Nick Reviews interview with Karl Koch - July 12, 2010

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Digital interview with Karl Koch
Publication Nick Reviews
Interviewee Karl Koch
Interviewer Nick Houghtaling
Date July 12, 2010
Title Karl Koch Interview
Format Digital
External link Via Wayback Machine
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Karl Koch Interview
Author: Nick Houghtaling (Nick Reviews)
Published: July 12, 2010

Unless you are a big Weezer fan, you probably don’t know the name Karl Koch. Karl has been running the website for an extremely long time, and also has a close relationship with the band. He has released two albums, Press Any Key to Begin (2002) and I Must Find This Karlophone… (2007) under the moniker Karlophone, and plans on releasing a third in the near future. He has also on occasion done some small things with Weezer live.

Karl has always had a lot of contact with Weezer fans, so when I asked him for an interview in October of 2009, he agreed to answer a few questions. And even though it took him a while to get back to me (most likely because of Weezer’s activity over the past year), the questions are still relevant, and in my opinion, it’s an interesting read. Thanks again for the interview, Karl!

Nick: First of all, what have you been up to lately in the Weezer world?

Karl: Right now its mostly covering the tour stuff, with occasional jumping in and out of projects that are in the works, be they for the web or upcoming releases etc.

Nick: Can you describe to people who may not know what exactly your role is with Weezer?

Karl: I take care of the website and other online weezer stuff (twitter, facebook etc), though i dont do everything web related all the time. And i usually travel with the band (i dont make it to every single event, but most of them), and shoot video and pix wherever we go. Those get used on the web, and for other things, and sometimes they are just stored and we sort out how to use it later (video, promotional, etc).

Nick: A deluxe version of the band’s Pinkerton album and a Rarities collection are currently in the planning stages (as seen on the band’s twitter page). What is the current status of those two projects? When will they possibly be released? Are there any details you can give us specifically about them?

Karl: The rarities is actually not rare tracks, its 100% previously unreleased tracks, so thats going to be fun, almost like a new studio album but the music is from the last 10-12 years, and it doesnt have an official title yet. As i understand it that will come out later in the summer (so far as i know). The pinkerton thing should be a fall release (both were rescheduled like 4 times so far but both are pretty much done now). ive not seen 100% final versions of them yet though. i did a lot of archival research on the pinkerton one, im very happy were finally putting it out and it will have some killer unheard stuff on it.

Nick: Weezer released their seventh album, Raditude, earlier this month. What are your favorite songs from the album, and are there any that didn’t make the album that you are sad were cut?

Karl: I love “Trippin’ Down The Freeway” and from the deluxe version, “Prettiest Girl”. I wasnt sad on anything lost because they may resurface in a future release for all i know.

Nick: How do you feel about Rivers working with outside songwriters, and why do you think he did it? It’s been a controversial matter with the fans.

Karl: I feel that like all ideas Rivers has, he needs to try it and push it to whatever level he needs to push it to. If that leads to some weird songs or some great ones or both, so be it. He is a true artist in this way – just follows his instinct and then moves onward once hes satisfied with the process. So i can see some fans being upset, as we all know he can write killer songs on his own, and some folks like the collaborations less than the so called “pure” weezer tracks. But i see it as a journey, just like all his previous work. It will evolve in to something else before you are used to how it is now.

Nick: Do you feel that the majority of Weezer fans are too unwilling to accept new material from the band, or unfairly compare it to older material?

Karl: Actually i think its the minority who dont give the new stuff a chance, or dislike it a lot. the majority of fans are open minded enough to give it a try, and many are cool with it – but those arent very vocal fans. When you think about it, no one gets all loud and emotional defending the position “im cool with it” - If you are cool with something, you tend to just sit back and enjoy. That being said, the bands image does take a hit when you have enough people complaining, and there are ripples of that, you see it in the reviews etc.

Nick: On the red album, the other three band members sang lead on three tracks. Why did the band decide to abandon that for the new album?

Karl: I am guessing that was sort of an experiment, which was enjoyed by everyone, but once it was tried, it wasnt embraced as the future way to go. i think the other guys enjoyed the process but everyone sorta concluded that Rivers voice is “the voice of weezer”. Of course in concerts now, they switch up lead vocals up here and there to make unique arrangements and keep things interesting.

Nick: On tour this year, Weezer has been joined by Josh Freese on drums, while Pat Wilson has switched to guitar on most songs. Why did this happen? There is some speculation from the fans that it is because of Pat’s leg surgery last year.

Karl: No, Pat fully recovered. It was because Rivers wanted to be able to run around and do some songs only as the singer. This created the need for an extra guitarist to cover. But Pat said “wait i would rather play guitar than get some hired dude”. Which brought up the idea of hiring a drummer instead. And Josh Freese was a band aquaintance [sic], an awesome drummer, and loved weezer, so that made the most sense.

Nick: At recent shows, the band has stuck to a mostly singles-only setlist. Do you know why the band decided to do this as opposed to sticking some deeper album cuts in as well, and what do you think about it?

Karl: I dont know what led to that or if it was entirely intentional. The plan for the last few years has been to make a really exciting and kick ass show.Maybe some deeper tracks simply didnt come across right in rehearsals. Usually how things feel in rehearsal leads to what makes the set list.

Nick: In the next few months, Weezer has US tour dates lined up, and the possible release of the Pinkerton Deluxe Edition and the rarities album. After that, what are the band’s plans?

(funny how this question is still relevant in 6/10 as 10/09)

Karl: I would say the same answer: More albums, more shows, more everything, indefinitley. [sic]

Nick: You have a project called Karlophone, that wikipedia calls “sample-heavy/sound collage music.” How exactly did that start, and were you inspired by guys like DJ Shadow who do similar things?

Karl: I was inspired by his work in the 90s for sure. I was working with samplers in the mid 90s and slowly started recording demos in the late 90s. By 2000 i thought “wow i should put together an album…” Looking back i probably should have waited a little longer before putting the first one out, but you have to start somewhere and i do like a lot of that one. My second cd from a couple years ago i am happy with.

Nick: Are you working on a new Karlophone release, and if so, when do you hope to have it out?

Karl: Yes i am, i intended on having it done last year but its just been really slow going due to other distractions and stuff going on. I would love to finish it up this year, thats my current goal.

Nick: What have your favorite albums been lately?

Karl: New albums i like include the latest Black Keys, Broken Bells, Band of Horses and Charlotte Gainesbourg. but 90% of “new” music for me is discovering old music.

Nick: I recently did a blog post about the state of the music world: how most people mostly buy individual songs online and don’t care much for full albums, and how no one pays money for music anymore. What do you think of the current state of the music world and where do you see it heading in the future?

Karl: I think the current state is just a reflection of the current trends in culture and technology. The idea of the music album, if you go back, is a fairly recent invention. Going back to individual tracks being the main thing for most people is simply a reversion to earlier in the 20th century, before albums took over. Theres always been a singles market and a popularity contest of the top songs of the week, even before rock and roll. And as for free downloading and ipods taking over in the last 5 years, its just the current version of what was once satisfied by radio (and sheet music before that!), the instant gratification of (often) free new music – now just with a lot greater personalization of course. But at the same time, now we have several generations who are aware of the album format, who like and expect it. And they include the artists who are still making the albums. So albums will continue to be made, as the definitive “artists statement” for some time to come, even as new formats and ideas are being tried out by bands and labels. In a way the album was and remains an artificial thing, but a solid minority likes getting new music this way and will continue to do so. And the rest will keep latching onto the latest hot tracks as they come out, whether they are paying for them or not. im sure the state of the industry now is a nightmare for anyone trying to market music.

See also