Emo (debated)|
Weezer is an American alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California formed in 1992 by Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, guitar), Patrick Wilson (drums, backing vocals), Matt Sharp (bass, backing vocals), and Jason Cropper (guitar, backing vocals), with the last two replaced by Mikey Welsh and Brian Bell, respectively. Mikey Welsh was later replaced with Scott Shriner. They have released nine full-length albums, six EPs, and a DVD. Weezer has sold more than eight million records to date in the US.
Weezer were formed February 14, 1992 at 1711 Stoner Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Although unnamed, Weezer were actually unofficially formed far earlier. The majority of the early Weezer material was written during the 50 song project. Before that, the members of Weezer were playing under the moniker 60 Wrong Sausages, with the inclusion of Pat Finn on vocals. After playing only one show, 60 Wrong Sausages slowly fizzled away as Rivers Cuomo became more interested in his own new songs and less interested in what the band was doing at the time. It was around this time that Patrick Wilson also began to shift his musical focus. Striking up a collaborative project, the two began writing Weezer's earliest material.
Throughout December 1991 and February 1992, Patrick Wilson and Rivers Cuomo worked diligently on their 50 song project. Having finished with what they considered a reasonable amount of starting material, they showed the collaborations to mutual friend Matt Sharp.
On February 14, Valentine Day, Weezer held their first rehearsal at a local studio. At the time, the band's lineup was:
Rivers Cuomo - lead vocals, electric guitar
Patrick Wilson - drums
Jason Cropper - acoustic guitar
Matt Sharp - bass
Cuomo said, "When we first started practicing, I mean from our very first rehearsal, I thought to myself, 'We're amazing. This is incredible! Everybody's going to love us!" Matt felt differently. "We were doing this just because we liked the music. Not because we were all great at what we did. It was like, 'Wow, we suck. We don't know how to play well and we're not together.' But it was probably the most pure experience I'd been through as far as dealing with people. It was great."
The band's first ever recording was I Can't Forget the Way. At the time, some names the band was consider included the old name "Fuzz", "Hummingbird", "This Niblet" and "The Big Jones". Much of this period is chronicled by mutual friend, Karl Koch.
Working the clubs
On March 19, 1992, Rivers Cuomo and Matt Sharp moved into 2226 Amherst Avenue, the new location for Weezer. Complete with it's own garage, the house was perfect for a new band to write, record and rehearse. On the same day, Rivers called a local club, Raji's (as seen on the Nirvana 7"). Looking for a show, the club actually told the band that they had an opening slot that day for Keanu Reeves' "Dogstar". The band took the gig and quickly began to brainstorm a setlist and a band name. After much deliberation, Rivers stuck with his original idea: Weezer.
Weezer continued to play clubs around Los Angeles throughout the remainder of 1992. Shows were an excellent format for the band to test new songs and figure out which ones worked for the band and which ones were not of the direction they were interested in pursuing. The band found it increasingly frustrating that their shows were not turning up more fans. Rivers himself was dumbfounded that songs like Undone and Say It Ain't So were not drawing larger crowds. Large following or not, the band did manage to draw the attention of two sisters, Mykel and Carli Allan. Said the two, "July 9, 1992 we were at Club Dump (Johnny Depp bought the place, called it the Viper Room, River Phoenix died there) to see a good band Crux (No longer a band). At someone's suggestion we stuck around to see the next band Weezer." The next day, at the birthday party of Bryan Ray (of Black Market Flowers), Mykel noticed the long haired guy sitting alone--it was Rivers Cuomo, whom she recognized from the night previous. The two began to strike up a conversation and it was not long before a strong friendship between Weezer and the sisters was formed. As time went on, Rivers began to work on a song called "Please Pick Up the Phone", which eventually morphed into "Mykel & Carli".
Rivers said, "Nobody would come to our shows, for months and months and months, and it seemed like forever. And I remember just being totally shocked at how little people responded to us, because I thought we were so good. I mean, we were playing the same songs that eventually became big hits, like 'The Sweater Song' and 'Say It Ain't So', and we'd play 'em out in the LA clubs and everyone would just be like, 'Go away, we want a grunge band." Cuomo also said, "We would always be last slot on the bill at 1 A.M. when everyone was leaving. So we had really low self esteem. Matt said it was the same friends showing up every night only because they felt bad. Justin Fisher said, "I can remember Rivers and Pat and Matt sitting around in the kitchen until four in the morning after, discussing those club shows, just trying to tighten things up with the band. Analyzing who might have hit a bad note here, who missed a part there, that kind of thing."
After two "do-it-yourself" tours, Weezer were finally generating a buzz. Accordingly, the band decided it was time to record a proper demo. On August 1, 1992 Weezer recorded The Kitchen Tape. It featured their five most professional songs, but in total eight were recorded. Three months later, in November, Weezer recorded their third demo album. Fans refer to this album as The Real Demo. The next month on December 11, Weezer played a show with Carnival Art and met Brian Bell. Although at the time it seemed rather insignificant, Brian's skills would stick in the minds of the band and he would eventually be asked to join.
Signing to Geffen Records
As 1993 rolled on, Weezer finally started to catch the attention of record labels, specifically one Todd Sullivan of Geffen Records. Todd asked Rivers and Matt to join him for dinner one night, Matt did most of the talking. Negotiations were discussed for what the band wanted and what kind of record they sought to make. On June 25, 1993, in a move somewhat questioned by Geffen (mostly because of Weezer's anti-rock star appearance), Sullivan signed Weezer.
After the signing, Rivers felt mixed emotions. Part of him was excited about the future ahead of him. This emotion prompted songs like Buddy Holly and Holiday to come shortly after the signing. Another part of him was very unsure as to whether the life of a rock star was the one he wanted.
