For any musician, the debut album should be a celebration of the accomplishment, but for Weezer, especially its founding member, Rivers Cuomo, it was the opposite. He got so tired of playing the same list every night in the same order that he did not even enjoy touring to promote it. Cuomo got demotivated even by the reception of the band’s debut album and considered switching to classical music. He wanted to go Juilliard, but without formal music training, the guitarist had to settle for Harvard, leaving his band members wondering if Weezer had disbanded after just one album. So, what made Weezer “uncomfortable” with the “Blue Album?” Here is everything you need to know.
Cuomo Becomes a Rock Star
Cuomo was a disciplined and gifted student despite being transferred to a public school in 1982 when he was 11. Around that time, his love for music began to grow. According to an interview posted on Reddit, he grew up a bit secluded from music, but in 1982, he started listening to radio stations that played Rock music. Although he liked listening to Judas Priest and Maiden, his favorite band was Kiss. With a newfound passion for rock music, Cuomo bought a guitar for his ninth birthday. Together with his younger brother, they formed their first band, Fury, and played Kiss covers, album by album.
By the time Cuomo joined high school, he had set himself apart from the crowd because only he and a few of his friends loved rock music. They donned long hair and wore ripped jeans, which earned them hate from their fellow students. Still, he managed to recruit a few metal lovers to his inner circle, and they formed a high school band, Avant-Garde. He was the lead guitarist, and seeing that the bands they were looking up to all came from Los Angeles, Avant-Garde moved from Connecticut to LA. Unfortunately, it was not the experience that Cuomo had anticipated.
According to Rolling Stones, the band changed its name to Zoom, which they considered a bit less embarrassing, but not even the baptism could hold the band together. They were five broke high school graduates cramped in a cockroach-infested room. Consequently, the band members left, one by one, leaving Cuomo alone since, even then, none of his girlfriends stuck with him. The heartbroken guitarist decided to stay in LA. Although his dream of becoming a huge rock star seemed farther out of reach, Cuomo began writing songs.
Weezer is Formed
He had been accepted into the Guitar Institute of Technology but was expelled because, as he explained, he could not turn on the “diligent-student” mode. His frantic efforts to be accepted back did not yield any fruits. So the guitarist joined Los Angeles City College. He also got a job at Tower Records, where he met with Pat Finn. Finn introduced him to the whole new world of heavy metal music, which at first, Cuomo thought sounded like noise. When Nirvana released “Sliver” in 1990, Cuomo heard it and knew that was the kind of music he wanted to do. He knew it was time to form another band; thus, Finn connected Cuomo with a drummer, Pat Wilson, and a bassist, Scottie Chapman, joined. They formed Fuzz, and Cuomo was the lead vocalist.
When Chapman left, Fuzz changed to Sixty Wrong Sausages, and Finn replaced her on the bass; they added Jason Cropper as a second guitarist. The band broke up, and the frustration led Cuomo to resolve that he would not be in another band again until he had written at least 50 songs. He wrote 30 and made a rap album which he never released. Wilson sent Matt Sharp two of Cuomo’s songs, and he was so impressed that he contacted the guitarist, saying he would be the bassist in the next band that Cuomo formed.
Cuomo wanted the next band to be in the same league as Nirvana, so he was still not ready to form one until he knew that it would be a success. Torn between pursuing music and education at UC-Berkley, the guitarist told Sharp, who acted as the manager, to get them a record deal within a year. Wilson, Sharp, and Cuomo thus formed Weezer, and their first rehearsal was on Valentine’s Day in 1992; a month later, on March 19, 1992, the band had its first show. The band’s name is sentimental to Cuomo because it was the nickname his biological gave him.
“Blue Album” Makes Weezer Uncomfortable
When Weezer signed up with Geffen Records, the label wanted them to have a music producer, so they hired Ric Ocasek. Ocasek was a great producer, but those in charge of mixing the album buried some of the vocals. Therefore, when Cuomo told Loudwire that the “Blue Album” was uncomfortable because they wanted to sound more rough and aggressive, it is probably from the sound mix. He added that the debut album produced by a major record label made them sound so polished, yet they were used to performing in clubs.
Additionally, one of the songs featured in the album is “Buddy Holly,” which Cuomo had written and hoped that it would be in the band’s second album. Although Cuomo and Sharp were worried that featuring it would make the audience not take them seriously, Ocasek dismissed their concerns and told them to record it. Unfortunately, the band’s founder was right, as he would soon find out. According to Pitchfork, most of the lyrics were informed by his personal experiences. The songs, therefore, held quite a personal touch to Cuomo, and he thought the world would appreciate them too.
He later learned that Weezer and “Blue Album” were being taken as a joke. During a lunch with Todd Sullivan Geffen’s A&R executive, called Weezer, “a comical band.” Cuomo had shared his most intimate thoughts with the world, yet they thought he was funny. It hurt him so much that the guitarist said that Sullivan’s comment felt like a punch to his gut. Hence when Weezer was ready for the sophomore album, “Pinkerton,” they produced it themselves. Although it was voted among the worst albums in 1996, by 2002, it was praised as one of the greatest albums of all time. The band could finally see their efforts being appreciated.