Daily Vidette interview with Karl Koch - December 3, 2001
Weezer webmaster serves as band's fifth member
By Mike Riopell
Normally, a band's website will greet Internet surfers with a dynamic and complicated flash animation in front of the band's latest hit playing in the background. News updates are provided only if show dates change or albums come out. No one knows who the webmaster is, and in most cases, no one cares.
Weezer is a different band in this respect, a group of popular rockers with a "fifth member" webmaster named Karl Koch. Since the band's formation, Karl has been an essential part of the Weezer formula by providing daily news updates about each recording, show or minor action the band takes.
In addition, home movies, free mp3s and various other extras are available for the fan that can't get enough of Rivers, Brian, Scott and Pat. It's only fitting a band with a decidedly geek image - whether they deserve it or not - should put the Internet at the head of their fan's connection with the band. The tenacious e-Zone caught up with Karl over the webmaster-friendly e-mail to ask him some questions about Weezer and his involvement.
What do you see as your "job" or "role" with Weezer?
Confidant, friend, photographer, adviser, webmaster and archivist.
How'd you meet the Weezer guys and get involved with the band?
I moved to L.A. after college at the insistence of a mutual friend of the guys who would later form Weezer. I helped them with their early shows because I liked them, their music, and I had a Bronco, which was handy for moving gear to gigs.
Besides the website updates, what kind of things do you do with the band while on tour, recording, etc?
A lot of art design stuff for various merchandise and CD art things. Advising on all sorts of stuff. I do the photography and video shooting, a small selection of which shows up on the website. Musically, I do stuff like make different edits of their new songs on my computer so the band can make decisions as to whether the song needs 2 choruses or 3, etc.
How do the popular and consistent, in-depth Weezer updates on the website help the band?
I get constant thanks for how up-to-date it is, people saying they feel like they're really a part of the band's activities. I guess it makes fans more fanatic! And it's great that they've come to trust that we are the source for the latest Weez news, not Mtv.com, etc.
How's the website been changed over time?
Drastic change came in May 2001, as we relaunched with the green album's release. Before that, it had been slowly changing with my and the band's increasing interest, since I started a small side page called "Karl's Corner" in Jan. 2000. The site was totally fan-run from its launch in 1996, but we became good friends with the founders/webmasters, and today it's the 'official' site, with me and original webmaster, Dan, doing the work.
As the band went through tough times between albums, what were you doing?
How did the Mykel and Carli tragedy affect the band, and does it still?
It was a blow that happened right when things were shaky to begin with, with the original bass player drifting away towards his own career, and overall burnout that required a break. The accident was really a stunner. I think we all needed a lot of time to just think. Then, due to fans' demand, I picked up the pieces, took over the fan club and continued it for a year and a half, but it just wasn't functioning financially. Plus the band was totally under the radar, so there wasn't much to report! So, the official fan club has been on hiatus since 1999. Today, the band is finally on a very strong foothold, so the sadness of the tragedy has given way to a "do what Mykel and Carli would want, and rock out!" attitude. The fan club will return when a new person I've recruited has gotten it all together.
Do you have any input as far as music or stage shows go?
Yeah, I get asked my opinion on songs and set lists and all sorts of stuff fairly often.
What's it been like to watch Weezer's popularity balloon through their career?
Well, it was a deflating balloon for some time! But it's been awesome to see them rise again, probably more fulfilling than the original popularity because then we had no real idea why it happened. This time, we can all take some credit and feel good, because everyone worked like a dog for over a year, against huge odds, to get that 3rd album out!
Do you think the popularity will go any further?
I think it might "plateau" here, (which is a pretty nice place to level off!), but I think it has to go farther, because there are tons of places all around the world that are just like the USA in 1994, having only a vague idea what Weezer is. And the band wants to keep working and cranking out albums indefinitely. I see room to grow in a tasteful way.
What's the changing bassist situation been like, and is Scott still just a fill-in, or has he become a mainstay?
Scott has become a mainstay, we all love him. Instability is a terrible feeling, but Scott is a rock of...uh, rock.
What's your favorite Weezer song?
I think "Falling for You," or any number of unreleased demos from 1992-1995. The "big" songs I've heard too many times!
Probably "Blue," due to nostalgia and such. It was a long road that led to that thing being in a store!
What's it like having friendships with a band possessing a degree of international fame?
It makes going to the mall with one of them a tricky adventure.
Do you have anything to add for the Weezer fans of Illinois State University?
I hope this concert [was] anything but "normal!..." OK, that's a lame joke.
Koch could be spotted right in front of the stage during Weezer's performance Monday taking pictures of the band and crowd for the website. On the site, Koch wrote, "Today's venue, the Redbird Arena, apparently takes no chances with crowd injuries and employed the "T" type barricade, which splits the crowd into left and right sides. I detected a definite lessening of the crazy side to side shoving that's been going on of late. Anyway, the crowd looked like they were having fun, so perhaps the Arena chose well in this case...?"