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Weezer

Weezer


Before Weezer, Rock bands tried to look cool, aloof and desirable. But Weezer was none of those things. They looked and sounded like geeks who had spent too much time being alone. When there are no girlfriends, or even dates, and all you've got is your Cheap Trick and KISS albums, you either develop a hostile, quirky sense of humor or die.

It would seem inconceivable that a kid going to Harvard could Rock but that's the Rivers Cuomo story. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Cuomo vaulted to L.A. to attend college. While growing up, he played in Metal bands but once in the land of sun and smog he developed an interest in Alternative Rock. Weezer formed in '93 with guitarist/vocalist primary songwriter Cuomo, bassist Matt Sharp and drummer Patrick Wilson. They attacked the L.A. club scene eventually earning a deal with DGC Records. Shortly before going into the studio they added a second guitarist, Brian Bell. Once recording was completed Cuomo left to go study at Harvard. Meanwhile, other band members pursued their own projects - most notably Sharp and Wilson started The Rentals.

Produced by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, Weezer's self-titled debut scored a series of out of the box hits - "Undone (The Sweater Song)," "Buddy Holly," and "Say It Ain't So" - all helped by clever videos. This led many to assume that Weezer would to be a short-lived gimmick band. Interestingly, Cuomo agreed with that assessment.

There weren't going to be any videos to support their sophomore LP "Pinkerton." The music would stand on its own merit. With Cuomo now firmly in control there may have been some questioning of that decision but no rebellion. Though it received generally good reviews, the album failed to deliver anticipated numbers. DGC, looking to increase sales, did get Weezer to finally make one video to support "Pinkerton." But "The Good Life" was too little, too late. MTV hardly aired the video, Modern Rock radio took a walk and Rolling Stone magazine weighed in naming "Pinkerton" the "Worst Album of 1996." Weezer was seen as passe.





With things moving slowly, if at all, a frustrated Sharp departed to concentrate on The Rentals. There were rumors that Weezer had broken up but they were unfounded as Mikey Welsh took Sharp's place.

A stint on the 2000 Warped Tour proved that audiences still responded to Weezer. The group returned to the studio with Ocasek producing.

Led by "Hash Pipe" and "Island In The Sun," both high rotation MTV favorites, the "Green Album" (actually another self-titled release that got the moniker to distinguish it from the first one) brought Weezer back to the forefront. Welsh took ill during the summer tour and was replaced by Scott Shiner. "Maladroit" came out a year later and was followed in '02 by the live "Lion And The Witch" EP. With Rick Rubin producing, Weezer returned to the studio with "Make Believe," containing the hit "Beverly Hills," arriving in '05.

A week before Christmas in '07, Weezer's frontman issued his solo album, "Alone -- The Home Recordings Of Rivers Cuomo." It was his "favorite demos from '92 to '07." That might have been viewed as a personal high point but Cuomo was in for a even bigger thrill. During the '08 Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge charity game in Carson, CA, he scored a goal. "It was a dream come true," said Cuomo. "It's just unreal." The match raised money for L.A.'s Children's Hospital.

That was followed by Weezer's sixth studio album. This, like two previous albums, was self-titled. So to prevent any confusion it was quickly dubbed "The Red Album" (for the predominance of red on the cover). The set included longer and non-traditional songs as well as drum machines and synthesizers. In addition, Cuomo stepped aside for a bit so other band members could write and sing. While that might seem a democratic move it rarely yields positive results.

During an album meeting with the group's label, Geffen, the execs said they didn't feel there was a single. They wanted something commercial. "I came out of it pretty angry," said Cuomo. "But ironically, it inspired me to write another song." Produced by the group and Jacknife Lee, "Pork And Beans" (a song about the foibles of chasing pop stardom and the comfort found in relying on the basics - like pork and beans), became "The Red Album's" lead single.

L.A. radio station KROQ premiered "Pork And Beans" on April, 15th, '08. A little over a month later the song rolled to the top of the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks for an extended stay becoming Weezer's third #1 and their biggest single to date. No doubt "Pork And Beans" was helped by a rather unconventional video. YouTube 'stars' (people with embarrassing moments or engaged in questionable activities that were viewed by millions) were assembled to appear in the clip.

