Weezer's Rivers Cuomo
Published Sep 30, 2010Weezer fans are a patient bunch; since the band came out of hibernation around the turn of the century, we flock each new release hoping the music will live up to the geek-rock high watermarks that Rivers Cuomo and company crafted in their '90s heyday, only to be disappointed. Finally we (and all the new fans the band have picked up along the way) are being rewarded for our patience. Hurley, the band's just-released album on Epitaph records is their least groan-inducing in years and a reissue of fan fave Pinkerton is due this fall. Better yet, they'll be playing both Pinkerton and their debut in their entirety on select dates this fall. Add that to the b-sides and rarities album that's also in the works (full of songs that were deemed less-than tracks like "Beverly Hills") and it's almost time to say "I told you so."
You've talked a lot about how this is a return to the rock for Weezer. Was that something you set out to do when you started recording?
Singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo: Well, I never know how conscience anything is. It's maybe half instinct and half wanting to make our core fans happy ― give them a real rock album.
Do you find it a difficult balancing act to please your core fans?
I don't know if it's really a balancing act; I more get really into something and next album I'm really into something else.
Once again you've had co-writers on many of the songs for Hurley. What made you finally open up to writing with people outside the group?
Well, one thing was the Hootenanny tour we did in 2008. We'd show up at a VFW hall or a roller-skating rink, invite 50 to 200 fans down and they'd bring their instruments and we'd play a few songs. It was a new, interesting, musically challenging situation: new instruments and new people from different backgrounds. It was fun for me; I think it was natural to just start calling other musicians and start writing with them.
Have you found anyone that you really connected with and that you'd want to work on an album or a chunk of songs with?
No; I always like working with new people.
You've been in the studio with Julian Casablancas recently?
Yeah. We pretty much finished the song; we just need to spend one more day working in the studio and finish it up.
What will become of it?
We figure all that out after ― just come up with a pile of songs and figure out whose record they go on.
With the new record, you seem to be looking back quite a bit, particularly with first single "Memories." Is the band in a bit of a reflective mood?
I wasn't aware of it, but it seems like a lot of the songs are about the passage of time and growing up and looking back at my youth. It does seem like that was what was going on. I don't think I'm in that phase now though and it wasn't intentional.
Was it the band's decision to reissue Pinkerton or Geffen's?
We've been thinking about that for a long time ― just waiting for the right time in our schedule. I think it's just an obvious choice for all of us. A lot of our fans love that period of our creative lives and there are definitely some great tracks that we never released from back then that would be great to put out now.
Are these songs from the lost album, Songs from the Black Hole?
No, they're tracks from the Pinkerton sessions that didn't make the cut for one reason or another. Like this one song, "Tragic Girl," that I think is at least as good as anything on that album, but I got stuck. There were a couple melodies that I couldn't figure out if they were supposed to go up or down. But you get away from it for ten years and I look at it again and it's real clear how to finish the song up. So, we did that with a couple of things and they sound great.
For a long time, it seemed like you were very uncomfortable with Pinkerton. Have you grown into it?
Well, it wasn't a long time. Right around 2001, when we put out the Green Album, I said a lot of negative, inflammatory things about Pinkerton and about a lot of things; I said a lot of crazy stuff. And those quotes have lived on for the last nine years, and people get confused and think I still feel that way even though it was something I said in an off-handed way nine years ago. But ever since I've been trying to make it clear that, of course, I think it's a brilliant album; I love it. I love the songs and I love playing those songs and I hope the positive message gets through. For some reason, some people in the music community out there, they love the idea that an artist has disavowed one of their most popular albums. For some reason, that's perversely satisfying to some people.
Are you going to go ahead with a tour playing those first two albums?
Nothing's confirmed yet, but we're going to start rehearsing.
And you've also got another one of your solo albums coming out and a Weezer rarities complication. Are you worried about overexposure?
Yeah, it's something I very much worry about. I feel like you need to have a limited supply in order to maintain demand. But nowadays, you don't sell records anyway so what's the difference? Our core fans, they want to hear new music all the time and we're happy to give it to them.
How did you end up signing with Epitaph?
After 15 years, we're finally free of our deal with Geffen and we wanted to try something different. They're big Weezer fans and they made us an offer we couldn't refuse. We'll try it and we'll see how it goes.