Weezer was the band's first release without longtime bassist Matt Sharp, as he was busy with his own band, The Rentals, at the time. This album featured Mikey Welsh on bass, although he was replaced by their next album.
By February 1998, Cuomo abandoned the Homie band without much notice and headed to Los Angeles to begin work on Weezer demos with Brian Bell and Patrick Wilson. At this point, bassist Matt Sharp was absent from numerous Weezer rehearsals and becoming very estranged from the band. On April 8, 1998, Matt Sharp announced his official exit from Weezer to devote all his energies to his band, The Rentals. By the Spring of 1998, it would be revealed that former Homie member Mikey Welsh would take over on bass for Weezer. Weezer continued rehearsal 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 Patrick 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."
By the beginning of 1999, Weezer had gone their separate ways. Drummer Patrick Wilson resumed his efforts with his side-band The Special Goodness and guitarist Brian Bell worked on his band The Space Twins. Meanwhile Mikey Welsh toured with Juliana Hatfield. Meanwhile Cuomo focused deeply on songwriting, crafting 121 songs, of which close to half would become demos. During this time, he had isolated himself, having very little contact with the outside world. He received braces on his teeth, further damaging his self-esteem. Brian Bell would occasionally visit Cuomo and play some songs with him. Cuomo would eventually reveal songs he was working on to Bell.
Meanwhile, unbeknowest to the band, their fanbase was ballooning due to the expansion of the internet. The reputation of Pinkerton was greatly improving due to word-of-mouth over the internet, quietly shifting thousands of units each week. This expanding internet activity would later set the stage for the band's 2001 comeback.
Renewed interaction between band members took place when Weezer was offered an extremely lucrative offer to perform in Japan in August 2000 for the Summer Sonic Festival. 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. Rehearsals for the show, reinvigorated the band into talking about making a new album. The band returned to performing in June 2000, playing low-key shows around Los Angeles, but without the Weezer name. Instead, the shows featured the group's first use of the pseudonym, Goat Punishment, so they could play to only longtime fans who would recognize the name.
Eventually the band started performing more high profile gigs such as the Warped Tour. Cuomo later remarked, "We went in there fully expecting to be booed and to have things thrown at us. But it was exactly the opposite, people were singing along to all the songs and just going crazy, giving us the best support. And I think that gave us the confidence we needed." The positive response to the Warp Tour performances lend to further shows being scheduled.
When touring began to wind down, MP3 demos captured live on the band's mobile unit and sound checks began to surface on file-sharing services and eventually on the band's official website for download. These songs were often referred to as Summer Songs of 2000 (commonly abbreviated, SS2K).
Recording sessions for the album began in early December, Ocasek would provide creative feedback to the band by telephone. While recording the album, the band performed gigs under their pseudonym Goat Punishment. On December 27th, the band would embark on what would be close to six weeks of studio work by playing songs repetitively in order to track the bass and drums parts. They also did "scratch takes" of the vocals and guitar, designed to get accurate rhythm tracks before being redone more efficiently later in the recording process.
During recording, one of the higher-up's at the band's label Geffen Records dropped by to check on the band's progress, announcing dissatisfaction with several tracks. Eventually forcing the band to discard a few of the album's possible song contenders. The band would then relocate to the smaller studio in another part of Cello Studios. Cuomo and Bell would work on guitar takes, while the entire band would put down vocal tracks. Ocasek remarked, "Rivers always does his guitar parts in one take." After three weeks into the recording sessions, the guitar work was completed.
Mixing for the album began on January 31st by Tom Lord-Alge at South Beach Studios. Drummer Patrick Wilson was absent from the mixing process because he had returned home to Portland to work on material for his band The Special Goodness. Brian Bell was also absent from the mixing process.
I set out to design the package exactly how I would want it, and it just turns out that it's very similar to the first album. I'm the same person as I was then, pretty much. I have the same taste so I don't see why it should be different.|cquote
The inside picture of the cd booklet is a photo of Weezer playing live features (in the lower right hand corner) the shadows of Mike Nelson, Tom Servo and Crow from the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Hence the citing in the liner notes that says "MST3k silhouette appears courtesy of Best Brains, Inc." Best Brains is the production company that produced MST3k.
Under the CD tray of the album on the white paper's edge, the word "No" can be found. Some fans speculate that this is a response to Radiohead's album OK Computer which has the text "I like you. I like you. You are a wonderful person. I'm full of enthusiasm. I'm going places. I'll be happy to help you. I am an important person, would you like to come home with me?", which is placed in a similar location as the "no." This has, however, not been confirmed. The band's official explanation was vague, simply stating, "No means no."
The album is dedicated "In loving memory of Mykel and Carli" for Mykel and Carli Allan, sisters devoted to developing fan clubs for up-and-coming bands. The two, who had been influential in starting Weezer's fan club, died in a car crash in 1997.
The video for "Hash Pipe" was directed by Marcos Siega, the first of many Weezer videos that Siega would direct. In the video, Weezer is playing while a group of sumo wrestlers are standing in the background. The song would experience censorship often played as "H*** Pipe" (the title employed on the music video's title card) or "Half Pipe." The song would become a huge hit on the MTV show Total Request Live receiving heavy rotation. Also receiving much rotation on radio as well, eventually peaking at #2 on the US Modern Rock Charts. The song even landed the band a nomination for High Times magazine's "Pot Song of the Year."
On May 15, 2001, the album was released debuting at #4 on the Billboard charts, making it Weezer's first Top 10 album. It debuted overseas at #31 on the UK Top 40. In Canada, the album performed even better debuting at #2. In two weeks the album had sold 215,000 copies. It was certified platinum on September 13, 2001. As of December 2007, the album has sold 1,600,000 copies.
The next single "Island in the Sun" was a successful radio hit and perhaps the band's biggest hit overseas. It peaked at #11 on the US Modern Rock Charts and at #31 on the UK Top 40. Two music videos were created for the song. The first video which was directed by Marcos Siega shows Weezer playing the song at a Mexican couple's wedding reception and features all four band members. This version remains the more obscure of the two, receiving less airplay than the second. The executives at MTV disliked Siega's video, prompting the band to film a second video. The second video which was directed by Spike Jonze featured the band playing with various wild animals on a supposedly remote hill (though it was actually filmed a short distance outside of Los Angeles, which is thought to be in the hills near Simi Valley). Only Brian Bell, Rivers Cuomo, and Patrick Wilson appear in this video, as then bassist Mikey Welsh had been kicked out of or had left the band shortly before shooting. It is also rumored that original bassist Matt Sharp was approached to be in the video, though it is unclear if the offer was ever actually made. As a result, "Island in the Sun (Version Two)" had much wider play than the first version, and has become the standard video for the song.
The third and final single from the album was "Photograph," which was released to radio in early November. The single peaked at #17 on the US Modern Rock Charts. It was also released as the first single in Japan instead of "Hash Pipe." The band felt the song didn't have the staying power of the previous singles. So they decided to pass on a big-name director for the music video and had Karl Koch shoot and edit a video out of on-the-road footage.
The UK and Japan versions of the album came with an additional bonus tracks, "I Do", which was previously a B-side that appeared on the "Hash Pipe" single. The Japanese version also featured "The Christmas Song", one of the two tracks that had appeared on the "Winter Weezerland" EP.
|UK Top 40||31|
| US Modern Rock|| US|
| Norway|| Austria|
|2001||"Island in the Sun"||11||–||–||31||–||–|