Another chapter in Weezer's unique marketing efforts came a few months later. On August 21st, Weezer and their fans set five official Guinness World Records in L.A. while shooting the video for "Troublemaker. The records were for the Largest Air Guitar Ensemble, the Largest Game of Dodgeball, Most People in a Custard Pie Fight, Most People Riding on a Skateboard and Longest Guitar Hero World Tour Marathon. Busy day.

"The Red Album" was released earlier than originally planned, June 3rd, because several tracks were leaked online.

Realizing they'd found a good thing, Weezer again teamed with Jacknife Lee to record their seventh album. '09's "Raditude" included the single "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To," plus "I'm Your Daddy," "The Girl Got Hot," and "Can't Stop Partying."

With the album completed Weezer headed out with Blink 182. For this trek Wilson switched to guitar so Cuomo could "be active and more free on stage... him having {a} guitar on was an impediment." Because Weezer now needed a drummer they recruited Josh Freese (Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle).

But the tour abruptly ended when Cuomo's tour bus hit a patch of ice in Upstate New York and crashed into a ditch. Cuomo suffered three cracked ribs, a punctured lung, a lacerated spleen and a lower leg injury. Emergency responders used the Jaws of Life to pry him from the wreck. The accident occurred as the band traveled from Toronto to Boston. Days later, Cuomo was released from an Albany, NY, hospital. In what looked like classic mess-up his management arranged for a bus (of all vehicles) to transport him back to LA. Actually, doctors ordered Cuomo not to get on an airplane for a month because the air pressure changes would be bad for his healing punctured lung.

Weezer left Geffen in '09 and eventually signed with Epitaph. While this was being hashed out, the group delivered "I'm A Believer" for the "Sherk Forever After" soundtrack.

The band's next release full-length effort was titled "Hurley," in honor of the character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes on the TV series Lost. Hurley was played by actor Jorge Garcia, whose face graced the album cover. Garcia stated that it was "one of the biggest honors of his career."

After it was too late, Cuomo had second thoughts about the album's name. "We didn't want to have another self-titled album, because that's just confusing," he told the Canadian Press. "But yeah, we easily could have called it 'Jorge Garcia'. Anything else would have been better."

Following "Hurley," Weezer reissued "Pinkerton"(originally released on 9/24/96) and the rarities collection "Death To False Metal." The compilation featured 10 tracks recorded from the early '90s to the present. Cuomo told NME that the tracks are "great songs, great recordings, but for some reason they didn't make the final cut for a record."

On 10/8/11 former bassist Mikey Welsh was found dead in a Chicago hotel room. Weezer performed in Chicago the very next day, and dedicated the concert to Welsh (who was supposed to be a surprise guest).

The band headlined a four-day Rock-themed Carnival Cruise from Miami to Cozumel in '12 before headlining the inaugural Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati.

Weezer unfurled their 9th studio album in '14, "Everything Will Be Alright In The End." Produced by Ocasek, his third effort with the group (the "Blue" & "Green" albums were the other two), the set featured "Return To Ithaca."

Wilson said the album had the "tight structure of 'Blue Album' with a little bit more abandon like 'Pinkerton'."



Weezer Discography

Studio Albums:

1994 Weezer "Blue"
1996 Pinkerton
2001 Weezer "Green"
2002 Maladroit
2005 Make Believe
2008 Weezer "Red"
2009 Raditude
2010 Hurley
2014 Everything Will Be Alright In The End

You gotta love Weezer. But rightly or wrongly, they originally got classified as a singles band. That makes Weezer's two self-titled albums, their debut and the "Green Album," the first choices. "Pinkerton" is a good set as the group stretches a bit. Some works, some doesn't. For "Maladroit," Weezer loads up on irony and shoves out "Dope Nose" and "American Gigolo" to get across. The album is just a notch below their best.

"Make Believe" is full of smart-ass Rock, though not as raw or rough as previous outings. The snotty "Beverly Hills" scores right off (the video is perfect)."

Sometimes a band is too smart for their own good. "The Red Album" suffers for it. Sure, it can get boring for a musician (to say nothing of their audience) to play everything in the same style, key and time signature. But jumping around within a song like some demented schizophrenic doesn't work either. Rick Rubin, a producer with a stellar reputation, buries Weezer in the production. He has the skill to make just about anything fit together but the effort often doesn't match the result.



 

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