Rivers Cuomo

Rivers Cuomo (born June 13, 1970) is a musician best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and principal songwriter of the rock band Weezer. He has also worked as a solo artist; he released his debut album, Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, in December 2007, which featured home demos that Cuomo has recorded from 1992-2007. Cuomo mainly plays electric and acoustic guitar, but he can also play drums, bass guitar, clarinet, harmonica, and piano.

Early years

Cuomo was born in a Manhattan hospital to parents of Italian and German/English descent and raised on an ashram run by the late yoga master Sri Swami Satchidananda in Pomfret, Connecticut. It is a myth that the name Rivers originates from his birthplace: his mother, Beverly, was inspired to name her son "Rivers" because he was born between the East and Hudson rivers in Manhattan. Her appreciation of the sound of running water further reinforced her desire for this name. His father, Frank Cuomo, was a musician who played drums on the album Odyssey of Iska by jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter. For his early childhood he attended a private school on an ashram farm where his parents raised him and his brother Leaves. Cuomo's parents moved to nearby Storrs, Connecticut when the ashram (known as Yogaville) was relocated to a plot of land along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Cuomo attended Edwin Oscar Smith High School, Santa Monica College, Berklee College of Music, and Harvard University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. In high school, Rivers played the role of Johnny Casino in the stage production of Grease.

Musical projects

One of Cuomo's earliest music projects was a progressive metal band known as Avant Garde. Cuomo played under the name Peter Kitts, Kitts being the surname of his stepfather. The band played several shows in Connecticut. He moved with the band to Los Angeles in March 1989. In late 1989 Avant Garde changed its name to Zoom though the band dissolved in the late spring of 1990. After a series of musical projects in Los Angeles, Cuomo formed Weezer on 14 February 1992 with members from '60 Wrong Sausages' including drummer Patrick Wilson. The original Weezer cast included Rivers Cuomo on vocals and guitar, Wilson on drums, Matt Sharp on bass, and Jason Cropper who at first played exclusively on acoustic guitar. Weezer signed with DGC, a subsidiary of Geffen Records, on 25 June 1993. They began recording Weezer (also known as The Blue Album) in August 1993 at Electric Lady Studios in New York with producer Ric Ocasek.

Like many other musicians Cuomo has had a very close relationship with his fans online. Throughout 2002 Cuomo frequently posted on Weezer message boards as 'Ace' to discuss music with fans. He once had a website called the 'Catalog of Riffs' ('COR') in which he shared old demos of songs as well as scans of many personal items (letters, schedules, records). Since 2003 he has kept a MySpace page in which he has posted many blog entries including his original admission essay and two subsequent readmission essays to Harvard. Additionally he uses his MySpace blog as a clearinghouse for clarifications, corrections, and addenda to interviews and press reports about him. (This has included responding to misinformation on his Wikipedia entry.)

In May 2007 Cuomo was named as a 'potential inductee' for the proposed Connecticut Music Hall of Fame.

Musical output and techniques

Cuomo has written and recorded nearly 800 songs in his life, either with Weezer, with earlier bands, or as self-recorded demos. Of these songs, despite the large amount of unreleased material that has been made available by Cuomo on the internet, large chunks of his work remain unheard by fans. These include certain demos for The Blue Album, various songs from the scrapped Songs from the Black Hole project, over a hundred songs he composed and demoed throughout 1999 (songs which he has described as ranging from "drone-y Romantic," "abrasive dissonance" and "riffy pop-rock") and well over a hundred songs that didn't make the cut for Make Believe. Recently on Cuomo's MySpace he began satisfying fans need to hear these unreleased demos "in the most legal way" he could by posting sheet music and lyrics for the Songs From the Black Hole tracks "She's Had A Girl", "Oh Jonas" and "Who You Callin' Bitch?" as well as the Blue Album-era demo "Getting Up and Leaving."

He has been known to use experimentation to inspire his writing, for example, fasting for a day and then writing a song, as he did on "Hold Me." Cuomo has familiarity with a wide array of musical instruments: besides the guitar, he is also skilled at the piano, bass guitar (he frequently demoed songs on his own, a la the 1995 Fort Apache Studios Pinkerton demos, and can be seen playing the bass in the Weezer DVD Video Capture Device). Rivers also plays clarinet (as heard on Alone and SFTBH track "Longtime Sunshine" and the .com-released demo "Clarinet Waltz"), drums (as heard on Alone, in concerts during "Photograph" and the new album), and harmonica.

Cuomo has cited a wide variety of musical influences throughout the years, from artists as diverse as Kiss, Nirvana, Lou Barlow, Pixies, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brian Wilson, and Giacomo Puccini. He took it upon himself to become a student of rock and pop music when in the late 90s, Cuomo created "The Encyclopedia of Pop" for himself, a three-ring binder which broke down the mechanics of pop and rock songs featuring songs by Nirvana, Green Day and Oasis.

He is known to perform with customised Warmoth Stratocasters. Throughout his career he has frequently played Warmoth stratocasters that are covered in stickers. Cuomo also notably played Gibson V'sand Explorers onstage in late 2001 and throughout parts of 2002 . Today, he almost exclusively plays a red Gibson SG with the Thai word Farang on it, meaning "a white foreigner. The sticker is found on his SG with E flat tuning; a second SG, tuned to E, does not have this sticker.

