What Weezer's Rivers Cuomo Said: Interviews from the Past vs. Present

A few weeks ago, Weezer's frontman Rivers Cuomo got on the phone with us to talk about the band's  Memories Tour, the collection of B-sides, Death to False Metal, the Pinkerton reissue and their latest set, Hurley. During the interview, he talked about their reissues, why they all of a sudden are playing Pinkerton songs after ignoring them for so long. Always a pleasant, another thing Cuomo is at interviews is verbose–which doesn't always lead to consistency. Read on to see what we mean.

In 2001, Cuomo said, “I never want to play those [Pinkerton] songs again; I never want to hear them again.” Nine years later, there's a reissue–and they're playing the whole thing in sequence! Why?

What he says now: “Well, we really have played Pinkerton songs throughout this last decade, but it's true that we haven't played very many. Most of the time. I think at the beginning of the decade, we were doing this crazy thing where we'd roll D&D dice–Dungeons N Dragons dice–to determine our set list.”

These days, for maximum fan enjoyment, he says the band looks online to what's selling on iTunes or what people are listening to on last.fm. “We can see what our fans talk about on our Web site, or we can just listen every night as we're performing and see what songs get the most applause. And based on all of that, we ended up not playing a lot of Pinkerton songs. It wasn't the most scientific approach but, you know, we were doing our best.”
Cuomo in 2002: Our fans “could be the same as they were eight years ago, or they could have
changed entirely…I don't know; to me they're just a sea of faces”

Cuomo in 2010: “A lot of [fans]–weren't old enough to see those songs when
we were originally playing them in the mid-'90s, so we think it will be a
really exciting event for them. And so far the response has been really
tremendous with all the shows selling out pretty quickly, I think… Touring is
the most powerful way for us to connect to our audience, for them to
feel what we have to give and for us to get feedback from them.”

Cuomo in 2005: “When I was in my mid-20s, after we put out the Blue Album, I had a huge inferiority complex about being a rock musician. I thought my songs were really simplistic and silly, and I wanted to write complex, intense, beautiful music. That's why I went to Harvard — to learn how to be a classical composer. And I started studying it, and I realized that I didn't really like any contemporary classical music. And I very quickly started missing being in the band, and I wanted to go back to that. And since then I've gotten a greater appreciation for what pop artists do.”

Cuomo in 2010: “I was very much into Slayer as a teenager, and
Metallica, and what I would have thought of as the real metal–and that
was an expression we used to kick around, “death to false metal,”
because it seemed like there were so many bands coming up that didn't
have that; the integrity of the bands that we loved…That
expression–“death to false metal”– gave me such a warm
feeling of a time in my life when I took musical style so seriously…

It was about morals and values and community and something that
sustained me and supported me, and defended my self-esteem through the
tough years of being a teenager, and so I just felt such affection for
that expression.

Cuomo in 2001: “[Pinkerton] is just a sick album, sick in a diseased sort of way…”
Cuomo in 2010: “I
f everything goes according to plan, I'll be
putting out a book at the end of November called “The Pinkerton
Diaries,” and that is a collection of all my journals and emails and
letters and photos, school papers, everything from those years–'94
through '97–so you can get an inside look at exactly what I was

I was frustrated with the reception that our
first album received. You know, what I was hearing was that people
thought we were kind of jokey and shallow and a corporate version of The
Pixies.And I wanted to be taken more seriously, so I wrote the second
album, Pinkerton, very carefully; trying to avoid anything that would
have made it seem like a novelty act, which is what I assumed was
happening on the first record.

And so then we put out Pinkerton, and it seemed like what I was
hearing at that point was “what happened to our fun band? They're
catchy and poppy and fun and energetic, and now they're like this
bizarre, grotesque, obscene, noisy, not-pop album.” And at the same
time, it was such a personal record for me. I felt like I was saying,
okay world! Here's the truth. Here's what I'm really like.

Right now–I don't want to criticize any of our
records; especially Pinkerton. It's incredible. I love it so much.”

 Weezer perform on Nov. 26 and 27 at the Gibson Amphitheatre in LA.

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