Mike's World of Weezer interview with Matt Sharp - August 2002
10 Questions with Matt Sharp
To the Elusive Mr. Matt Sharp - 5 questions about being a musician:
I found an interview that you did in '99 where you talked about the first time you realized "Oh, that's how you get back to the verse". Discussing how Seven More Minutes was more of a conscious song-writing venture than the Return of... How would you summate the growth of the "structure" of your songs? (Since I live on the East Coast, my Matt Sharp experience ends with 7mm).
Songwriting: I used to feel that it was necessary to build towers of arrangement [and] towers of production to honor those who inspired me, so that maybe one day the word would get back to them. So the world would turn to my girl and say, "Don't you understand!, the kid is a genius!, the kid is insane!, don't you understand girl! these monuments were made in your honor! people are celebrating you everywhere! all over the planet! due to your Goliath/monumentous inspiration !, your face is everywhere !, on banners stretched out all over the city! in magazines and on television !, the melodies you've inspired are in everyone's head, those songs are being sung in every disco, in every pub, and on every street corner!"
...a million Moogs ...a billion tracks of Petra's vocals ...a trillion tracks of guitars, drums ...and a zillion of this, that, and the other ...more ...more ...we need more! At the time, I equated making Seven More Minutes with the making of the film Apocalypse Now ...so what, I lost it just a bit ...got it back ...and lost it again.
All just to say, "Sweetie, you make me feel glad to be alive."
But for me, somewhere along the line the message got lost in all those machines. All those things became walls and barriers, that made it little harder to yell over to get the point across to tell you what I really wanted to say. So, the new record is much more simple, sparse and much more direct. It's just me and you ...and I hope the words are better that way.
And I want to make 3 or 4 more records like this quickly over the next few years. We'll see, but that's what I'm thinking right now. This one should be out around Jan/Feb 2003. I don't know, you can find out all about it at overlee.com...I imagine.
Records: It all happens in waves for me. Like the women in my life, I usually love the life out of what ever I'm listening to. I go through phases of listening to certain records religiously until I just can't listen to them anymore, until they mark a period of my [life] so distinctly that it would seem strange to ever return to them. You know, it's like when you accidentally run into a woman you used to love: Who knows? Maybe you still love 'em, but still, it feels awkward just the same.
Everyone (I think) secretly studies the work of their heroes. Who are your songwriting heroes, or your bass playing heroes, and where are they present in your music? (Other than Gary Numan, since I think most of your fans know of his sonic influence on your studio recordings.)
Writers: I can't really name anyone in particular, a lot of the time it's just individual songs that are done so well, you just can't believe it. Writers, I don't know, I love the ones that are there for me when I need a good talking to + also, I love the ones that will put me in outer space when i need to get out of here.
Like you, my first instrument and love was the bass, but I later found a comfort in singing and writing while playing the guitar. (It just makes more sense if you spend a lot of time alone). I understand the satisfaction that comes from simplicity of playing guitar and singing your own songs, but do you ever miss being the guy who plays the bass? It really is a cool instrument.
Well, in '92, what man worth his salt didn't want to be Kim Deal? When I was fourteen, I used to spray "Right Guard" on a cheap imitation Fender bass, light it on fire and run around in the front yard and pretend I was Geezer Butler. The neighbors loved that.(Who said, I'm always starving for attention ?) I'm not sure if as bass player I really ever evolved beyond the Pixies and a bottle of "Right Guard". There are so many good bass players, it's endless. I mean I never really thought as a person that Paul MaCartney was "cool" in the traditional sense, but I'm always in awe of how "cool" his playing is. (Yeah, stick up for the little guy, he never gets enough credit anyway, so I hope I helped him out a bit.)
I don't know. I haven't played bass in forever. It's not that I lost love for the instrument, but there are just no bass or drums on this new record, because of the sparseness.
I pulled out my black Fender the other day to play with Greg Brown and by God is that thing heavy! Women are so good at playing bass, but it's still such a manly instrument. You need big rusty hands for such a thing. How the girls do it, I'll never know.
What's your favorite Elvis Costello song?
I don't much about Elvis. He's one of those, though I've occasionally tried, I can't seem to find my way to him. So, from what little I know, I'd say "Allison" and "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?".
What are your top five albums that you've been listening to recently?
Like I said before, sometimes records are just temporary obsessions, but here's some of those obsessions off the top of my head.
- Mark Hollis - first solo album (Sad, sad, sad - especially the song "Westward Bound.")