Relationship with the fans

Posting on Fan Forums

Rivers Cuomo has, in recent years, had a unique relationship with his fan base. Beginning in the early Maladroit recording era, Rivers would post on several Weezer fan message boards under the name Ace, which was inspired by Ace Frehley of the band Kiss. Rivers would ask for the fans' advice, treating them often as a producer and often exchanging emails through Karl Koch, and eventually posting on boards himself. Some of the correspondence boardies were even invited backstage during tours to play foosball with him. Some of the relationships with the fans pushed Cuomo's temper causing him to once refer to them as "little bitches," Cuomo being upset with the fans' demands for an older sounding Weezer rather than letting the band explore new sounds.

Playing with Fans Live

Starting on the Foozer tour in late 2005, Rivers Cuomo would invite fans onto the stage to play Undone—The Sweater Song on acoustic guitar. After the performance, fans were allowed to keep the guitars they played.

In 2008, coinciding with the release of Weezer's new self titled album, The Red Album, Rivers and Weezer announced a Nissan Live Sets performance in which fans were allowed to bring any instrument of their choice and perform in a Hootenanny with the band.

Let's Write a Sawng

In March 2008 Cuomo started a video series on YouTube called "Let's Write a Sawng." Cuomo plans to write a song in collaboration with YouTube users suggestions.

Other bands

Before Weezer, Cuomo played in various music projects, including Fury, Avant Garde, Zoom, Sixty Wrong Sausages, and Fuzz. During a Weezer hiatus, Rivers formed a musical project called Homie, consisting of what he called "goofball songs" or his "country band". An album was planned, but only one studio recording, a song entitled "American Girls", has been released. Cuomo has contributed to recordings by various other musicians (Crazy Town, Cold, Mark Ronson). He also briefly managed the band AM Radio in 2002 and 2003.

In early 2004 he made a surprise appearance onstage with ex-Weezer bassist Matt Sharp at his California State University, Fullerton show to play two old Weezer favorites ("Say It Ain't So" and "Undone"), a rare Weezer demo that they worked on together ("Mrs. Young"), and a new song they wrote together, "Time Song." Also, Sharp announced that they might work on a collaborative record together. But later that year, Sharp announced on his website that although they had come up with "15 or 16 new song ideas, some good, some not so good" for their new album, their "special brand of dysfunctionality" may keep them from finishing the project.

Additionally, Cuomo has had cameos in a number of music videos. These include Crystal Method's "Murder" and the video for The Warlocks' "Cocaine Blues."

Personal life

Cuomo married Kyoko Ito on June 18, 2006, a woman he had known since March, 1997. He proposed to her in Tokyo shortly before Christmas of 2005. The wedding was held at a secluded beach on Paradise Cove in Malibu and was attended by over a hundred people, including six of the seven members who played in Weezer (Mikey Welsh being the only no show) as well as notables Justin Fisher, Kevin Ridel and Rick Rubin. The couple have a daughter, Mia, who was born in May of 2007.

Before Weezer, Cuomo worked as a roadie for King Size on their Guatemala tour before recording The Blue Album.

Some of Cuomo's fashion trademarks include his horn-rimmed glasses and his lightning bolt guitar strap. He has sported a bowl cut, most notably in the music video for "Undone - The Sweater Song." Other notable fashion trends include sporting a life preserver-styled vest in early 2001, growing a thick beard in mid-2002 and a brief suit-and-tie phase in summer 2002. Rivers has also recently been seen with a short mustache, like in the new video for Pork and Beans and on the Red Album cover. Rivers has said that he grew the mustache in honor of his daughter and that his father wore one just like his when Rivers was born.

Cuomo recently helped acquire music rights and provided financial support to a documentary titled The Dhamma Brothers about Vipassana meditation being instituted in an Alabama State Prison.

Cuomo was born with his left leg 44 mm (1 3/4 in) shorter than his right leg. After the success of The Blue Album, Cuomo underwent a procedure to correct the condition. This involved the surgical breaking of the bone in his leg, followed by several months of wearing a steel brace which required self-administered "stretching" of the leg 4 times daily; Cuomo likened the ordeal to "crucifying [his] leg. An x-ray of the leg is part of the album art for "The Good Life" single, and the experience inspired him to write the song. Cuomo can be seen wearing the brace on an episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, which can be found on their DVD "Video Capture Device".

Cuomo is a big fan of soccer. He can be seen as he is shown playing in the "Photograph" video and even planned his band's 2002 "World Cup Tour" around World Cup games. In 2006 he reportedly wrote a song titled "Our Time Will Come" in tribute to the U.S. men's soccer team. He claims his favorite player is Landon Donovan, enjoys watching the Premier League and is both a Los Angeles Galaxy and New England Revolution fan. In early 2008 he played in the Mia & Nomar Celebrity Soccer Challenge and scored a goal in the game. His video for "Lover in the Snow" off of his Alone album dealt with this game and his love of soccer.

During Weezer's hiatus between the albums Pinkerton and Weezer (Green Album), Cuomo had gotten braces on his teeth. They were evidently removed before the release of the Green Album.

It's a popular misconception that Weezer is named after Rivers' supposed asthma. Rivers himself has openly admitted that although "Weezer" was his childhood nickname, it wasn't because he had asthma.

Cuomo has announced that he is working on "an amazingly cool creative project that is just as much musical in nature as it is literary. It may or may not be released by a book publisher. It is not a 'memoir'. Rivers has since revealed that the multimedia project will be an extremely detailed account of Cuomo's life from 1992 to May 10, 1994 including photos, journal entries and poems. This period of Cuomo's life will document the formation of Weezer through the release of their debut album. As of October 2007, the tome is already more than 400 pages in length.

Cuomo is a vegetarian.


Solo albums

Guest contributions


External links

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