Interview: Rivers Cuomo of Weezer
Weezer headlines Madison Square Garden tonight, Wednesday, September 24. Tickets are still available here.
"I have a spreadsheet that documents every show we've ever played, and how much we got paid, and what was the capacity, and then how many people actually attended. I was looking back at '94 and '95 and just comparing where we were playing then to where we're playing now. And it was peanuts, man."
After pretty much pleasing everyone with their eponymous debut (call it The Blue Album--still their best seller at three-plus million copies), Weezer embarked on a hit-or-miss relationship with domestic critics (we hate Pinkerton because it's weird! we love Pinkerton because it's weird!) that continues to this day. But over time the band has steadily grown as a live draw and tonight, for the very first time, Weezer and its mega-watt "W" will headline the world's most famous arena.
The solitary saga of Rivers Cuomo, the band's lead singer and primary songwriter, is nearly as complicated as the band's connection with musical scribes. After much-publicized exercises with a self-imposed, extended period of celibacy and living alone (again by choice) in an apartment with covered windows and (paint it) black walls, Cuomo's now-you-see-me, now-you-don't regimen has conjured a persona that, if boiled down to a single adjective, might be best described as "eccentric."
But then again, his hide-and-seek routine with the musical press also means that the opportunity to discuss songwriting with the still-boyish (assuming he's shaved the Giambi-esque moustache by now) Cuomo is a rare opportunity. Even if it only lasts for 15 minutes. --Rob Trucks
We talked three years ago when Make Believe came out and I'm going to refer back to that conversation in just a second. But in any case it's good to talk to you again.
Cool. I like some sense of continuity in my life, and referring to the past. I dig that.
Now since we last talked, you got your college degree, you released Home Recordings, and you've gotten married.
And had a baby.
And had a baby. Congratulations.
Thank you. That's a big one.
Absolutely. So is that the biggest change for you personally since Make Believe?
Is it getting married or having a child? I think it might be having a child.
I'm thinking that having a child provides the bigger schedule adjustment.
[laughs] Yeah. It also just makes you feel saturated in happiness and peace and contentment. And there's really not a whole heck of a lot you have to do besides just be with your family at that point.
The stereotype is that having a child is the best thing that could ever happen to you and that your life completely changes. Is it all of that and more?
Well, I didn't think I would really feel any differently once I had a child because I was just so focused on my work. I knew I could be a good dad but I didn't think it was really going to have that much of an emotional impact on me. But I walked out of the hospital a different person than I walked in. It's just . . . I just fell so deeply in love with this little girl.
Yeah. At the same time, though, I will say on a practical level my life has not changed all that much. I'm still playing in a rock band, which I've been doing since I was 14. I'm still, you know, pretty much keeping the same routine.
Is meditation still part of the daily routine?
Yeah, it's been very consistent since 2003. An hour in the morning, an hour in the evening. Every year I go to a long course. Yeah, I think that'll pretty much be with me for the duration.
We talked before about the lengths you had to go to in order to maintain your meditation schedule with the band and touring and all. You even told me that you did a session in a closet at the Playboy Mansion while you were there shooting the "Beverly Hills" video.
Has the new baby complicated the meditation schedule more than the band?
Well, I'm really good at planning my life and writing out the schedules and communicating with my wife and my bandmates and making sure that I can do everything I want to do and that everyone's taken care of, so it's complicated but it's not unmanageable.
When we talked before we discussed how Rick Rubin had talked to you about being less isolated as a songwriter. Is that still an issue? Or with the communication with the band, and the marriage, and the newborn baby--is that even a concern anymore? I mean, you're kind of out in the world again now, aren't you?
Wow, there's a lot of questions in there.
I'm sorry. Pick the one you want and I'll shut up.
[laughs] Okay. I still like to have a lot of time to myself, and I find that to be really artistically sensitive I need to close myself off from much stimulation so my feelings rise up to the surface and I can write about them. But at the same time I know that I also have a desire to play with the band, to be out in the world, to have fun, to be social, and even to be in the spotlight a little bit. So, you know, I have all of these desires and it's just a matter of figuring out what the right balance is. And also factoring in everyone else's needs too. And once you calm down and start thinking about it rationally and discussing it with everyone, it's really not that big of a problem to figure it out. You know, the other guys have families, too. My drummer has two kids. And they all want to be writers. They all are writers too.