- Serge Gainsbourge - Comic Strip (For when you're in the mood to put on a Kimono, drink cheap wine, and feel like chasing Long Island Amalee. Though she may look French, her accent still says "dawg", "tawk", and "cawfee". Around the lake.)
- Hope Sandoval - Barvarian Fruit Bread (I hope people pay attention to this.)
- Belle And Sabastien - If You're Feeling Sinister (Music to do your chores to; music for when you need to do the dishes, the laundry, and the rest of the cleaning.)
- Paris, Texas soundtrack or Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat (For when you're driving across the wide open Mexican desert with a talkative Portugese actress and you're in dire need of a soundtrack for the backround.)
- (One more for good measure) Spiritaulized - Laser Guided Melodies (Perfection.)
5 questions about being Matt:
On Return of... there are a couple of references to Northern Virginia. (Where I grew up, and currently go to school). "Good bye Virginia, with your lousy style", and "... of the Potomac tonight..." are the two spots that come to mind. How did you wind up on the L.A. club scene, and how do you feel now about your hometown scene?
I don't know. I hardly ever go back, so, I can't say much about the local scene. I left when I was around 16.
The L.A. thing is hard to explain. L.A. is a vacuum. L.A. has been a good place to return to after recording a messy first half of a record. L.A. is a good place to get it together. L.A. is enormous + L.A. can be so lonely.
Club Scene: The first club show I ever played was with Weezer at this club called Raji's (that place went down in the earthquake) opening for "Rico-Suave" Keanu Reeves and Dogstar.
Usted pasó mucho tiempo en Barcelona. Usted habla español?
Español - No recuerdo nada!
Once, you get dumped for a boy who works in the bakery. Your brain flushes the rest.
Did you ever go to college, or did you just get out of your home town as quickly as possible to be a rock star?
[In] college I took clarinet for about 3 days and I nearly made it through an Asian art history class (trying to reconnect with Thailand). Then the Geffen machine kicked in and we were off and touring.
I was one of the people who kept the lookout for you alive on the internet when no one had any idea where you were. I found a Rentals t-shirt on Ebay, and even printed a shirt that said "Free Matt Sharp" that I wore to Weezer concerts. (We thought maybe they were hiding you). How does that make you feel that you had an underground sect trying to bring you out of your hiatus?
Well, honestly, bless all of you. I have met so many incredibly cool people while I was on the road with Weezer or with The Rentals and I'll never be able to express how much all of you have meant to me. We have had some amazing times together. Over the last three years I haven't really watched any T.V. or listened to the radio or spent much time on the internet or whatever, so when I came out of seclusion a couple months back to find that people are still supportive and interested, I was just knocked out! The few shows I've done since returning have been a little rusty, but that's been totally overshadowed by all the love from you guys. And now that I'm back and don't have any plans to go back into hiding anytime soon, I will really look forward to meeting you all soon.
Speaking of Rentals t-shirts....My "vintage" shirt got ruined at a concert by some hooligan 14 year old girls. You don't happen to have any merchandise lying around, do you? They are not easy to find. I will wear it proudly.
As soon we get this record up and running, I'm sure there will be some merchandise available. I know there are over a thousand Seven More Minutes t-shirts stuck in Warner France. Damn French! I have only a couple Return of... T's in storage. Who knows what Maverick might have. But that's all.
Personal Note: I just wanted to let you all know something. As far as all the current legal biz related to Weezer and me that's been in the news goes... Well, I can't say much, but if I could tell you everything, I'm sure you would understand completely, and would realize it was absolutely necessary, and that it was an absolute last resort. All you really need to know is that while I was in Weezer my belief, love, and devotion to the music and to all of you was pure. That's is a big reason you won't hear much from me about all this anymore. I would like to keep all those memories we have had together pure as well.
Anyways, that's all. I'll see you soon.
Love You All.
Okay, I think that runs the gamut of serious music questions through ridiculous fanatic questions. I would like to say thank you on behalf of Mike and Mike's World of Weezer for being gracious enough to allow me to do an interview for the site. On a personal note, I would like to say thanks for ruling. I used to play The Blue Album on my Discman when I was 12, over and over. Your playing on "Only in Dreams" was the reason I asked my parents for a bass. Hopefully you won't be so elusive in the future. You're a real musical character, and we miss you.
Interview conducted by Paul Zaic via email with the help of Matt Sharp, Overlee, and the Matt Sharp Street Team. Check out Matt this weekend in NYC at the Pantheon Theatre.