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ALSO: Check out Jason Thompson's Weezer Deep Cuts, featuring brilliant album tracks not released as singles.

Weezer have certainly had an interesting go at a music career, one featuring incredible critical and commercial highs, as well as incredible emotional lows for lead member Rivers Cuomo. Of course, the success wavered as well, with media and fan acclaim running hot and cold depending on which Weezer album had been most recently released. Add to that the problem of band members coming and going – and Cuomo’s interest in other things, such as finishing college, abstaining from sex, and retreating into his own insularity – and you pretty much have a recipe for a fucked-up band, even if they weren’t fucked-up in the usual rock and roll sense. 

Still, everything started well for the group. In 1994, the band released its self-titled “Blue Album,” produced by Ric Ocasek, and became an overnight MTV darling thanks to Spike Jonze’s videos for “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Buddy Holly,” which spliced the band into an episode of “Happy Days.” The album went triple platinum and Weezer was soon part of a summer package tour also including labelmates Teenage Fanclub and That Dog.  

After an aborted space rock opera concept album, Weezer returned in 1996 with the self-produced Pinkerton. Poorer sales and critical disdain originally plagued the album, and in truth it wasn’t as polished as the debut. Internal strife also started eroding the group, with bassist Matt Sharp becoming increasingly unsatisfied and ultimately quitting to release a pair of albums with his own group, the Rentals. Despite all the drama, the album has become more highly regarded as time has gone by, and is certainly a fan favorite. 

A few years of internal bickering soon followed, with Cuomo going into a depression and drummer Pat Wilson quitting for a period. When the band finally did re-emerge, it did so with a new bassist, Mikey Welsh, and another self-titled affair known as “The Green Album.” With this release, the band was once again at the top, with videos for “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun” receiving heavy rotation on MTV. The album itself was a collection of short, catchy numbers that in no way tried to plumb the jagged emotional depths of Pinkerton. However, emotional problems continued to plague the group; Welsh checked into a psychiatric ward, and was quickly replaced by Scott Shriner. 

In 2002, Weezer released Maladroit, a tougher-sounding version of “The Green Album,” continuing the established trend in which every other album released by the band sounded darker than its predecessor. Though the videos for both “Dope Nose” and “Keep Fishin’” received extensive airplay, Maladroit didn’t sell as well as “The Green Album,” and could be looked upon as somewhat of a failure, though the tunes on the disc are quite good. 

2005 saw the release of the band’s latest album, Make Believe. Thanks to the catchy single “Beverly Hills,” as well as “We Are All on Drugs” and “Perfect Situation,” the album was eventually certified platinum, and “Beverly Hills” even earned the band its first Grammy nod. The album itself sort of occupies a middle ground between the earlier and later sounds; it certainly isn’t as tipped to the commercial side as “The Green Album,” nor is it as heavy as Maladroit. In essence, it strikes a safe balance that apparently worked for the band. 

Weezer is now on hiatus, but is not breaking up; according to Cuomo, new songs are being worked on. To date, the band still has two albums left on its contract, one of which could be a greatest hits disc, but no official word has been announced. Whatever the case, Weezer’s continuing rock and roll saga will undoubtedly be one of the more interesting stories to escape from the ‘90s. 


Weezer on the Web: 

TV Guide: Weezer
Weezer Videos, Interviews and More on TV Guide's Online Video Guide


Weezer quotes: 

“We got the crap beaten out of us. I think it made me very shy.” – Rivers Cuomo on his childhood. 

“I have so much appreciation for what my parents' generation did for opening up our country to Eastern philosophy and raising me like that. I feel so lucky." – Rivers Cuomo on Eastern philosophy

“Well, as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity! But seriously, how is this different from any other time in this band’s history?” – Pat Wilson on the rumors of Weezer breaking up. 

Weezer links:

www.weezer.com – Official Weezer website.

www.weerez.com – Comprehensive fansite.

www.myspace.com/weezer - Weezer’s MySpace page