Weezer is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1992, currently consisting of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), and Scott Shriner (bass guitar, backing vocals). Weezer has sold 9.2 million albums in the US and over 17 million worldwide.
After signing to Geffen Records in 1993, the band released its debut self-titled album, also known as the Blue Album, in 1994. Backed by successful music videos for the singles "Buddy Holly", "Undone – The Sweater Song" and "Say It Ain't So", the Blue Album became a triple-platinum success. Weezer's second album, Pinkerton (1996), featuring a darker, more abrasive sound, was a commercial failure and initially received mixed reviews, but went on to achieve cult status and critical acclaim years later. Both the Blue Album and Pinkerton are now frequently cited among the best albums of the 1990s. Following the tour for Pinkerton, bassist Matt Sharp left the band and Weezer went on hiatus.
In 2001, Weezer returned with another self-titled album, also known as the Green Album, with new bassist Mikey Welsh. With a more pop sound, and promoted by singles "Hash Pipe" and "Island in the Sun", the album was a commercial success and received mostly positive reviews. After the album's release, Welsh left the band and was replaced by current bassist Scott Shriner. Weezer's fourth album, Maladroit, was released in May 2002 to mostly positive reviews, but did not match the sales of The Green Album.
Weezer's fifth album, Make Believe, was released in May 2005; despite mixed reviews, its single "Beverly Hills" became Weezer's first single to top the US Modern Rock Tracks chart and the first to reach the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100. In June 2008, Weezer's third self-titled album, also known as the Red Album, featuring "TR-808s, synths, Southern rap, and baroque counterpoint", was released to mixed reviews. Its lead single, "Pork and Beans", became the band's third song to top the Modern Rock Tracks chart, backed by a successful YouTube music video.
Weezer's seventh album Raditude (2009) and eighth album Hurley (2010), featuring more "modern pop production" and songs co-written with other artists, achieved further mixed reviews and moderate sales. The band's ninth and tenth albums, Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014) and the self-titled album also known as the White Album (2016), returned to a rock style and achieved more positive reviews.
Formation and the Blue Album (1992–1994)
Vocalist and lead guitarist Rivers Cuomo, drummer Patrick Wilson, bassist Matt Sharp and guitarist Jason Cropper formed Weezer in 1992. The band had its first practice on February 14 of that year; their first gig was opening for Keanu Reeves' band Dogstar shortly after. Weezer signed with Geffen Records on June 25, 1993 and the group recorded its debut album with producer Ric Ocasek at Electric Lady Studios in New York City. During the recording, Cropper left the band and was replaced by guitarist Brian Bell.
Weezer (also referred to as The Blue Album) was released in May 1994. Geffen originally did not wish to release a single, to see what sales could be generated by word-of-mouth alone. DJ Marco Collins of the Seattle radio station The End started playing "Undone – The Sweater Song", leading Geffen to release it as the first single. The music video was directed by Spike Jonze. Filmed in an unbroken take, it featured Weezer performing on a sound stage with little action, bar a pack of dogs swarming the set. The video became an instant hit on MTV.
Jonze also directed the band's second video, "Buddy Holly", splicing footage from the 1970s television sitcom Happy Days with Weezer performing in a remade "Arnold's Drive-In." The video achieved heavy rotation on MTV and went on to win four MTV Video Music Awards, including Breakthrough Video and Best Alternative Music Video, and two Billboard Music Video Awards. The video was also featured on the companion CD for the Microsoft Windows 95 computer operating system. A third single, "Say It Ain't So", followed. Weezer is certified triple platinum in the United States, making it Weezer's best-selling album. It is certified double platinum in Canada.
In 1994, Weezer took a break from touring for the Christmas holidays. Cuomo traveled to his home state of Connecticut and began recording demos for Weezer's next album. His original concept was a space-themed rock opera titled Songs from the Black Hole that would express his mixed feelings about success. Weezer developed the concept through intermittent recording sessions through 1995. At the end of the year, Cuomo began studying at Harvard University, where his songwriting became "darker, more visceral and exposed, less playful", and the Songs from the Black Hole album was abandoned.
