Weezer interview - UK music festival dates for US alt-rock band
US pop hook machine tour setlist includes best of first two albums
Masters of the melodic summer anthem, Weezer aren’t short of big tunes to bring to T in the Park. And don’t panic, they’re playing the hits!
In the roster of songs custom-made for belting out in the midst of a giddy summer festival haze, Weezer have surely snatched a few of the top spots in their two decades as a band. Escapist grooves like ‘Island in the Sun’ and ‘Holiday’ complement outsider anthems like ‘My Name is Jonas’ and ‘Buddy Holly’ – and for those headed to T in the Park who haven’t dared to hope that they’ll knock out the classics, which, let’s face it, are mostly over ten years old now, there’s good news in store.
For whatever bizarre whimsies frontman Rivers Cuomo – still cutting a boyishly nerdy figure at 40 – may have indulged in recently, Weezer still know what they do best: bouncy alt.rock hooks and choruses that just sound right. Crucially, Cuomo’s infectious vigour never completely overwhelms the minor-key misfit slant that’s caused so many teenagers to take Cuomo and the band to heart since 1994’s debut The Blue Album (officially just called Weezer, fact fans).
Drummer and occasional guitarist Pat Wilson has been there since the start, and exudes that kind of genial, adaptable Nice-Rock-Guy aura that until now we thought Dave Grohl had the copyright on. When we speak, he’s happy to confirm that this summer’s festival dates will to a large extent be a continuation of last autumn’s Pinkerton/Blue Album tour of the US, adding that ‘you can’t argue with people’s nostalgia, and we enjoy it.’
If last year’s triumphant appearances at Reading and Leeds are anything to go by, Weezer certainly know how to entertain the masses, with sets then including covers of MGMT, Wheatus and even a snippet of Gaga. In fact, Wilson lets slip exclusive details of a rather exciting collaboration: ‘Who’s on the bill again? Beyoncé? Yeah, we’ll probably collaborate with her I reckon. What song? Oh, I reckon a third party’s song, maybe something by Jane’s Addiction.’ You heard it here first.
But for all his playful deadpanning, Wilson seems deadly serious about one thing: ‘I’m just a huge believer in the rock. Like, actual, unironic, authentic rock music. When I see a band that really rips, I think it’s glorious and that’s where I think we should be focusing.’ There’s definitely a sense of relief in the voice of Cuomo’s long-suffering pal when he remarks that lately they’ve been heading away from the more ‘experimental’ efforts of the late noughties (bizarre Lil Wayne collab ‘Can’t Stop Partying’, anyone?) to new songs which, according to a recent interview with the frontman ‘sound like you’re 16, riding your bicycle to get a Slurpee.’
For a band with such a line in straight-up power pop melodies, Weezer are surprisingly inscrutable: their most recent oddity was a video that surfaced online and without explanation of the band in the studio, playing a note-perfect cover of Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’; meanwhile ‘Can’t Stop Partying’ was a case in point for anyone who fancied arguing they were, variously, pioneering musical innovators, embarrassing middle-aged men who hadn’t realised they were no longer 20 or cool, or witty masters of arch cultural comment.
But they continue to get away with it, and for all Rivers Cuomo’s wacky eccentricities and tangential creative splurges, he’s backed up by level-headed bandmates who just like to rock. And drink good beer. ‘Maybe that’s why we’re so chill,’ ponders Wilson, ‘we don’t do cocaine and I enjoy a fine IPA.’ Whatever you think of their recent work, treading that line between ironic deadpan and genuine dorkiness has been Weezer’s seemingly very enjoyable trade for almost 20 years. That and those ever-present, irresistible hooks. And who can argue with those?