Weezer is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1992. The band consists of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, guitar), Patrick Wilson (drums, guitar, backing vocals), Brian Bell (guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), and Scott Shriner (bass, backing vocals, keyboards). The band's line-up has changed four times since its formation in 1992. They have released nine studio albums, six EPs, and a DVD.
The band is best known for their successful singles "Buddy Holly", "Undone – The Sweater Song", "Say It Ain't So", "Perfect Situation", "Island in the Sun", "Beverly Hills" and "Pork and Beans". The band's eighth studio album, Hurley, was released on September 14, 2010 on Epitaph Records. Additionally, a deluxe release of their 1996 album Pinkerton and a compilation of rare and previously unreleased songs titled Death to False Metal were released on November 2, 2010.
Formation and debut album (1992–1995)
Weezer, consisting of Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Matt Sharp, and Jason Cropper, formed in 1992, had their first practice on February 14 of that year, and their first gig was opening for Keanu Reeves' band Dogstar shortly thereafter. Weezer signed with Geffen Records on June 25, 1993 and recorded their debut album with producer Ric Ocasek at Electric Lady Studios in New York City. During the recording, guitarist Jason Cropper left the band and was replaced by Brian Bell. The band released Weezer (also referred to as "The Blue Album") in May 1994. The record label originally did not wish to release a single, to see what sales could be generated by word-of-mouth alone. Soon after the release of Weezer, DJ Marco Collins of the Seattle radio station The End started playing "Undone – The Sweater Song", leading Geffen to release it as the first single. The music video was directed by Spike Jonze. Filmed in an unbroken take, it featured Weezer performing on a sound stage with little action, bar a pack of dogs swarming the set. The video became an instant hit on MTV.
Jonze also directed the band's second video, "Buddy Holly". The video featured footage from the television sitcom Happy Days spliced with the band performing in a remade "Arnold's Drive-In." The video achieved heavy rotation on MTV and went on to win Jonze and the band four MTV Video Music Awards, including Breakthrough Video and Best Alternative Music Video, and two Billboard Music Video Awards. The clip was also featured on the companion CD for the Microsoft Windows 95 computer operating system. A third single, "Say It Ain't So", followed. Weezer is certified triple platinum in the United States, making it Weezer's all-time best seller. It is certified double platinum in Canada.
In late December 1994, Weezer took a break from touring for the Christmas holidays. Cuomo traveled back east to his home state of Connecticut, and using an eight-track recorder, he began piecing together demo material for Weezer's next album. The original concept for Weezer's second album was to be a space-themed rock opera, Songs from the Black Hole. The album was intended to feature songs that flowed together seamlessly and end with a special coda that briefly revisited the major musical elements of the piece. The band began demoing and working on Cuomo's concept through intermittent recording sessions in the spring and summer of 1995. Ultimately, the Songs from the Black Hole album concept was dropped. The album would instead feature songs composed before the band's first album (which had briefly been incorporated into the space opera) as well as some new ones written while Cuomo was at Harvard.
Weezer's second album, Pinkerton, was released on September 24, 1996. Three singles were taken from the album: "El Scorcho", "The Good Life", and "Pink Triangle". The album's title sparked a legal challenge. Pinkerton Securities of Encino, Calif., filed a temporary injunction against the band and its Geffen record label for trademark infringement two days before the album was to be released on September 24, 1996. A judge ruled for Weezer, and the album was finally released. This injunction caused Geffen to hold back some of the initial advertising and promotion for the album, possibly contributing to the album's slow initial sales. Due to initial weak sales (it peaked at No. 19 in the U.S.), the album was, at first, viewed as a commercial failure, especially when viewed in light of the multi-platinum success of their debut album. The album failed to gain traction in the mainstream music world, perhaps due to its darker, more abrasive sound. Pinkerton was labeled "one of the worst albums of 1996" by a Rolling Stone reader poll. However, word of mouth kept the trickle of sales going and eventually the record achieved cult status. In the book The '90s (2010), Rolling Stone ranked Pinkerton number 48 in the 100 Best Albums of the Nineties.
On hiatus (1997–2000)
Weezer completed their touring for Pinkerton in the summer of 1997. The members of the band took a break, with drummer Patrick Wilson returning to his home in Portland, Oregon to work on his side project, The Special Goodness; Matt Sharp left to complete the follow-up album for his group The Rentals; and Brian Bell went to work on his group, Space Twins.
