Interview Weezer

If we were big enough fans of hyperbole, then we’d make some predictably excited statement about Weezer being ‘back’.

If we were big enough fans of hyperbole to wear their t-shirt, have their poster on the wall and queue for hours outside a box office to buy tickets for their next gig, then we’d make some predictably excited statement about Weezer being ‘back’. Repeatedly, and with varying numbers of exclamation marks following each time.

16th June sees the release of the Los Angeles quartet’s latest opus, ‘Weezer’ (also known as ‘The Red Album’ - it’s red), and it’s a mixture of familiar themes and guitar sounds, and a whole load of ‘wtf’: ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations On A Shaker Hymn)’ is more baffling than Rivers and co have ever been, for example.

DIY was lucky enough to grab some time with guitarist Brian Bell to talk about the new record.

So what have you all been up to since the last record?
Well I can really only speak for myself, but we don’t do ‘Weezer’ things. I do other musical endeavours. What I’ve been working on is this band called The Relationship. I was working on a record and then all of a sudden out of the blue comes a demo in the mail from Rivers called the Livingston Hand, and a booklet with it, you know the Moonies? It looked like some sort of strange religious cult pamphlet. It had illustrations and pictures depicting the songs titles and the lyrics in different fonts, a table of contents in alphabetical order, and I just stopped what I was doing and put it on immediately. One of the first tracks I remember was ‘Heart Songs’, so powerful it was really exciting as a track, there was a lot of diversity on it and I don’t know exactly when that started but that was really the beginning.

Your new album sees you sharing a lot of different duties, was it a conscious decision to do that?
Yeah it was planned. We talked about it ahead of time, what were our goals and what we wanted to accomplish. One of my personal goals was getting one of my songs recorded and put on a Weezer album, keeping things fresh. I like changing it up so there were a lot of changes. Everybody’s there for an alloted amount of time, no longer, and there was a lot of voting, like do you like this version better than this version, this chord change better or that chord change. We all have different opinions and you put your opinions into the panel and see what happens.

There are different styles on the record, is that a part of all chipping in and decided what you wanted to do?
I think so. I think we all had our different things. That’s how the album cover and the title worked. We called it our ‘alter ego picture’. There were many photos taken that day, most were thrown away, and we said you know what grab whatever you see in the wardrobe room and put it on.

What did you think of the rumours going around that the cover wasn’t real?
I’m not sure that it is real yet, that’s how I approach the music business anyway. There are so many things that are talked about, you know, ideas that maybe will come to fruition. It seems to be that they’re going to release the album and I know that we had many different titles. We all had different titles but in the end we thought that they kind of belittled what the album was for. But the image is the four of us and the colour red.

Why did you settle on red?
Ever since ‘The Blue Album’ we had an idea of just having different colours. We’ve used up all our primary colours so… I don’t know why, it’s just the colour that stands out I think. I told my barber, he said ‘what’s the name of your album’ and I said ‘it’s The Red Album’ and he said ‘oh I can remember that’. It’s a colour and you don’t even have to write it down.

‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived’ is insane, in a good way…
It was based on a competition taking place. It was a variation on a Shaker Hymn but I think Rivers said when he was writing it he didn’t know and later said, ‘oh that’s a Shaker Hymn’. It’s so close to it that we had to give it credit.

Did you learn a lot through working on the album?
Well you always learn a lot with every endeavour but there were many things that I wanted on the record that didn’t make it, some did, you learn how to collaborate and let go.

People are saying that the new album is a return to form, what do you think about that?
I have no emotional reaction to that at all. People have their opinions I just say I’m not sure it’s good or bad, it’s like we kinda got back to what we do best and in the same way we expanded what we do.

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