The Los Angeles Times interview with Rivers Cuomo - July 19, 1997

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Print interview with Rivers Cuomo
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Publication The Los Angeles Times
Interviewee Rivers Cuomo
Interviewer John Roos
Date July 19, 1997
Title Last Gasp? / WEEZER: Future Debated
Sub-title Weezer Watchers Wonder If Band, Playing in O.C., Will Make Another Album
Format Print
External link Via
Associated concert Weezer concert: 07/20/1997
References See where this interview is referenced on Weezerpedia

Last Gasp? / WEEZER: Future Debated
Author: John Roos (The Los Angeles Times)
Published: July 19, 1997

Weezer Watchers Wonder If Band, Playing in O.C., Will Make Another Album

Nobody ever said the path to rock stardom would be painless. For Los Angeles modern-rock quartet Weezer, the first part of that road was a smooth and fast downhill race that took it within in a matter of months from the garage to small-club gigs to a major-label contract with Geffen Records. Its hit 1994 debut album, "Weezer," sold more than 2 million copies.

Now, however, the journey has turned bumpier; The band released a follow-up, "Pinkerton," last year, recently finished a high-profile tour opening for No Doubt and, more to the point, has become the subject of much speculation within in the alternative-rock world about the band's stability. Much of the talk focuses on the increased role within the band of singer-guitarist-songwriter Rivers Cuomo.

The January issue of Alternative Press magazine put the headline "The Unraveling of Weezer" over a profile of the band, which plays Sunday at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana.

Cuomo assumed a dominant role in the group, which includes songwriter-lead guitarist Brian Bell, songwriter-bassist Matt Sharp and songwriter-drummer Pat Wilson, by writing all the material for "Pinkerton." Cuomo has described the album as "the story of the last 2½ years of my love life and of my struggles with the shadier portion of my masculine side." Contacted by phone from a tour stop in Seattle earlier this week, Cuomo said he thinks any conflicts within the band have been blown out of proportion.

"Actually, there's surprisingly little struggle and tension, considering that there are four very talented guys all with huge egos working toward one common goal," he said. "Although, if they weren't also a part of other bands, where they can contribute more, Weezer probably would break up."

In fact, Sharp, Wilson and Bell have found creative release in side projects: Sharp is the front man for the Rentals, while Wilson moonlights in Special Goodness and Bell started the four-piece Space Twins.

Cuomo's view isn't shared by everyone in the band. Sharp told Alternative Press: "To say we're four people focused on the same thing, that would be absolutely wrong. It would be silly to think of us as being unified."

Then again, the members of Weezer had far less time to learn to work together than so many bands that spend years paying dues in clubs before finding widespread recognition. Right out of the box the "Weezer" album spawned the hits "Undone (The Sweater Song)" "Buddy Holly" and "Say It Ain't So." The band also created a buzz with its video for the song "Buddy Holly," which spliced the band into Al's Diner via vintage clips of "Happy Days." The video went on to win four MTV Video Music Awards.

"We definitely didn't take the slow and sure route," said Cuomo, who plans to continue with general studies at Harvard in the fall. "I truly wanted to be a rock star because I wanted that instant recognition and gratification. I honestly was tired of that whole indie ethic of toiling in obscurity for years. I just wanted to emulate fatuous pop music."

Cuomo grew up mainly in Connecticut but moved from town to town. He said he was shy, introverted and that because he feared rejection, he rarely approached girls, all of which he attributes to the lack of a strong male role model in his life.

Now Cuomo has immersed himself in what he calls "wild rock-star hedonism."

"Every night is an adventure for me now," he said, "where I go out looking to get into trouble. I'm trying to emulate '80s metal bands, when rock stars were true rock stars and lived these insane lifestyles. I don't want any safety net below me.

"Right now, I'm living the life of the id. I've really gotten into this whole thing of getting drunk, having lots of sex and trashing dressing rooms. I guess I waited till now to go through my teenage rebellious stage."

What's it done for him?

"Well, I can say with some assurance that I'm less sad than I've ever been," Cuomo said. "But when it's time to start college again in the fall, I don't know what I'm gonna do. I'll probably come crashing down... hard."

The songs in "Pinkerton" are heavy with self-loathing and insecurity, yet they are tempered by others, such as "Across the Sea" and "Butterfly," which argue that no matter how frustrating love can be at times, it's ultimately worth pursuing.

"I don't expect my whole personality to be communicated in a three-minute pop song, but in drawing from my own personal experience, I'm trying to make some observations about relationships in general," Cuomo said. "I hope I'm doing more than simply venting."

Given the debate over Weezer's future, the remaining question is whether there will be another Weezer album.

"Right now, the guys in the band don't really care to know what I'm singing about, because they didn't write the words," Cuomo said. "So we're gonna get together around the Christmas break and start working on our next record. I imagine everyone will have some of their own songs to pitch by then, and I expect less of me to make it on our next release."

  • Weezer and the Pulsars perform Sunday at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Santa Ana. 8 p.m. $23. 50. (714) 957-0600.

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