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Friday, June 4, 2010

Who is Weezer?

Who is Weezer? The American music world recognizes them as an alternative rock band that formed in Los Angeles in 1992. The band now 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 has changed lineups several times since its formation in 1992.They have released seven full-length albums, five EPs, and a DVD. Weezer has sold more than eight million records in the US to date.
The band is best known for their successful singles "Buddy Holly", "Undone - The Sweater Song", "Beverly Hills", "Pork and Beans" and "Island in the Sun".
The band's seventh studio album, Raditude, was released on November 3, 2009. The album's first single, entitled "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To", was released on August 18, 2009.
Weezer had their first practice on February 14, 1992, 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 in May 1994. The record label originally did not wish to release a single, to see how much sales could be created 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" after hearing of their semi-success in California, which led their record label to release "Undone - The Sweater Song" as the first official single. The music video was directed by Spike Jonze.Filmed in an unbroken take, it featured Weezer performing on a sound stage with various amusing studio antics, including 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", a familiar setting from the series. 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 is also featured on the installation CD for the Microsoft Windows 95 computer operating system. A third single, "Say It Ain't So", followed. Weezer is currently 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 1995, 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. Cuomo's 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 #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 a darker, more abrasive sound on the album. Pinkerton was labeled "one of the worst albums 1996" by a Rolling Stone Magazine reader poll. However, word-of-mouth kept the trickle of sales going and eventually the record achieved cult status.
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 L.A. to start work on the next album. Matt Sharp did not rejoin the band and officially left the group in April 1998. 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. 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 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 eight dates.
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 setlist 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 to fill in for Welsh. Shriner accepted the invitation.

The band took an experimental approach for the recording process by allowing fans to download the demos from their official website in return for feedback. After the release of the album, the band stated that this process was somewhat of a failure, as the fans did not supply them with cohesive, constructive advice. Cuomo eventually delegated song selection for the album to their original A&R rep, Todd Sullivan, stating the 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 their record label, Interscope. Cuomo had recently 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, he was owed money for co-writing 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 their 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", and it remains their lowest-selling album to date. 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 Space Twins and The Special Goodness side-projects.
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.
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, entitled Make Believe, was released on May 10, 2005. Despite commercial success, Make Believe generally got a mixed reception from critics, receiving an average score of 52 on review collator Metacritic. Although some reviews, such as AMGs, 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 #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 Stefanie 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 recent update on the band's website, Karl Koch noted it was "apparently edited, but has been put on hold for now."

The Red Album (2007–2008)

Weezer's 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 is being described as "experimental", and according to Cuomo, includes 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 stated the album cost around 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, the album's 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, and the album's second single, "Troublemaker", debuted at #39 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart and peaked at #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 a Scott Shriner interview 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 5 dates in Japan at the beginning of September and then embarked on what was dubbed the 'Troublemaker' tour - 21 dates around the US, including one 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', donned in pajamas with puppets on his hands, before being wheeled off again. This bizarre event later surfaced as the climax to a promo video for Rivers' second demo album, Alone 2.
Rivers 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, iPhone OS 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, entitled "Christmas with Weezer", was also released Dec. 16, 2008.

Raditude (2009-present)

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 Blink-182/Weezer tour while Pat Wilson switched to guitar. Wilson stated 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.
On July 17, Karl Koch revealed on weezer.com that the band's second album Pinkerton would be reissued in a Deluxe Edition.
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 6th, 2009, Weezer frontman Rivers 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; however, they escaped injury. Weezer cancelled tour dates the following day. The band resumed touring on January 20th, 2010.
In December 2009, it was revealed that the band was no longer with Geffen Records, and that they were unsure about their future in recording. The band has stated that they will still release new material, but they are unsure of the means, whether it be self-released, released online, or getting signed by another label.
The band are in the process of compiling Odds and Ends, a collection of rarities, and are planning a deluxe edition of Pinkerton. The band also recorded a cover of I'm a Believer for the forthcoming movie, Shrek Forever After.
Weezer will be co-headlining The Bamboozle in May 2010, and will performing at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN in June. In August 2010 Weezer will be performing at Reading and Leeds Festival.
In a May interview with HitQuarters, producer-songwriter Lucas Secon confirmed that he had recently worked with Cuomo on both a Steve Aoki single and "some Weezer stuff."

Solo work

Lead singer Rivers Cuomo released a demo-compilation album entitled 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.
During this time, Brian Bell also took some time out to work with Chicago rock outfit the The Relationship. It will be the band's first album and is due to release soon.
Rivers' second demo album, Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, was released on November 25 2008. The album includes further tracks from the scrapped Songs from the Black Hole, early versions of songs later released as full-band demos, amongst various other demo tracks.
Many members of Weezer have bands of their own. Brian Bell has collaborated with Space Twins and The Relationship, Patrick Wilson was in The Special Goodness, and Matt Sharp was in The Rentals as well as performing alone under his own name.

Influence

Many modern bands, such as Deftones, The All-American Rejects, Bloc Party, Ash, Emery, Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, 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 was their labelmate for a very brief time before Kurt Cobain's death), Pixies (especially early on in their career), Wax and Sonic Youth. Early Weezer demos, such as "Paperface", have very obvious ties musically to the Pixies and Nirvana. Also, the song, "Susanne" originally read, "Even Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose" , instead of "Even Izzy, Slash, and Axl Rose", changed 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 also briefly played Nirvana and Oasis covers under the stage moniker "Goat Punishment". In 1998, Weezer covered "Velouria" by the Pixies for a Pixies 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 direct lyric about Green Day in the song, "El Scorcho"), and it has been acknowledged that the two bands are friends with one another and enjoy each other's music. Weezer contributed the song "Worry Rock" to Different Shade Of Green: A Green Day Tribute. Rivers Cuomo also covered "Brain Stew" in a 2009 AOL Sessions set.

Discography

Band members

Current lineup
  • Rivers Cuomo – lead vocals, keyboards, guitar (1992–present)
  • Brian Bell – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards (1993–present)
  • Scott Shriner – bass, backing vocals, keyboards (2001–present)
  • Pat Wilson – drums, percussion, guitar, backing vocals (1992–present)
Former members

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