Weezer's request was to produce their first album themselves, but the idea was frowned upon by Geffen, who was encouraging a producer. The band (somewhat jokingly) mentioned Ric Ocasek (of The Cars) because they figured that if they needed a producer it might as well be someone who made good music. Geffen asked Weezer to record a demo to send to Ric. Weezer was fairly certain that it was a joke, but one day Patrick was in a local shop when he saw Ric. He went back and told the band and they realized that it was possible that he actually was coming in to meet them.
Ric, at the time, was fairly perplexed by the band's image. Having never seen them, and only heard future classics like No One Else and The World Has Turned and Left Me Here, Ric considered the possibility that they were metal heads. This is most likely because of the technical guitar work, especially the solos. Still, he believed the lyrics too smart for metal. When Ric finally did meet Weezer, they all got along very well.
The Blue Album
Recording the Debut Album
On August 11, the band flew to New York City at the request of Ric and recorded a practice demo with Ric Ocasek. Ric hit it off with the band, specifically Rivers. In between takes, Weezer performed Cars covers for the entertainment and adoration of Ric. Karl shot video.
The band recorded the following songs: Undone, Mykel & Carli, Buddy Holly (against Rivers' will, but at the urging of Ric), Say It Ain't So, Surf Wax America, Only In Dreams, Holiday, The World Has Turned and Left Me Here, No One Else and My Name is Jonas. In addition, Getting Up and Leaving, I Swear It's True and an In The Garage coda experiment were all recorded, but never to satisfaction. Mykel & Carli was also omitted for not being satisfactory to the band. As the album neared completion, Rivers kicked Jason Cropper out of the band. Although the details of Jason's departure are relatively clouded in legal documents, it is believed that Jason was asked to leave because he received news that his girlfriend was pregnant. It is speculated by fans that Jason and the band were all concerned about the girlfriend's well-being as well as Jason's. For a new band, it was important that every member was 100% focused.
According to Ric Ocasek, Rivers re-recorded all of Jason's guitar parts in one day, but the band insists otherwise. After Jason was kicked out the band was starting to feel incredibly nervous and insecure about their future. Losing a founding member before achieving success felt like the end of Weezer. The band called Brian Bell of Carnival Art, and asked him to join. Brian ecstatically said yes and recorded a demo tape of him singing and playing over No One Else, Undone, Say It Ain't So and The World Has Turned and Left Me Here. Brian brought a new excitement and enthusiasm to an otherwise sullen Weezer camp. It was just what the band needed. In October 1993, the recording of their debut album was finished and Weezer returned to Los Angeles.
Weezer's debut album, Weezer, referred to now as The Blue Album was released on May 10, 1994. The album's debut single, "Undone - The Sweater Song" received regular rotation on college radio. It was not until a video, directed by Spike Jonze propelled the song into MTV rotation that everyone began to talk about Weezer. Unintentionally, and perhaps unforeseeable, a debut single about a sweater prompted many to write the band off as a gimmick. Others penned the band (and perhaps rightfully so) as nerds. Some felt that singing about a sweater was an attempt to be ironic, others thought it was hilarious.
Weezer blows up
With Undone still receiving frequent radio play, the band decided it was time to release a new single. "Buddy Holly" was chosen as the next single and Spike Jones was asked to direct another video for the band. The Buddy Holly music video featured the band dressed up in '50s attire playing at a recreation of Arnold's Drive In from the 1970s sitcom, Happy Days. The song's hooks, brilliant chorus, and pop culture references were heavily emphasized by the nostalgic value the video retained. Buddy Holly took off and so did Weezer. The Buddy Holly video went on to win an MTV Video Music award, a ceremony for which Rivers was not present. At a time when the band was blowing up, Rivers was drawing in. Devastated by the success of the Buddy Holly video, Rivers grew uncertain as to whether it was his songwriting that made the band famous or if it was Spike Jonze's video. Rivers quickly began to shun anything that could be perceived as a gimmick or as ironic. He removed his glasses, declined an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine and cut his hair. The band took notice of Rivers reclusive persona and began to slowly exhibit distaste for him both in private and in public interviews.
In 1995, Weezer released their third single, Say It Ain't So. Unlike previous videos, Spike Jonze was not invited to direct. Instead, the band performed at the site of their old garage at the Amherst House. The single enjoyed success and is considered by many Weezer fans to be an all-time favorite.
Songs from the Black Hole
After Weezer blew up, Rivers took complete control of the band's songwriting. He began to question if the life he wanted as a rock star was actually the life for him. When Rivers went home for Christmas in 1995, his music began to reflect his new mood as he penned new songs like Longtime Sunshine. In the song, Rivers sings about returning home and contemplates the idea of an east coast college education. Rivers, being a fan of opera like Madame Butterfly began to work on an opera of his own, Songs from the Black Hole. It was an ambitious project. Serving as a metaphor for his growing distaste with the rock star life, Songs from the Black Hole required that each member of Weezer be assigned to play a character, two female vocalists be asked to temporarily join, and for Weezer's sound to evolve into a spacey moog/synth focused act. For a man who wanted to shun gimmicks, it's uncertain if the Black Hole was a larger gimmick than Buddy Holly, or a genius idea which Rivers anticipated to self-deflate the band's reputation akin to Nirvana's In Utero.
Side Projects, Writing and Recording
While Rivers contemplated the band's new direction, Matt began to form a band of his own, The Rentals. The Rentals were a band focused on strong male/female harmonies, synths, moogs and even featured lyrics about space and machinery. It is perhaps simply fan speculation that Matt purposely borrowed elements of the Black Hole concept, but Rivers himself seemed to believe that Matt had copied him. Rivers did not want to appear a copycat of Matt's new side project. Although he was uncertain of the Black Hole's future, he was certain that he wanted to disappear for a while. Rivers grew a beard, had a painful leg surgery to correct the length of his left leg and enrolled at Harvard.
