Exactly a quarter of a century after Weezer reinvigorated So-Cal alt-rock with their 1994 self-titled debut album — colloquially known then, now, and forever as The Blue Album — the Los Angeles band don't seem overly preoccupied with the milestone.
Instead, they’ve been riding the latest wave of success sparked by their cover of Toto's “Africa” — with its No. 51 peak, their biggest Billboard Hot 100 smash in over a decade — as well as their two recent self-titled full-length releases, known as The Teal Album and The Black Album, while also basking in the honor of having an entire Saturday Night Live skit dedicated to them, and enjoying a plum Saturday night main-stage slot at 2019’s Coachella festival.
“The Blue Album was] a lovely record,” drummer Pat Wilson tells Billboard. “And we’re still as enthusiastic about things as we were at that point. We have two almost-complete albums in the can. There’s no end in sight to this thing.”
Even so, Wilson took time out from the Weezer renaissance to take a look back at their era-defining opening salvo, track-by-track. See him share his memories below.
"My Name Is Jonas”
Wilson: It’s a version of Weezer I really enjoy. It’s very melodic, but not formulaic. I remember being in our apartment and our guitar player at the time Jason Cropper had an acoustic guitar. He started this playing this little riff — just messing around. I heard it and thought, “What is that?” So I got a four-track recorded it, laid down all the music and gave it to Rivers (Cuomo, singer/guitarist). He added the end part with the climb on the guitar, and I was over the moon. I just loved it so much.
Around that time, we played a show in Eureka, California, and we turn up in our van saying, “We’re here to play a show.” The guy there said, “I don’t know anything about this, but go ahead.” So we’re playing, and this guy in his early 20s is stomping around, having a great time. We found out he was a forest ranger who would go up into the forest for months at a time. He gave us such a pep talk, like, “You guys keep true to yourselves, keep fighting the good fight.” It was incredible – we were just so excited to play to anyone.
"No One Else”
If this came out now] you’d probably be “MeToo”’d so hard, it’d be unbelievable. It was an unusual song at the time because it was uptempo. I remember instantly hating it, probably because I had nothing to do with any of it (laughs). Matt (Sharp, former bassist) seemed to just have it fully formed. I just remember thinking, “I don’t know how to contribute to this.” What I should have said at the time was, “Hey, that’s great, I’m glad we have another song!”
“The World Has Turned and Left Me Here”
Billboard: Cuomo has offered that “No One Else” and “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” are two sides of the same coin; the first is the sound of someone showing his ugly possessiveness over a girl, and the second is “the same asshole wondering why she’s gone.”
Wilson: I’ve never thought about that, but that’s totally fair. There’s a lot of pathos in Rivers’ lyrics. He’s a sympathetic character, which I think allows him to push a little. That song was almost all me on the four-track. My idea was to have dense, thick, sludgy guitar, but with a sort of hip-hop beat. Ultimately, It sounds like a rock band, but it still came out cool.
It’s such a tightly written song. There’s no fat on it all. It starts at ten, and goes up from there. (Producer and Cars frontman) Ric Ocasek insisted that we put in on the album. I think that song was a little problematic for Rivers, because I think he wanted things to go in a certain direction. So when that song got big — partly because of a pretty important video — I think he thought the focus wasn’t on the right thing.
At the time, the very idea that you could watch a video on a computer was like madness! I remember being really mad at Geffen Records for putting that video on Windows 95 because I didn’t understand how promotion worked. But I came to find out that it was basically one of the biggest coups of all time. I’m an idiot, basically.
“Undone — The Sweater Song”
That was another one that came fully assembled. I don’t think we’ve ever not played that song since the start. Our first show was a place called Raji’s in Hollywood (in March 1992). We were playing with Keanu Reeves’ band Dogstar. There were quite a few people there, and I remember thinking, “We must be killing it!” Of course, they were all there for Keanu. But I remember we ended that set with me on guitar and Rivers on drums, playing “M.E.” by Gary Numan, and I thought it was one of the greatest moments of my life! I didn’t get speak to Keanu at the time, but if I saw him today, I would tell him I enjoyed the John Wick films very much!
“Surf Wax America”
That was another song that I had most of on four track. Another desperately needed uptempo number. Rivers especially really loved the Beach Boys, and I think he tapped into that vibe a little, but in a more punk rock way. I don’t believe any of us had ever surfed at that point. We were painfully lacking in self-awareness. It’s a young person’s take on the world — saying, ‘this is all bullshit, I’m just gonna do whatever I want to do.’ I think it’s a rejection of paths chosen for you.
“Say It Ain’t So”
I remember when we first started playing it, we hadn’t quite found our sound. But local writers — when they did write about us — would always mention that song, and say we were trying to sound like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which baffled me. It’s insanely slow, and it’s a pretty earnest song. So it was funny to be compared to The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, or something! We often close our sets with this now. It’s the set’s emotional heft.
“In the Garage”
I think it might be the start of Rivers’ — and maybe Weezer’s — self awareness. He’s taking stock of what we were doing at the time. It’s pretty autobiographical, and a good representation of our average day, maybe minus the dungeon master stuff. He sings “I sing my stupid songs,” which was always made me feel a little odd, because I didn’t think our songs were stupid! I can hear a little cynicism creeping in there.
It’s funny, but Rivers worshipped KISS growing up, but KISS was the exact opposite of what I liked. Rivers met Gene Simmons once; Gene took him aside and apparently said, "Listen — fuck your fans." Laughs incredulously.] I think it was his way of advising us to forge our own path and please yourself.
That’s probably my favorite song on the record. For me as a music geek, I find that song so satisfying to listen to, especially in the “heartbeat” section after the chorus. The melody is super long. Again, very Beach Boys, but with finger-snapping doo-wop stuff. The ending is super epic, too. What a bunch of fucking weirdos we are to have all that in one song!
I think modern music has forgotten how to do that. Everything feels so much like background noise. It’s almost anachronistic to have musical chops, because all anyone cares about is personality. To have music that sounds weird just takes away from the personality. At least, that’s how I feel.
“Only in Dreams”
Every time we play this song and build up that cacophonous noise part, people really lose their minds. It really translates, and I always look forward to playing it live, which is not often. Basically, if I was in charge, all of our songs would sound like “Holiday,” “My Name Is Jonas,” and “Only in Dreams.” So I’m really glad I’m not in charge! I’m a rock guy. I don’t really give a shit about the pop stuff, I wanna rock!