Rivers Cuomo speaks to NME ahead of release of 11th record
The band’s 11th LP ‘Pacific Daydream’ will be released later this month on October 27. It follows on from last year’s ‘The White Album’ and is described by Cuomo as the group’s “biggest departure” from their signature sound. It comes ahead of planned follow-up, ‘The Black Album’, which the singer has teased as being “darker, more experimental and wildly negative”.
Weezer are currently on tour in the UK, playing Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London this week following their gig in Leeds last night (October 23). The band have promised to play “more uptempo numbers” after spending weeks working on the setlist.
Read NME‘s full interview with Rivers Cuomo below:
How would you describe the new record?
“‘Pacific Daydream’ is the biggest departure we’ve made from our ‘90s Beach Boys grunge sound. We really went for some different things. On guitar, we were really influenced by a lot of British bands like The Cure and The Clash. Instead of stepping on the distortion pedal in the chorus, we’re stepping on the reverb pedal. We listened to a lot of Phil Spector and ‘Pet Sounds’ to give it more of an orchestrated approach. It’s long been a goal of mine to break away from distortion, but I’m delighted that we’ve finally achieved it. At the same time, it still sounds like a sing-along, beach bar party album, mixed with sadness and alienation.”
Lyrically, the album seems quite sentimental and nostalgic. What has inspired that?
“I think it’s just who I am. To me, that’s just what being an artist is about, but other people think it’s unusual. I can’t imagine being fulfilled as a writer if I wasn’t expressing my pain – even if it’s through a three minute pop song.”
The album spans many genres, like R&B, straight up pop, dance music, EDM-ish stuff. What modern artists have you been listening to?
“At the core of whatever we do, there’s me being weird as usual, then you’ve got the band. We’re able to stick some more stuff on top of that and bring in some elements from different genres and contemporary styles. I listen mostly to modern music. If I’m just hanging out listening to music, I’m listening to Spotify and curated playlists – someone like Post Malone.”
Would you like to work with Post Malone?
“I’d love to work with him. In fact, I think we are fans of each other’s music. He invited me over to his house and studio on the East Side of LA to play me some of his new stuff. He’s just a great presence to be around. He’s so positive and beaming with creativity. He’s in a great zone right now. We were just hanging out and listening to the music, but I’d absolutely be open to working together.”
How did you come to work with Vic Mensa on his recent album?
“That was bizarre. He sampled the breakdown guitar solo from ‘The Good Life’, which is a pretty obscure song from a pretty obscure Weezer album from 1996. It was never on the radio. I went to the studio to put some finishing vocals on his track and said ‘how in the world did you come to sample this weird 30 seconds of Weezer to rap over?’ It’s like the least likely 16 bars – especially with him having grown up on hip-hop, and he said ‘what are you talking about? I grew up on rock music. I’m a fan of Nirvana, Green Day and Weezer’. It was surprising but it was total musical prejudice on my part. You never know what people are into.”
How do you feel when you meet an artist that has been inspired by your band?
“Most of the time, it’s not that big of a surprise. I kinda get the sense that while Weezer were a commercial and critical success, with had this other success as musicians where a lot of young people around the time that they’re becoming musicians themselves, they’re into Weezer. They get into a band, start playing Weezer cover songs and then they evolve beyond that and start doing something that seems pretty different. But when they were starting out, they were into Weezer.”
“I watched the whole first season of that show. It reminded me of my childhood and my circle of friends. It was very similar to what my world was like in the ‘80s. I didn’t see his cover though. I gotta see that, I’m sure he did a better job being me than I do.”
Before you started working on this album, you were working on ‘The Black Album’. Will you go back to that next?
“Yeah, when our tour ended last summer with Panic! At The Disco, I came straight home and started work on ‘The Black Album’. I was writing songs each day and would put MP3s in a Dropbox folder called ‘The Black Album’. One day I wrote a song that was really good but didn’t fit in that folder because it was a different style, so I put it in another folder called ‘Pacific Daydream’. Over the month, I realised that the ‘Pacific Daydream’ folder filled up first. It was very strong and a very unified statement. It wasn’t planned, but that’s how it turned out this time. ‘The Black Album’ still exists, and that could come out next.”
What will it sound like?
“‘The Black Album’ is darker. It’s more experimental and wildly negative. It’s experimenting with more modern electronic elements. It has one foot in the future and one foot in the past. The foot in the past would be like The Jesus & Mary Chain.”
You’re touring with Foo Fighters soon. How did that come about?
“We’re friends and rivals. Friendly bitter rivals. I don’t think they think of us as rivals because they’re 10 times bigger than us, but that’s how I feel because we came up at the same time and they put their pedal to the metal, became gigantic, and now we’re opening for them on their stadium tour. It’s all good, because they’re obviously amazing and we love the music. We were about to sign off on our own New Zealand and Australia tour, and they gave us a call and were like ‘do you wanna come with us?’ We were like ‘damn, stadiums? Where do I sign? Let’s do this’.”
You’re also touring the UK. What can we expect from those shows?
“I spent the last couple of weeks working on the setlist so I know exactly what we’re going to play. It’s going to be a longer set, and by the time we get to England it’ll be about 85 minutes, a couple of covers, about four songs from ‘Pacific Daydream’ – definitely ‘Feels Like Summer’, ‘Happy Hour’, ‘Weekend Woman’ and ‘Mexican Fender’. Everything else will be from across our history. Probably the more uptempo numbers.”
There are several references to Mexico on the new record. What are your thoughts of Trump and the current state of US politics?
“That wasn’t intentional… I don’t know much about politics, I don’t follow it. I could be totally wrong, but he seems like not a very smart guy and not a very nice person. I did not vote for him and it’s mind-boggling that he’s our President.”
Weezer play the following UK live dates:
24th October – Glasgow, O2 Academy
25th October – Manchester, O2 Apollo
27th October – Birmingham, O2 Academy
28th October – London, SSE Arena, Wembley