11 Things You Learn Hanging Out With Weezer
On October 7th, Weezer return with Everything Will Be Alright in the End, their first album since 2010’s Hurley – the second-longest break between releases in the band’s history. In the new issue of Rolling Stone, you’ll find the inside story of the alt-rock heroes’ latest comeback, but there was plenty that didn’t make it into the magazine feature. Read on for the most interesting things we learned over three days in L.A. and Atlanta with frontman Rivers Cuomo, guitarist Brian Bell, drummer Pat Wilson and bassist Scott Shriner.
Finishing albums stresses Cuomo out…
“I get anxious and clingy as we get close to the finish line,” he says. “A little more possessive and controlling. I want to make sure everything is just right.”
…especially this one.
“I haven’t felt this protective of an album in a long time,” Cuomo adds. “I put so much of the deepest part of my soul into this that it feels like I’m really on the line, in a way that I haven’t been on many albums.”
But they’ve loved working with producer Ric Ocasek again.
Ocasek, who produced Weezer’s 1994 debut (AKA the Blue Album) and 2001’s self-titled, so-called Green Album, returned for Everything Will Be Alright. “We just have that chemistry,” Cuomo says. “Scott put it really well: Even when we know he’s on the way to the studio, we all start playing different.”
Cuomo has reconnected with his long-absent father.
Frank Cuomo left his family in the mid-Seventies, when Rivers was about four. They saw each other rarely after that; Frank is the absent dad that Rivers sang about on Weezer’s hit “Say It Ain’t So.” But Frank, who’s now a Pentecostal preacher in California, has become a big presence in his son’s life in recent years. “Now I see him all the time,” says Rivers, who has two young kids himself. “Now that I’m a father, I’ve forgiven my parents.”
He’s only missed one day of meditation in the past decade – and that time he had a hell of an excuse.
Cuomo has practiced Vipassana meditation for two hours every day since about 2003. The only exception: December 6th, 2009, the day of the tour bus crash that put Cuomo in the hospital with a ruptured spleen, a punctured lung and a torn shoulder joint. “I didn’t know if I was going to live,” he says.
The first inspiration for the new album dates back to that 2009 death scare.
“The overarching theme of the album is an increased awareness of the impermanence of everything we took for granted,” Cuomo says. “How to make peace with that.”
Cuomo wrote a ton of songs over the past four years, but don’t ask him how many.
“That’s probably what I shouldn’t get into,” he says uncomfortably. “It’s probably best for people just to hear it with virgin ears.” But Bell says Cuomo presented the band with “maybe 80, maybe 100” new songs before they made this album. Adds the guitarist, “I was like, ‘Where did you find the time to write all these songs?'”
Nomar Garciaparra has no idea who Weezer’s current bassist is.
In Atlanta, the former Red Sox shortstop (and current Dodgers announcer) walked up to Shriner and asked him if Weezer were onstage yet, clearly not recognizing the bass player. “I’m used to it,” Shriner shrugs.
The rest of Weezer wasn’t necessarily thrilled with all of the creative decisions Cuomo made on 2009’s super-slick Raditude.
Shriner mentions “Put Me Back Together,” a power ballad that Cuomo co-wrote with two members of All-American Rejects. “When I heard that song, I initially thought, ‘Ugh, really?'” says the bassist. “But I’m here to support Rivers’ process, even if it’s not my favorite. So I said, ‘Screw you – I’m going to play this song however the fuck I want, and I’m going to shove it right in your face.'”
Fan nostalgia for Weezer’s early days can get frustrating.
“It’s like they want me to step in a time machine and be 20 years younger,” says Bell. “They want the same haircut, they want the same clothes. They want Matt back in the band.” (Matt Sharp, Weezer’s original bassist, left in 1998.) “Most of them weren’t even alive back then!”
But Cuomo has realized that it’s important for Weezer to sound like Weezer.
“There’s more riding on this than just our day-to-day impulses,” he says. “If for some reason I were to wake up one day and say, ‘I wanna do a polka record,’ I’d have to really question that.”