Weezer's second album, Pinkerton, was released on September 24, 1996. It produced three singles: "El Scorcho", "The Good Life", and "Pink Triangle". Pinkerton sold poorly compared to The Blue Album, perhaps due to its darker, more abrasive sound, and it was voted "one of the worst albums of 1996" in a Rolling Stone reader poll. However, the album eventually came to be considered among Weezer's best work; in 2002, Rolling Stone readers voted Pinkerton the 16th greatest album of all time, and it has been listed in several critics' "best albums of all time" lists.
Hiatus and Sharp's departure (1997–1999)
Weezer completed the Pinkerton tour in mid-1997 and went on hiatus. Wilson returned to his home in Portland, Oregon to work on his side project, the Special Goodness, and Bell worked on his band Space Twins. Sharp left Weezer to complete the follow-up album for his group the Rentals.
Cuomo returned to Harvard, but took a break to focus on songwriting. He gathered Boston-area musicians and rehearsed new material, including possible songs for the next Weezer album. The group had several different line-ups and played several shows at local clubs, including the band's first show at T.T. the Bear's on October 8, 1997. Future Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh was a constant of the group's evolving lineups. Wilson eventually flew to Boston to sit in on drums. The Boston songs were abandoned, but live recordings of the Boston shows are traded on the internet.
In February 1998, Cuomo, Bell and Wilson reunited in Los Angeles to start work on the next Weezer album. Rumors suggest Sharp did not rejoin the band and left the group in April 1998, which Sharp denies. The group hired Welsh as its new bassist.
Weezer continued rehearsing and cut demos until the fall of 1998. Frustration and creative disagreements led to a decline in rehearsals, and in late 1998, Wilson left for his home in Portland pending renewed productivity from Cuomo. In November 1998, the band played two club shows with a substitute drummer in California under the name Goat Punishment, consisting entirely of covers of Nirvana and Oasis songs. In the months following, Cuomo entered a period of depression, painting the walls of his home black and putting fiberglass insulation over his windows to prevent light entering.
Comeback and the Green Album (2000–2001)
Weezer did not reunite until April 2000, when the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan offered Weezer a lucrative offer to play in August 2000. The festival served as a catalyst for Weezer's productivity, and from April to May 2000, the band rehearsed and demoed new songs in Los Angeles. They returned to live shows in June 2000, playing small unpromoted concerts under the name Goat Punishment. In June 2000, the band joined the American Warped Tour for nine dates.
In the summer of 2000, Weezer went on tour (including dates on the popular Vans Warped Tour). The band's setlist consisted of 14 new songs; when 13 of these songs did not appear on Weezer's next album, fans of the songs started a petition demanding the release of studio versions. Eventually, the band went back into the studio to produce a third album. The band chose the title Weezer (2001) to repeat the self-titled name of the band's first release. This album became known as the Green Album due to its green album artwork. Shortly after the release, Weezer went on another American tour. The band attracted a new generation of fans thanks to heavy MTV rotation for the videos of the band's hit singles "Hash Pipe" and "Island in the Sun".
As reported on August 16, 2001, by MTV, Welsh was checked into a psychiatric hospital. His whereabouts were previously unknown, as he went missing before the filming of the second video for "Island in the Sun". Weezer was prompted to find a temporary replacement for Welsh. Through a mutual friend, Cuomo received Scott Shriner's number and asked if he was interested in filling in for Welsh. Shriner accepted the invitation.
The band took an experimental approach for the recording process of its fourth album by allowing fans to download demos from its official website in return for feedback. After the release of the album, the band said that this process was something of a failure, as the fans did not supply the group with coherent, constructive advice. Cuomo eventually delegated song selection for the album to the band's original A&R rep, Todd Sullivan, saying that Weezer fans chose the "wackest songs." Only the song "Slob" was included on the album due to general fan advice.
