Daily Press article - March 31, 1995

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Print interview with Brian Bell
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Publication Daily Press (Link)
Interviewee Brian Bell
Interviewer Sam McDonald
Date March 31, 1995
Title It's not easy being Weezer
Sub-title What will all the autograph signing and teen fan mail
Format Print
External link via Newspapers.com
Associated concert Weezer concert: 03/24/1995
Weezer concert: 03/31/1995
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

It's not easy being Weezer
Author: Sam McDonald (Daily Press)
Published: March 31, 1995

What will all the autograph signing and teen fan mail

Life as a teen idol has its own rewards and risks.

For Weezer's Brian Bell, it means getting bombarded with fan mail - crayon-smeared letters of devotion, some with school photos attached. Bell has taken to pasting the cutest snapshots on the body of his acoustic guitar.

If he keeps up, the ax will be covered with beaming, cherubic faces. The river of mail keeps rollin' in.

"My mom's a principal and she has all these teacher friends," Bell said, speaking over the telephone from Toronto, Canada. "She keeps telling me things like, we're this science class' favorite band."

Another perk is watching excitable teens go berserk at concerts - even for Weezer's hand-picked opening bands. Recently, North Carolina's Archers of Loaf have enjoyed the role.

"The kids go crazy," Bell said. "They're so amped on Snickers bars that they crowd surf through the whole set."

Weezer, a scrappy Los Angeles rock band with a skewed sense of humor, cart wheeled onto the national scene last year with a couple of insidiously catchy singles: "Undone (The Sweater Song)," and "Buddy Holly."

The songs were strong-sleek, modern guitar rock, bristling with hooks.

But the slam dunk came from the videos. Spike Jonze, a former skateboard photographer, photographer, crafted a couple of minor masterpieces. For "Undone ..." he spiced up the band's original concept - simple views of the band jamming before a luminous blue background - with a dash of dog dada. A pack of assorted canines scampers through the set mid-song.

The video for "Buddy Holly," ratcheted up the goof factor. Through the magic of videotape editing, Jonze dropped the band into Arnold's, the hangout for the high schoolers in TV's "Happy Days." At the clip's climax, Fonzie shakes a leg in time to Weezer's sassy guitar riffing.

Bell is the slightly seedy-looking character who mouthed "I love you," to one of the Arnold's patrons.

He's also the newest member of the band. And he's in large measure responsible for the link with Jonze. Bell, 26, moved from Knoxville, Tenn., to Los Angeles eight years ago with the goal of becoming a recording studio engineer. He quickly fell into a clique of musicians and artists. It was a clique that included Jonze. "Living in Hollywood you know people," Bell said. "I had this job delivering things to (movie) studios - scripts, food." On one trip, he spied Jonze and told him about Weezer. The rest fell into place.

Of course, by that time the band had already been signed to Geffen's DGC label. And ex-Cars leader Ric Ocasek was producing their album.

Bell had nothing to do with the Ocasek connection. Weezer was looking for a producer. The band's reclusive songwriter/singer/lead guitarist Rivers Cuomo admired The Cars' crunchy pop, so he sent Ocasek a tape. A long shot, he figured. Ocasek took the bait and the band was spirited off to New York for two months of studio work.

About this time Bell joined the group. His former band Carnival Art had played the same Los Angeles club circuit as Weezer. So when Weezer fired its original second guitarist, Jason Cropper, Bell was called. up. He learned songs from a tape, then flew to New York where recording was set to begin. A limo met him at the airport. "It felt like I was in Led Zeppelin, straight out of "The Song Remains the Same.'"

At the band's hotel room, Bell saw something frightening: drummer Patrick Wilson's bare bottom. Wilson had welcomed Bell by dropping his drawers. "It broke the ice," Bell said.

When the record was finished, Bell said he knew Weezer was standing at the edge of something great. But DGC wasn't rushing the disc onto the market. The company's executives planned the timing carefully. "They didn't want it to compete with the new Sonic Youth record," Bell said, which saw its release date delayed by bassist Kim Gordon's pregnancy.

Eventually, the period of uneasy waiting gave way to intense gigging, interviews, and long bus rides. Weezer's debut has sold more than a million copies. And the machine continues to churn.

But what's this about Cuomo being a jerk? A recent story in Rolling Stone magazine described how the reticent songwriter refused to be interviewed. "He's really a good guy," Bell said, defending his band mate. "He doesn't like to talk about himself. He doesn't think he's interesting." A classroom of kids in Knoxville would disagree. And they're not alone.


■ Weezer with Archers of Loaf and Tuscadero. Tonight at 9. The Boathouse (N). Tickets, $11.50, available at Ticketmaster locations or charge by phone at 872-8100 or 671-8100.

1 ■ To hear sample of tunes from Weezers debut album, call 928-1111 and enter category 2263 (BAND).