Rivers Cuomo returned to Boston, Massachusetts, but took a break from Harvard to focus on songwriting. Cuomo gathered Boston-area musicians and rehearsed new material, including possible songs for the next Weezer album. The group, referred to by fans as the Rivers Cuomo Band, had several different lineups and played several shows at local clubs, including their first show at T.T. the Bear's on October 8, 1997. Future Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh was a constant of the group's evolving lineups. Pat Wilson eventually flew to Boston to sit in on drums. The Boston songs were later abandoned and not used on the next Weezer album, but live recordings of the Boston shows are openly traded on the internet. In February 1998, Rivers left Boston and returned to Los Angeles.
Pat Wilson and Brian Bell joined Cuomo in Los Angeles to start work on the next album. Rumours suggest Matt Sharp did not rejoin the band and left the group in April 1998, something Sharp denies. The group decided on Mikey Welsh as Sharp's replacement. Weezer continued rehearsing and cut demos until the fall of 1998. Frustration and creative disagreements led to a decline in rehearsals, and in late fall of 1998, drummer Pat Wilson left for his home in Portland pending renewed productivity from Cuomo. In November 1998, the band (with a substitute drummer) played two club shows in California under the name Goat Punishment. The shows consisted entirely of Nirvana and Oasis cover songs, respectively. In the months following, Rivers Cuomo went into a period of admitted depression, painting the walls of his home black and putting "fiberglass insulation all over the windows and then black sheets of fiberglass so that no light could get through.
The band would not reunite until April 2000, when the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan offered Weezer a high-paying gig to play in August 2000. The festival served as a catalyst for Weezer's productivity, and from April to May 2000, the band rehearsed and demoed new songs in Los Angeles. The band returned to live shows in June 2000, playing small unpromoted concerts under the pseudonym Goat Punishment. In June 2000, the band joined the Warped Tour for nine dates.
Renewed popularity and The Green Album (2000–2001)
In the summer of 2000, Weezer (now consisting of Rivers Cuomo, Mikey Welsh, Pat Wilson, and Brian Bell) went on tour (including dates on the popular Vans Warped Tour). Weezer's set-list consisted of 14 new songs that fans have labeled the Summer Songs of 2000 (commonly abbreviated, SS2K). When 13 of these songs did not appear on Weezer's next album, fans of the songs started a petition demanding the release of studio versions.
Eventually, the band went back into the studio to produce a third album. They chose the title, Weezer (2001), to repeat the self-titled name of their first release. This album quickly became known as "The Green Album" due to its distinctive bright green coloring. Shortly after the release of the album, Weezer went on another American tour. They attracted a new generation of fans thanks to heavy MTV rotation for the videos of their hit singles "Hash Pipe" and "Island in the Sun".
As reported on August 16, 2001, by MTV, bassist Mikey Welsh was checked into a psychiatric hospital. His whereabouts were previously unknown, as he mysteriously went missing before the filming of the second video for "Island in the Sun". Weezer was prompted to find a temporary replacement for Welsh. Through a mutual friend, Cuomo received Scott Shriner's number and asked if he was interested in filling in for Welsh. Shriner accepted the invitation.
The band took an experimental approach for the recording process of their fourth album by allowing fans to download demos from their official website in return for feedback. After the release of the album, the band said that this process was something of a failure, as the fans did not supply them with coherent, constructive advice. Cuomo eventually delegated song selection for the album to the band's original A&R rep, Todd Sullivan, saying that Weezer fans chose the "wackest songs." Only the song "Slob" was included on the album due to general fan advice.
The recording was also done without input from Weezer's record label, Interscope. Cuomo had what he then described as a "massive falling out" with the label. In early 2002, well before the official release of the album, the label sent out a letter to radio stations requesting the song be pulled until an official, sanctioned single was released. Interscope also briefly shut down Weezer's audio/video download webpage, removing all the MP3 demos. Online Weezer fans staged a brief protest, with several websites proclaiming "Free Maladroit".
In April 2002, former bassist Matt Sharp sued the band, alleging, among several accusations, that he was owed money for cowriting several Weezer songs. The suit was later settled out of court.
