Porkchops & Applesauce interview with Rivers Cuomo - 1994

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Print interview with Rivers Cuomo
Publication Porkchops & Applesauce
Interviewee Rivers Cuomo
Interviewer Lÿndsey Parker
Date 1994[date?] (likely March or April)
Title Weezer
Format Print
External link Archive via Facebook
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Weezer
Author: Lÿndsey Parker (Porkchops & Applesauce)
Published: 1994


Lÿndsey Parker: So you moved to L.A. about five years ago – was it to specifically pursue music?

Rivers: Yeah, definitely. I moved here with like, the intention of being a rock star. And I completely failed. So, after a few years of messing around with really bad style, I got my shit together.

Lÿndsey Parker: What do you mean by “bad style”?

Rivers: Well, I don’t want to get too specific, because I’m completely embarrassed.

Lÿndsey Parker: Were you into metal, by any chance? I don’t look down on that.

Rivers: Yeah, but the people who read your fanzine might!

Lÿndsey Parker: Well, that’s their problem. But anyway, it was the ‘80s; that’s what was around on in L.A. then.

Rivers: Yeah, so I can’t really blame myself, since that’s what was cool at the time. Anyway, I got out of that and discovered songwriting. It’s kind of a different thing. So I got a Weezer-prototype band together with Pat, and our bassist was Scottie who used to be in Charles Brown Superstar. We were called Fuzz. We had just two shows, at the Coconut Teaszer on a Sunday night, in front of a grand total of about five or six people. After about two months we broke up, then somehow made our way to this.

Lÿndsey Parker: How did you get interested in music in the first place?

Rivers: Well, I always wanted to be a football player. Like, really bad. But as soon as I became a teenager, it became apparent that I was not going to evolve into a football player. My brother had a guitar, so I’d just sit at home and be depressed about not being able to play football, and play with his guitar.

Lÿndsey Parker: You’re better off!

Rivers: Yeah. Anyway, because I loved bands like KISS and stuff, I wanted to start my own band, so I got a band together with my brother and my friends, and ever since, I’ve been in bands – since I was like 13.

Lÿndsey Parker: Were there places for you to play in Connecticut?

Rivers: No, there weren’t any places at all, and there probably still aren’t. I think if we ever tour we won’t even stop in Connecticut, even though it’s my home state, because there’s just nothing there. We played parties, or at school, like in Battle of the Bands. We’d do Twisted Sister covers.

Lÿndsey Parker: Is that the kind of stuff you grew up listening to?

Rivers: I started off pretty cool. I think my first concert was Men at Work. I was really into them and the Kinks. Cool stuff. Then right around 7th or 8th grade, things really took a turn for the worse! All my teenage years sucked. Then I got a job at Tower Records and they kicked my ass and told me to listen to cool music. They enlightened me.

Lÿndsey Parker: What did you think of supposedly “glamorous” Hollywood when you first moved here?

Rivers: I didn’t really have any expectations when I came here, and I was really excited about the whole thing. Even the gross stuff is really exciting compared to the backwoods of Connecticut. Even the weird, strange, gross things in Hollywood were really exciting to me.

Lÿndsey Parker: What did your family think of you moving out here?

Rivers: They were all for me getting out and doing something. Of course, they would have preferred for me to go to school, but I really wanted to be a rock star. It probably wasn’t their first choice for me, but they were still supportive.

Lÿndsey Parker: Are they happy for you now, now that you have a record deal?

Rivers: My ex-stepdad is. I’m not sure how much my mom understands what it all means – not that I understand what it all means! I think she’d still like me to be in school.

Lÿndsey Parker: So, Ric Ocasek produced this album. How did that happen?

Rivers: Well, I like the Cars a lot, so I suggested sending him a tape. I guess he liked it, because a few days later our record company guy called us and said, “Ric’s coming to your rehearsal today.” We were all really nervous. And he opened the door and we see this guy, 7 feet tall with sunglasses, looking like an ‘80s rock star.

Lÿndsey Parker: Is Ric a cool guy?

Rivers: He is so cool! He’s so sweet and nice, and makes us all feel really comfortable.

Lÿndsey Parker: What was it like working with him?

Rivers: Just really mellow. He didn’t have too much to say. He was just kind of there as a backup, in case we got stuck. He made sure everything went smoothly. But it wasn’t like he messed with our sound too much; our demo tape is pretty much the same as the album.

Lÿndsey Parker: So it wasn’t Ric’s idea to have those new-wavey keyboards on “Buddy Holly”?

Rivers: No! Everyone thinks that! The keyboards were on there before we ever talked to him. He hated them! I guess maybe he was afraid that people would think it was him.

Lÿndsey Parker: So, what plans does Geffen have for your guys? Are you going to tour?

Rivers: We hope to tour, but it’s so hard to get on a tour right now. Everyone’s turning us down. We’ve been dying to tour for months now, but all the other bands want to tour with someone bigger than themselves, so they can play in front of more people. Nobody wants to go on tour with a completely unknown bands. We’ll probably go out on our own.

Lÿndsey Parker: What about a video?

Rivers: I think we are actually going to do a video for “Undone” in a few weeks. The best idea for it is us just playing in an empty, plain room, just one shot – no cuts or anything.

Lÿndsey Parker: Sort of like the Police’s “Roxanne” video?

Rivers: I don’t remember that one, but possibly! We didn’t get MTV where I lived until really late, like “Livin’ on a Prayer,” so I missed all the early cool videos entirely.

Lÿndsey Parker: I often prefer simple videos over today’s big-budget extravaganzas.

Rivers: I think ours will be very cheap! We’re not counting on getting on MTV at all. I’d prefer not to even have a video, but I wonder if it’s even possible to be successful without a video anymore. That sucks.

Lÿndsey Parker: I think the humor in your lyrics is really clever, but I’ve heard you hate being labeled “fun” and “quirky.” Why?

Rivers: I had no idea we were funny or goofy or whatever until people started talking to us. I always thought our music was really sad and kind of dark. And then everyone comes up to me and says, “You guys are hilarious!” I think our next record is going to have a lot less silliness on it. It’s going to be much more difficult to interpret it that way, because I’m consciously steering away from that now. I just don’t want to be perceived as light, or that we’re not really feeling it, because we really are. All the lyrics are borne out of intense feeling and necessity, and it’s a drag when people think we just whipped them off and don’t really care about it.

See also