Weezer Mixes It Up For Fans

Band Brings Varied Following, Song List To Sunday's Virgin Mobile Freefest

August 27, 2009|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,sam.sessa@baltsun.com

When Weezer's self-titled debut album came out in 1994, it was a critical and commercial tour de force, catapulting the alt-rockers into the mainstream and eventually selling more than 3 million copies.

Several albums and 11 years later, a whole new generation of fans were introduced to Weezer when the hit single "Beverly Hills" charged up the charts.

These days, Weezer's fans seem to be split into two camps: The early fans, who like albums such as the first one, "Weezer" (also known as "The Blue Album"), and the second one, "Pinkerton;" and younger fans who love the song "Beverly Hills" and its album, "Make Believe." This odd mix can make for quite a crowd at their live shows, according to bassist Scott Shriner. Weezer co-headlines the sold-out Virgin Mobile FreeFest with Blink-182 on Sunday at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

"I have fun watching people have a good time listening to ["Beverly Hills"] and be totally confused by something off "Pinkerton," Shriner said. "But I'm just as happy when I see all the "Pinkerton" fans light up and the "Beverly Hills" fans scratch their heads. That's fine. I think we're going to mix it up even more."

Shriner's not exaggerating, either. When they're not focusing on their next gig, Weezer's members are wrapping up their seventh studio album, "Raditude." Slated for an Oct. 27 release, "Raditude" will feature tracks co-written by people including alt-rocker Butch Walker and hip-hop producer/rapper Jermaine Dupri. That's right - Dupri, who worked with artists like Jay-Z, Mariah Carey and Bow Wow, has now collaborated with ... Weezer.

Dupri submitted the song "Can't Stop Partying" for consideration when the band was working on its 2008 album, "Weezer," which is also called "The Red Album." Weezer's lead singer Rivers Cuomo released the track last November on his solo album, "Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo." A retooled version of "Can't Stop Parting," as well as another Dupri collaboration, "Let It All Hang Out," will both be on "Raditude," Shriner said.

When Cuomo suggested adding "Can't Stop Partying" to "Raditude," some of the guys in the group liked it and others didn't. Shriner said he was all for the track. In it, the usually sarcastic, nerdy Cuomo sings, "I can't stop / partying, partying / I got to have Patron / I got to have the E / I got to have a lot of pretty girls around me."

"I like hearing Rivers sing about having a good time - sometimes," Shriner said. "Rivers can make the most major-sounding song sound minor and kind of sad."

The first single from "Raditude" is "If You Are Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)," an uncharacteristically upbeat track built around bouncy guitar work and a catchy melody.

The title for "Raditude" was another outside contribution, from actor Rainn Wilson, who appears on the TV series "The Office." Cuomo asked Wilson what Weezer should name the new album, "Raditude" was Wilson's suggestion, and the name stuck.

Unknown to Shriner, there is a punk band named Raditude!, which released an album called "Paint the Town Rad" in 2007.

"It'll make them happy or not happy," he said. "We could take over the word, which could help them or harm them. We wish no harm on anyone."

Shriner is Weezer's third bassist since the group formed in 1992. It's one of his personal goals to be Weezer's last bass player, he said. Back in 1993, one of Shriner's friends persuaded him to check out an up-and-coming band called Weezer at Club Lingerie in Los Angeles.

"My friend said, 'You've got to come see this band - they dress like total bookworms, and they're heavy as hell,' " Shriner said. "My first impression was, they sounded a bit like a mess, but the songs were gorgeous."

Several years (and two bassists) later, Weezer asked Shriner if he wanted to join the alt-rock band. Shriner agreed.

"They still sounded a bit like a mess, but they had more gorgeous songs," Shriner said. "It was my job to come in and help tighten up the ship and bring the rock."

Bringing the rock to such a wide-ranging fan base can have its rocky moments, though, Shriner says. Sometimes, the audience gets split between love and hatred for certain songs.

"I can focus on the guy that's flipping me off the whole show or I can focus on the dude that's throwing metal horns and having a good time," Shriner said. "I tend to go more for the metal horns then the finger - although I'm not scared of the finger."

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