Rivers Cuomo Looks Back at 'Pinkerton'

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The songs of Pinkerton have been described as being autobiographical, so how true is that. For example, is "Pink Triangle" a true story?

Yeah. On Weezer's first album some of the songs are stream of consciousness, like "My Name Is Jonas." There's a little bit of detail in there from my life, but mostly I'm just rambling whatever comes into my mind—or I'm using such metaphoric language that you get the totally wrong idea of what I'm actually singing about, like the song "Only In Dreams." I think most of our audience always thought it was a song about a girl when I'm really singing about my artistic process, or the song "Buddy Holly." The language is so bizarre and metaphoric it's really hard for people to understand the life situation that inspired the song and the critical reaction to that record was that these people are goofy. They said there was no depth of emotion there. That really bummed me out in a big way, so I was determined to head in the other direction with the second record and in the simplest, most direct language possible talk about what was happening in my life and how I felt about it.

So, yeah. I would say 99 percent of what I'm about on Pinkerton is what was actually happening in my life.

Photos: Weezer Perform in Las Vegas for Rolling Stone

So you asked a girl to a Green Day concert and she said she hadn't heard of them. Even down to details like that?

Yeah I mean, why would somebody make that up? Like where would they even get that from if that hadn't happened?

Did most of these things happen during at your time at Harvard?

Yeah. It's an absolutely wonderful time for an artist to have all that time to myself to think, to reflect, and have all my feelings and be able to sort them out and put them into songs.

How was the group functioning in this time period?

I think everyone was very happy to get the heck away from each other. There was no active rancor at that time, but there was hardly any interaction at all. I remember Matt came through Boston with the Rentals two times, and I went to see him both times and it was cool.

When you guys reformed to begin recording Pinkerton did you guys function well as a unit?

Um... [24 second pause] Well, I mean you be the judge. Listen to the record and you can decide if we were functioning well or not.

I get the sense it was a less collaborative effort than the Blue album. Is that true?

No. I don't feel that way. Because on Pinkerton I hear a lot of—I hear the sound of Brian. That's a new element for us. And there's no click track, so you can hear the fluctuations in Pat's steel. The other thing is, about half of those songs on Pinkerton I didn't demo first. I wrote them on acoustic guitar and as a song composition, they were finished completely just me and my acoustic guitar, but then I didn't orchestrate what everyone was playing. I didn't make a full demo, I just strummed the chords and sang it and then everyone joined in, and then from there, Brian and I added overdubs. On the Blue Album, listen to a song like "Buddy Holly" and compare it to my demo, which is on Alone [Cuomo's 2007 album of previously unreleased material]. It's hardly any different apart from the tempo. Pinkerton sounds more collaborative to me.

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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