Thursday, May 16, 2002

Because I�m all swampified right now with work (or as Miss Celie in �The Color Purple� says, �I am swamp�) I thought I�d take the easy way out, again, with someone else�s words.



In celebration of the release Tuesday of �Maladroid,� Weezer�s fourth album, here�s a bit of an interview I did with Rivers Cuomo a year ago, just before the release of The Green Album. Some of the songs off �Maladroit� had already been written at that point, including, if I�m not mistaken, the first single, �Dope Nose.�



Here he talks about the curious (and to me frustrating) new direction his songwriting has taken since the �scarring� experience of �Pinkerton.� It�s born of his early love of heavy metal and his fascination with the math of songwriting. (This is the guy who sat in a room with the windows painted black for a year or two, hand-writing charts of Kurt Cobain songs.) It also comes from his need to protect what a childhood friend of mine used to call his �inside feelings.�



I find a lot of his newer stuff a little *too* algebraic, but I love the fact that Rivers is trying his hardest to figure stuff out--and making really excellent pop in the process. Humorous, spirited, clever pop that totally kicks the sorry asses of all those mopey millionaire motherfuckers on KROQ like Staind and Creed and whoever the fuck.



I only hope that one day soonish he will understand that he has such a great opportunity now: To take all the technical mastery, pop-hook genius and and guitar-god madness at his fingertips, and to give it immortality with a little bit of his own blood.



*What was your earliest rock epiphany?*



When I was a child my first rock epiphany was hearing Kiss, �Rock and Roll Over� for the first time. I was in my living room in my house and somehow this girl came over, she was the daughter of a friend of my parents or something. She had a Kiss record with her, and she put it on--we were all about six or seven years old. And when we heard �Makin� Love� or �I Want You� off that record, we just lost our minds. The guitar was *so exciting.* [His voice gets kind of breathy.] I remember we�d all just run around the room in circles, playing air guitar and jumping off the furniture. That pretty much decided the course of my life right there.



*You were in metal mode when you moved to L.A.? How old were you?



Yeah.... I was 17 or 18, it was �89 or �90.



We were *totally psyched.* [laughs] We [he and best friends Justin Fisher and Kevin Ridel] grew up in the backwoods of Connecticut where there was nothing going on at all. And then we landed in the middle of Hollywood, with no money, just our guitars on our backs, and it just seemed like the craziest, wildest place.



*Did you have big hair?*



I had long hair.



*But not big.*



Not at that point.



*You had big hair before?*



Yeah. In high school.



*Were you going for a Poison look?*



No, actually, I was into much heavier metal. It started in seventh or eighth grade with Priest and Maiden and Quiet Riot, and just got heavier and heavier from there, to the likes of Metallica and Slayer. Even then in the �80s we despised all of the glam bands or the pop bands--



*Like Motley Crue?*



Well, I loved �Shout at the Devil,� but after that they lost me. And I never liked Poison, but I went to see em with my girlfriend in seventh or eighth grade because she loved them. But I didn�t like it.



*Did you like Def Leppard?*



No.



*Van Halen?*



No. Now, I like all those bands. But in high school you�re much more prejudiced against anything outside your particular style. And my style was speed metal, thrash.



*It�s so different from your personal style.*



Well, believe me, I tried to make it in speed metal, but it just wasn�t congenial to my nature. So that�s how new styles are born.



*But there�s some core of that music being expressed through you.*



I think so.



*What is it?*



I think even though Weezer plays pop songs, they have the heavy guitars, that crunchy sound, and that aggression. But I just can�t sing like Rob Halford.



I guess it�s only through our limitations that new styles are born. Because for example, if the Beatles could have sounded exactly like Elvis, they probably would have, and then we never would have had the Beatles. If I could sing exactly like James Hetfield, I probably would have, and then Weezer would just be another lame Metallica ripoff band. But I can�t sing like that and so Weezer was born.



*By the way, I don�t really know what emo means.*



I don�t either, but apparently I had something to do with emo. People expect me to be extremely sensitive and emotional, insecure, conflicted.



*Well, aren�t you?*



No, I feel--well, whatever I feel, I don�t feel like showing it. I don�t want to wear my heart on my sleeve. I think that�s what people expect of me now...



The closest example I can think of of the sort of songs I�m attracted to right now are the early Beatle songs. They�re love songs, and they�re songs about girls or whatever, but they�re so generic that you never get the sense that they�re about their actual lives.



*Did it make you feel bad on a personal level when your fans didn�t like �Pinkerton�?*



Yeah, with �Pinkerton� it definitely felt like a personal attack when everybody said they didn�t like that record, because it was such a personal record. I put it out and I was basically saying, OK, this is me, take it or leave it--and everybody left it.



*But don�t you think they eventually came around and got it?*



Well, four or five years later. But it�s too late now, I�m already scarred. [big laugh.]



*Well, I like �Pinkerton.�*



I *don�t* like it.



*Why not?*



It�s too emotional.



*I can�t figure out if the romantic moments are romantic moments, or if they�re cynical moments I�m just reading as romance because I want to.*



I think they�re real.



*Is the rejection of �Pinkerton� partially why you went into hibernation mode?*



Partially. Probably.



*Do you think you will ever go back there?*



I don�t know if I have to go into hibernation mode anymore, because I feel like I�m hibernating even though I�m back in the world now. Even though I�m dealing with people every day, I feel like on the inside I�m still very hidden.



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