Karl wrote of the time, "A lot of stuff was happening all at once. The Blue album touring had finally been wrapped up. Rivers had gotten himself accepted at Harvard for the upcoming fall semester, and was looking forward to escaping the limelight for a while. The band was up for 5 different Mtv Video awards and the awards show was coming up on the 7th in NYC. I was to help the still leg-braced Rivers move to Boston immediately after the awards (which he ironically ended up not attending.) Studio time was booked, in order to get a head start on the new album, which was only partly written at this point. Rivers was still holding out a torch for his "Black Hole" idea, but as recording got underway, the songs were laid down as before, one at a time- no story, no theatrics, no characters." Songs practiced during these sessions were made up mostly of songs intended for SFTBH, but still songs that could stand independent of the Black Hole such as "Tired of Sex", "Waiting on You" and "Getchoo".
At last, Rivers went to Harvard while Pat Wilson began to work on his own side-project, tentatively unnamed. In the wake of the Black Hole writing spree, Rivers found himself struggling with writer's block. While at Harvard, his ego suffered greatly. Each day, Rivers walked to class hid behind a beard and limping with a walking cane. One day, Rivers received a letter from a Japanese girl who was a fan of Weezer. Karl recalls this being a turning point in the direction of the second album. Rivers obsessed over the letter and even went so far as to sniff it and lick it (although it is uncertain if this is simply hyperbolic for the purpose of a song). Rivers used the event to write his first new song, Across the Sea. Finding himself heavily influenced by the themes and melodies of Madame Butterfly and feeling very insipred from his Harvard classes in English and Music, Rivers slowly continued to write new songs about his experiences at Harvard such as "Pink Triangle" and "El Scorcho". With Madame Butterfly-esque themes and recurring characters (the Japanese girls, the cellist), Rivers new songs began to create a concept of their own. Additionally, Rivers wrote "The Good Life", which all-too-intimately told the tale of a crippled Rivers walking around Harvard and "Falling for You", which continued where El Scorcho left off. Between breaks, Rivers and Weezer would reconvene to rehearse new songs. Slowly, SFTBH died off as the new songs came to the forefront. Finally, Rivers wrote "Butterfly"-- a song which placed Rivers into the shoes of Colonel Pinkerton from Madame Butterfly. The song closed up the themes of the as-of-yet unnamed album.
In early September, the new album was finally being finished up-- almost too close to the deadlines (Rivers was checking mixes as they drove the tapes to Geffen). Days before the album was scheduled to be released, it sparked up a lawsuit over it's name. Weezer had to go to court and battle to keep the name. On September 24, 1996 Weezer's second album, Pinkerton was released to mostly mediocre and negative reviews. The first single, El Scorcho received minimal radio play and had a flop video which Rivers ultimately had to direct himself. The album was raw, and without any gimmicks. Still, it retained a complex and subtle theme. Perhaps all of this was lost on the reviewers. In a readers poll, Rolling Stone Magazine readers went so far as to declare Pinkerton one of the worst album of 1996. Furthermore, the album was reviewed as "fun in the sun". After the lackadaisical success of "El Scorcho", the band released The Good Life as an EP entitled OZ.
In a last ditch effort to save Pinkerton and get a song on the radio, the band went into the studio to re-record Pink Triangle. Matt, being absent to record the new Rentals album, was replaced temporarily by studio bassist Scott Riebling (of Letters to Cleo). Without Matt to help finish up the remaining Pinkerton demos (Getting Up and Leaving, I Swear It's True) the label decided to release Pink Triangle as a radio promo disc rather than a commercial single. Accordingly, Karl Koch directed the Pink Triangle video. Pink Triangle was fairly unsuccessful as a single.
Following Pinkerton's commercial disappointment, the band went their separate ways to work on side projects. Matt Sharp went to Europe to write and record the next Rentals album, Brian continued his work on Space Twins and Pat began to organize what he envisioned to be the Special Goodness album. Meanwhile, Rivers dropped out of Harvard and moved back to New England.
Rivers in Boston
Living in Boston, Rivers began to heavily focus on songwriting. Most likely a direct result of Pinkerton flopping, Rivers wrote far less personal songs that told stories. In the winter of 1998, he wrote Romantic, Medieval type songs such as Lover in the Snow. Afterward, he began writing songs for a new project, which he would commonly refer to as "goofball" or "country" songs.
Homie and the Rivers Cuomo Band
- Main article: Homie
Looking for an outlet other than Weezer, Rivers began to work on a project called Homie. Homie would allow Rivers to release songs that did not fit into the Weezer catalogue. To decide what songs would become Weezer songs and what songs would become Homie songs, Rivers played several shows in local Boston clubs. The shows where Rivers tested out new Weezer material are referred to by fans as the Rivers Cuomo Band.
Show 1: Weezer tryout 1 of 3 (10/?/97 at "TT the Bears" in Cambridge, Massachusetts)
With Rivers, there was Mikey Welsh (of Chevy Heston, later to join Weezer) on bass, Kevin (of the Shods) and Zeph (from Chevy Heston and Stompbox) on drums.
- 1,000 Years
- The Prettiest Girl In The Whole Wide World
- Fun Time
- American Girls (this is the "hard rock" version)
Show 2: Weezer tryout 2 of 3 (10/?/97 at "The Paradise" in Boston, Massachusetts)
- 1,000 Years
- The Prettiest Girl In The Whole Wide World
- Little Sister
- Say It Ain't So
- Fun Time
- American Girls (this is the "hard rock" version, which may be the bootlegged mp3 version- see solo show #1 above)
Show 3: Homie tryout 1 of 2 (11/4/97 at "The Middle East" in Cambridge, Massachusetts)
With Rivers, there was Kevin Stevenson of the Shods.
