Calgary Sun interview with Scott Shriner - April 20, 2002
Living The Good Life
Bassist plucked from musical obscurity by power pop band Weezer.
by Lisa Wilton
It's been a long haul for Scott Shriner.
The 31-year-old bassist had been plugging away in the competitive Los Angeles rock and metal scene for more than 10 years, with varying degrees of success.
But a year ago -- while playing in the female-fronted, ACDC-inspired band, Bomber -- he got an enticing offer from an unlikely admirer.
Rivers Cuomo, frontman and songwriter for L.A.'s most inventively melodic rock band, Weezer, was looking to replace AWOL bassist Mikey Welsh for an upcoming tour, and felt Shriner could be the man for the job.
"I got a message on my answering machine saying, 'Hey Scott, it's Rivers. Give me a call," Shriner remembers.
"I totally recognized his voice, so I didn't think it was a joke. I just froze for five minutes by the phone ... Moments like that are worth savouring. My crappy phone service only saves messages for so long but I'll always have it in my head.
"I'll always remember that moment."
When it was evident Welsh -- who checked himself into a psychiatric hospital and failed to show up for a video shoot -- was not returning, Shriner became Weezer's third full-time bassist since the band formed in 1992.
He admits the Welsh incident was a small set-back for the remaining members of the band -- Cuomo, guitarist Brian Bell and drummer Patrick Wilson -- but says they quickly rebounded.
"I've been in bands my whole life and it's like a little family," he explains.
"When somebody leaves, it's hard on everybody. But they were determined to keep working and to keep moving along.
"It took about a minute to get used to working with each other. We hit it off really well and started working harder than they've ever worked before."
Considering his hard rock pedigree, Shriner seems an odd choice for a band with such a keen ear for dynamically nervy chord changes and high-strung, shiver-inducing pop melodies.
Even he confesses being somewhat surprised when he was first approached.
"The thing is, I've always thought of them as kind of a heavy band," says Shriner.
"Maybe not heavy in the sense of tuned-down guitars and screaming their heads off all the time, but the songwriting has always been very heavy.
"Say It Ain't So is probably the first Weezer song that really hooked me on them, and that song is heavy as hell."
Say It Ain't So was the second single off of Weezer's 1994 self-titled debut album, which attracted a large following of teenage punk kids and adults who appreciated the band's nod to new wave.
Comprised of power pop melodies and catchy rock riffs, the album also spawned memorable singles The Sweater Song and the massively popular, Buddy Holly.
The exhilarating follow-up, Pinkerton, was another piece of pop perfection, but failed to achieve the same success as their debut, despite strong singles such as Getchoo and The Good Life.
Last year, the band returned to the top of the charts with another self-titled album, nicknamed The Green Album because of the cover's colour scheme.
On May 14, the band releases its fourth studio album, Maladroit. As recently as this week, the band has been in the studio recording tracks for yet another record.
According to the official, fan-run Weezer website, www.weezer.com, the quartet has banged out about seven songs so far. "I don't know if being prolific will hurt us," says Shriner, during a phone interview from his home office/music room. "I know if the bands that I really like put out two albums a year, I'd be really, really happy."
Cuomo has been responsible for most of the songwriting in the group.
But Shriner says the band has been working on new songs by Bell and Wilson in the studio. He adds that he has also been working on some of his own material.
"Rivers has let me know he'd love to hear some of my songs," says Shriner.
"But to tell you the truth, I'm really happy being a bass player and a backup singer in this band. I don't consider myself to be a songwriter."
Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, Shriner grew up listening to old Motown and R&B before turning his attention to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Police -- bands which inspired him to play bass guitar. "When I listened to the radio I'd always ask my dad what instrument made that cool sound," he says.
"The bass has always spoken to me."