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Weezer

Weezer is an American alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California formed in 1992. Initially, the band consisted of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, guitar), Patrick Wilson (drums, backing vocals), Matt Sharp (bass, backing vocals), and Jason Cropper (guitar, backing vocals). Jason Cropper was later replaced by Brian Bell. Matt Sharp was subsequently replaced by Mikey Welsh who was later replaced with Scott Shriner. They have released six full-length albums, three EPs, and a DVD. Weezer has sold more than six million records in the US to date.

The band is most known for singles such as "Undone - The Sweater Song", "Buddy Holly" and "Say It Ain't So" from its eponymous (or self titled) debut album Weezer; "El Scorcho", from Pinkerton; "Hash Pipe" and "Island in the Sun" from 2001 album Weezer; "Beverly Hills", "We Are All on Drugs" and "Perfect Situation" from Make Believe; and most recently "Pork and Beans" and "Troublemaker" from the band's third eponymous album Weezer.

History

Formation and debut album (1992–1995)

Weezer's first gig was opening for Keanu Reeves' band Dogstar. Weezer recorded its debut album with producer Ric Ocasek at Electric Lady Studios in New York City. During the recording, Jason Cropper left the band and was replaced by Brian Bell, then bassist for the band Carnival Art. The band released Weezer in May 1994. "Undone—The Sweater Song" was released 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 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 Diner", 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.

Pinkerton (1996–1997)

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 of 1996" by a Rolling Stone Magazine reader poll. However, word-of-mouth kept the trickle of sales going, and the album eventually achieved a cult status.

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 together 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, 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. In June 2000, the band, now back under the Weezer name, joined the Warped Tour for eight planned dates.

Renewed popularity (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 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.

Maladroit (2002)

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 they 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) citation needed. 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.

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, 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 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, and guitarist Bobby Schneck.

The band has announced the possible release of a live DVD comprised 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–present)

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. Cuomo previously had told mtv.com that he continued to write songs but he was unsure if they would appear on any future album. He said, "Well, the band is all back in Los Angeles, and I sometimes speak with Patrick, and I occasionally e-mail with Brian and Scott, but we've never mentioned getting together," "Really, for the moment, we are done. And I'm not certain we'll ever make a record again, unless it becomes really obvious to me that we need to do one."

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.

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 the album's second single, "Troublemaker", debuted at number 39 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.

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."

Billboard.com also reported that Weezer will be heading into the studio in early November to cut Weezer album 7 with Jacknife Lee who recorded two songs on The Red Album, most notably, "Pork and Beans." Drummer Pat Wilson stated the band is wasting no time cutting a new record because they are all going to continue to write songs and since they no longer rely on one person for the songs, they culminate an album's worth of songs much more quickly.

Influence

Many modern bands list Weezer as an influence. Weezer themselves have listed several influences, among them KISS (with direct references in the song, "In the Garage"), Cheap Trick, Nirvana (who was their labelmate for a very brief time before Kurt Cobain's death), and Pixies (especially early on in their career). 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 also contributed the song "Worry Rock" to Different Shade Of Green: A Green Day Tribute.

Members

Former members

Discography

References

External links

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