Boston Globe interview with Rivers Cuomo - February 8, 2002
Weezer wunderkind cherishes Crimson tie
By Steve Morse, Globe Staff, 2/8/2002
Few rock stars have attended Harvard University, so it pays to hear what Weezer's Rivers Cuomo has to say about his years on the Cambridge campus.
He was not a troublemaker. He actually studied. He concentrated on English literature and enjoyed his time there before leaving two semesters shy of a degree.
"I loved school," says Cuomo. "They give you little tasks every day and if you do them, and do them well, they reward you with good grades. ...It's like going back to the womb."
Cuomo, whose hooky, guitar-pop band performs at Lowell's Tsongas Arena tonight, was already a rock star of sorts when he entered Harvard, in 1995. His Los Angeles-based group's debut album had come out the previous year and had been a smash, buoyed by the hits "Undone - the Sweater Song" and "Buddy Holly." But Cuomo says he'd become "bored" with the rock life in Los Angeles, and opted for Harvard. He's now thinking of going back to the college ("but for all the wrong reasons; if a girl goes there that I know, then maybe I'll go back").
Famous for his eccentric nature, Cuomo must be the only former Harvard student to have scored a hit with a song about a hash pipe. The tune, "Hash Pipe" (with the line "You've got your problems, I've got my hash pipe"), was one of the biggest rock hits of last year. But Harvard authorities can rest assured that he never smoked hash on campus, he says.
"I ate it once, though, in Amsterdam," Cuomo notes. "I got sick from it and went to sleep. I woke up half an hour later, and it was like I was on the moon."
As to how he wrote "Hash Pipe," he says he finished it in five minutes after consuming three glasses of tequila and some Ritalin. "I then went in my backyard and sat in a chair and frantically wrote the song. I wrote it in less time than it takes to listen to it." (This is not unusual, he says, estimating that 90 percent of Weezer's tunes were written in 15 minutes or less.)
Cuomo is up for two Boston Music Awards this year because of his affiliation with the region. He grew up in Connecticut but often came to Boston, attending Berklee College of Music for a summer program as a teenager. And during his Harvard years, he played in such local clubs as the Paradise, the Middle East, and T. T. the Bear's under his own name and in a band called Homie. "If I go back to Harvard, I'm sure I'll play out a lot," he says. "I love Boston musicians. They're not all trying to be the singer-songwriter in the band - unlike in Los Angeles, where everyone wants to be the frontman, not the bass player."
Cuomo likes LA but admits he doesn't really fit in there. "I try to get out and hang with cool people. But I'll go to a cool party and just kind of sit there by myself," he says. "But even though LA is superficial and freakish, there is a lot of talent there."
Weezer's plans include a new album, Maladroit, due April 30, which may be followed by a tour with No Doubt and the Offspring. "There's talk of a tour with them," he says. "We booked one show at the Long Beach Arena and it sold out very quickly, so that got us to thinking that it might be worth looking into."
Weezer, naturally, would be the headliner. "We don't open for nobody," Cuomo says, using very un-Harvard-like English. "Well, I take that back. We might open for Metallica. But that's it."