Scream & Yell Interview: Brian Bell - December 10, 2005

From Weezerpedia

The following interview has been translated from Portuguese.
Original article:

"Interview: Brian Bell"


Our shows are like a bizarre, weird congregation of people who sing our songs by heart from start to finish. I think they sing so loud they can barely hear us playing

Brian Bell wasn't exageratting when he said that, via phone, about two weeks before Weezer played their - one and only - show in Brazil. The fact is, when the band started the set playing "My Name Is Jonas" (the first song from their first album) I couldn't really hear Brian's guitar playing. The screaming of the audience of the Curitiba Rock Festival welcomed Rivers Cuomo (guitar and vocals), Pat Wilson (drums), Scott Shriner (bass) and Brian (guitar and keyboards), screaming that buried the first chords of the song. And on that freezing Saturday night, that kind of reaction was the rule.

It is clear that the quartet, admittedly a band that has toured a lot (just check the tour dates on had an idea of how the reception of the people of Brazil would be.


I am very excited about the trip, I think we will have a warm welcome, with a lot of energy. I picture myself a lot of beautiful people (laughs), energy, exuberance, dancing and joy of living", said Brian in his pre-show interview. Certainly he had some idea of what he was talking about. "We have received letters from Brazilian fans since we started the band, I don't know why it took us so long to come here

Weezer's visit to Brazil is done to promote "Make Believe", the group's fifth studio album. Four months after the album's release, the band seems satisfied with the result.


I still can't get enough of 'Make Believe'. I think in the process of recording the songs I maybe got a little bit tired of them, but that was it. It wasn't a record we listened to a lot right after we finished recording it; now we only hear the songs live, or when we need to pick up the record again because we've forgotten how to play a section. We're playing a bunch of new songs, trying to do the studio versions justice. We are not concerened with changing the songs or making them 'evolve'; the record has a lot of sound textures that we had never done before. Just recreating them live is already a challenge. It's different from taking old songs and trying to add things to them to make them stronger, thinking 'this is how we should have recorded it originally.' Now it's the opposite, we're trying to match the recordings. We put a lot of keyboards on this record, and I am playing keyboards on our live shows

Detail: the Moog that Bell played in Curitiba was loaned from one of the people from Bidê Ou Balde.

Regartding the shows that the band has been doing in recent months, the show at Curitiba Master Hall had some changes in the setlist. Out, for example was "Pardon Me", and enter "This Is Such a Pity". Moreover, cherishing the uniqueness of their visit, Weezer put on a show that went through (almost) every phase of the band's career. The people didn't seem to believe it. Was it real? Maybe the title of the album "make-believe", is what went through the minds of the almost four thousand people present at the first night of the CRF. For Bell, the expression that gives the name to the album is more like an enigma for the fans.


It's hard for me to answer what it really means. He (Rivers) came up with the title two years ago and he just liked the expression, not thinking about whether it was negative or positive. That's how he explained it... I remember that I thought it looked like a good title on the album cover and went well with the CD art. About what it means, or how it fits into the context of the lyrics or even the music... it's really something no one can say but him.

But there are some clues. Such as, sincerity, a characteristic very much associated with Cuomo's verses (something young emo girls love so much)


Rivers said he wanted to totally distance himself from irony with the new songs. Ironically (laughs), the first two singles are precisely the ones with ironic lyrics. "My automobile is a piece of crap/My fashion taste is a little wack/And my friends are just as screwy as me" or "We are all on drugs/Never getting enough/We are all drugs/Gimme some of that stuff". I think, even without realizing it, he ended up being ironic, or rather, the lines sounded like irony. But he said they are very serious lyrics, which were written on the spur of the moment.

Was it just another contradiction or oddity that Cuomo is known for? The singer, songwriter and guitarist who has already influenced more than a generation of rockers and indies has the reputation of being a madman. Bell begins to define his relationship with Cuomo, a little hesitantly.


Well... is this going to be printed in Portuguese? If so I guess I can say... (laughs). It's a good question, but whenever I'm asked that I try to be a little slow to answer, depending on how Rivers has behaved in the last week. If he was I give an answer, if not I change the topic. But most of the time looking on the bright side, I have to say I'm very lucky to work with someone like him. Even though sometimes we can't even rehearse regularly because he lives out of town (from Los Angeles). He is very motivated and intelligent, and whenever he decides to do something, he goes to the extreme. He's an extreme guy. I have learnt a lot by looking at his methods. It's all very methodical. Living with him is like doing a sociological study (laughs). I wish I had written about that experience over the years. I wouldn't want to exploit him or anything like that, but I think I could make a lot of money about what he's like in private. It's interesting. No matter what I say, it will never do justice to the truth. He cannot be summed up in one word. Can he be a cold guy? For sure. But he can also be very easy to work with. You never know what to expect from Rivers.

Due to Rivers and his brash lyrics about youthful passions and social inadequacy, plus his public image, Weezer carries the stain - maybe uncomfortable - of being called the kings of "nerd rock". Does this make sense?


They say we do 'geek rock'. When the term came up, I never took it personally. I never considered myself a nerd, maybe in seventh grade at school... I think because I don't write the songs, I'm able to not take this personally. Rivers may have a completely different different picture of it. When I think about our image and reflect on how people see us, I know they see "the-face-in-the-glasses". And this image in people's heads says: geek. It's fine by me. I think it's good that the media has found a niche to write about, so more people might hear about us. That also helped us get a place in rock history as the 'nerd rockers'. It definitely set us apart from the other bands. So maybe it was actually a blessing.

Blessing or no blessing, it's true that Weezer has a special place in history. No band that emerged from the vacuum of post-grunge has made such a peculiar bridge between alternative rock and the mainstream. The catchy and unforgettable melodies, tentacular guitars and lyrics full of "confessions" (personal or not) didn't simply conquer millions of fans, in fact, they formed a legion of adorers, to the point that the group could be recognized as one of the most influential in alternative rock in the last 10 years. Our compatriots from Los Hermanos, Leela and the aforementioned Bidê ou Balde (who recored a portuguese version of Buddy Holly) can attest to that.


People talk to me, they give me demos, and I hear everyone saying 'Oh, there's this new band, they sound like Weezer, you're going to love them'. And all I can think is, why do I have to love them because they look like us? In fact, we are always trying to make Weezer not sound like Weezer! It's like when they say we influence emocore bands. I don't like emo, even though a lot of people might hate me for saying that. I think people can try, but they're still not able to label our sound. Our songs make people happy, which is great and that's what matters.