Birmingham Post-Herald article - July 21, 1995

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Print interview with Matt Sharp
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Publication Birmingham Post-Herald
Interviewee Matt Sharp
Interviewer Darin Powell
Date July 21, 1995
Title They're not short of breath
Sub-title Success hasn't taken anything from Weezer
Format Print
External link Archive via Newspapers.com
Associated concert Weezer concert: 07/22/1995
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

They're not short of breath
Author: Darin Powell (Birmingham Post-Herald)
Published: July 21, 1995


Success hasn't taken anything from Weezer

Matt Sharp can remember a time when a performance by his band, Weezer, would draw only nine or 10 people.

"We were pretty bad, but the songs were still good," says Sharp, who plays bass guitar for the Los Angeles-based band. "We were doing what we did because we liked it. Nobody else did."

It's not as lonely for Weezer these days. The band's eponymous debut album, released last year, has spawned three hit singles "Undone (The Sweater Song)," "Buddy Holly" and the newest one, "Say It Ain't So."

The songs, like the album, are built on a solid punk rock foundation and sweetened by playful pop harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys. Two eye-catching videos created by hip video director Spike Jonze helped earn the band plenty of exposure on MTV.

As a result, Weezer has been catapulted to the top of the modern rock heap. It's a situation Sharp still finds hard to accept.

"We didn't expect to be successful," says Sharp, recalling how the band had been snubbed on the L.A. club scene. "We didn't expect to sell more than 100 records."

Although Weezer hails from Los Angeles, the band's four members - Sharp, drummer Patrick Wilson, guitarist Brian Bell and lead singer Rivers Cuomo - all grew up on the East Coast.

Weezer had its beginnings when Sharp and Wilson met and began writing songs together in L.A. "We were writing pretty weird music, doing whatever we wanted with weird cheap keyboards. Just screwing around."

"A friend introduced us to Rivers, and the three of us started looking for an apartment together. Then Patrick and Rivers started writing songs together."

Sharp eventually moved to San Francisco. But he came back when his friends asked him to join their fledgling band, which had evolved from playing weird, Zappa-styled experiments to performing more personal songs written by Cuomo.

"We weren't very good," Sharp says. "I didn't know how to play at all. But we kept playing because we liked the songs."

Eventually Weezer was signed to Geffen records, but before that the band endured a tough year on the L.A. club scene. "After nobody shows up, and then people come up and tell you to your face that you suck, you don't expect any success," Sharp says.

One benefit of the drubbing is that it helped Weezer build an immunity to criticism. They mostly ignore reviews. "I don't think opinions about us effect us too much," he says. "I think good reviews and bad reviews are equally of value, because they both have no value."

As the main songwriter and lead singer, Cuomo is in many ways the driving force behind Weezer. But he's also the band's most enigmatic member. Known for being shy, he doesn't give any interviews.

As he writes in the band's official bio: "Because I'm so terrible at expressing my feelings directly, and because no one really cares, and because anything real is almost impossible to talk about, I've come to rely on music more and more to express myself."

"Rivers doesn't like to do interviews, so we do them," Sharp says. "It just makes him very uncomfortable. People will get mad at us because he doesn't want to talk. To us, it's just not that important."

After nearly a year on the road, Sharp says the band is looking forward to some down time. Sharp plans to record an album with his side band, The Rentals. Cuomo is going back to college. Then Weezer will reassemble later in the year to start work on a second album.

Success hasn't spoiled Weezer, Sharp says. If anything, it's made the band better.

"We've adjusted to everything extremely well," Sharp says. "We all talk to each other, there's good communication in the band, and it's just gotten better. We figured out how to deal with it."

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