Nerding out with Weezer: “We’re wolves now!”
Weezer talk Game Of Thrones, nostalgia, Game Of Thrones, bogans, cruises and Game Of Thrones with SARAH SMITH.
There should be something strange about 40-something-year-old men – mostly married with kids – touring an album whose subject matter deals almost exclusively with adolescent angst, unrequited love and all those “growing pain” subjects that made Weezer’s “Blue Album” a staple of every teenager’s record collection in 1994. But within moments of meeting bassist Scott Shriner and drummer Patrick Wilson it’s clear that, while their knitted v-necks may stretch over a little more paunch these days, Weezer haven’t really grown up. Their last two albums are a fairly good indication of this – from Raditude’s artwork to, well, the fact they called an album Raditude in the first place. It seems Weezer are ageing in reverse. Heck, any of the tracks on Pinkerton (1996) seem positively cerebral compared to ‘Where’s My Sex’ from 2010’s Hurley.
But, it’s this goofy teenage-ness that made so many skinny, sexless white boys (and girls) engage with their songs in the ‘90s, and allows fans to keep celebrating their songs today. While this lack of pretension (and perhaps foresight) has lead to songs like ‘I’m Your Daddy’ (“You are my baby tonight And I’m your daddy”), it has also brought to light some really cool stuff, like, the Weezer cruise, and even the very tour the band is on right now playing the “Blue Album” and Pinkerton in full. How often do you see a band – still recording new music – embrace their back catalogue with such fervour?
And yet it’s fairly evident from the moment I arrive at a Melbourne hotel to interview Pat and Scott that they really don’t want to spend their morning talking to press. They don’t really want to talk about how long it took them to get to Australia (16 years), new music, old music, or anything “grown up” for that matter. They just want to “bro out” and discuss Games of Thrones, bogans, my iPhone recorder, Game of Thrones, pirates and Game Of Thrones. And frankly, I wouldn’t expect anything less.
You are finally here, how was the Brisbane show?
Patrick Wilson: It was warm. Not a dry eye in the house.
That’s always a good thing. I won’t go on about it, however were you aware that over the last 16 years there have been huge campaigns to get you to Australia?
PW: Not really.
So www.weezerhatesaustralia.com failed?
Scott Shriner: There was a few very loud people that would get the message across quite well. Literally on Facebook I had a couple of guys get really hostile about it. They were like “F U. You guys are never coming back here anyways. They’re never trying. Shriner – it’s your fault!”
It surprises me that Weezer fans can be that aggressive, I always imagine them a little bit more placid.
PW: It’s an interesting business model really, it’s like, you know, it’s hate fuelled.
Yes, but it eventually worked.
PW: I think we’re friends now, now we’re all good friends.
SS: But it worked. So they’re taking us out to dinner tonight I think [laughs].
You’re here touring the Blue Album and Pinkerton. And often when bands are doing “classic album tours” they aren’t recording new material, however, Weezer still is. Why have you chosen to revisit your old albums and not just play your new stuff?
PW: Oh, we’re playing some new stuff live.
SS: It’s a fun trend that I think a lot of bands are doing, where if they’ve been around long enough, there’s a large amount of people who grew up with a record or two … or whatever … and it’s just fun to get to play songs that you don’t normally get to I think.
Would you be as satisfied touring your new albums or do you get more satisfaction out of playing old material?
SS: That’s an interesting question.
PW: I don’t think so. As long as the music’s good, I don’t really care. I don’t get sick of playing the old songs. I think people are surprised by that. But it feels good.
Definitely, I think a lot of bands avoid playing their old stuff.
SS: Like R.E.M.! At one point didn’t they say, “We’re not playing anything earlier than Green”. Like, why would you do that?
Sure. Radiohead, have also drawn that line in the sand fairly clearly.
PW: I don’t feel like that. It’s weird. I think ‘cause I grew up with records, maybe.
