The Boston Globe article - March 24, 1995

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Print interview with Brian Bell
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Publication The Boston Globe
Interviewee Brian Bell
Interviewer Paul Gobicheau
Date March 24, 1995
Title Weezer: Nerds No More
Format Print
External link via (part 1)
via (part 2)
Associated concert Weezer concert: 03/26/1995
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Weezer: Nerds No More
Author: Paul Gobicheau (The Boston Globe)
Published: March 24, 1995

"Arnold's is proud to present Kenosha, Wisconsin's, own... Weezer!" announces "Happy Days" actor Al Molinaro. He reprised his role as the proprietor of Arnold's Drive-in for the video to the bubble-grunge pop hit "Buddy Holly," to set the band in that nostalgic TV show and to help make its debut album, "Weezer," into a million-seller.

Weezer, which plays Avalon Sunday, is not from Kenosha. But its four members know what it's like to grow up in small-town America. Singer-guitarist-songwriter Rivers Cuomo was raised in farm towns around upstate Connecticut. Guitarist-singer Brian Bell is from eastern Tennessee, while bassist-singer Matt Sharp and drummer Patrick Wilson respectively hail from Arlington, Va., and Buffalo. However, they all met up in Los Angeles.

"There was a mysticism for me that had a lot to do with television, and the shows I was always into," Bell says of his own Hollywood migration. "Everything was based in LA. I had fantasies of 'Two girls for every boy' and warm weather."

Those fantasies were warmed by television shows like "Happy Days" and "The Brady Bunch." "I just saw "The Brady Bunch' movie, and thought it was brilliant," says Bell, 26, adding of his '70s TV faves, "I'm a sucker for anything in Technicolor. There was more character and style back then. Maybe it's the nerd thing it looked nerdy. But I can't stomach TV today."

So perhaps it's not surprising that Weezer ate up the video opportunity to play the band on "Happy Days," with help from clips of the original show.

"Everyone was dressed up and everything was so surreal, that it was so natural to smile and act giddy," Bell says of that Spike Jonze-directed clip. The video's multi-cut style was the opposite of Jonze's work on Weezer's "Undone - The Sweater Song," which was one moving shot of the band lip-synching in a warehouse, distracted by a bunch of dogs. "No one said what to do," Bell recalls. "It was just 'Action!'"

However, it was the "Buddy Holly" video that put Weezer over the top, lifted by its inanely catchy refrain, "Ooo-ee-oo, I look just like Buddy Holly / Oh oh oh, and you're Mary Tyler Moore / I don't care what they say about us anyway / I don't care about that." In the process, the video played up Weezer's own nerdy look. Asked about in-creased press attention, Bell admits, "I wish they'd come up with different angles besides 'geek rock.'"

How about an association Bell would appreciate? "I'd like to be a band at the level of Queen or someone like that, an arena-rock band bringing garage rock to the arenas," the guitarist says. "Queen songs were majestic, like 'We Are the Champions.' It gives you goose bumps." That seems like quite a stretch, considering that Weezer's debut more easily suggests post-grunge nods to the Beach Boys (Cuomo's media shyness has even been compared with Brian Wilson's), the Cars (Ric Ocasek produced the album), XTC (heard in Sharp's high harmonies) or the Pixies (for an off-the- bass-line crunch).

"We're going to seek different ways to go past the... college-rock sound," Bell contended during a phone interview from a Minneapolis tour stop. "You can probably look at statistics of people who expand on their second album and it's not as popular. But I think ours will be more popular, bringing us new fans, and we'll still be up there in junior high with the lunch boxes and notebooks. [The kids] will still be carving a big 'W' on their desks at school."

Weezer, after all, is big with the youngsters. Bell was recently reminded how big when he dropped by a convenience store across the street from their show. "I was mobbed by 14-year-olds, and one of them said, 'Can I shake your hands?' Plural. And I could tell this girl was almost about to faint, 'cause she was shaking. And this guy said, 'You're way cooler than Billy Joel.' And when I told them that Billy Joel was a really nice guy, they were even more impressed because I'd met him."

"I always expected to do well, but never expected this," says Bell, who joined Weezer during the making of the album. "When I went in and heard the rough mixes of songs, I hadn't heard, I knew it had the ability to take off. I envisioned this chart of sales in my mind, of a guy from the record company with a pointer in his hand: 'And these are the January sales, and these are..."

The concept expressed in "In the Garage" that "no one hears me sing this song" - is no longer true for Weezer.