Weezer (The Blue Album) Deluxe Edition liner notes
A friend once told me about the luck involved in Artist & Repertoire. "It's amazing that any band ever gets signed," he said. "Usually after an A&R person signs their first band, they immediately start to develop a check list of what will and will not succeed." It the band plays sloppy, or they look like normal schleps, don't have that rock star presence, wear glasses, sing in normal unaffected voices, wear their pants a little too high, etc... they will not succeed.
The first time I saw Weezer was at a place called The Central (Club Dump). I had been to The Central numerous times, but had never enjoyed any of the bands I had seen there. The only reason I agreed to go to the club this particular night was because I had heard a tape of a band called Weezer. Although miserably recorded, the songs were immediately striking. I walked down thr street from the Geffen offices to The Central to see Weezer. When the band came on, I think I must've been blinded by the great songs they were playing. They played sloppy, looked like normal schleps, didn't have that rock star presence, wore glasses... I just didn't care. I was seeing this great band, who were standing on their toes putting all of their focus on these songs about trains and surfboards and breaking up with a blabbermouth. At the time, it didn't hit me that they were actually singing about being losers. It was more like they had a job to do and they blinders on. While they were onstage, they didn't care about the girlfriends they wanted, the record deal they didn't have or the money they weren't making. Weezer was a band on a mission.
I found out later that almost every label in town had seen the band and decided not to pursue them (see above checklist). But for me, Weezer was a band possessed. And once I met Matt and Rivers, this was very apparent. I took both of them out to dinner near their house in West Los Angeles. When I picked them up, I was surprised to see they lived in a two bedroom guest house with four other roommates. Once we were at the restaurant, Matt did all the talking. He talked about what they wanted as a band: the opportunity to record an album and to be able to go out and tour behind it. It was at least an hour before I could get Rivers to say anything. They were convinced they'd never sell any substantial number of albums. I could tell it was this attitude that was shaping the spirit of the band, so of course, I wanted to sign them.
The first time I brought Rivers and Matt to the label to meet with all the of the different department heads, it was pretty awkward. Matt did the talking, while Rivers sat stone faced. Maybe I should add "ice-cold" to stone faced. As a result, the reaction from the company was bi-polar. Some felt they had had a very special meeting, while others were saying "these guys are going to be a big problem." In many ways, the combined assessments were correct. However anyone interpreted the meeting, it was agreed that these guys had a very strong presence.
Though most other labels in town had passed on the band, signing them wasn't easy. They weren't going to sign a record deal just because it was right in front of them. It was a courtship that lasted several months (including a requisite viewing of the Star Wars trilogy in one sitting). I think this is why "Jamie," the band's attorney at the time, is immortalized in song.
Eventually the band signed to Geffen with the statement that they would make the best record they could with their ten best songs, and the tour for as long as possible. While recording the album, Rivers asked what would be the minimum number of albums they could see. When I told him Geffen never ships less than 15,000 copies he felt pretty convinced that's all they would ever sell. Of course when the album was released, the label only shipped 13,000 copies. Gulp! The reason why so few copies were shipped was due to the fact that there was no commercial radio airplay on the band. I wanted people to have a chance to discover the band through word of mouth. However, this plan only lasted a few weeks. Susie Tenant, who was the Seattle promotion rep for Geffen, could not contain her enthusiasm for the band. Her excitement sparked KNDD music director Marco Collins to test spin "Undone." The song went on the air and the request lines immediately lit up. Within weeks, "Undone" was getting major airplay all over the country and some serious rotation at MTV with the video directed by Spike Jonze. Two more singles followed, and the album, which sold only 90 copies in its first week of release, went on to sell more than three million.
Eleven years after first hearing Weezer, I still get chills when I hear the finger-picking intro of "My Name is Jonas." And the orchestral crescendo of "Only in Dreams" is probably the closest I'll ever get to the exhilaration of skydiving.
01. Mykel and Carli (b-side to the "Undone" import single)
Recorded by Paul DuGre at Ocean Way Studios, 07/9/94
02. Susanne (b-side to the "Undone" import single)
Recorded by Paul DuGre at Ocean Way Studios, 7/9/94. Mixed by Chris Shaw
Originally the line "Even Izzy, Slash, and Axl Rose, when I call you put 'em all on hold" read "Even Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose..." In April '94, the shocking news came of Kurt's untimely death. Though the two had never met, Rivers had found great inspiration in Kurt's songwriting on Nirvana's Bleach. So when it came time to record "Susanne," Rivers decided to change the lyric, not wanting to disrespect the memory of one who had been such an inspiration.
This version of Susanne is a remix done by Chris Shaw in August '95 at Electric Lady in NYC, just as the band was beginning sessions for their second album. The band had agreed to let "Susanne" be used in the upcoming Kevin Smith film, Mallrats. A consensus was reached that the track could stand a fresh try at a mix if it was to be used in a film. The remix has come to be considered the definitive version.
03. My Evaline (b-side to the "Undone" import single)
Recorded by Paul DuGre at Ocean Way Studios, 7/9/94
04. Jamie (originally appeared on DGC Rarities)
Recorded by Dale Johnson
05. My name is Jonas - live (b-side to the "Buddy Holly" import single)
06. Surf Wax America - live (b-side to the "Buddy Holly" import single)
Mixed by Rivers Cuomo
07. Jamie (acoustic) - (live b-side to the "Say It Ain't So" import single)
08. No One Else (acoustic) - (live b-side to the "Say It Ain't So" import single)
The B-side drought continued, so good acoustic performances were sought out for the third single. These were recorded during what was jokingly referred to as the "World Domination" tour, at Cat's Paw Studios in Atlanta, GA on 4/1/95. This session was set up by radio station 99X, and was originally broadcast live.
09. Undone - the Sweater song (previously unreleased 'Kitchen Tape' demo)
10. Paperface (previously unreleased 'Kitchen Tape' demo)
11. Only in dreams (previously unreleased 'Kitchen Tape' demo)
These tracks resulted from Weezer's first serious attempt at getting their songs down on tape as a band. While there was one earlier group effort in 5/92, this session (recorded the week of 8/1/92 was far more fruitful. The demo tape was originally conceived as an independently produced album, but with only 8 tracks successfully captured, it ended up being used to try and secure more shows for the slowly solidfying band. The tracks were recorded at the band's rented house which contained a rehearsal space in the form of a semi-soundproofed, carpet-covered, one-car garage. The tape ended up being dubbed "The Kitchen Tape" because the drums were recorded in the kitchen, which was adjacent to the garage, and a much better room to capture drum sounds. The neighbors weren't too thrilled, but the drum sound was sweet!
12. Lullaby for Wayne (previously unreleased pre-production recording - S.I.R., NYC)
13. I swear it's true (previously unreleased pre-production recording - S.I.R., NYC)
Right before starting work on the Blue Album in New York City, producer Ric Ocasek had the band rehearse at S.I.R. Studios, which culminated with the recording of a production demo on 8/1/93. These two tracks were among a handful of Blue Album candidates that didn't make the final cut, and were never actually released in any form until now. "Wayne" had been practiced as far back as early 1993 and had seen action at shows that spring and summer. "I Swear" was quite new at this point, and had never been played live. "Wayne was rejected as being too similar to "Surf Wax" (and harder to play properly) and "I Swear" was put on the back burner. The song later resurfaced as a possible (unsuccessful) candidate for 1996's Pinkerton.
14. Say it ain't so (original album mix)
Produced by Ric Ocasek
- List of transcripts
- The Story of Making the Blue Album
- Weezer (The Blue Album)
- Todd Sullivan
- Karl Koch