The recording was also done without input from Weezer's record label, Interscope. Cuomo had what he then described as a "massive falling out" with the label. In early 2002, well before the official release of the album, the label sent out a letter to radio stations requesting the song be pulled until an official, sanctioned single was released. Interscope also briefly shut down Weezer's audio/video download webpage, removing all the MP3 demos. Online Weezer fans staged a brief protest, with several websites proclaiming "Free Maladroit".
In April 2002, former bassist Matt Sharp sued the band, alleging, among several accusations, that he was owed money for cowriting several Weezer songs. The suit was later settled out of court.
The fourth album, Maladroit, was released on May 14, 2002, only one year after its predecessor. The album served as a harder-edged version of the band's trademark catchy pop-influenced music, and was replete with busy 1980s-style guitar solos. Although met with generally positive critical reviews, its sales were not as strong as those for "The Green Album". Two singles were released from the album. The music video for "Dope Nose" featured an obscure Japanese motorcycle gang, and was put into regular rotation. The music video for "Keep Fishin'" combined Weezer with The Muppets, and had heavy rotation on MTV. Both videos were directed by Marcos Siega.
Weezer released its much-delayed first DVD on March 23, 2004. The Video Capture Device DVD chronicles the band from its beginnings through Maladroit's Enlightenment Tour. Compiled by Karl Koch, the DVD features home video footage, music videos, commercials, rehearsals, concert performances, television performances, and band commentary. The DVD was certified "gold" on November 8, 2004.
Make Believe (2003–2006)
From December 2003 to the fall of 2004, the members of Weezer recorded a large amount of material intended for a new album to be released in the spring of 2005 with producer Rick Rubin. The band's early recording efforts became available to the public through the band's website. The demos were a big hit, but none of the songs recorded at this time were included on the finished album. That album, titled Make Believe, was released on May 10, 2005. Despite commercial success, Make Believe got a mixed reception from critics, receiving an average score of 52 on review collator Metacritic. Although some reviews, such as AMG's, compared it favorably to Pinkerton, others, among them Pitchfork's score of 0.4 out of 10, panned the album as predictable and lyrically poor.
The album's first single, "Beverly Hills", became a hit in the U.S. and worldwide, staying on the charts for several months after its release. It became the first Weezer song to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. "Beverly Hills" was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards, the first ever Grammy nomination for the band. The video was also nominated for Best Rock Video at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards. The second single off Make Believe was "We Are All on Drugs". MTV refused to play the song, so Weezer re-recorded the lyrics by replacing "on drugs" with "in love" and renaming the song "We Are All in Love". In early 2006, it was announced that Make Believe was certified platinum, and "Beverly Hills" was the second most popular song download on iTunes for 2005, finishing just behind "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani. Make Believe's third single, "Perfect Situation", spent four weeks in a row at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. "This Is Such a Pity" was the band's fourth single from the album, but no music video was made for its release. The Make Believe tour also found the band using additional instruments onstage, adding piano, synthesizers, pseudophones, and guitarist Bobby Schneck.
The band has announced the possible release of a live DVD composed of footage from the 2005 Japan tour. It will consist of a two-day, seven-camera shoot of the shows in Japan, plus material that will be drawn from various behind-the-scenes footage. The DVD was announced in late 2005, but in a 2006 update on the band's Web site, Karl Koch noted it was "apparently edited, but has been put on hold for now."
Red Album (2007–2008)
Weezer (also referred to as the Red Album) was released in June 2008. Rick Rubin produced the album and Rich Costey mixed it. The record was described as "experimental", and according to Cuomo, included longer and non-traditional songs, TR-808 drum machines, synthesizers, Southern rap, baroque counterpoint, and band members other than Cuomo writing, singing, and switching instruments. Pat Wilson said the album cost about a million dollars to make, contrasting it with the $150,000 budget of "The Blue Album". The album's singles were produced by Jacknife Lee. Its lead single, "Pork and Beans", topped the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts for 11 weeks, and its music video won a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video. The second single, "Troublemaker", debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart and peaked at No. 2. In October 2008, the group announced that the third single would be "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)".