- Autumn in Jayne
- Hey M'Darlin'
- Sheila Can Do It
- Think About
- No One Else
- Wanda (You're My Only Love)
- Sunshine O
- Stay Right Here
- Hot Tub
Show 4: Homie tryout 2 of 2 (11/21/97 at "TT the Bears" in Cambridge, Massachusetts)
- Autumn in Jayne
- Hey M'Darlin'
- Sheila Can Do (It)
- Think About (AKA' sesame street')
- The Good Life
- Stay There
- Sunshine O
- Fun Time
- American Girls
- Encore -- Hot Tub
- No One Else
Show 5: Weezer tryout 3 of 3 (1/14/98 at "TT the Bears" in Cambridge, Massachusetts)
With Rivers, there was Pat Wilson on drums, Jake Zavrachy of Quick Fix and Boy Wonder, and others.
- The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World
- No One Else
- Say It Ain't So
- Undone - The Sweater Song
- Only in Dreams
Matt Sharp's departure
In a move that Karl has since claimed to save the band, Matt Sharp left Weezer in late 1997. With tensions between the band high since Rivers took control, and with Matt's growing dissatisfaction as simply being a bass player, Matt decided that he wished to take The Rentals as his only project of focus. Despite Rivers and Matt growing to have differences, the two remained fairly close shortly after his departure. In fact, a bit after Matt left, he and Rivers co-wrote the song "My Head is in the Sun", which was featured on the second Rentals album, Seven More Minutes.
Although Homie demo tapes exist (and have yet to be heard) and an album has been rumored to have been started (which Karl claims to be completed), the only "official" release from Homie was a recording of American Girls released in 1998 on the "Meet The Deedles" movie soundtrack. Recorded in a Boston studio, it marks the final recording between the band and Matt Sharp. Many fans were surprised with the song's release because it greatly differed from the fast paced rock version bootlegged from Rivers' Boston shows.
Weezer begins rehearsing
- Main article: Hiatus Demos
After recording "American Girls", the three remaining Weezer members announced on an LA Radio station interview that they were done with their side projects for the time being. The band reconvened in Los Angeles and began recording in a professional studio. Despite having no bass player, the band recorded "The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World" twice and "Baby". Both songs were at the time considered to be on the next album. Band tensions remained high and eventually everyone left once again.
Mikey Welsh joins Weezer
Back in Boston, Rivers reconnected with his friend Mikey Welsh, whom he played with for some of his '97 Boston shows. Rivers also worked on several new demos. The band decided it was time to reconvene. In LA,in summer of 1998, with Welsh now the official replacement for Sharp, the band went into the studio. Although this first recording session is unmixed and relatively unsorted, some songs that are known to have been done were "Damn That Wine", "Ol' Backwater", and some new Rivers songs from Summer 1998: "I Have To Kill You", "Turn It Off Now" and "Everyone", all of which Karl has described as "harder and harder" songs.
In another session, the band recorded eight songs:
- "You Lied to Us"
- "I Love This Band"
- "I Don't Wanna Bust My Heart"
- "Everybody's Thinkin' Too Much"
- "With My Own Two Hands"
- "There's a Bomb in the Air"
- "Why Did You Give Up?"
- "I Needed You Now"
None of the songs made it to the third Weezer album, but the song "Cheri Berry" did make it to Green Album voting (see further below). It was not until August 1998 that Weezer finally recorded a new song for release. "Velouria", a Pixies cover, was finally released in early 1999 marking Mikey's first official release with Weezer. Rivers and Mikey also appeared on a television program. Karl wrote on the event,
"In what may likely be the most regretful public appearance in the band's career, Rivers and Mikey appeared on an episode of the public access(??) local L.A. TV show, "Colin's Sleazy Friends". Aside from sitting there looking amused and confused, they contributed only minorly to a show widely considered to be an obnoxious waste of airtime. They were encouraged by the host to converse with and comment on the stripper guests, and they gave it an attempt. This episode was unfortunately included on the Colin's Sleazy Friends DVD collection."
In 1999, the band was anxious to get back to live performances. Spontaneously, the band created Goat Punishment to help them anonymously play a show and get back into the swing of things. Goat Punishment's first show was made up exclusively of Nirvana covers.
Show 1 (Hollywood, CA)
The set consisted of several songs from the album "Bleach", plus a track or two from "Incesticide" and "Nevermind"
- "Mr. Moustache"
- "Swap Meet"
Show 2 (Santa Barbara, CA)
The show is not bootlegged or recorded, but it was written that the show was Oasis covers. Fans also were beginning to realize who Goat Punishment was and were getting the word out to see the shows.
With band tensions high, recordings going nowhere, and the label growing concerned about the wasted studio money, Pat Wilson left rehearsals to return to Portland and work on The Special Goodness. And so, Weezer went back on hiatus.
By 1999 Rivers was beginning to focus on songwriting like never before. Starting notebooks analyzing songs by Nirvana and Oasis, Rivers began to try and hone in on different songwriter's formulas. Rivers hoped that by doing so, he too would be able to find a formula and become a "songwriting machine". He holed himself up into his abode, covered the lights, and began to write song after song, documenting each one by writing it on the wall. By the end of 1999, Rivers had written 121 new songs, each song with several different reworkings. Many of these songs would go on to be recorded for the next Weezer album.
Meanwhile, Pat continued work on The Special Goodness demoing new songs and even doing a mini tour. Brian Bell continued work on Space Twins, playing a few shows and running off a small number of demo CDs. Meanwhile, Mikey Welsh found himself relocated to Los Angeles to perform with a band that was seemingly going nowhere. He had sent some bass riffs to Rivers to help him with song writing, but they weren't used. He then sent them to former bandmates, and they were eventually used by Juliana Hatfield.
