Alone considered

Thu 2/14/2008

Well, I've been meaning to write a bit about Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo and what better day to do it than February 14th? The day that Weezer had its first band rehearsal in 1992!

I have been listening to this album A LOT since it came out, even though I had actually heard about HALF of it before it was even released! How? Well, it's kind of part of being a Weezer fan...

See, most people do not realize just how prolific Rivers has been as a songwriter... Sure, at this point Weezer has five albums out, with an extra album of B-sides and a dozen or so EPs with even more rare tracks, but that is seriously just the tip of the iceberg. In 2002, Rivers posted a giant spreadsheet on his now defunct website. It listed every song (or partial song - melodies, riffs, etc) that he had ever written, from the time he was born until 2002 (age 32). There are literally HUNDREDS of songs. Supposidly, at this point, he has written something like 800 songs. EIGHT. HUNDRED. SONGS.

And so, over the years, some of this stuff has leaked out. There were the kitchen tapes (pre-blue album demos recorded in his L.A. kitchen) some various multitracked demos (including some of the stuff on this most recent collection), a few songs from the abandoned album "Songs From the Black Hole", live tracks from a band Rivers put together while he was at Harvard, a few scattered covers and other various odds and ends. I have over 13 hours of Weezer on my computer...

And if you love Weezer like I love Weezer, each one of these little songs has been cherished and listened to hundreds of times, day in and day out for the last fourteen years. PART of being a Weezer fan all these years has been hunting out those rare tracks. So many of the demos were not new.

At this point, some of you (MOST of you?) might be saying to yourself, "Uh... yeah, but Weezer kind of SUCKS lately." And on some level, I can understand what you are saying. I can appreciate that, compared to The Blue Album and Pinkerton, the last three albums do not hold up as well. But for me, it is a moot point. I love Weezer too much.

In trying to mentally sort out what I wanted to say in this post, I realized that bands are a lot like FRIENDS, or acquaintances, or even loved ones. I mean, let's face it: part of being a human being is saying stupid things, hurting people, and just in general MAKING MISTAKES. Try as we might to live without harming others, or letting people down, it just happens. To ALL of us. And when it does, it seems like there are two scenrios: You either forgive and forget, or part ways.

Just think. Let's say you have a friend, and they do something awful or insulting or stupid. If they are merely an acquaintance - someone you just met last week, you might take this one experience and stop hanging out with them. Like, "Oh, that person did this awful thing, and they suck." Or if you are dating someone for a short while and they start acting crazy, you will just break up with them.

But man, if your BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD does something stupid or awful, do you drop them as a friend? Or do you just kind of shake your head and think, "Why are you doing this? I know you are better than this..." and somewhere inside you still love them and care about them. You FORGIVE them, and hope they will act better in the future. You have friendships like this, right? That have lasted years and years but have some ups and downs?

This is how I love Weezer.

I listen to A LOT of different bands. And I definitely don't feel this way about MOST of them. Remember that latest Shins album? I HATED it. I really liked their first three albums (one as "Flake Music") and listened to them a lot. But man, I will be really surprised if I ever buy a Shins album after their last over-produced effort. I do not feel like I owe the Shins anything. What have the Shins ever done for me???

But Weezer? WEEZER???! In 1994 I fell deeply, completely in love with Weezer, in a way I think you only can when you are 15. The Blue Album, to me, is one of the most perfect albums ever created. And PINKERTON?! Oh man... don't even get me started! These albums have meant so much to me in my life. They have helped me get through the hardest times. Have given me a way to express my greatest joys. And I am LOYAL to this band, because of the support their music has provided me over the years.

Without getting too detailed (I just deleted three paragraphs which I'm pretty sure would not make any sense to most of you) I KNOW that the next three Weezer albums were subpar. But after the low point of The Green Album, they have been slowly working back in the right direction. TRUST ME. And not only do I know this, but RIVERS knows it. Originally, Rivers turned his back on Pinkerton, because it was a commercial failure. But over the years, he has come to realize that it was arguably his best album and I feel like he is trying to steer back towards that type of songwriting.

And in that vein, I can only see it as a GOOD thing that Rivers decided to go back through his older, more inspired material DURING the production of the upcoming 6th album (due out this Spring!!!) to put together this CD of demos. I really have my fingers crossed that Album Six will be something I can wholly love, because it rocks, not just because of my deep love and loyalty to Weezer.

