The Central New Jersey Home News article - June 20, 1997

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Print interview with Rivers Cuomo
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Publication The Central New Jersey Home News
Interviewee Rivers Cuomo
Interviewer Michele Amabile
Date June 20, 1997
Title Setting the record straight
Sub-title Weezer's Rivers Cuomo is having the time of his life
Format Print
External link Via
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Setting the record straight
Author: Michele Amabile (The Central New Jersey Home News)
Published: June 20, 1997

Weezer's Rivers Cuomo is having the time of his life

Sometimes it just isn't fun being in a rock 'n' roll band. Just ask Rivers Cuomo.

Lately his band, Weezer, has been attracting tabloid-like attention with rumors of dissension in the ranks. When bassist Matt Sharp took off to England to work on his side project, The Rentals, there were whispers of a break-up.

It all climaxed with a recent article in Alternative Press, which made it seem as if Weezer members weren't getting along. Some members were quoted complaining about one another. Now, Cuomo wishes to clear the air on the matter, which he said was blown way out of proportion.

"That was all (expletive deleted)," the Connecticut native said of the less than flattering article. "We were in the middle of having an enormous fight, and the journalist exploited it. Ultimately it was really misleading, and bad on AP's part. I guess they sold more magazines that way, and that's how it is. When we're together, we have a great time and we're the best of friends. If you come to see us live, you'll be able to tell."

Now on tour with No Doubt, Weezer is having more fun than ever. Nightly, Gwen Stefani invites the band to sing on the encore of The Beatles' "Oh-Bla-Di-Oh-Bla-Da."

Cuomo seems to be enjoying the change of pace with audiences as well. Gone is the shy, standoffish Cuomo who stood perfectly still on stage a few years back. Cuomo said that a broken leg prevented him from being more animated during past performances, and that he was unfairly tagged as a "nerdy introvert."

Now Cuomo is more talkative, a fun guy who plays with the crowd and bandmates Sharp, Pat Wilson (drums), and Brian Bell (guitar). "This is the most fun that I've ever had in my life," he said of the No Doubt tour. "It's different. There is not as much moshing or stage diving going on."

Cuomo should be having his fun now. When Weezer isn't on the road, he is a student at Boston's Harvard University. An English major, Cuomo spends his semesters living off campus, studying, reading and writing music. He claims to be excluded from Harvard's "social universe" because he doesn't live in the dorms and is about nine years older than the average Harvard student, but he doesn't seem to mind.

"I don't do school and the band at the same time. When school is in session, I do homework, read, write. I actually write a lot of songs, too. I don't hang out and party, and I don't have any fun," he said. "But when school lets out, I can start to have fun. Drinking, partying, no thinking at all."

Dealing with negative press, however, has not been part of Cuomo's definition of "fun."

Oddly enough, all of the attention is giving Weezer's recent record "Pinkerton" a much-needed boost. The band's last record, "Weezer," had peaked in the Top 20, selling 1.9 million records.

Singles such as "Undone - The Sweater Song" and the bouncy "Beach Boys with a fuzzbox" smash "Buddy Holly" catapulted the band into stardom.

Weezer won four MTV Video Music Awards for the "Buddy Holly" video, which was set in Al's Diner on the TV show "Happy Days." "Pinkerton," however, has yielded only two minor hits with "El Scorcho" and "The Good Life."

"El Scorcho," with its first line "God-Damn you half-Japanese girls/ you do it to me every time," may not have struck the same chord with audiences that "Ooo-wee-ooh I look just like Buddy Holly/ Oh, Oh, and you're Mary Tyler Moore" did.

Cuomo doesn't seem surprised by the record sale numbers.

"There are changes everywhere in radio, MTV, the tastes of the mainstream public," he said. "There were also changes in our sound and the way we marketed ourselves... The lyrics have definitely changed in direction. They aren't veiled behind metaphors."

Cuomo is emotionally naked on "Pinkerton." The record opens with an open declaration, "Tired Of Sex," and deals with Cuomo's love life and self-described "shadier portion of my masculine side."

He shows remarkable sensitivity in a song about an 18-year old Weezer fan who wrote to him from Japan. He quotes the letter verbatim as he sings the track, entitled "Across The Sea.' The fan even receives royalties from the song.

"I was just really lonely and I got a fan letter that was very moving and touching. I never met her," Cuomo sighed. "I was afraid to meet her be- cause it would be really embarrassing."

"Pinkerton" is named for the shady character in the opera "Madame Butterfly," Cuomo explained.

Again, a media misconception.

"Pinkerton was an American sailor that went from port to port, and had a different girl in every port. I find that a metaphor for touring rock stars," he said, laughing. "Anyway, in the opera he goes to Japan and gets a 15-year old Japanese girl pregnant. He is the most despicable character in all of opera, and I really identified with him."

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