The fourth album, Maladroit, was released on May 14, 2002, only one year after its predecessor. The album served as a harder-edged version of the band's trademark catchy pop-influenced music, and was replete with busy 1980s-style guitar solos. Although met with generally positive critical reviews, its sales were not as strong as those for "The Green Album". Two singles were released from the album. The music video for "Dope Nose" featured an obscure Japanese motorcycle gang, and was put into regular rotation. The music video for "Keep Fishin'" combined Weezer with The Muppets, and had heavy rotation on MTV. Both videos were directed by Marcos Siega.
As soon as Maladroit had wrapped up, the band immediately began work on their fifth album, recording numerous demos between tours (often recording as many as 24 songs in a day). These songs were eventually scrapped, and Weezer took a break after the release of two albums in quick succession. During this break, Bell and Wilson released LPs from their respective side projects Space Twins and The Special Goodness.
Weezer released their much-delayed first DVD on March 23, 2004. The Video Capture Device DVD chronicles the band from its beginnings through Maladroit's Enlightenment Tour. Compiled by Karl Koch, the DVD features home video footage, music videos, commercials, rehearsals, concert performances, television performances, and band commentary. The DVD was certified "gold" on November 8, 2004.
Make Believe (2003–2006)
From December 2003 to the fall of 2004, the members of Weezer recorded a large amount of material intended for a new album to be released in the spring of 2005 with producer Rick Rubin. The band's early recording efforts became available to the public through the band's website. The demos were a big hit, but none of the songs recorded at this time were included on the finished album. That album, titled Make Believe, was released on May 10, 2005. Despite commercial success, Make Believe got a mixed reception from critics, receiving an average score of 52 on review collator Metacritic. Although some reviews, such as AMG's, compared it favorably to Pinkerton, others, among them Pitchfork Media's score of 0.4 out of 10, panned the album as predictable and lyrically poor.
The album's first single, "Beverly Hills", became a hit in the U.S. and worldwide, staying on the charts for several months after its release. It became the first Weezer song to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. "Beverly Hills" was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards, the first ever Grammy nomination for the band. The video was also nominated for Best Rock Video at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards. The second single off Make Believe was "We Are All on Drugs". MTV refused to play the song, so Weezer re-recorded the lyrics by replacing "on drugs" with "in love" and renaming the song "We Are All in Love". In early 2006, it was announced that Make Believe was certified platinum, and "Beverly Hills" was the second most popular song download on iTunes for 2005, finishing just behind "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani. Make Believe's third single, "Perfect Situation", spent four weeks in a row at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. "This Is Such a Pity" was the band's fourth single from the album, but no music video was made for its release. The Make Believe tour also found the band using additional instruments onstage, adding piano, synthesizers, pseudophones, and guitarist Bobby Schneck.
The band has announced the possible release of a live DVD composed of footage from the 2005 Japan tour. It will consist of a two-day, seven-camera shoot of the shows in Japan, plus material that will be drawn from various behind-the-scenes footage. The DVD was announced in late 2005, but in a 2006 update on the band's Web site, Karl Koch noted it was "apparently edited, but has been put on hold for now."
The Red Album (2007–2008)
Weezer (also referred to as "The Red Album") was released in June 2008. Rick Rubin produced the album and Rich Costey mixed it. The record was described as "experimental", and according to Cuomo, included longer and non-traditional songs, TR-808 drum machines, synthesizers, Southern rap, baroque counterpoint, and band members other than Cuomo writing, singing, and switching instruments. Pat Wilson said the album cost about a million dollars to make, contrasting it with the $150,000 budget of "The Blue Album". The album's singles were produced by Jacknife Lee. Its lead single, "Pork and Beans", topped the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts for 11 weeks, and its music video won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. The second single, "Troublemaker", debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart and peaked at No. 2. In October 2008, the group announced that the third single would be "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)".
On May 30, 2008, the Toledo Free Press revealed in an interview with Scott Shriner that Weezer would be unveiling the "Hootenanny Tour", in which fans would be invited to bring their own instruments to play along with the band. Said Shriner: "They can bring whatever they want... oboes, keyboards, drums, violins, and play the songs with us as opposed to us performing for them."
