The Daily Telegraph interview with Patrick Wilson - October 11, 1996
Pinkerton, Weezer at the Metro
In 1870s America, the Pinkerton Detective Agency earned the wrath of Frank and Jesse James by blowing up their house and almost killing Mother James. In return, the outlaw brothers killed three Pinkerton men.
Weezer are planning something similar.
A harmless, middle-American rock band, playing Beatles-inspired fuzz pop, they witlessly stumbled into a hornets' nest. By naming their recently released second album Pinkerton, after the villain in Puccini's Madame Butterfly, they upset the detective agency which sued the boys for $2.5 million for breach of trademark. Naturally the talk among the Weezer boys in recent times has moved on from snowboarding to litigation.
With a slightly shocked resonance to his voice, drummer Pat Wilson explained the situation.
"They said, 'Listen you sons of bitches, if you don't drop the goddamn name we're comin' over to kill you'," said Wilson. "I think they'll lose because their trademark is really weak, but if they don't, we'll either have to fight them or change the name of the record."
Whatever the case, and wherever the fight, one thing is certain - Jesse James the band ain't.
Fronted by songwriter Rivers Cuomo, with Brian Bell on lead guitar and Matt Sharp on bass, the band made a quietly auspicious debut with their 1994 self-titled album. A collection of hummable tunes, the album turned out to have greater longevity than the knockers were prepared to allow it.
"I think if the song sticks in your head that's a good thing," said Wilson. "Some people look at our music negatively, but I don't find comments about the music being easy to sing along to, as a negative thing."
Based in the happenin' Portland, Oregon, band scene and signed to monster indie label Geffen, Weezer have, in a relatively short space of time, climbed several tiers above the garage.
Which brings us back to Pinkerton and the Pinkertons.
News came through this week that Weezer were out of the woods. Pinkertons dropped the case and their demands for a licensing fee or a disclaimer to be plastered across the album. Whether Weezer had the money to fulfil such obligations remains a mystery.
"Well at this time I can neither confirm nor deny reports of my wealth," said Wilson smugly.
Weezer play the Metro, George Street, tonight and tomorrow.