GOD! There is so much more I want to say, but I guess I'll have to save it for the Weezer issue of Phase 7... :)

Ooh! One last thing... The last page of the ALONE album booklet has a picture of like 20 of Rivers's demo tapes, which kind of made my mind explode (like, "AGGGH. It's all right THERE!") He said recently in an interview that there are about another EIGHT HOURS of releasable demos, and he's going to work with Geffen to try and figure out a way to get them out to the public (!!!?!?!?!?!!!) After wishing and hoping to get to hear some of this material for years and years and years, it is like a dream come true!

9 comments on this entry

how many pages of comics would you say you've done Alec?

I bet by the time you're 32 you will have more than 800 PUBLISHED pages of comics!!!


jp Feb15

Ha ha! Good thought JP... I used to actually keep track of this. It's about 100 a year (if you include sketchbook stuff and 24 hour comics) So I'm maybe at around 500? I'll get 800 by 32 no problem! ;)

Alec Feb15

Oh man don't get me started homeboy! The last couple of Weezer albums I haven't bought but downloaded because I was so scared of plunking money on something shitty. Nevertheless I own the blue album, Pinkerton (first pressing as far as I know), the green album, and Maladroit on vinyl so I think that makes up for it. Anyway, I totally hear you. I haven't gotten this album yet so thanks for reminding me! For me I was only kind of secretly into Weezer when they first came out because from ages 14-16 I considered myself too punk rock or something to openly enjoy popular music. By 17 (1997) I was over that and embraced my love of Weezer fully and now the first three albums (and also this fan-traded cd of B-sides and rarities that was given to me by a fellow fan) all hold a particular time/space in my brain. The blue album always reminds me of a trip my mom and I made to see my brother when he first moved to California right after I really got into comics again, and sitting on the balcony of the hotel drawing comics with a blue ballpoint pen on looseleaf paper because I didn't know any better. Pinkerton always reminds me of the summer I worked at a movie theatre and secretly dated my coworker who ended up breaking my heart. I used to have a black Weezer baseball cap that I made with a whiteout pen but my old dog chewed it up! Ugh I could go on! Anyway HIGH FIVES TO YOU MY FELLOW WEEZER BUDDY!


Liz Feb15

PS I feel the same way about bands/friends! I have the same relationship with Weezer that I do with Andrew WK!

Liz Feb15

Whatever happened to the Weezer karaoke you guys did that was supposedly on youtube?

David Feb15

Nicely written Alec. Did you see that Adrian Tomine did an illustration from this photo, and is selling it on his website?

Cam Feb15

Cam - Ha ha ha! I didn't actually know that adrian HAD a website (whoops!) but I interviewed him recently for my NRM lecture and he mentioned that he was making some art for Rivers. I think it's going to be a silkscreened print signed by both Adrian and Rivers (!!!?!) That original sure is purty...

David- Um...

Alec Feb15

I know exactly what you mean with the "friend or family" thing. I have a similar feeling to Disney - I always thought it was the sort of feeling that a parent would have for a wayward child. Doesn't matter how many stupid things Disney does, I love them and hope that they'll turn their life around and get back on the straight and narrow.

Like a lot of people our age, Weezer genuinely changed my life. I learned to play guitar by getting weezer Tablature. I had friendships (and dates) springing from a mutual obsessive love of the band. It's so hard for a lot of people to grasp how huge a part of our lives this band was.

I was so disappointed by the green album that I couldn't even fathom it. Maladroit, while not as bad, was still nowhere near the quality of the first two. I gave up on them. The reason that I don't think they've a chance of rekindling their former glory is this:

My thought is that Rivers is a super-duper-duper genius, but an unstable and undirected one. You know how sometimes someone with immeasurable talent needs someone who understands that talent and is able to point it to where it needs to go, sharpen it? I think that Matt Sharp played that part in Weezer.

I read somewhere that Rivers was hesitant to perform or record "no one else," but Matt insisted that it was great - and this set the direction for the band to be brutally honest, even at the risk of seeming like jerks, lyrically. It was that honesty that MADE weezer what it was for us. Without Sharp to guide or reassure, Rivers' insecurities about looking like an asshole aren't reined in, and so we get songs with more banality than heart.

Chris S. Feb15

Chris! You are going to love my next post. :)

Alec Feb15

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Songs From the Black Hole considered
Q: How do you follow a 1,200-word post about Weezer? A: With another 1,000-word post about Weezer! ..
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