Rocky Mountain News interview with Brian Bell - March 17, 1995

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Stardom Comes - Even to Nerds

Weezer Proud of Simpleton Roots

By Michael Mehle; News Popular Music Writer


On a recent night in Las Vegas, the members of Weezer became rock 'n' roll stars.

They had already sold more than a million copies of their debut, self-titled album. Their most recent video had been played beyond over-exposure on MTV. And Rolling Stone featured a large profile of the pop band, putting Weezer's name in big block letters on the magazine's cover.

But it wasn't until hours before a Vegas gig at the new Hard Rock Cafe theater that Weezer believes it crossed the line into rock 'n' roll stardom.

"We were in a nice hotel room, and it was the first time we actually threw stuff out of the window," says guitarist Brian Bell.

It's a time-honored rock ritual performed by all the greats. So what did Weezer toss into the pool below?

"Oranges, apples and a pineapple," Bell says. "It was nothing Keith Moon would do. But I finally felt like a rock star."

That the pop outfit would heave decorative fruit instead of small appliances from its hotel window should come as no surprise. This is a band whose biggest hit proudly proclaims, "I look just like Buddy Holly." The video for the same song is an elaborate send-up to the quintessential '70s sitcom, Happy Days.

The four Los Angeles transplants, who play a sold-out show at the Ogden Theatre Saturday, pride themselves in their nerdy suburban roots. For promotional photos they pose as amateur car mechanics huddled around a dirty air filter or in front of a kitschy fireplace. Their album cover, Bell admits, is just "four homely guys standing in front of a blue background."

It's an amusing act that has helped sell records, but Weezer has admittedly short-shrifted itself by playing up its image as suburban simpletons.

Never mind their nonchalance, the members of Weezer take their music seriously.

The quartet's first disc is a pop masterstroke, from the clever choruses of both "Buddy Holly" and "Undone - The Sweater Song," to the blankets of distorted guitar on "My Name Is Jonas." It's a rare pop album that doesn't take itself too seriously and doesn't miss its mark on many occasions.

"I've never been in a band where all four people write songs - and good songs," Bell says.

Reclusive singer Rivers Cuomo, who had the band attend operas and study foreign languages while touring Europe, calls many of the shots for the group of twentysomethings.

"He pretty much writes a song, brings it into the band, and we'll screw it all up, make it a band song," Bell says.

The other three have their own outlets, from Bell's other band with his girlfriend (Space Twins) to drummer Patrick Wilson's "crazy techno music on the side."

The satellite projects should come in handy after the band finally wraps up more than a year on the road. At Cuomo's request, Weezer will take some time off before recording its next album.

"Rivers is the student, scholarly type. He's going to take some time off and go to school and study music more. He listens to opera and classical music like crazy and likes to analyze it."

Solo projects and school work aside, Weezer's fans need not worry about an acrimonious break-up after a single album, says Bell.

"Everybody's going 'You're breaking up! Solo projects!' If they only understood what it means to be on a major label (Geffen Records) and touring in support of the same album for more than a year. It opens up doors and makes everyone happier and more creative."

"It's kind of like someone who writes novels and also puts out a few magazine articles."