Summer Songs 2000
As 2000 unfolded, Rivers continued his "songwriting machine" technique cranking out more demos than ever before. Finally, the band reconvened. For purposes of self review, the band recorded four sessions with new songs like "Dope Nose", "Slob" and "Too Late to Try". With so much new material from Rivers, the band wasted little time in ironing out their new material and joining some of the Warped Tour lineup. As the band toured, fans poured in with larger numbers than anyone could have anticipated. Bootlegs of shows and soundboard recordings of new songs were leaked onto the internet and shared among fans on then-new mp3 sharing technology. The songs were dubbed the Summer Songs of 2000 or Ss2k. It was apparent to everyone in the band that Weezer's fan base was stronger than ever.
Throughout the remainder of 2000, the band spent all of their time in Rivers' newly built home studio working on dozens of new songs. Some songs were reworked, some were dropped, and new ones were constantly added. Finally, after demoing from October to December of 2000, the band decided it was time to record a new album.
The Green Album
- Main article: Weezer (The Green Album)
Picking a producer, getting approval
By August 18, 2000, Weezer was having meetings with various producers, learning and rehearsing new songs in their new garage, and ironing out all plans regarding recording a new album. Weezer fans voted on a .com poll to select their favorite songs for a demo tape which was sent around to producers. On August 23, the band ran into Ric Ocasek while performing in New York City. On October 5, Rivers had his braces removed and a Christmas EP was announced. In mid October, the band rehearsed the song "Move It On" for the Christmas album, but details regarding it were still mostly unknown. Even as Karl frequently updated the website with "Album #3" news, it was announced on November 6 that Interscope had not actually approved any kind of new album. Weezer sent a demo tape of five songs, which Karl called the "higher ups", to Interscope/Geffen and wrote he hoped they saw the "awesomeness" of the songs. The five songs on the tape were "No More Confusin'", "Sugar Booger", "Don't Let Go", "Ayleen", and "Cryin' and Lonely."
On November 9, 2000, it was announced on Karl's Corner that Ric Ocasek (producer of Blue Album) would be producing Weezer's third album. Karl wrote, "Almost every possible factor in the making of this new album had been called into doubt for one reason or another in the recent period since getting off the road in mid-September, from the inaccessibility of several possible producers, to the inaccessibility of certain key preferred studios, to the caliber of the songs being rehearsed by the band... several possible producers were met with, including Jerry Harrison (formerly of the Talking Heads) , Jerry Finn of Blink-182's "Enema of the State" fame, and Dave Sardie of the sonically groundbreaking band Barkmarket. Additionally, numerous producers that the band were at least interested in meeting, either expressed interest in doing the album but had scheduling conflicts, or simply failed to get back to the band with any response whatsoever.
"Ric has been getting copies of all the demos that the band has been doing over the past 6 weeks, and has been making constructive criticism all along. Recently he got the newest 5 song demo of all new material, that the band finished up last week. His response to this new stuff was overwhelmingly positive. Rivers, after a lengthy phone conversation with Ric, reports Ric saying that "(weezer) really rose to the occasion over the past month, and came up with some great songs", adding that "we really have a great connection and work well together", and that "this is going to be an amazing record.
"Still a question is Interscope/Geffen Records' level of interest. Interscope has already prevented the band from starting the project once, when the frustrated band decided that they would start the recording on October 23 "with or without" a producer, and had this plan quietly blocked by the label. With Geffen's final approval needed for the project to move forward on December 1st, and no significant comment or response to the band so far from anyone at the label, it remains a questioning cloud in an otherwise sunny sky of confirmation. The band expects to hear the Interscope "verdict" within a day or two.... "
On November 15, Karl updated fans with exciting news. First, Karl announced that the third Weezer album had been green lighted by Interscope/Geffen and recording would begin in December. Second, Karl posted the cover to the new Christmas CD. Karl noted that Ric particularly enjoyed "The Christmas Song" and suggested the band have it remixed in a professional studio. Accordingly, the song was remixed the next day. On November 19, the Christmas CD was finished.
In total, there were 75 contenders for the Green Album. The majority of recording took place in LA during December and January. In Mid January, the band relocated to Miami, Florida, for mixing and finishing the record.
Release, Scott Shriner joins the band
Weezer's third album, self titled as Weezer, was released on May 15, 2001 and received mostly positive reviews. The album's debut single, Hash Pipe was a smash hit. An entire new generation of Weezer fans was created as Weezer climbed the radio charts and their videos got extensive play on MTV.
Shortly after the filming of the first Island in the Sun video, Mikey Welsh was mysteriously hospitalized. His whereabouts were previously unknown, as he mysteriously went missing before the filming of the second video for "Island in the Sun". Weezer was prompted to find a temporary replacement for Welsh. Through a mutual friend, Cuomo received Scott Shriner's number and asked if he was interested to fill in for Welsh. Shriner accepted the invitation. Cuomo would later say, "I just called this guy in L.A. that knows a lot of musicians and I said, "Send the baddest, meanest, most evil guy you got." And he sent Scott. And I said, "OK, cool. You're in." [It was] that easy. He's got a gold tooth. There's no requirements. It's like, "Come on in. Let's see what you can do, and I'll give you plenty of support and just give you plenty of space to be yourself, and encouragement. Let's see what happens." That's what it was like. It's not like there was a predetermined role that I was trying to fit him into. " Many of the details of Mikey's departure seem to be clouded and fuzzy, but it is known that he was having depression, was suicidal, and was hospitalized for his own protection. Weezer has never officially stated why Mikey left the band, but Mikey felt incredibly betrayed by Rivers. It was not until Make Believe that Mikey and Rivers became on good terms again.
