Daily Texan interview with Rivers Cuomo - November 15, 2000
Weezer Breathes New Life into Career After Four-Year Hiatus
By Ashok Chandra
It has been a long time since we've seen Weezer.
Weezer was one of the biggest bands of the mid-1990s, with their radio hit "Buddy Holly," as well as a whole catalog of songs that reached out to a different group of people that popular music didn't focus on. Weezer, whose music has references to comic books and Dungeons and Dragons, captivated these people with what some have called "Nerd-Rock."
Besides a few side projects, like the cover of the Pixies "Velouria," on last year's Where is My Mind? compilation, Weezer has been out of sight. Fans have been wondering where the band has been.
"There's not much happened. Just been hanging out for the last couple years. Accomplishing nothing," explains Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of the band.
Since their last album, the phenomenal, but commercially modest Pinkerton in 1996, the band has gone through some changes. Their bass player Matt Sharp left in order to devote himself full time to his other band, The Rentals. In an attenuated search, Sharp was replaced by Mikey Welsh, former bass player for Juliana Hatfield.
The tension started to build. Rumors began to float around the Internet and various publications about the demise of Weezer. Spin magazine ran an article that stated that Cuomo had gone into a deep depression and locked himself in the studio destroying all his recordings. Rolling Stone claimed that Weezer would not get back together until Cuomo got his braces removed.
"Everybody's struggling to come up with explanations for our hiatus, but unfortunately, I don't think there's anything to explain this," Cuomo said.
Somehow, out of the blue—no pun intended—Weezer came back. The first sign of the return was an announcement on MTV Online that they signed on for a few West Coast dates of the Vans Warped Tour.
"We just got together one day, and it sounded pretty cool. Then we started playing shows and that went pretty good, which gave us more confidence, and the whole thing fed on itself and, before we knew it, we were doing a full-scale tour and making a new record," explains Cuomo.
For this tour, they joined up with a band they toured with before, Green Day.
"It was awesome. I'd go out there and see them each night. I've got their new record in my CD player," Cuomo recalls.
During the four-year hiatus, each member of the band kept themselves busy. Brian Bell, the guitarist, continued to work on an album with his side band, The Space Twins.
"The album [Space Twins] should be out in a couple months," Bell said.
Pat Wilson, Weezer's drummer, took his side project, The Special Goodness, on tour through the United States. Mikey Welsh, the new bassist came along for the ride.
While the other members of Weezer continued on with their musical pursuits, Cuomo turned to a different path. During the break, Cuomo enrolled in Harvard, which he rarely mentions, calling it "a Boston school."
"I just really wanted to go to school at the time. I just wanted to take my basics," Cuomo said.
Besides going to school, Rivers also played a couple of shows in Boston with a different band.
"It was a totally different experience," Cuomo says about playing with a different band.
The shows consisted of completely new material, but there is little chance we'll see those songs on a new Weezer album.
"I never finished those songs. In classic Rivers style, I lost confidence and dropped it."
During the four years that Weezer has been apart, a strange phenomenon has been occurring. While many bands fade into obscurity when they fail to release albums, Weezer's popularity has been growing. This has been evidenced in shows from the recent tour. Kids who were too young to have been around for the release of The Blue Album were jumping up and down singing along to non-singles like "Surf was America."
"I don't think its anything we did. We didn't do anything. We've just been sitting on our butts for the past few years and we just seem to be acquiring more and more fans. The less we do, the more successful we become," Cuomo says.
Much of the fan growth can be attributed to the growth of digital music and the Internet, most notably, Napster. Songs from both albums are readily traded on the music piracy site, as well as unreleased demos.
"I personally like it. I use it, but I honestly wish that a lot of the things on there by Weezer weren't on there. They're bad demos that I wish people never heard. Somehow someone put them on there, and now people can hear them and that's embarrassing," Cuomo said.
A problem with Napster is that oftentimes a song from another band will be cross-listed under Weezer's name. One such example is a song listed called "Ex-Girlfriend." When downloaded, it turns out not to be Rivers, but rather a song called "Paint by Number" by Self. This crosslisting also has good effects. Smaller bands listed under Weezer can be heard for the first time. One such band is Ozma.
"They're amazing. They sound very similar to us in a good way. They're my favorite new band. I certainly hope to tour with them," says Cuomo.
The fall tour has recently ended. During each show Weezer played three to four new songs, but now they're headed to the studio to begin recording their new album, which was slated to be due in stores on April 1st of next year, but has since been reported to have been pushed back a month.
"Every night we'd play four or five new songs and record them," Rivers says. "We play even more at sound check. We're trying to make a new record at the end of October. The sound for the new album is a combination of the two records. The four of us are really excited and happy to be playing again."