On May 30, 2008, the Toledo Free Press revealed in an interview with Scott Shriner that Weezer would be unveiling the "Hootenanny Tour", in which fans would be invited to bring their own instruments to play along with the band. Said Shriner: "They can bring whatever they want... oboes, keyboards, drums, violins, and play the songs with us as opposed to us performing for them."
The band performed five dates in Japan at the beginning of September and then embarked on what was dubbed the 'Troublemaker' tour, consisting of 21 dates around North America, including two in Canada. Angels and Airwaves and Tokyo Police Club joined the band as support at each show, and Brian Bell's 'other' band The Relationship also performed at a handful of dates. Shortly before the encore at each show, the band would bring on fans with various instruments and perform Island in the Sun and Beverly Hills with the band. At a show in Austin, after Tokyo Police Club had played its set, Cuomo was wheeled out in a box and mimed to a recording of rare Weezer demo, 'My Brain', dressed in pajamas and with puppets on his hands, before being wheeled off again. This bizarre event later surfaced as the climax to a promo video for Cuomo's second demo album, Alone 2.
Weezer toured with Blink-182 in 2009, including an August 30 stop at the Virgin Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. Drummer Josh Freese joined Weezer on a temporary basis to play drums on the tour, while Pat Wilson switched to guitar. Wilson said in an interview for Yahoo! Music that Cuomo wanted "to be active and more free on stage and him having guitar on was an impediment." Freese stated he was a Weezer fan and did not want to pass up the opportunity to play with the band.
Raditude's album artwork was revealed on September 11, featuring a National Geographic contest-winning photograph of a jumping dog named Sidney. The record's release was pushed to November 3, 2009, where it debuted as the seventh best-selling album of the week on the Billboard 200 chart. The band scheduled tour dates in December 2009 extending into early 2010 to coincide with the new album's release. On December 6, 2009, Cuomo was injured when his tour bus crashed in upstate New York due to black ice. Cuomo suffered three broken ribs, and his assistant broke two ribs. His wife, baby daughter, and their nanny were also on the bus, but they escaped injury. Weezer cancelled tour dates the following day. The band resumed touring on January 20, 2010.
In December 2009, it was revealed that the band was no longer with Geffen Records. The band stated that new material would still be released, but the band members were unsure of the means, whether it be self-released, released online, or getting signed by another label. Eventually, the band was signed to the independent label Epitaph.
Hurley, Death to False Metal and Welsh's death (2010–2013)
Weezer co-headlined The Bamboozle in May, 2010, and performed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee in June. In August, 2010, Weezer performed at the Reading and Leeds Festival, and performed at the Voodoo Experience festival in New Orleans, LA in October 2010.
The album Hurley was released in September 2010 through Epitaph Records. The name comes from the character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes from the television show Lost. Jorge Garcia, the actor who portrayed Hurley, stated that being featured on the album cover is "one of the biggest honors of [his] career."  Weezer used internet streaming service YouTube as a way to promote the album. Weezer loaned itself to 15 amateur online video producers, "going along with whatever plans the creator could execute in about 30 minutes." The band was promoted through popular channels such as Barely Political, Ray William Johnson and Fred Figglehorn. The Gregory Brothers solicited musical and vocal contributions from the band on one of its compositions built around speeches by Rep. Charles Rangel and President Barack Obama. Weezer calls the promotion "The YouTube Invasion".
In November 2010, Weezer released a compilation album composed of re-recorded versions of unused recordings spanning various years, Death to False Metal. On the same day a deluxe version of Pinkerton, which includes "25 demos, outtakes and live tracks" was also released. A third volume of Cuomo's solo Alone series, titled Alone III: The Pinkerton Years, consisting of demos and outtakes from the Pinkerton sessions, was released on December 12, 2011. The band also contributed a cover of The Cars' "You Might Think" for the Disney-Pixar film Cars 2.
