Addicted to Noise article - May 27, 1997
Ex-Weezer Guitarist Ready To Take Off With Chopper One
by Gil Kaufman
Addicted To Noise Senior Writer Gil Kaufman reports: Even though his tenure in the band was brief, there is an unmistakable "eau de Weez" on the full-length debut from former Weezer guitarist Jason Cropper's new band, Chopper One.
For notoriously rabid Weezer fans, this charming 14-song album, Now Playing (June 17) brings to mind an intriguing question, "Which came first, the Weezer or the One?"
Cropper, who left Weezer prior to the release of their 1994 debut, co-wrote "My Name Is Jonas," the lead-off track on that album. He says he split in order to spend more time with his then-pregnant wife, Amy. Now he's teamed up professionally with his wife, plus drummer Tyrone Rio and second guitarist Steve Garvy to whip up a frothy batch of upbeat ditties worthy of, well, Weezer.
But enough about Weezer. The real story of songs such as the insistent gender-bending sex romp "Touch My Fuzz" is the timeless quality of Cropper's nasally FM-ready voice and crunchy power pop guitar playing, expertly documented on the debut by veteran producer Don Fleming (Sonic Youth, Posies, Dinosaur Jr.). But he is not the only one with a voice, as his wife demonstrates with her plea "Frank N. Stein."
"Amy and I write all the songs," Cropper told ATN, explaining that Chopper is actually the second band he and his wife have formed since his decampment from Weezer a few years ago. "I met her when I was in Weezer and we started writing together, and then we formed the band Braxton Hicks after I left Weezer, which was named after a kind of contraction a woman has when she's pregnant, which Amy was at the time."
The short-lived Hicks made way for the more streamlined Chopper One, whose demo tape found its way into the hands of Fleming, who "was really into it," according to Cropper. "Don called and was the most motivated producer we talked to, so we were psyched and we got together with him at Water Music studios in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Pavement did their latest record, and it worked out perfectly. There was a big loft there for us to live in and we went in last October and banged it out between then and November."
The album was mixed by Pearl Jam vet Tim Palmer, after which Cropper realized he'd really outdone himself with the yards of super pop guitar overdubs he'd recorded and was going to have to find someone to pull the intricate solos off live. In came Steve Garvy, formerly of the curiously-named L.A. band 98 Ugly Girls. "Steve joined after the album was finished, once I realized there were so many guitars on songs like "Dynamite" and "Free Lunch" that there was no way I could sing and pull off the solos live, so I gave all the hard parts to him."
As for the inevitable Weezer comparisons, Cropper has no problem with them, mainly because there's a good reason for them, he said. "I can live with people saying it sounds a little like Weezer," Cropper said. "I was in Weezer from the beginning, and even before that, in the pre-Weezer bands. A lot of what is on that first Weezer album was me. I can hear on the second one how it went from being a collaborative effort to being a (band leader) Rivers (Cuomo) thing. The parts of Weezer that were acoustic-guitar-based on the first one are me, that was my influence and, for a while, we were all on the same page. We all liked Morrissey, the Beatles and the Beach Boys, but where Rivers' roots come more from the Kiss direction, mine are more from The Who. He's more into Brian Wilson and I'm more into Pete Townshend."
Nonetheless, Cropper has nothing but kind words for his ex-band mates, especially the temperamental Cuomo, who he says has "definitely been really influential on everyone that's been in the band. He's a true creative force, even if you don't like the band."
Yet however much respect Cropper or any of the remaining members of Weezer have for Cuomo, his dominance of the band has, more than likely, led to the flurry of Weezer side projects that have been cropping up, including Matt Sharps' Rentals, Pat Wilson's The Special Goodness and Brian Bell's Space Twins.