SS: I’d rather go see a band play for three hours, and cover all their material, to tell you the truth.
Do you think that your fans identify more with your earlier stuff?
SS: It depends on what group of fans. There’s people who are like Green Album-era fanatics.
PW: Or Make Believe people.
SS: There’s Make Believe people all the time. There’s a few Maladroit flag wavers, and some Red Album, you know. There’s different pockets, different groups.
Is there an album that you guys identify the most with, personally?
PW: Probably the Red Album.
SS: Yeah, same.
PW: Yeah, I felt really involved in that one, and it just sounds good to me.
Is it because you were more involved in the writing process?
PW: Not really. It’s just that we were all thinking you know “together” a lot in the same room – a lot of debating.
How was that different to recording say the “Blue Album” then?
PW: Well, I mean, I was like a child then. I still am a child, but I’m aware of it at least [laughs]. Blue Album was an eye-opener, making it, because [producer] Ric Ocasek was kind of chaperoning the whole process. It was mind-blowing really. And it didn’t take that long, I think start to finish it was 60 days, maybe even a little less. That’s with, like, recording and mixing and [then] done.
Yeah that’s crazy. When you were doing it, did you think you were doing something that would be kind of held up as this great ‘90s guitar album?
PW: We thought we were pretty good [laughs]. But we were worried, you know. Like you get worried that you get this one chance, and then who knows? And you can’t hear it anymore because you’ve heard it so many times, and then you just have to step away. And then six months later the record label finally puts it out. I remember at the time saying to my wife, “Our record comes out today!” And she was like, “Well, it might not be in the record store. It might not be there.” And we went to the mall and it was there and I was like, “Aww cool!”
I wanted to ask you a little bit about the Weezer cruise. Was it as fun as you thought it’d be?
SS: It was may more fun!
PW: Way more fun! I thought it was going to be horrific.
What made it way more fun?
PW: The sea was calm.
That always helps.
PW: The fans were cool, the shows were good and it was only three days [laughs].
SS: There was a lot of good will. I’ve never been that far out at sea, and there was just something so calming and serene about seeing nothing but water all around. And then every time I’d leave my cabin to go do something, I’d meet like 15 super excited people that wanted to hug me.
I had a friend who recently went as a reporter on the KISS cruise. Was your cruise inspired by them?
SS: Well I mean, I guess it’s kinda like doing these album tribute tours. We heard that other bands had kind of started to do it, and it’s just a great opportunity to get fans from all over the world to meet in one place. So it built like this community, so now there’s like this kind of a society of shipmates.
PW: It’s a nautical society.
SS: And I had no idea, like I considered going on a cruise for a band that I’m just not gonna, say the name of.
PW: It was Meshuggah, yeah?
SS: It was the Yes Close to the Edge cruise.
SS: I love Yes!
PW: [To Scott] Was [original drummer] Bill Bruford playing?
SS: [To Patrick] I don’t think it is Bill Bruford, man. It would be unbelievable if it was. I think it is Alan White. But anyways, I had a blast.
With the KISS cruise, the KISS guys were kind of hidden away in this other area, and Gene was flown in and out so they didn’t have to see fans. But by all reports, you were just hanging out with all the fans on the ship?
SS: Oh, we had our wing! We had our little wing, which basically meant we could visit each other, but if you wanted to get a coffee or go see something you were just gonna be out on the boat.
Did you ever have any confronting fan moments?
PW: No, everyone was really nice.
SS: Everyone was real relaxed. Super respectful, really polite. Nobody following us around. People would come up and say “hey.” It was just like going to your high school reunion. Except I never went to any of those. But that’s what I imagine it would be like.
How did you choose the lineup for the cruise? I don’t think Lou Barlow and think “cruise”?
PW: See I do! See I think like … pirates!
SS: I would never think Scott Shriner on a cruise, but I totally got down with my Greyjoy side and just had a blast.
