Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Weezer's 'The Blue Album'
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Tickets for the first Weezer Australian tour in 16 long painful years went on sale today (all the details are at the bottom of this post), a tour during which they will play their masterpiece The Blue Album in it's entirety, from start to finish. You've probably played it thousands of times, know every word, every goddamn riff, and read every single superlative review that there is; but there are secrets about the record that only the band members of Weezer know... UNTIL TODAY.
We asked Rivers, Brian and Karl to give us the skinny on a record that we thought we knew everything about but were surprised to find there was a lot of fascinating cool shit we had no idea about! Like, for example, the fact that the original version of "Say It Ain't So" was a reggae song, or that "Undone - The Sweater Song" featured sound effects taken from Star Wars or that the Beach Boys influenced multiple tracks on the album? Behold the secrets of The Blue Album uncovered at last...
TRACK 1: MY NAME IS JONAS
KARL (keyboard, percussion): (a) "My Name Is Jonas" started as an instrumental laid down on a cassette 4 track with a drum machine by Pat [Patrick Wilson, the band's original drummer]. Pat recorded a totally different vocal part on it but later erased it, making the instrumental that Rivers later completed with the melodies and lyrics we now know. The original demo has a few seconds of Pat singing the forever lost pre-Jonas mystery song, that he forgot to erase. (b) When Brian Bell joined the band, he was required to learn to play the fingerpicking part of the song, but he was not a fingerpicker, and learned tt using a pick. It was strongly doubted that he part could be played on a pick, but Brian proved everyone wrong and still plays it that way today.
"My Name Is Jonas"
Sure enough the riff rates as "Expert" level on Guitar Hero.
TRACK 2: NO ONE ELSE
KARL: "No One Else". When Rivers first created this demo, he was very hesitant to show it to the other guys, because he felt it represented a change from the edgier more Pixies flavored style the band had been developing. The initial reaction of the other members was also hesitant - it was originally looked at as too pop or too clean. The band knew that once they went in this new direction, the original somewhat 'strange' vibe of the band would be forever changed.
"No One Else"
TRACK 3: THE WORLD HAS TURNED AND LEFT ME HERE
KARL: The guitar solo in "The World Has Turned" was particularly tricky for Rivers to compose, and he stayed up all hours of the night one night trying to record it, replaying the part hundreds of times. Finally, after many hours of failed takes, Rivers was upside down in a doorway with his guitar on his chest, completely frazzled. At that moment a casual whistle by producer Ric Ocasek from the control room gave Rivers the breakthrough he needed, and the finished solo was on tape in 2 minutes.
"The World Has Turned"
TRACK 4: BUDDY HOLLY
KARL: The odd little keyboard sound used on "Buddy Holly" was very difficult to find. Originally Rivers recorded the demo version in his 'The Garage' home studio, and a friend's keyboard that just happened to be there that day was used. When recording the blue album, Rivers searched high and low for another keyboard of the same make and model, but despite having all of New York City at his disposal, and numerous gear heads working to track it down, time ran out and another keyboard had to be used to simulate the sound. It was sufficient but never quite matched the lo-fi majesty of the original.
TRACK 5: UNDONE - THE SWEATER SONG
BRIAN (rhythm guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, harmonica): The song "Undone The Sweater Song" originally had a sound effects collage made by Karl Koch our web-master and some of the sounds were from the movie "Star Wars".
KARL: "Undone" originally had over 20 different samples in it, including the voices of Darth Vader, Charlie Brown, Gollum, and Humphrey Bogart. These samples were replaced with the voices of Matt Sharp, Mykel Allen and Karl Koch, and "background party noise" from a sound effects CD that was licensed for use anywhere.
"Undone - The Sweater Song"
TRACK 6: SURF WAX AMERICA
RIVERS (lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards, etc:) "Surf Wax America" was inspired by our friends' band in L.A. called Wax. When they got a record deal and started to take off, that's what inspired us to form Weezer.
KARL: "Surf Wax America" was described as simply "a song about beer" in an early version of the song by song bio that Rivers submitted to Geffen Records. This was only slightly expanded in the final version, which sums it up as ""a total sarcastic call to hedonism, to sing along, drink and be merry." Ironically, when the band broke big in 1994-5, many audience members did not seem aware or interested in the sarcasm, instead reacting to it it as an actual rallying cry party song.
Wax's video for "California", directed by regular Weezer collaborator Spike Jonze.
TRACK 7: SAY IT AIN'T SO
KARL: The earliest rehearsals of this song in 'The Garage' were much slower and more reggae feeling than what ended up on the blue album. It was almost free form in places, like a jam without exact lyrics. The song went through intensive rehearsals to tighten it up and develop the now signature guitar and vocal parts.
"Say It Ain't So"
TRACK 8: IN THE GARAGE
KARL: The "Garage" in these lyrics is commonly known to be about the bands rehearsal space at Rivers' 1992-3 residence in L.A. However, while that Garage was indeed known as The Garage and can be considered the genesis of the Weezer sound, Rivers lyrics about superheroes, D+D and KISS do not exactly equate with the early 90s L.A. reality - The Garage in West L.A. didn't have posters of Kiss, D+D stuff, nor old Marvel comics in it. These lyrics more refer to Rivers' childhood memories, rehearsing and recording in the garage of his home with his junior high school bands.
RIVERS: "In The Garage" was inspired by the Beach Boys' "In my Room".
"In My Room"
"In The Garage"
TRACK 9: HOLIDAY
KARL: "Holiday" (along with "In the Garage", "Buddy Holly" and two songs that didnt appear on the Blue album) were the last songs completed for the Blue album, written just after the band was signed to Geffen Record in a fit of creative exuberance and joy. Thus it is worth noting that Weezer was signed without the benefit of "Buddy Holly", "In The Garage" or "Holiday" to impress anyone.
RIVERS: The first line in "Holiday" is taken from the title of a Beach Boys instrumental off of Pet Sounds called "Let's Go Away For a While".
"Let's Go Away For A While"
TRACK 10: ONLY IN DREAMS
KARL: "Only In Dreams" went through many mutations before the now iconic version on the blue album and played at shows was arrived at. The build up and distinct guitar figures that signal the major changes and the length of the parts themselves, were not arrived at till the band was in the studio working on the song. Prior to that, every performance of the song was quite different, with the overall length of it varying anywhere from 5 to 13 minutes.
"Only In Dreams"
Extra random fact from BRIAN: I'm not sure if this is unknown or not but supermodel Paulina Porizkova was knitting in the lounge of Electric Ladyland while we were recording and her husband Ricky O* is one hell of a doodler! [Editor's note: *That would be Ric Ocasek, producer and lead singer of proto-punk legends The Cars.]
WEEZER : TOUR DETAILS
Sunday 13th January Entertainment Centre, Brisbane - www.ticketek.com.au 132 849
Wednesday 16th January Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne - www.ticketmaster.com.au 136 100
Saturday 19th January Entertainment Centre, Sydney - www.ticketmaster.com.au 136 100
Wednesday 23rd January Perth Arena, Perth - www.ticketek.com.au 132 849
TICKETS FOR ALL SHOWS ON SALE NOW!