Weezer: Ol' man Rivers just keeps rolling along

Chris Riemenschneider
Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

The past year in Weezerdom has been absolutely bipolar.

One minute the band is performing on David Letterman's show wearing its Weezer-brand Snuggie blanket thingies (a wonderfully ridiculous sight). The next it's getting in a bus accident that sidelined frontman Rivers Cuomo for two months and left him with lingering injuries (quite serious).

One minute Cuomo is writing a song with R&B hitmaker Jermaine Dupri featuring Lil' Wayne on guest vocals and lyrics about savoring Patron tequila (even more ridiculous than it sounds). The next he is releasing a track intended to be the U.S. soccer team's World Cup battle hymn (as serious as any diehard soccer fan would make it).

"There are many different sides to the band, and one of those sides is just silly and fun, and at other times it can get pretty serious," bassist Scott Shriner said by phone from Weezer's home turf of Los Angeles.

"I know from experience that things are constantly changing and evolving with Weezer. If things aren't going particularly the way I'd like it to at some point, it's bound to change soon."

Shriner offered up that lesson to critics and longtime Weezer fans, who responded with a "ha!" and a "huh?" to the band's seventh album, "Raditude," which came out in October.

Songs like the Cheap Trick-y first single "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" and the current radio track "Tripping Down the Freeway" hark back to the tongue-in-cheek fun on the band's 1994 debut album, the one with the hits "Buddy Holly" and "Undone (The Sweater Song)." However, the Dupri/Wayne collaboration "Can't Stop Partying" came out of left field and left much to be desired, as did the Indian-music-flavored update of a song Sugar Ray previously recorded, "Love Is the Answer."

When asked for insight into the thinking behind these oddball recordings — or for why the ever-elusive Cuomo reverted to juvenile, horny-teen subject matter on "Raditude" — Shriner resorted to the answer that most riles music writers who ask for interviews with the singer/writer of a band but get stuck with the bassist: "You'd have to ask Rivers," he said several times.

Speaking more generally of "Raditude," though, he offered this: "Most of our records have gotten that kind of mixed reaction. We're always going for something different. It's impossible to please all the different kind of subgroups of our fans all at the same time, so we just stick with what we're most excited about at the time, and hope that people get their heads around it."

Fans clamored to get their hands on the Weezer Snuggies, which were sold with copies of the new album.

"I think we sold them all," Shriner said. "It certainly was not a horrible business move, plus it was fun. That's us having fun and not taking this too seriously."

The bassist also did not hesitate to talk about the all-Cuomo track "Represent," which was issued at the start of the World Cup — and was made just a few days prior to that. Thankfully, the U.S. team lasted longer than the making of the song.

"It was a really great run while it lasted, and I'm proud to be a part of it," Shriner said. "Rivers has been passionate about U.S. soccer since he was young, and he wanted to participate. It's something he felt very strongly about, and even though it was last-minute it turned out great."





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