Friday, October 03, 2008

Weez(er)ing the Juice, Bud-dy

I officially did the Weezer interview. It didn't start out well. The phone interview was originally scheduled for Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. eastern, postponed until 4:00 p.m. eastern, and then moved to Thursday at 3:40 central. Blasted time zones.

At 4:00 central I got the call. I talked to guitarist Brian Bell for exactly 44 seconds before the call dropped. After reconnecting, we spoke for another 30 seconds before it dropped again. The third time was a charm and we had a good, if not disjointed, conversation.

The only really uncomfortable moment was when I asked if the dudes in the band thought it was cool that they got to sing on the new album. "We sing all the time. I sung more on 'Undone' that Rivers did.'"

"Uh, you did? Well, I mean, lead vocals."

"Oh, yeah. That was cool."

We talked about how backstage Weezer is just a bunch of dudes loading up the trucks and that pre-performance Weezer consists of a lot of napping and not eating four hours before the show.

I'll post the full interview shortly. Until then, here's the completed article.

Oct. 7
E Center
w/ Tokyo Police Club, Angels and Airwaves

The past year has been a strange one for Weezer. The band's normally reclusive and dictatorial leader, Rivers Cuomo, not only released an album of intimate home recordings but also relinquished some of his Weezer power, allowing each of his band mates to take a shot in the lead singer role on the band's new record. And the guys have never been happier.

Weezer guitarist, (and big brother of local artist extraordinaire Leia Bell) Brian Bell, put up with Cuomo's constant chiding and a bad cell phone connection to talk about their current Troublemaker Tour.

"We're definitely the most entertaining we've ever been in our career," Bell says. "The shows are getting progressively better, so I predict by the time we hit Salt Lake we'll be in full swing."

Bell says that the quality of recent shows results from the band feeling more comfortable with each other on stage than ever before. "Everybody's taking more responsibility in the show," Bell says. "Rivers is really performing. I don't want to give away too much of the show, but it's absolutely entertaining. People that have seen our shows for years and years say this is by far the best show they've seen."

Weezer has made a conscious effort as of late to push themselves out of their comfort zone, both onstage and in the studio. The most notable change on the "The Red Album" was Bell, bassist Scott Shriner and drummer Pat Wilson each taking a turn on lead vocals.

"That's what we went for on this album—what would be thrilling for us," Bell explains. "One of the things I mentioned was I'd like to sing and even write a Weezer song for this new album and we made it happen."

Cuomo also pushed himself in the songwriting. The album's centerpiece, "The Greatest Man that Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)," manages to switch genres a half dozen times in just under six minutes.

"Rivers was a little bit fed up with the pop song structure and wanted to experiment," Bell says of the song. "Theme variation structure is prevalent in classical music. He came up with different versions of the melody—the theme—and later we found out that the theme was very similar to a Shaker hymn. So that's why we call it 'Variations on a Quaker hymn.'"

When it comes to long term plans for Weezer, it's just about moving forward. "To keep making records and tour [is] success enough for me," Bell says. "But I would like each record to not rehash the past. To stay in the creative moment and come up with music that wasn't there before, that's one of the most fulfilling things you could possibly do."

"Our approach has always been to try to make something groundbreaking, otherwise what's the point?" Bell says.

1 comment:

Cheeseboy said...

Good interview Spencer. The Red album is not my favorite Weezer album, but The Greatest Man That Ever Lived is amazing.

I would have asked him if he wanted to hang out at my house when he was in town and watch football or play video games.