- Main article: Maladroit
Writing and recording
With Scott Shriner freshly in the Weezer lineup, Rivers began to turn to a harder rock. At the time, Rivers was reading lots of Nietzsche. He said in a magazine, "I want to conquer far and wide in the name of Weezer." Determined to make Weezer the greatest band in the world, Rivers ironically took an approach that upset many fans and the band. Rivers took complete control of Weezer in a way that he previously never had. Songs got progressively heavier as new song after new song was debuted live for everyone to hear. New live songs were recorded off the soundboard and posted on the official website for fans to hear. When the band went to do a BBC performance, they played all new songs, which included many songs that would eventually appear on their next album.
Also around this time, Rivers became very interested in what fans had to say about Weezer. To Rivers, the fans on Weezer boards acted the same as a record producer, but their insight was often better. They knew Weezer better, they were not motivated by money, and they were easy to talk to. Setting up a message board, Rivers began corresponding with fans, first through Karl, and eventually on his own under the username "Ace" (a reference to Ace Frehley). During a given day, Weezer would go into the studio, record all new songs, post them online for fans to download and critique, then the next day they would take the advice into consideration and attempt new lyrics, bridges, arrangements, etc. Eventually, relationships between Rivers and the fans grew less and less friendly. Rivers, angered with the fans attacking his new songs and loving only his old ones, wrote the song "Space Rock", which chronicles the relationship he had with his fans. Still, Rivers and Weezer did indeed take the advice of the fans. Even the album's name, Maladroit, was a fan suggestion.
In a 2005 interview with the LA Weekly, Cuomo would call the songwriting on Maladroit "weak".
Maladroit was released on May 14, 2002. It was the first album to contain a booklet with lyrics. The first 600,000 copies of Maladroit have a limited edition gold number on the bottom corner. Like any other Weezer album, the album was an album of firsts. The album contained thirteen tracks rather than ten, was self produced like Pinkerton (Rivers would say 'unproduced'), and inside the booklet was a special message thanking the Weezer fans on the boards. The album received strong reviews, but sold much less than previous albums. The first two singles, "Dope Nose" and "Keep Fishin'" received strong radio play and MTV circulation (propelled by popular music videos).
Album 5 Demos
- Main article: Album 5 Demos
Continuing the traditions of Maladroit, Weezer began to explore a new sound, which made heavy use of keyboards, pianos, synths and depersonalized lyrics. These songs were also posted on the official website and are referred to as Album 5 Demos, because although they were intended for a fifth album, which eventually became Make Believe, their sound and style are completely unique to what would eventually become the fifth album. These songs were also met with a weaker fan reception. Rivers, who had started smoking, drinking, and controlling all facets of Weezer's publicity, eventually got in contact with Rick Rubin, who suggested to Rivers that he meditate. Taking his suggestion, Rivers was able to find some solitude. The result was a drastically different sound. Rivers' last appearances on Weezer message boards were to post two new acoustic demos: "Hold Me" and "I Don't Want Your Lovin'". Things then became quiet.
- Main article: Make Believe
Writing and recording
Starting the Vipassana meditation practices, Rivers quickly felt the meditation effecting his songwriting. One song, "Pardon Me" (Rick Rubin's favorite) was written because meditation asked that he seek forgiveness from all those he harmed. Another song, "Hold Me", was written on a fast. The songs began to reflect a more emotional side to Rivers that was absent from Maladroit and compressed in Green Album. Rivers would write several demos, leave them to the band to work with, and then go back to Harvard. During breaks, the band would record and rehearse new songs. Rick Rubin oversaw all of the recordings. The band was able to work with a new found cooperation. The band setup themselves as a democracy and for the first time since the old Amherst days, were getting along well.
Make Believe was released on May 10, 2005, 11 years to the day of The Blue Album. Several songs were written and recorded during the Make Believe sessions, but few have surfaced other than in the form of the album. Very few songs have surfaced from this era, save a few leaked home demos, a song on Alone, and two office demos that were not released until 2008. Make Believe received mixed reviews, and was met with some fan criticism. The most pervasive criticism is in regards to the slick and clean production provided by Rick Rubin. Many fans have stated that had it had the more "raw" production of Pinkerton, the album would have been stronger. Typical fan favorites include "The Other Way", "This Is Such a Pity", and "Perfect Situation", while many are quick to dismiss "Beverly Hills" and "We Are All on Drugs", the two lead off singles. Despite fan criticisms, Make Believe was quick to go platinum and its lead off single, "Beverly Hills", was Weezer's first #1 single. It was also the most popular download of 2005 (although technicalities make "Holla Back Girl" the most popular). The first printings of Make Believe are in a digipak and there is an error on "We Are All on Drugs" (the wrong bridge was used).
There was some controversy regarding the second single, "We Are All on Drugs". Despite a fantastic reaction to the song at live shows, fans were quick to dismiss the song as a single. Furthermore, MTV demanded that the song be censored before they play it on MTV. The song was re-recorded as "We Are All in Love". When the band was asked to censor it, Pat sarcastically wanted to call it "We Are All on Hugs". "In Love" was recorded at the suggestion of Brian Bell.
Later, when "Perfect Situation" was announced as single #3, it received a new chorus after Weezer fans reportedly, according to Cuomo, sang it the way he originally wrote it. Fans typically prefer the original. The new version also features backing vocals of "perfect situation!" during the outros because Geffen thought the song title wasn't sang enough for it to be a single. "Perfect Situation" trumped "Beverly Hills" on the charts, remaining #1 for four weeks despite having no physical single release.
