News-Pilot interview with Matt Sharp - December 1, 1995

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Print interview with Matt Sharp
Publication News-Pilot
Interviewee Matt Sharp
Interviewer Corey Levitan
Date December 1, 1995
Title Shooting Sharp With The Rentals
Format Print
External link Via Newspapers.com
Associated concert The Rentals concert: 12/18/1995
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Shooting Sharp With The Rentals
Author: Corey Levitan (News-Pilot)
Published: December 1, 1995


Matt Sharp's has something you don't see too often in rock -- simultaneous success with two top-charting bands. The bassist for poppy alternative Weezer is moonlighting as frontman for his own group, the Rentals.

The keyboard-laden yet Weezer-esque "Friends of P." -- the debut single from the album "Return of the Rentals" -- has garnered so much MTV and radio play it threatens to overshadow "Buddy Holly," Weezer's biggest hit.

I chatted with Sharp on the eve of an 11-city tour. The Rentals are opening for Maverick Records labelmate and fellow next-big-thang, Alanis Morissette.

Corey: Did you expect this level of success for a side project?

Matt: It's not a side project. It's a band that I've dedicated a lot of my time to. I'm much more in touch with the Rentals than I am with Weezer, because for one thing, I'm writing all the words.

Corey: So you don't feel creatively fulfilled with your role in Weezer?

Matt: When we record with Weezer, I work a lot on my parts. It's a pretty creative thing. It didn't use to be as much, because I just played bass. But now I help Rivers (Weezer vocalist/songwriter Cuomo) out with a couple of things. He does the bulk of the work, but we've worked on some vocal things together and he's asked me for my opinions on a couple of things. Some of the Rentals' songs were almost Weezer songs, or would have been, but I just decided I wanted to do a whole record.

Corey: Do you think the Rentals might end up eclipsing Weezer, the way Phil Collins now eclipses Genesis?

Matt: I'm definitely not thinking we'll be bigger than Weezer. That would be a pretty ridiculous assumption. Everything has to work so perfectly to sell that many records. That's a lot completely fortunate thing, its not something you snap your finger and achieve. I don't think about it. I just want to sell enough records so we can make more.

Corey: But you've already achieved that at this point.

Matt: Yeah, it's totally weird. When I recorded the record it was just to hear what things sounded like - just for ourselves. It wasn't even meant for release, and if it was I was just going to release it on an independent label. But we're baffled. I don't think we expected anything, least of all for the video to be played, because it wasn't meant to be a video, either. It was just, Wow. Rod's (Rentals guitarist Cervera) dad has a camera.' 'OK, well let's buy some film and shoot at my apartment.' We didn't have any thoughts of MTV When we showed it to record companies they all thought it was so great, and we were like, 'Whatever.' We thought they were joking.

Corey: I read you made the "Friends of P." video for $400.

Matt: Probably a little bit more than that. We just basically paid for the film. We edited it for free and transferred it for free through friends. But after I handed it in to Maverick, the synch was bad because we edited it on a really bad machine at the wrong speed. So they polished it up. It probably cost about $500 or $600 altogether.

Corey: Weezer is known for the groundbreaking innovation of your Spike Jonze-directed "Buddy Holly" video, in which the band morphs onto the old "Happy Days" set. Was "Friends of P." a minimalistic reaction to that?

Matt: No. We already reacted to that with the last Weezer video, I think.

Corey: What does "P." refer to and why is it so cool to be friends with it?

Matt: I won't say. The only thing I'll say is that everything everybody has said so far is wrong. There are a bunch of people who've come up with all these different answers for it.

Corey: Are you friends with Johnny Depp's new rock band, P? They'd be cool to befriend.

Matt: That's definitely not the case. I've never met them.

Corey: I'll bet P. will befriend the Rentals considering all the publicity your song is giving them.

Matt: I guess! A lot of people have mentioned it.

Corey: Your name, the Rentals -- is there any significance to that?

Matt: It really doesn't mean much. I wanted a name like the Raincoats or the Motels or the Cars - something bland and not too clever that you can't really attach to anything.

Corey: Are you guys playing L.A. at all?

Matt: We're playing the KROQ "Almost Acoustic Christmas" shows. which should be fun. but nothing else. If you play a small place in L.A. and you're on a big label and I'm on two of them it seems like the shows turn out to be 75 percent record company people. lawyers and managers, and not really fans and friends. I'd just rather play to audiences that will jump up and down.

Corey: You mentioned being on two labels. Weezer is on Geffen, and the Rentals are on Maverick. Do the companies compete for your attention.

Matt: No. I can't really do anything for Geffen because Weezer's not doing anything right now.

Corey: Have you met the owner of Maverick, Madonna?

Matt: Yes. She seemed to be a decent person.

Corey: What did you talk about?

Matt: She said she liked the band.

Corey: Did you talk about sex?

Matt: No.

See also