Music Mondays: My Weezer Fandom

For whatever reason, Weezer had nothing to do with my formative music-liking years in 7th or 8th grade when it was taking my future high school friends by storm. I’m sure I’d heard “Buddy Holly,” but the name Weezer meant nothing to me. Being kind of an asshole in high school I would constantly make fun of my new friends for liking Weezer even though I was basing that on absolutely nothing. It’s a wonder we’re still friends, though I think part of that’s because, at some point either sophomore or junior year, I asked my buddy Chad if I could borrow their records. At the time Weezer–consisting of lead singer and guitar player Rivers Cuomo, drummer Patrick Wilson, guitar player Brian Bell and bass player Matt Sharp–only had their 1994 self-titled debut (dubbed “The Blue Album”) and 1996’s follow up Pinkerton out. Unfortunately, Pinkerton didn’t do so well, Cuomo went crazy and the band went on hiatus for a few years. I listened to the two records and did a complete 180, becoming a huge fan of the band, even checking on a regular basis, though never getting involved in the message boards (I hate those things). Luckily for me, I got into the band towards the end of their hiatus which meant that 2001’s self-titled album (this one dubbed “The Green Album” for obvious reasons) wasn’t too far off. During their off-time, Sharp left the band to be replaced by Mikey Welsh on bass and Rivers started writing poppier, less personal songs because he was devastated by Pinkerton‘s failure (an album that featured lots of personal feelings from the singer). I remember going to my beloved local record store Boogie Records with my friend Matt during our free period senior year and buying the record the day it came out. The album wasn’t great–not as good as the previous two at least–but it was new Weezer, which meant new tours would be on the horizon. At the time, the band pretty much played the exact same set list every show, but my friends and I hoped to see them soon.

Also around this time, Rivers started doing a lot of interviews that lead to lots of angriness from fans, especially the ones where he practically disowned Pinkerton (an album everyone I know loved and, from what I read in an article in Guitar World about the then-new emo scene, influenced that entire scene thanks to this new thing called the internet) and said that his fans were assholes. I can’t tell you exactly where this happened, but it did. I was pissed. That’s when I realized that Weezer was one of the hardest bands to be a fan of, but I was hooked. Soon, I would go off to college and purchase the poster version of the Green Album cover which hung proudly in my room. On September 22, 2001, my freshman year of college, my parents came down to Delaware, Ohio, my friends Matt and Charlie who were going to Ohio State at the time came up and then my parents took us back to Toledo, which got us closer to Detroit where the show was. A band called The Start opened up and–this is the best part–I got to shake hands with new bass player Scott Shriner who also happened to be from Toledo! In fact, I worked with his cousin at the bagel shop. For whatever reason, Scott was running up the aisle near us and one of my friends notice and shot his hand out into the aisle. Scott very nicely stopped and shook all our hands before moving on to his destination. I don’t remember many specifics of the show, but I do remember singing like crazy along with all the songs. Good times. As I mentioned in a previous post, I actually drove up from Delaware, Ohio to Toledo to hit up the midnight release of Weezer’s next record Maladroit. Someone snapped a picture of Scott Shriner’s dad buying it at Boogie Records and it made its way onto Weezer’s website. That’s me in the gray sweatshirt and the missus in blue (she was nice enough to let me use her car for the voyage). I really didn’t like Maladroit when I first listened to it. I wanted to hear more Pinkerton-like music, but it was poppy like “Green.” But it eventually grew on me and I wound up digging the record. That was in 2002. I was a sophomore in college at the time. That summer my friends from Toledo and I went to see Weezer again in concert, this time they were doing shows with two stages, had five bands playing along with them (including Sparta and Dashboard Confessional who I realized I hate) and a side stage with smaller bands. Another good time was had by all. Then Make Believe came out and broke my heart. I know it sounds dumb to say something like that about a band filled with people you’ve never met (hand shake aside), but with that album’s string of poppy pap crap, I was done with the band…for a while at least. How many times did I need to get kicked in the ribs before I walked away? The record came out in 2005, I was still in college and I don’t think I’ve listened to it since then, though I do still own it (I’ve never even ripped it into iTunes). Soon, I’d graduate college and go on to work for Wizard in New York with a bunch of dudes who were also, at this point, former Weezer fans. Many of them felt the same way I did and some were even angrier about it. I kind of mellowed out after a while, but I still didn’t buy or even listen to their next two records “the Red Album” from 2008 and 2009’s Raditude. So, it’s been a good five years since my heart broke. By now it’s mended back together and was ticking better than ever (thanks to realizing a band isn’t really worth getting too upset about). Plus, recently I’d been seeing a few things that made me curious about their latest record Hurley: Rivers’ appearance on that B.o.B song “Magic” and their first single off the record called “Memories” which I really really dug. There’s finally an official video for “Magic” now, by the way. Watching Rivers doing his MC thing on stage is always funny.

So, last week, I found myself in Best Buy doing something I hadn’t done in half a decade: buying a Weezer CD. I went with the deluxe edition because it was the same price as the regular. My friends and I used to joke that you can expect one thing from any Weezer CD: ten songs. Well, that rule had been broken in the past, but it made me chuckle that the regular version of the disc had that magical number of tracks. And, you know what? I really like this record. I don’t know if it’s just me being sentimental (like seeing a girl you used to like and thinking you’ve got a thing for her again, but really it’s just a fond memory) or if it’s legit. I’ve only listened to it once all the way through, but I wasn’t depressed after the first listen, so that’s much better than my first Make Believe listen.

You might be thinking to yourself “Oh, TJ, don’t go back to that band, they don’t know how to treat you right and will only wind up hurting you again.” But to that I would respond “Yo, I got this.” Now that I’m less emotional about the whole thing, I’ll probably even go back and listen to Make Believe again and keep my eyes peeled for “Red” and Raditude at flea markets, garage sales and used places.

2 thoughts on “Music Mondays: My Weezer Fandom

  1. I’ve always been a fan of Weezer ever since I “borrowed” my brother’s copy of the Blue Album back in ’94. I do think that Make Believe is their weakest album, but it’s still a solid record. I just love that the whole band doesn’t really care (especially Cuomo) about what their fans think or the critics. They just want to make pop songs. I remember reading somewhere that Cuomo wants to be like Kiss – just consistently bang out album after album. And so far, they’re doing just that.

    Weezer is a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously and it seems like their fans do, which is funny. I think you should at least give a listen to the Red Album (the whole band contributes in writing and singing!) and Raditude (it’s 40 minutes of pop rock that’s unabashedly juvenile).

    1. I can’t agree with you on Make Believe right now. I’ve never been more turned off by a record. I think what bugged me the most is that I had heard these amazing pop songs that were also emotional and felt real on Pinkerton and then Rivers bitched out because he was afraid of failure and went in the complete opposite direction. I actually like poppy music much more now than I did then, so the album probably won’t bother me as much now. But I was disappointed back then. It felt like a relationship with diminishing returns.

      Also, I can understand not wanting to bow down to your fans, especially the crazier ones (and the dudes on the Weezer message boards back around 2000/2001 were DIE HARDS), but to call all your fans assholes is a dick move no matter what. You know who loves their fans? KISS!

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