The Red Album
- Main article: Weezer (The Red Album)
Shortly after Weezer's last Make Believe tour, Rivers Cuomo returned to Harvard to finish a degree in English. Pat, meanwhile, set out to work on The Special Goodness, having scrapped sessions he did a year earlier with Scott Shriner. Brian Bell set out on a brand new project called The Relationship. With all four members of Weezer off pursuing different things, little was spoken of on the Weezer front. In June of 2006, Rivers married Kyoko Ito and the two honeymooned to Japan. While in Japan, Rivers did an interview with MTV. The article was finally published and its selling point was that Weezer had broken up. Despite Rivers never saying "Weezer have broken up", he did say, "Really, for the moment, we are done. And I'm not certain we'll ever make a record again, unless it becomes really obvious to me that we need to do one." Rivers would later admit that he was peeved to have to do an interview on his honeymoon. Additionally, the interviewer was new. Still, the damage was done, and even well into 2008 many people were under the impression that Weezer had broken up. The band was quick to dismiss the breakup rumors on .com, where Karl posted a picture of Rivers, Brian and Scott sitting around the table.
In April of 2007, Weezer fans were treated to their first bit of new material in nearly two years when the song "Pig" leaked as an acoustic home demo on music blogs. It is still entirely unknown how the song managed to get out, but Karl did post a link to the song briefly on Karl's Corner. It is unknown why the link was taken down hours later. The metadata for the track revealed it was a twelve track album entitled Deliverance at Hand!. Nothing related to this mysterious demo album would be spoken of, or known of, for another year. Around this time, a mysterious website entitled Albumsix popped up with an image saying "Album 6" that redirected to Weezer.com. At the time, Karl was rather unaware of Weezer happenings and truthfully reported that he had "no idea what this albumsix stuff is about". Also around this time, Rivers wrote a letter on the official website stating that recording for the new Weezer album would begin shortly. Eventually, Albumsix posted information saying Weezer's sixth album would be called Tout Ensemble. They also provided a release date. Many major news outlets picked up on and reported this as the truth. Karl responded with the statement: "Please note that Weezer and Geffen Records have no affiliation with www.albumsix.com. The new Weezer record is not called Tout Ensemble and there is no official release date yet for the album. Remember, when it's on Weezer.com, it's for sure. (Though I will say, 'well played', to the authors of that site.)"
Weezer's new album sessions began shortly after Rick Rubin received a copy of Deliverance at Hand! in Spring 2007. The material was somewhat more experimental than anything Weezer had previously done. At the beginning of the album's creation each Weezer member asked themselves what they wanted to get out of the album. With that in mind, they set out to record. Recording was done in three sessions. Half of the album was recorded during the Spring of 2007 with Rubin overseeing production. Interestingly, Ruben was far less involved with the album than he was with Make Believe. It is uncertain if the band and he had a falling out, but the band did comment later that he "just sort of stopped showing". Weezer went on to finish the production of the album themselves in a second recording studio. Finding themselves with an abundance of experimental (by Weezer standards) material, Geffen told Weezer that the album lagged and was too slow. This forced Weezer to enter into a third session in which two new songs were recorded with Jacknife Lee: "Troublemaker" and "Pork and Beans". The album is unique in recording because it is the first album to have multiple lead vocalists.
Releasing 'The Red Album'
Rivers posted on his official MySpace blog that the new single was a 12 letter word starting with T and ending with R. Fans quickly set out making lists of possible names. It was assumed the song was called "Troublemaker", although some speculated it was "Tranquilizer" and "Turbocharger". Later, Rivers published on his blog that he was wrong about the first single, and that it would now be a song about a "four legged pink farm animal". He then said "you ain't gonna figure it out boy!!" Most fans assumed Rivers was referring to Pig and that his latter statement was a sarcastic comment that it was obviously Pig.
On Aprils fools day, 2008, Rolling Stone reported that the new Weezer album (then scheduled for April 22) was a self titled "Red" album, with the lead-off single called "Pork and Beans". Most people, if not everyone, assumed it was one of many April Fools Day pranks. Rolling Stone updated the article saying "...the Weezer news...that was real". Amazon.com updated their website with a thirty second sneak preview clip of "Pork and Beans" which began with a fade in of "...you lost your cool" and went through the chorus to "...me inside." Reactions to the clip were almost unanimously positive from fans and boardies. A few days later, KROQ played "Pork and Beans" in full on the radio. Fans were quick to bootleg the recording, and within minutes, the track was leaked. "Pork and Beans" shot to #1 on Billboard's 'Hot Modern Rock Tracks' chart and refused to move for 11 weeks, a record for Weezer and the 13th highest ever track the chart has seen. In late April, the new album's first eight tracks leaked. Geffen quickly changed the album release date from June 18th to June 3rd. Fan opinions were mixed, but were universally positive in comparison to those of Make Believe.
Weezer (The Red Album) was released on June 3rd in South America and Canada where two versions were made available: standard and deluxe. The standard edition of Red contains 10 tracks, a throwback to the roots of Weezer. The deluxe edition contained four bonus tracks that were completely recorded, but omitted from the final track list for reasons relating to preference of the band and Geffen. The standard edition was a jewelcase; the deluxe edition was a digipak which also contained a lyric booklet with band commentary. Reviews of Red were mixed, but primarily positive. A Japanese special edition was later made available with a bonus DVD featuring footage of the band's 2005 Japan tour, behind-the-scenes footage, commentary and more.
The second single, "Troublemaker" did fairly well, released on July 26th, peaking at #2 on the 'Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks' chart, another hit for the band. A European release was planned for late November, promo CD's were sent to radio stations but for unknown reasons the release was aborted. As of December 2008, a larger scale release of a third single is in the works, The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn)". Spike Jonze is attached to direct the video and 20 b-sides are contending for the release (including the fan-contributed "Lets Write A Sawng". It is possible that the release many turn into an EP.
The band performed their first dates for three years in Japan at the beginning of September and then embarked on what was dubbed the 'Troublemaker' tour - 21 dates around the US, including one in Canada. "Angels and Airwaves" and "Tokyo Police Club" joined them as support at each show and Brian Bell's side project band The Relationship also performed at a handful of dates. Shortly before the encore at each show, the band would bring on fans with various instruments and perform Island in the Sun and Beverly Hills with them. At a show in Austin, after Tokyo Police Club had played their set, Rivers was wheeled out in a box and mimed to a recording of rare Weezer demo, 'My Brain', donned in pajamas with puppets on his hands, before being wheeled off again. This bizarre event later surfaced as the lead song for Rivers' second demo album, Alone 2.
