Rivers Cuomo is nervous. He’s nervous about Weezer supporting KISS in a couple of weeks’ time, but he’s most troubled by the thought that the concert might be cancelled.
“I’m extremely excited, but what if something goes wrong… my dream won’t come true,” he confides over the phone. Even the biggest of musicians, it seems, are still prone to being starstruck.
Cuomo is looking ahead to the return of his Grammy Award-winning rock band to Australia for the first time in six years, where they’ll perform two arena headline shows and a key support slot for KISS.
A die-hard fan of the famed rockers, Cuomo returns to a teenaged state while discussing KISS. He grew up listening to the face-painted, leather-clad band, and the first song he learnt to play was their 1974 hit “Cold Gin”; the first band he played in performed only KISS covers, which is how he first learned to play guitar.
“They’re my heroes,” Cuomo insists. “We sing about them in our song “In the Garage” from our first album, [so this tour] means a whole heck of a lot to me.
“I think in previous decades it wouldn’t have worked because our genres are too far apart. Going back to the ’90s, you would never hear an alternative band on the same bill as a hard rock band. Now, it’s like enough time has gone by, and I think everyone’s a little more accepting.”
It was during the ’90s that Weezer rose to fame after their seminal, coming-of-age album Weezer (Blue Album) was released in 1994. With cult hits such as “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So”, the four young men from Los Angeles, California, quickly became a staple for alternative rock fans around the world.
Three decades later, Weezer songs remain part of the coming-of-age soundtrack, and Cuomo is amazed that Gen Z can still relate to their music.
“While our old fans stick with us, it feels like when every new generation comes up, some of them get turned onto Weezer and they relate… even today, there’s a crazy amount [who like] our first album cover or the little guitar lick in “Buddy Holly”,” he says.
Cuomo has fond memories of his last time in Australia, when he got to hang out with Foo Fighters’ late, great drummer Taylor Hawkins. This time, he’s looking forward to headlining some shows, seeing rock band Ghost, and supporting KISS, of course.
“We love Australia, and I think there’s probably a whole new generation of fans that have never seen [us] before. So, it’s going to be crazy.”
While some fans grow older and other new ones discover the music of decades past, one thing that hasn’t changed is Cuomo’s commitment to craft. He assures us that Weezer are still doing the same thing, feeling the same feelings, and following the same process to try to connect a classic song.
“It’s remarkable how similar my process is: sitting down with a guitar, a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and racking my brain trying to come up with something interesting,” he explains.
“The emotions are still the same as they were when I was 21, like today I’m sad, or I’m lonely, or I’m happy. Those feelings are very primal, so as long as you stick to that, you’re going to end up with a pretty timeless song.”
Keeping with the times, recent collaborations have included Laneway-bound singer-songwriter Dominic Fike on his track ‘Think Fast”. The idea to work together came about after Weezer played a show with him a year ago in San Francisco. At the time, Cuomo says Fike was recording a song that he realised sounded much like Weezer’s very own “Winter Song”.
“At that point, as a writer, you have a choice. You can change the idea so that it’s 100% original or you can try and leak it out there and see if anyone catches you,” Cuomo says. “Or, you can contact the artist and see if they’re cool with it. When I heard, [I asked], ‘can I actually be a part of it?’ So, I went down to the studio and sang some vocals on it.”
Cuomo actually believes it’s time for older artists to be asking younger artists for advice, “because we just don’t know what the heck is going on.”
What never ages, however, is the feeling of 15,000 fans sing-screaming your songs – a perpetual tonic to the weary, tour-tired soul.
“When you take your ear monitors out, you hear 10,000 human beings right in front of you screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s reverberating in the arena, it’s the craziest sound. There’s no way it’s not possible to not get excited when you hear that.”
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Weezer 2023 Australian Tour Dates
Tickets available via weezer.com
Friday, October 6th
John Cain Arena, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday, October 7th
Accor Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Sunday, October 8th
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, QLD