PW: [Laughs] Do you know what Greyjoy is? It’s Game of Thrones.
You’ve just made the nerdiest joke that I’ve had in an interview for some time. I may have my headline
PW: Weezer: Backing The Greyjoys!
SS: I like the Greyjoys.
PW: I’m a Stark man … It’s the Starks, they’re just honest. But they’re dumb at the same time. That’s me!
SS: I know but it’s … the drowned God? And all that. I don’t wanna be drowned.
PW: Scott the Thrice Drowned! Thrice Drowned!
SS: That’s my name! Scott the Thrice Drowned says come on the next cruise. We’ll drown each other.
PW: That’s right. And Patrick Stark says: “Winter is coming.”
SS: Listen to Thrice Drowned. You’re three times the man you were, now that you’ve been drowned.
PW: We’re wolves now!
I think that maybe you have to make the next Weezer cruise Game Of Thrones themed.
SS: How cool would that be – we could combine the two things together!
PW: Game of Bros! [Laughs]
SS: Throne of Hos. [More laughter] … There were no hos on the cruise, to tell you the truth.
I can imagine it was more of a bros thing.
SS: There were a lot of bros. No hos.
On that note….
SS: Speaking of hos … [laughs]
BW: Speaking of bogans! That’s what I want to know about. Bogans? Do you have bogans here?
Yes. Do you know what that term means?
SS: We have bros.
Oh, a bogan’s not a bro. A bogan’s more like trailer trash but we also kind of respect them.
PW: In England they have chavs.
Yeah, really similar to a chav.
PW: We just have white trash.
Yeah, but white trash I feel is kind of harsh. Being a bogan is just a little bit cool in Australia.
Less racist, and they like moccasins.
SS: They wear moccasins? To do what?
Just in day-to-day life, like Ugg boots.
And mullets are “a thing” with bogans…
SS: I had a really bad mullet a couple of years ago, but I had no rad Ugg boots.
Yeah it’s an Australian thing.
PW: I saw a dude wearing Ugg boots at a little league game. I was like: “What are you doing?”
PW: He’s a closet bogan.
Or not so closet. Anyway, bros, I wanna ask you about…
SS: [Laughter] Bro!
Bro! So on the cruise you had a lot of young Californian bands, which is cool as Weezer have always been such a definitive Californian band….
PW: It blows my mind, by the way.
PW: As someone that grew up in Buffalo, New York. I’m in this very Southern Californian band!
You live in California now don’t you?
PW: Oh yeah, thank Jesus.
Do you think there’s a particular sound coming out of California, or any bands that you are really into…?
PW: Yeah, it’s me going “arrrrrrrrr” stop!
[Laughs] Time to go back to Buffalo, then.
SS: It’s cool to be a part of the Southern California sound, it’s pretty rad. I mean since I was a little kid I wanted to move to Los Angeles. And I guess it was like the Fishbone/Chili Peppers 1988 kinda era – I saw them in Michigan. I said, “Is that what’s going on in California?” What am I doing here?
PW: You went out and bought a pair of jeans.
SS: So I went there.
And Grew your hair.
The publicist indicates that time is up and we have one more question
Cool, well I’ve got lots on Game of Thrones, so that’s fine.
PW: We could talk about The Wire?
Yes, talk about The Wire. Bro-chat. That can be my last question.
PW: I just finished season five. Very exciting.
OK, no. That’s not my last question – one more.
Talk to me about the new material you are writing – the new recording…
PW: We’re making a recording right now [Points at iphone].
Ok if I can’t get you to talk about it why don’t you sing me some of your new music? [Both launch into song]
Ok we’re done.
SS: Good job! [High fives]
Weezer tour dates:
Thursday, January 17 – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne (_Pinkerton_)
Saturday, January 19 – Entertainment Centre, Sydney (“Blue Album”)
Wednesday, January 23 – Perth Arena, Perth (“Blue Album”)