The band performed five dates in Japan at the beginning of September and then embarked on what was dubbed the 'Troublemaker' tour, consisting of 21 dates around North America, including two in Canada. Angels and Airwaves and Tokyo Police Club joined them as support at each show, and Brian Bell's 'other' band The Relationship also performed at a handful of dates. Shortly before the encore at each show, the band would bring on fans with various instruments and perform Island in the Sun and Beverly Hills with them. At a show in Austin, after Tokyo Police Club had played their set, Rivers was wheeled out in a box and mimed to a recording of rare Weezer demo, 'My Brain', dressed in pajamas and with puppets on his hands, before being wheeled off again. This bizarre event later surfaced as the climax to a promo video for Cuomo's second demo album, Alone 2.
Cuomo also wrote a song with pop duo Aly & AJ, and was very pleased with the way the girls worked. It is unknown if the song will be made public on an album.
On December 4, iOS developer Tapulous released the game Christmas With Weezer, featuring gameplay similar to Tap Tap Revenge and six Christmas carols performed by the band. A digital EP featuring the songs, titled "Christmas with Weezer", was also released on December 16, 2008.
Weezer toured with Blink-182 in 2009, including an August 30 stop at the Virgin Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. Drummer Josh Freese joined Weezer on a temporary basis to play drums on the tour, while Pat Wilson switched to guitar. Wilson said in an interview for Yahoo! Music that Cuomo wanted "to be active and more free on stage and him having guitar on was an impediment." Freese stated he was a Weezer fan and did not want to pass up the opportunity to play with them.
Raditude's album artwork was revealed on September 11, featuring a National Geographic contest-winning photograph of a jumping dog named Sidney. The record's release was pushed to November 3, 2009, where it debuted as the seventh best-selling album of the week on the Billboard 200 chart. The band scheduled tour dates in December 2009 extending into early 2010 to coincide with the new album's release. On December 6, 2009, Cuomo was injured when his tour bus crashed in upstate New York due to black ice. Cuomo suffered three broken ribs, and his assistant broke two ribs. His wife, baby daughter, and their nanny were also on the bus, but they escaped injury. Weezer cancelled tour dates the following day. The band resumed touring on January 20, 2010.
In December 2009, it was revealed that the band was no longer with Geffen Records. The band stated that they would still release new material, but they were unsure of the means, whether it be self-released, released online, or getting signed by another label. Eventually, the band was signed to the independent label Epitaph.
The band also recorded a cover of "I'm a Believer" for the movie Shrek Forever After.
Weezer co-headlined The Bamboozle in May, 2010, and performed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee in June. In August, 2010, Weezer performed at the Reading and Leeds Festival, and performed at the Voodoo Experience festival in New Orleans, LA in October 2010.
On June 11, 2010, the band released a new single, "Represent". The song was said to be an "unofficial US anthem" to coincide with the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Hurley and Death to False Metal (2010–present)
The album Hurley was released in September 2010 through Epitaph Records. The name comes from the character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes from the television show Lost. Jorge Garcia, the actor who portrayed Hurley, stated that being featured on the album cover is "one of the biggest honors of [his] career." Weezer used internet streaming service YouTube as a way to promote the album. Weezer loaned itself to 15 amateur online video producers, "going along with whatever plans the creator could execute in about 30 minutes." They have used many of the popular channels to promote themselves, such as Barely Political, Ray William Johnson and Fred Figglehorn. The Gregory Brothers solicited musical and vocal contributions from the band on one of its compositions built around speeches by Rep. Charles Rangel and President Barack Obama. Weezer calls the promotion "The YouTube Invasion".
In November 2010, Weezer released a compilation album composed of re-recorded versions of unused recordings spanning various years, Death to False Metal. On the same day a deluxe version of Pinkerton, which includes "25 demos, outtakes and live tracks" was also released. A third volume of Rivers Cuomo's solo Alone series, titled Alone III: The Pinkerton Years, consisting of demos and outtakes from the Pinkerton sessions, was released on December 12, 2011. They also contributed a cover of The Cars' "You Might Think" for the Disney-Pixar film Cars 2.
On February 12, 2011, Weezer performed a live set for "Guitar Center Sessions" on DirecTV. The episode included an interview with Weezer by program host, Nic Harcourt.
