The Daily Oklahoman article - May 5, 1995

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Print interview with Brian Bell
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Publication The Daily Oklahoman article
Interviewee Brian Bell
Interviewer Karla Peterson
Date May 5, 1995
Title Weezer Finds It's Hip Not To Be Cool
Format Print
External link Archive via Newspapers.com
Associated concert Weezer concert: 05/20/1994
Weezer concert: 05/22/1994
Weezer concert: 05/18/1994
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Weezer Finds It's Hip Not To Be Cool
Author: Karla Peterson (The Daily Oklahoman)
Published: May 5, 1995


If you knew Weezer like Brian Bell knows Weezer, you wouldn't know anything you don't know already.

"I knew Weezer wasn't the hippest band around, as far as dress or stage presence or music goes, and that's what turned me on about them," said singer and guitarist Bell, who joined the 3 year old band in August 1993.

"Weezer was sort of a backlash against the thousands of hip, in- die-rock bands that had sprung out of the woodwork, and I needed a break from that, too. In Weezer, we can just be ourselves."

Well, of course, Weezer isn't hip. One look at lead singer Rivers Cuomo's salad-bowl haircut could tell you that, but thanks to two alternative-radio hits ("Undone - the Sweater Song" and "Buddy Holly"), one ubiquitous video ("Buddy Holly" again) and a million-selling, self-titled debut album, the nerd-rock foursome is definitely cool.

How cool? So cool that when Bell talks about early tour disasters, he can almost afford to laugh.

"When we started touring, we played in Sacramento to less than 20 people. In Berkeley Square, there were no paying customers at all."

"In Portland, we were supposed to play after they showed the movie 'Rollerball, but everyone left after the movie," Bell said. "There were times when it was very depressing."

That was early last year, after "Weezer" (the album) was released, but before Weezer (the group) ended up with a profile in Rolling Stone and a video in round-the-clock rotation on MTV. As the platinum album and other rock-star accessories attest, things got better as Weezer went along. But in the beginning, they were worse. Bell knows, because he was there.

"Before. I joined the band, I was always interested in what Rivers was doing, because the band was really great, and they just came out of nowhere," Bell, 26, said.

"They were playing in some really awful places because they didn't know any better."

At the time, Bell was playing with Carnival Art, a Los Angeles noise-pop combo with the touring and recording experience that Weezer lacked. When Bell met up with the band a year or so later, Weezer had a deal with Geffen Records and an album in the works. What they didn't have was a guitarist, and when the band asked him to audition to replace the departing Jason Cropper, Bell was happy to comply.

When the album was finished, Bell was still happy. Too bad no one else was.

"I was the most optimistic one," Bell said. "They were (saying), 'Oh, we'll sell 10 copies and then we'll get dropped, but I'd already put out CDs and toured and gone nowhere. I had failed already, and I was not going to let it happen again. I'd say, 'You don't understand. This record is going to be a smash.'"

So it was. Part of the success can be attributed to the "Buddy Holly" video. The clip, directed by enfant terrible Spike Jonze, plopped the geeked-up band into the middle of a "Happy Days" episode, and it captured Weezer's off-kilter charm to a flaky T.

However, there is more to pop life than wacky visuals, and there is more to Weezer than its ability to get Fonzie to dance. There is the wistful catch in Cuomo's voice when he sings, "I want a girl who will laugh for no one else." ("No One Else.") There is the blue-eyed soul sigh that makes "Say It Ain't So" one of the prettiest songs ever written about beer. And there is the baroque crescendo that launches "Holiday" into glitter rock heaven, where it probably bussed Freddie Mercury right on his stubbled cheek.

It all adds up to an unassuming band that plays power-pop tunes with an arena-rock flourish, tunes that make grown-ups feel like 13 year olds, and make 13-year-olds feel like starting bands. Yes, there is more to Weezer than even Weezer could have imagined. Best of all, there is more to come.

"(The next album) will probably be at R.E.M. level. I think we're at that point now," Bell said, "and we're not afraid to spend money to do an extravagant show. To have a big stage, with big sound and explosions and who knows what else. We're a pretty boring band to watch live, so we have to do something to compensate."

See also