Alone 2, Christmas Songs
Cuomo released a second solo CD of home demos on November 25, 2008, entitled Alone 2: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, featuring three additional pieces recorded for "Songs From The Black Hole", a song written by Jermaine Dupre, a variety of songs which ended up as Weezer demos and various previously unreleased tracks. As an album release party, Cuomo held a Hootenanny in which fans chose what songs were played and performed along with Cuomo. No other members of Weezer were present at the "jam session," which would later be released in DVD and CD form. Cuomo also revealed that a new compilation dubbed Odds and Ends will be released during 2009. It will feature a variety of b-sides and songs that "didn't make the final cut for [a] record". It'll be very much in the vain of Rivers' two demo releases and may be the final release to expire the band's seven album Geffen contract.
Another set of 2008 songs emerged in the form of Christmas with Weezer, six Christmas hymns rerecorded by the band for exclusive use on the iPhone game 'Tap Tap Revenge'. The songs were ripped and leaked in perfect form making up a six track mini-album as a Christmas suprise to many fans.
The band also wrote a song with pop duo 'Aly & AJ', and was very pleased with the way the girls worked. It is unknown if the song will be made public on an album.
Raditude, split with Geffen
- Main article: Raditude
Writing, touring, recording for the album
Billboard reported that Weezer will be heading into the studio in early November to cut Weezer album 7 with Jacknife Lee, who recorded two songs on The Red Album, most notably "Pork and Beans." Drummer Pat Wilson stated the band was wasting no time cutting a new record, because they are all going to continue to write songs. Since they no longer had to rely on one person for the songs, the band accumulated an album's worth of songs much more quickly. However, in an interview with Spinner, Brian Bell denied these early album plans, stating that someone "jumped the gun," and that although the band was currently writing new material, they did not have any plans to enter the studio anytime soon.
During a KROQ interview in May, Brian stated the album was set to be released in summer of 2009. Pat also noted that a song called "In the Mall" would be on the album, which was later discovered to be written by him.
On May 20, 2009, an Albumsix user claimed that a source revealed to him that the album would most likely be released in August or September of 2009. Said user also claimed the album was written largely through collaboration, as previously speculated. Other rumors include that Pat has taken over Rivers' guitar duties, with Josh Freese replacing Pat on the drums. The boardie also confirmed that "Can't Stop Partying" was on the album and that the label was having difficulty selecting a single. None of this was officially confirmed at the time.
During two shows in Asia in late July, Weezer played two new songs "The Girl Got Hot", "I'm Your Daddy", and a slightly reworked version of "Can't Stop Partying". During the show in Korea, Rivers announced the new album would be out in October. Following these shows, Karl posted pictures of the band finishing up material and practicing two new songs before the recording session was to be finished.
The album, Raditude, was released on November 3, 2009. "(If You Are Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" was released as the first single on August 25, 2009. "I'm Your Daddy" followed as the second single on January 20, 2010. The album has seen mixed critical reviews thus far. Pitchfork Media condemned it with a 4.5 out of 10, but Allmusic Guide represented opposing views of the album by rating it a 4.5 out of 5. Many of Weezer's more die-hard fans have stated their dislike for Raditude. The album boasts many unique song choices, including "The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World" (an old Cuomo demo from the mid 90's), "Can't Stop Partying" (a song written by Cuomo and Jermaine Dupree, featuring vocals from Lil' Wayne, and several songs co-written by Cuomo and other pop songwriters, including Butch Walker, Dr. Luke, and members of the All-American Rejects.
After fifteen years and seven albums, Weezer parted ways with Geffen Records on December 17, 2009. During a stint hosting MTV’s Subterranean, Rivers revealed that the band planned on releasing material on their own from then on.
Hurley and New record label
- Main article: Hurley
On August 4th, it was confirmed that Weezer's new album would be entitled "Hurley" and would now be released on September 14, 2010. This will also be Weezer's first album with their new record label Epitaph Records (which The Special Goodness were previously signed to). Because of Epitaph being a indie rock label, this will be the first album of Weezer's to be in the indie rock genre.
Brett Gurewitz of Epitaph tweeted the news from his account when he wrote “Rivers, Pat, Brian and Scott, Welcome to Epitaph homies! FT=W=”
A fall tour is scheduled once the album is in stores. No word on an official tracklisting as of yet, but numerous songs (Such as "Where's My Sex", "Hang On", "Brave New World", "Memories", "Ruling Me", "Smart Girls", "Time Flies", and "All My Friends Are Insects") are in consideration to be on either the standalone or deluxe editions of the album.
"Memories" was confirmed to be the first single by Brian Bell in an interview, in which it also made its radio debut.
- Rivers Cuomo - vocals, guitar (1992 - present)
- Patrick Wilson - drums, backing vocals (1992 - present)
- Brian Bell - guitar, backing vocals (1993 - present)
- Scott Shriner - bass, backing vocals (2001 - present)
- Jason Cropper - guitar, backing vocals (1992 - 1993)
- Matt Sharp - bass, backing vocals (1992 - 1998)
- Mikey Welsh - bass, backing vocals (1998 - 2001)
- Main article: Weezer discography
- Weezer (The Blue Album) (1994)
- Pinkerton (1996)
- Weezer (The Green Album) (2001)
- Maladroit (2002)
- Make Believe (2005)
- Weezer (The Red Album) (2008)
- Raditude (2009)
- Hurley (2010)
- Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014)
- Weezer (The White Album) (2016)