Drop-D Magazine interview with Patrick Wilson - November 1996
Rivers Runs Through
By Paul Watkin
Sitting in an art room for wee kids in the back of a Greek Centre, one gets to stare at all the paintings and cut-out art that the children have done. You look at the Greek alphabet and a map of Greece and the world and think about all the wonderful things they'll explore and create, their souls hopefully flourishing in a sea of freedom. Hmmm, it makes one feel good. Just imagine being able to make a living through your art. So I asked Weezer's drummer, Patrick Wilson, just what that is like.
"It's great, I love it, I mean there is a certain amount of the population that wants to buy something that I've created. Playing with Weezer and The Rentals has been great. I feel fortunate to be a part of stuff like that. The last two years have been the best education of my life. There are so many over-educated, under-experienced people. I'm so glad I dropped out of college after one semester and became a rock star [insert laugh here... he did], it's the best. College was such bunk, too much politics and jockeying for favour. I just couldn't do it."
"College is great if you want to learn, but that's not what college is about, it's about making your professor happy and getting good grades and getting an in into IBM. Any place that says that they're only accepting college graduates is not a place I 'm very interested in being."
Good, the interview's going well. But then I blew it. I said that word. "Pinkerton's." Aagh! Does that scare you? Okay, so it's as scary as a movie on Monster Chiller Horror Theatre (remember Count Floyd?) to us. But not to him.
"The American justice system is sooo efficient. Pinkerton's [a huge security company] had a court injunction against us to stop producing material with the word 'Pinkerton' [the title of Weezer's latest CD] on it. I guess the word is now that they're not going to sue us, but that's not 100 per cent. It's totally bizarre."
Actually sinking emotionally in disbelief, we just chuckled and took the discussion out to the world. Weezer has been to Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan and it was...
"It was great. We played a bunch of festivals in Europe. Australia and New Zealand were really pretty, the people were really pleasant. Japan was a trip. The people were extremely polite, but it was really polluted. Tokyo is just insane. When you order a large fries at a McDonalds, I've never seen people so excited to give me my fries, working so hard just to give me my fries. Which in no way is an endorsement for McDonalds. Here [in North America], you just get the people behind the counter who are just waiting for their shift to end because they hate their job so much."
So Patrick has traveled the globe, including extensive jaunts through North America. And he being this big rock star now, you figure L.A. would be his home. Nope. Portland, Oregon.
"I didn't want to live in L.A. anymore, I didn't want to live in southern or northern California, or Seattle or on the east coast or the Midwest, which left Portland. It's pretty too. It's a smaller city and it's nice."
"I'm originally from Buffalo, which is pretty much Canadian. Toronto is a fabulous place compared to Buffalo, all you want to do is drive through it. Actually it's not that bad, there's some cool stuff in Buffalo, it's a lot better than when I left, but uhm... I was forced to listen to Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd, that's all the radio stations played in Buffalo when I was growing up. It's just not where I'm supposed to be. Portland is where I'm supposed to be."
Patrick seems to have found a certain happiness in his life. Through his creativity and a great many experiences he has gained a life education in the last two years. What's next?
"I've got my own project, the Special Goodness. I played all the instruments on it... it sounds awful when I tell that to people, I don't want to make it sound like I'm Prince, like I'm the white Prince from the suburbs."
"Where I see Weezer right now as this big masculine charge into emotion land, I see my band as more like the Smiths, more pleasant sounds. I'm going to record totally digital with the Special Goodness, because with digital, the instruments don't blend into each other and that's appealing to me."
That recording will definitely differ from the recording of Pinkerton, then. Let's see here: seven engineers and five studios from Los Angeles to New York City. Christ, did each studio provide some extra area of expertise for the recording process? And then I learned that a Rivers (Cuomo) runs through it.
"No, nothing like that. Rivers goes to school, and we could only record during his breaks. Weezer produced the record, all I did was play drums and I recorded the drums. We felt it wouldn't make a difference if we had a producer, we felt it would have got done the same way."
"Rivers is the hauteur behind this record, he's definitely responsible for the way it sounds."
Do you like the record?
"I don't know, I don't hate it. I have a hard time answering questions like that, because two months later I might have a different reaction towards it. I can tell you that it's fun to play."
Speaking of fun, is it hard to get past the 'Buddy Holly' video thing? It's really the first Weezer image ingrained on the brains of the masses.
"Rivers is against doing another 'Buddy Holly' type video, because he feels it adulterates the Pinkerton experience... which is ludicrous. Nobody watches Help! and says the Beatles suck and their records are awful. Ya, it's a stupid movie, but whatever."
"We did a video for the first single, 'El Scorcho,' and it was a lame concept. We sat around a room with lights and spent way too much money on stupidity, basically. It was on MTV, but they took it off of their list. MuchMusic is actually making big inroads into the States, which is good, because they actually play music...unlike MTV."
And, unlike MTV, Weezer will be on tour, continuously playing music and by the time you read this, they will have flown from Vancouver to L.A., to make another video, before flying to Denver to resume their tour. Unfortunately, they will have had to cancel their show in Salt Lake City, which is dangerous, seeing the people will probably sic God on them, but Patrick welcomed the idea. "I hope they do, we need all the help we can get. Tax revolt! Tax revolt!"