On October 8, 2011 former Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh was found dead in a Chicago, Illinois hotel room. Weezer performed in Chicago the next day and dedicated the concert to Welsh, who was supposed to have been a surprise guest.
Weezer began working on its ninth studio album in September 2010 with the intent of a 2011 release, but the year ended without seeing a release. The band headlined a four-day rock-themed Carnival Cruise from Miami to Cozumel that set sail on January 19, 2012. In July 2012, Weezer headlined the inaugural Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. In early 2013 the band brought its Memories Tour to Australia—the band's first Australian tour since 1996. The band played its first two albums in full at several venues. The band also headlined the Punkspring 2013 tour in Japan and later in the year toured Canada and USA.
Second comeback: Everything Will Be Alright in the End and the White Album (2014–present)
In January 2014, the band started to record its ninth studio album with producer Ric Ocasek, who previously worked with the band on its first two self-titled albums. A clip of a new song was posted on the band's official YouTube account on March 19, 2014, which confirmed previous rumors of the band being in the studio. On June 12, 2014, it was revealed that the album title would be Everything Will Be Alright in the End. It was released on October 7, 2014 to generally favorable reviews, becoming the band's best-reviewed release since Pinkerton.
On October 26, 2015, the band released a new single, "Thank God for Girls", through Apple Music and to radio the same day. The following week, the band released a second single, "Do You Wanna Get High?". Cuomo claimed in an interview with Zane Lowe, that the band was not working on a new album. Later, on January 14, 2016, Weezer released a third single, "King Of The World", and announced that the band's fourth self-titled album, also known as the White Album, which continued the critical success of the band's previous release. In promotion for Weezer, the band is scheduled to co-headline the Weezer & Panic! at the Disco Summer Tour 2016 with Panic! at the Disco in 2016. The band later signed to Atlantic Records as part of a joint venture between Warner Music Group and Crush Management.
During promotion for the White Album, Cuomo announced the band's intentions to release a "darker" companion album, another self-titled release known as the Black Album, describing it as "like Beach Boys gone bad [...] If it were a movie in the United States it would be rated R instead of PG". On June 29, 2016, Weezer released a new single, "I Love The USA", through Apple Music to celebrate NASA's Juno mission, which arrived in Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016.
Style and influences
Weezer has been described as alternative rock, power pop, pop punk, emo and indie rock. The members of Weezer have listed several influences, among them Kiss (with direct references in the song "In the Garage"), Nirvana (who were labelmates of the band at DGC for a very brief time before Kurt Cobain's death), The Beach Boys, Pixies (especially early in the band's career), Pavement, Oasis, and Wax.
Solo work and side projects
Patrick Wilson started his side-project The Special Goodness in 1996, for which he sings and plays guitar and bass. In May 2012, he released his fourth record with The Special Goodness, entitled Natural.
Brian Bell has been working on a solo project called The Relationship, and did not write any songs for Raditude in order to save material for his solo work. He has also collaborated with Space Twins.
Mikey Welsh played with Juliana Hatfield, The Kickovers, Heretix, Jocobono, Slower and Left Nut; Wilson records with The Special Goodness; and Sharp is in The Rentals and also performs under his own name.
On December 18, 2007, Cuomo released Alone - The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, a compilation of his demos recorded from 1992 to 2007, including some demos from the unfinished Songs from the Black Hole album. A second compilation, Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, was released on November 25, 2008, and a third, Alone III: The Pinkerton Years, on December 12, 2011. The album was sold exclusively with a book, The Pinkerton Diaries, which collects Cuomo's writings from the Pinkerton era.
On December 4, 2008, iOS developer Tapulous released the game Christmas With Weezer, featuring gameplay similar to Tap Tap Revenge and six Christmas carols performed by the band. A digital EP featuring the songs, titled "Christmas with Weezer", was also released on December 16, 2008.
The band recorded a cover of "I'm a Believer" for the movie Shrek Forever After. Previously, Weezer had planned to include an early version of "My Best Friend" from Make Believe in Shrek 2, but it was rejected due to the song sounding "too much like it was written for Shrek".
- Studio albums