On October 8, 2011 former bassist Mikey Welsh was found dead in a Chicago, Illinois hotel room. Weezer performed in Chicago the very next day, and dedicated the concert to Welsh (Welsh was supposed to be a surprise guest at that concert).
The band began working on their tenth studio album in September 2010 with the intent of a 2011 release, but the year ended without seeing a release. The band headlined a four-day rock-themed Carnival Cruise from Miami to Cozumel that set sail on January 19, 2012.
In May 2012, drummer Patrick Wilson released his fourth studio album with side-project, The Special Goodness, entitled Natural.
In July 2012, Weezer headlined the inaugural Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also, in July they announced plans for an Australian tour in early 2013, their first since 1996.
On December 25, 2012, according to official Weezer website, assistant Karl Koch stated Weezer is looking to record another album, but had no official information yet. He wrote, "While it's impossible to say when the next Weezer album will come out, rest assured the band is excited and united in their desire to make it great."
Musical style and influences
Weezer have been described as alternative rock, power pop, pop punk, emo and indie rock.
Many modern bands, such as Real Estate, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Cymbals Eat Guitars and The Fall of Troy, list Weezer as an influence. Weezer themselves have listed several influences, among them Kiss (with direct references in the song "In the Garage"), Nirvana (who were their labelmates at DGC for a very brief time before Kurt Cobain's death), The Beach Boys, Pixies (especially early in their career), Sonic Youth, Oasis, and Wax. Early Weezer demos, such as "Paperface", have obvious musical ties to the Pixies and Nirvana. Also, the song "Susanne" originally contained the lyrics, "Even Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose", before being changed to "Even Izzy, Slash, and Axl Rose" after Cobain's death. There is also a direct reference to Nevermind in "Heart Songs", a track found on The Red Album. As a side project, Weezer briefly played Nirvana and Oasis covers under the stage moniker "Goat Punishment". In 1998, Weezer covered "Velouria" by the Pixies for a tribute album, and in 2005 briefly got to tour with their idols for a few dates. Green Day has also been said to be an influence (there is a lyric about them in "El Scorcho"), and it has been acknowledged that the two bands are friends and enjoy each other's music. Weezer contributed the song "Worry Rock" to A Different Shade of Green: Tribute to Green Day. Cuomo also covered "Brain Stew" in a 2009 AOL Sessions set.
Rivers Cuomo released a demo-compilation album titled Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo on December 18, 2007. The album contains demos of Cuomo's that span from 1992 to 2007, including songs from Weezer's abandoned second album, Songs from the Black Hole.
Brian Bell has been working on a solo project called The Relationship, and did not write any songs for Raditude in order to save material for his solo work. He has also collaborated with Space Twins.
Cuomo's second demo album, Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, was released on November 25, 2008. The album includes further tracks from Songs from the Black Hole, early versions of songs later released as full-band demos, and other demo tracks.
Also, Mikey Welsh played with Juliana Hatfield, The Kickovers, Heretix, Jocobono, Slower and Left Nut; Patrick Wilson records with The Special Goodness; and Matt Sharp is in The Rentals and performs alone under his own name.
- Rivers Cuomo – vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums, bass guitar, harmonica (1992–present)
- Patrick Wilson – drums, percussion, guitar, vocals, keyboards (1992–present)
- Brian Bell – guitar, vocals, keyboards, harmonica (1993–present)
- Scott Shriner – bass guitar, vocals, keyboards (2001–present)
- Matt Sharp – bass guitar, backing vocals (1992–1998)
- Jason Cropper – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1992–1993)
- Mikey Welsh – bass guitar, backing vocals (1998–2001; died 2011)
- Atom Willard – percussion (2001)
- Bobby Schneck – guitar, percussion (2005)
- Karl Koch – keyboards (2008), percussion (2010–2013)
- Darren Robinson - guitar, vocals (2009)
- Josh Freese – drums, percussion (2009–2012)
- Daniel Brummel - drums (2013)
- Anthony Burulcich - drums (2013)
- Weezer (1994)
- Pinkerton (1996)
- Weezer (2001)
- Maladroit (2002)
- Make Believe (2005)
- Weezer (2008)
- Raditude (2009)
- Hurley (2010)
- Death to False Metal (2010)
- Official website
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Image from Discogs