About six months ago, I stood in the big back room of a house in Fountain Square, screaming my head off. In front of me: Adam Gross, Drew Malott, Bryan Unruh and Allen Bannister, musicians in various projects united by a love of Cuomo. Behind me: one hundred or so Weezer devotees, singing every word of "My Name Is Jonas," plus the 13 other tracks on the Blue Album. The show was a massive success – enough so that Gross, Malott, Unruh and Bannister have remounted the tribute group for another full-album show, this time taking on Pinkerton. They will perform the 1996 album in its entirety Friday at the White Rabbit Cabaret. S.M. Wolf (Gross' project) and Digital Dots will open.
I asked each member of the group to share a bit about their love of Pinkerton. Here's a portion of their responses.
"A friend of mine burned me a copy of Pinkerton and told me to check it out. It blew my mind. I would listen to it every night when I went to bed and again the next morning before going to school. We can all argue over what the 'best' record is, but it doesn't really matter. This is my favorite. I consider it to be perfect, start to finish, every second of audio. It's difficult to quantify exactly why that is. Some of the lyrics aren't particularly mind-blowing, but they're all honest in a moving sort of way. This guy's loved and lost and wants to love again, but he's become so cynical, and he's older and tired. It's so compelling, you can't help but believe every single word. The performances are real and there's almost a sense of urgency to it all: a tremble in Rivers Cuomo's voice, or a drum fill that nearly falls apart but doesn't, or a bunch of shouting right when the bridge comes in, or a guitar solo that is as much feedback and random notes as it is melody. And those thundering, tape-saturated drums. There's nothing else like it."
— Drew Malott
"My entry to the world of Pinkerton began when I was a sophomore in high school and my then girlfriend put an acoustic version of 'Pink Triangle' on a mix CD for me. She then burned me the full album on CD, which somehow still works some 12 years later, and I fell in love. I've been playing these songs, I now realize mostly incorrectly, since I learned of this album's existence and have based the sound of some of my own music around the tone of Pinkerton. In my opinion, where Pinkerton really shines is the production, it's raw and energetic but still fairly hi-fi and at times tender and sweet. When I set out to make the new S.M. Wolf record I specifically said that I wanted it to sound like Pinkerton, I don't think I succeeded in that endeavor but I sure tried... "Pink Triangle" was my introduction to Pinkerton. If you don't know, this song's about Rivers' girlfriend turning out to be a lesbian. Call it foreshadowing, but my high school girlfriend who put this song on a mix CD for me left me two years later for a woman. This song holds a special place in my heart."
— Adam Gross
"When this 'El Scorcho' was released in 1996, I was living with my dad in Salt Lake City. Due to my frequent misbehavior/juvenile delinquency, my dad, as punishment, had slowly taken away all my possessions, until I was left with a small clock radio (with a tape deck) and a mattress. I would sit and listen to the local alternative radio station for hours at a time, recording my favorite songs to cassette whenever they came on. 'El Scorcho' quickly became my favorite, and looking back, I can trace my love for (and pursuit of) music right back to this song, and the way it made me feel.
"I could probably write thousands of words on this song, but for brevity I'll just say that the carefree nature of the song — the goofy background vocals, the weird and somewhat nonsensical guitar solo, etc. — were hugely appealing to me. Not to mention the awesomely catchy chorus, and the hip-hop-inspired drumming on the track. I am a drummer after all."
— Bryan Unruh
"The Blue Album was always my favorite. By the time Pinkerton came out, I was obsessed with Led Zeppelin, and I just never owned a copy. Of course I knew the popular songs, 'Pink Triangle,' 'El Scorcho,' but I really fell in love with this album when I started listening to it earlier this year to prepare for this show. Listening on headphones late at night made me really appreciate the raw production and honesty in Rivers' voice. It also clued me into what the bass lines are actually doing. Matt Sharp's playing is very expressive on this album, switching octaves, walking all over the place... Learning these songs, especially on an instrument I'm not familiar with really expanded my love of Weezer in a way I didn't think was possible. Although the Blue Album will always remind me of my youth and bring that twinge of nostalgia, Pinkerton has surpassed it as my favorite Weezer album."
— Allen Bannister
Adam, Bryan, Drew and Allen let me sneak into their practice on Monday night. Here's a bit from opener "Tired of Sex."